NCAA BUBBLE MADNESS!! Illini in or out?


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By Paul Schmidt

I feel as though my head is spinning.  I’ve got a fever.  More cowbell ain’t helping, either.

I’ve got the Bubble Madness.

There’s no real cure, but chances are I’ll feel better sometime around 5:30 Chicago time tomorrow.

Better might be a bit of a stretch.  I’m an Illinois fan, and obviously I’m invested in positive Illinois results.

I’m not sure that tomorrow’s going to be all that positive.

The NCAA Tournament Bubble got hella confusing Saturday.  Especially for the Fighting Illini.

The Illini fell on Saturday in the Big Ten semifinals, 88-81 in 2 OTs. In the long run though, fact is this was a loss.  And in this case, the Illini may as well have lost by 40 points.

The problem is everything else that happened today. Mississippi State, playing for their tournament lives down in the SEC, took down Vanderbilt (a common opponent with Illinois, and someone they already beat) 62-52. Minnesota suddenly has become problematic to the Illini tournament chances, as they absolutely humiliated Purdue, 69-42.

Washington won the Pac 10 title, sewing up a bid.  And though the profile of the California Golden Bears is somewhat poor (NO wins over the RPI top 50), they still have an RPI of 19, and a strength of schedule of 8. No team with an RPI that high has ever missed the tournament, so it would make sense that they are in.

Houston provided the ultimate eff you to the Illini by stealing a bid in the Conference USA Tournament Championship. UTEP most likely still dances despite a profile that is similarly horrible to California’s. UTEP, however, is showing up with a 15-1 record in their conference and 26 wins overall.  A loss in the conference tournament finals, given their RPI in the mid 30’s leaves them probably safe.

The point to this exercise is this: The Illini are in trouble.

I know, I know…you were told all they needed was the Wisconsin win.  Heck, I told you yesterday that the Illini were dancing. You forgot to take into account that I’m an idiot.  Never forget that.

The fact is they were in without any upsets.  They were in if things went the status quo.  With the games above, the bubble shrank. Upsets happen, and this year, it looks like it will cost the Illini.

However…it may not.  The bubble is extraordinarily weak. The Illini might be the best of the entire lot, but with all those losses, it might be tough to put them in over other teams even though they have 5 wins against the RPI Top 25.

So here’s what needs to happen…

Chalk the rest of the way people. No Utah State upset in the WAC, that’s most important.  For good measure, let’s have San Diego State lose out in the Mountain West as well.

We need the committee to value wins against top RPI teams and true road record against all else.  Illinois’ true road record of 6-4 is pretty good comparatively. 5 wins against the RPI top 25 is one of the best marks in the country. That would put them in ahead of teams like Virginia Tech, Mississippi State and Cal. The Illini strength of schedule is better than all of those teams too, so let them noodle that for a bit as well.

Lastly, everyone, go out and drink some green beer tonight. Maybe raise a glass of Jameson to the sky and say a corny toast.

We may need all the luck we can get tomorrow.

I’ll leave you with Bruce Weber in the post game, talking about the Illini passing the eye test with the committee.  Did they look like an NCAA team today?

“Well, it’s {Ohio State} one of the best teams in the country,” Weber said. “They’re a possible No. 1 seed. Really out-played them for a lot of the game.”

Actually…maybe I’ll leave you with this Weber quote. It’s that Bubble Madness again…

“But sometimes the game of basketball is funny,” Weber said, “and sometimes it’s not meant to be.”


  1. Utah State loses, San Diego State wins… u jinxed yourself… now does Utah State get an at-large??? 26 RPI, 103 SOS before loss… only big out of conference win was against BYU… I’m gonna be racking my brain tonight trying to figure out who’s in/who’s out… but I’m guessing Illini are out… sorry

  2. Paul Schmidt says

    Agreed on all counts Dave. And Ghost, I think that we spare them so we canwin the NIT…

  3. Ghost in the Machine says

    Illinois- keep them in the ghetto or train to Auschwitz?

  4. paulmbanks says

    even if we get a bid in abt an hr here…I still think the NCAA will revoke it before the actual game. I still won’t believe it

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