Talk to the Palm: Bracketology mailbag answers whether VCU can have bid stolen by another A-10 team

Welcome to another week of the Talk to the Palm mailbag. As always, many of the questions I receive are asking me to analyze one team in a vacuum, as if their results are the only ones that matter. That will pretty much never work, but especially over a month from Selection Sunday.

Here are this week’s top questions.

Q: If there’s a bid-stealer in the Atlantic 10 tourney, what happens to VCU? Out, right?@UD_engr88

A: The concept that a bid-stealer steals a bid from its own conference is not a thing. That does not mean it can’t happen, but it is also not a consideration. The team that gets its bid stolen will be apparent — it will be the No. 1 seed in the NIT. As it stands now, VCU is among the pile of teams that would be close enough to the cut line as to be the one that gets its bid stolen, regardless of which conference provides the bid stealer.

Q: Do you have a guess at the most losses a team can have this season and still get an at large?@TheRoyalePain

A: The record is 15, which has happened each of the last two seasons. However, that is trivia. A better indicator of at-large eligibility is the number of games above .500. In fact, that is the best indicator.

Only one team in the 26 seasons I have been doing bracket projections has received an at-large bid that was fewer than four games above .500. That was Georgia in 2001, which was 16-14. No team compares to that one. The Bulldogs played 27 of its 30 games against teams that we would now say were in Quadrants 1 and 2. Nobody plays schedules like that. In each of the last two seasons, a 19-15 team has made the tournament. I expect we will see that again this season. We might even see a Big Ten team sneak in at 18-15. I do not think anyone will play enough games to post a good enough record with 16 losses.

Q: With only 1 road win, what is the real story with @RutgersMBB chances?@nuccim

A: That is a problem. The selection committee does like to see teams win away from home since nobody plays tournament games on their home floors. Only one team has received an at-large bid with fewer than three wins away from home (road or neutral) in my time doing brackets. That was Illinois in 1994, my first year of bracket projections. Every other team has had at least three. Rutgers has four tough road games left and the conference tournament, so they can still get the count up.

Q: How safe is Saint Mary’s? Need another win over BYU in tourney? No losses except to Zags?@gogaels 

A: This is a question similar to the ones I was talking about in the opening paragraph, but it is sufficiently vague enough to be answerable.

Saint Mary’s is not safe. Not at all. The Gaels might get in if they win the games against everyone except BYU and Gonzaga. They might beat BYU again and get left out anyway. Beating Gonzaga is the only thing that brings any level of comfort at all, and that’s only if they don’t screw up some other game along the way. My advice is to just win the WCC Tournament and remove the doubt.

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