The new bracket and bubble watch are posted. There is a new no.1 seed. Michigan State takes over a spot on the top line, bumping Missouri, which lost for the second time this season to Kansas State.
Expect to see some jumbling of the top eight teams in the bracket as the three conference pairs in that group play each other. Each pair has a regular season game left, as well as a possible conference tournament game.
Cincinnati finally joins the bracket despite its putrid non-conference schedule. Their non-conference schedule ranking of 320 would be the second-worst ever to get an at-large bid. The record is 323, which is held by the 2006 George Washington team, which finished its season 26-2. The worst ranking for a team that was close to the bottom of the at-large pool was Air Force in 2004, which ranked 315th.
It's only the quality of its wins that has the Bearcats in at all, but before Cinci fans get too comfortable, teams with 5 top 50 RPI wins get left out routinely, so the Bearcats are not comfortably in the field at all.
As it stands right now, Cincinnati would also tie the record for the lowest RPI ever for an at-large team. New Mexico was also 74th back in 1999.
The committee very rarely rewards teams that only have three top 100 RPI wins. In the 18 years that I've been tracking the data, it's only happened five times, and not at all since 2003. Iowa State has a spot in this field though, despite just three top 100 wins, and all at home. VCU is in the same boat and also pushing for a spot.
Colorado State is barely in the bracket, despite a top 30 RPI. I doubt the Rams will set the record for the highest rated team left out (21, Missouri State in 2006), but they have a chance to be in the team picture. The next highest ranked team left out was 30th.
Teams without at least one top 50 RPI win don't get picked very often. Clemson was chosen last year despite and 0-5 record against that group, but the Tigers were the first team picked since 2006 without a top 50 win. This bracket has two such teams (Saint Louis and Washington).
Looks like the NIT is going to be missing more than a few teams this year.