It is still pretty early to do this, but with conference play getting into full swing this week, it is time to at least look at which teams are feeling pretty good about their profile and non-conference season, and which teams are among the vast crowd of still-hopefuls.
Barring unforeseen collapses, major injuries, most folks would have to be surprised if any of the teams listed below missed.
North Carolina, Duke, Georgetown, Pitt, Marquette, Michigan State, Indiana, Wisconsin, Kansas, Texas A&M, Texas, UCLA, Washington State, Arizona, Tennessee, Memphis
The next group consists of teams that are on the good side right now.
Boston College, Miami-FL, Dayton, Xavier, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Butler, Stanford, Southern Cal, Vanderbilt, Mississippi, St. Mary's
There are too many teams considered Bubble Boys to list. But, if the teams on the above two lists hold serve (10 conferences represented), that makes 18 AL bids are in line to be taken. I know that many folks could make good arguments for teams not on this list and why a few of the teams I have listed should be left off. The point here is that the Bubble is HUGE right now. I am sure that some of these teams will fall off as conference play begins.
To me, the most interesting story lines going into full-on conference play are:
1. The A-14. Could be a BIG year for them if Dayton, Xavier, and URI keep form.
2. The MVC. Right now, the frontrunner is The Drake. Yes, you read that correctly. SIU is struggling a bit and Creighton lost their conference opener at home to Illinois State.
3. The WCC. Gonzaga has a Bubbly non-conference profile and a real, live challenger in St. Mary's.
4. The SEC. So far, it looks like Tennessee, unbeaten but largely unproven teams in Vandy and Ole Miss, and everyone else. SOMEBODY will win these conference games.