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Stop saying the NCAA tournament bubble is ‘historically weak.’ It never is

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There’s a three-word phrase that we all need to remove from our college basketball lexicon.

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NCAA Basketball: Final Four Championship Game-Villanova vs North Carolina Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Fans of any team that currently finds itself on a “last four in” or “last four out” list have undoubtedly seen the the three-word phrase by now.

The crop of teams battling for the last handful of at-large bids to the 2017 NCAA tournament isn’t just weak, but “historically weak.” The term implies that we’ve stumbled onto some sort of new ground here, that we have never, ever seen anything close to resembling the frailty we find ourselves face to face with this year.

But, wait, doesn’t it seem like we’ve done this before? We have! In fact, we’ve done it, like, every year for as long as anyone can remember.

A quick Google search for “historically weak bubble” turns up at least one mention from each of the past six years within the first two pages of results.

From Ballin’ is a Habit in 2011:

That would be tough, even in a year with a historically weak bubble and an expanded tournament. So Stew? My advice? Beat St. Mary's.

From Rush the Court in 2012:

Central Florida (19-7, 8-4)- UCF has crept back into the bubble picture even if a bid is still a long shot. Their #53 RPI and #183 non-conference SOS is difficult to overcome while wins over UConn and Memphis would have looked a lot stronger if we based resumes on the preseason top 25. UCF only has three top-100 wins and lost to UL-Lafayette. The fact we’re even discussing the Knights is a product of this year’s historically weak bubble.

From us right here at SB Nation in 2013:

The most remarkable thing about this North Carolina team isn't that it's lost six games, it's the size of the hole it has consistently put itself in. The Tar Heels have trailed by 19 points or more four times this season: against Texas (19), Butler (29), Indiana (32) and N.C. State (28). They still have the potential to benefit greatly from what could be another historically weak bubble, but not if they lose games like the one tonight.

From XavierHoops.com in 2014:

The problem is that they should have already been to that point before the Georgetown and Marquette games. If it wasn't for a historically weak bubble we'd already be on the outside looking in.

From BasketballForum.com in 2015:

Lots of us were saying this over the last couple of weeks. Some idiot here posted that we didn't know what we were talking about. Well, UCLA and Ohio State are the only two teams to advance past the round of 64 (Dayton will make a third). That is a historically weak bubble.

From SyracuseFan.com in 2016:

We barely got into the tournament thanks to a historically weak bubble, beat a 15 seed in the second round, an 11 in the Sweet 16. Yeah it was a fun ride but let's not pretend we weren't an extremely flawed team.

And then now there’s this year, where the prospect of Georgia Tech crashing the field of 68 is so mind-boggling that it’s made everyone refuse to believe that an analogous situation has ever preceded it.

Staring at the résumés of some of the last teams in Chris Dobbertean’s latest bracket can be perplexing. Clemson has a 4-10 record in its conference, Providence is 16-11 with two wins of any real consequence, Arkansas ... just seems like a team that has no business hearing its name called on Selection Sunday. I get all that. I’m just not sure what we’re expecting after doing this same thing every March for as long as any of us can remember.

There is never going to be a “historically strong bubble.” There’s never going to be a year where you hear Joe Lunardi say, “sure Duke is 22-5, but I don’t think you can call them a lock just yet, not in a year like this.” The bubble is supposed to be underwhelming. That’s the nature of the beast when you’re talking about a postseason tournament that includes almost 1/5 of the teams from a sport that has 351 of them.

The last handful of teams that hear their names called three Sundays from now are going to be weak. They’re just not going to be historically weak.