Beware These Bid Thieves
Bid thief. Defined as a team that wins an automatic bid but was not expected to earn an at-large birth to the NCAA Tournament. If you're like Marquette and you're on the bubble in March a bid thief can ruin your season. So on the eve of BracketBusters Weekend, when the always-susceptible-to-bid-thieves mid-major powerhouses take center stage, watch out for these potential party poopers:
Wichita State (MVC, 21-6, 53rd in RPI) Northern Iowa is about as close to being a mid-major lock for the tournament as possible. The Panthers are ranked, have a 23-3 record and have the 23rd best RPI in the country. Wichita State's resume isn't as impressive but the Shockers have put together a good season, including a 60-51 win over Northern Iowa on January 19. Wichita State will face WAC powerhouse Utah State for BracketBusters and that could be a springboard to a surprise run through the Missouri Valley.
Green Bay (Horizon, 18-10, 100th in RPI) The Horizon League is known for bid thieves as Cleveland State stole one last season. Like Northern Iowa, Butler is a juggernaut and powering through the conference. The likelihood of the Bulldogs grabbing an at-large bid is high so bubble teams are hoping Green Bay or Wright State don't steal one away.
Portland (WCC, 16-8, 74th in RPI) The West Coast Conference is a tricky one as Gonzaga and St. Mary's are both eying up the NCAA Tournament. St. Mary's has a bit more work to do and that will make the WCC tournament very interesting. The Pilots have been hanging around the top of the conference and are only a half-game behind St. Mary's in the standings. That win over the Gaels last weekend will loom large if Portland can grab the #2 seed in the conference tourney.