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NCAA tournament 2018 bid-thief watch, and rooting guide

NC State’s in good shape but its position can become a bit more tenuous depending on results elsewhere.

NCAA Basketball: Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament - Davidson vs Rhode Island Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

This time of year, a bubble team or three can get bumped from the NCAA tournament field because of circumstances outside of their own control—namely, the chaos that inevitably happens in mid-major league tournaments that lead to stolen bids.

In the last few days alone, these top mid-major seeds have been bounced:

Vermont (America East; RPI 51)
Middle Tennessee State (C-USA; RPI 34)
Louisiana (Fun Belt; RPI 54)

Middle Tennessee may be the only team of the three with a decent shot at an at-large bid, and if they did get in it would bump another bubble team out. The C-USA title game between Marshall and Western Kentucky on Saturday probably won’t alter the overall picture one way or the other—still it’d be best for bubble teams if WKU won, just to be safe.

In the Mountain West, regular season champ Nevada got blown out by San Diego State in the semis on Friday, and this is a now a guaranteed bid thief situation, since the Wolf Pack is still comfortably in as an at-large. Either San Diego State or New Mexico will be getting a second bid from the MWC.

In the A-10, there is one remaining potential bid thief: Davidson. The Wildcats face St. Bonaventure in the semis this afternoon. Rhode Island held off St. Joe’s (the other possible bid thief in that league) earlier today in the other semifinal game. Good news for the bubble squads, which should be rooting for the Bonnies to take care of business.

In the American, Cincinnati rallied past potential bid-stealer Memphis in the semis. With Wichita State and Houston the only other teams alive in that tournament, there will be no bid thief from that league.

Later tonight, New Mexico State (RPI 42) will play Grand Canyon in the WAC final. This is another muddy situation, but NMSU has a decent resume (Lunardi has the Aggies as a No. 12 seed) and could possibly earn an at-large bid if it loses.

Later tonight, top-seeded Buffalo (RPI 30) faces Toledo in the MAC title game, and the Bulls definitely could sneak in despite a loss.

So the extent of your rooting guide as an NC State fan is WKU (improbable at-large candidate, but still), New Mexico State, St. Bonaventure, and Buffalo. The Pack is probably okay regardless of any upheaval—Lunardi has State seven spots above the at-large cut line—but the fewer upsets, the better.