Here is today's Lockbox. Enough games have been played to at least see the beginnings of a Bubble (the teams in red and green). There are a number of teams that can move into "virtual lock" status with just a couple of more wins. The Bubble is currently 14, but history says that number will shrink in the coming weeks and level off at about 7 or 8 by conference tourney time. By Selection Sunday, there are usually 4 or 5 slots that are iffy, with two or three that are truly a crap shoot.
The Bubble by the Numbers
--31 Automatic Bids. That number will not change this season.
--34 At-Large Bids. That also is a static number.
--18 teams are in fantastic shape. They are listed as "virtual locks" in lower case black font in the Lockbox. Nine of them are conference leaders. That means that nine At-Large bids are virtual locks at this point. It is hard to imagine any of these teams missing even at this early stage. This could change, but most if not all of these teams are not going anywhere.
--11 other teams look pretty safe, but need more validation. Those teams are listed in blue. That accounts for 20 At-Large bids that are not "bubble slots." Hence, 14 slots are up for grabs.
--The Bubble Boys who made it in are in green and those left out are in red in the Lockbox.
--Illinois State at Bradley. Redbirds AL hopes are on thin ice. They cannot afford many losses.
--UConn at Cincinnati. Huskies need to take care of this kind of game.
--Kansas State at Colorado. Ditto for K-State.
--Virginia at Florida State. Two Bubble Boys at this stage.
--Akron at Kent State. This is the most important game of the night.
--North Carolina at Miami-FL. Canes need a signature win, and they have the Heels at home.
--UMass at Saint Joseph's. Both look like Bubble Boy candidates.
--Pittsburgh at St. John's. Panthers need to show they can win on the road without their injured players.
--Baylor at Texas A&M. A combined 28-5.
--Missouri at Texas Tech. It's too early to say "must win," but both are in dire need.