NCAA Tournament Bubble Watch: Who’s In & Who’s Out?
The madness of March is upon us. The greatest postseason in sports is less than two weeks away. At this point, a lot of teams have already made their case for a bit to 'The Big Dance.' Others? Well, they're like desperate applicants trying to impress the hiring manager by telling them they're a "people person" only to have them look at their mediocre resume.
Let's take a look at some of these notable resumes the NCAA will have to examine. Here is who is in and who is out as of now.
Best win: Duke
Worst loss: Old Dominion
The Cavaliers are the very definition of a Jeckyl and Hyde type team. One game they can beat a top five ranked team and the next lose to a below .500 squad like Boston College or even worse a 5-25 Old Dominion squad. Virginia was most certainly in the tournament after the win against Duke but with back to back losses to awful teams like Boston College and Florida State, its going to be very hard to get the committee to overlook those blemishes. The Cavaliers will need to get to the ACC Tournament finals to have a chance at an at-large bid.
Best win: Duke
Worst loss: Georgia Tech
Maryland has a great win over Duke and respectable win over North Carolina State. However, they have ten losses and not a single impressive win out of the conference. After their second loss to North Carolina this week, its obvious that they are in a must-win situation against Virginia this weekend. Whoever loses that game, shouldn't even bother watching 'Selection Sunday.'
Best win: Georgetown
Worst loss: Columbia
Villanova just sums up how bizarre and weak this basketball season has been. The Wildcats struggled off and on throughout the season but somehow manage to knock off a contender every now and then. In fact, head coach Jay Wright's squad has three wins over top five ranked teams. Wins over Louisville, Syracuse, and Georgetown have Villanova fans feeling better about their chances of getting an at-large bid even before the conference tournament is played.
Best win: Pittsburgh
Worst loss: St. John's
After starting out 12-0, the Bearcats have completely fallen apart. They have lost six of their last eight games with their only impressive win this season being Pittsburgh who is currently fifth in the conference standings. That is even worse when you look at how weak their out of conference schedule was this season. A loss to South Florida this weekend and their NCAA tournament hopes are finished. They will have to make an impressive run in the conference tournament to impress the committee.
Best win: Gonzaga and Indiana
Worst loss: Northwestern
The Fighting Illini started out the season 12-0 and was only one of two teams that beat no. 1 ranked Gonzaga. After a rough January, in which Illinois lost six games in an eight game span, they find themselves on the bubble. They boast one of the ten toughest schedules in the nation. With that, they are only 8-9 in a stacked Big Ten. Normally that wouldn't be very impressive but when you see the quality of wins Illinois has, its a whole new ball game. With wins over the nation's top two teams, Gonzaga and Indiana, and quality wins over Ohio State and Butler, it's hard to imagine they aren't going dancing.
Best win: Indiana
Worst loss: Nebraska and Northwestern
Tubby Smith had fans in Minnesota caring about basketball to start the season. The Gophers posted a 15-1 record and had the Minnesota administration feeling confident about their investment in 2007 when they brought a coach in with a national championship on his resume. Since then, the Gophers have went 5-9 with two horrendous losses against Northwestern and Nebraska. It's amazing that this squad could could beat no. 1 Indiana and then lose to Nebraska just a week later. Tubby's squad will have to get to the conference semi-finals to feel 100 percent about their tournament hopes.
Best win: Illinois
Worst loss: Virginia Tech
Iowa gained a noteworthy win this week against Illinois, a fellow bubble team but that is about all they have to brag about this season. They couldn't net a single win against the conference's top teams like Indiana, Ohio State. Michigan, or Michigan State. It's hard to imagine the Hawkeyes end their NCAA tournament drought short of a miraculous run in the conference tournament.
Best win: Kansas
Worst loss: Texas
The Sooners stock is rising and there is very little cause for concern in regards to their tournament hopes short of losing to Texas. With quality wins over possible one seed, Kansas and Oklahoma State. The majority of their losses are to quality opponents too.
Iowa State 20-10
Best win: Kansas State
Worst loss: Texas Tech
Iowa State has no problem putting points on the scoreboard. Head coach, Fred Hoiberg's Cyclones are the fourth highest scoring team in the country. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean a thing to the committee. Their resume has them sitting here on the bubble. However, Iowa State does have a great win against Kansas State and just recently beat no. 13 ranked Oklahoma State to try and give them a little extra security in the eyes of the committee. If Iowa State isn't cheated out of a win against Kansas to an officiating error last week, they wouldn't be in any danger of missing the tournament. As it stands, they still have work to do in the conference tournament to solidify their case.
Best Win: Arizona
Worst Loss: Stanford
California has impressive wins over the conference's three top teams; Oregon, UCLA, and Arizona. Although, the Pac 12 is weak, that should be enough to get them into the field of 68 barring an embarrassing exit in next week's conference tournament. Plus, it might be the first time head coach, Mike Montgomery does something relevant besides a Final Four run 15 years.
Best Win: Arizona
Worst Loss: Utah
The entire Pac 12 is the epitome of mediocrity. They will get about four teams into the field of 68 but do not expect any of them to really make a run. Colorado basically has the same resume as California just with a better strength of schedule and an embarrassing and significant loss to Utah. Colorado trails California in the conference standings by one game. If the Buffaloes want to see and hear the names when the brackets are being revealed next week, they need to get to the finals of the conference tournament. I don't think they will.
Best Win: Missouri
Worst Loss: Georgia
The defending national champions and pre-season no. 2, the Wildcats, have been a train wreck all season long. Despite bringing in another top recruiting class, coach John Calipari's young Cats never lived up to their billing. Kentucky doesn't have a single quality win on their resume. Not a single one! Their best win is against another bubble team hoping to just get an invitation as well. Since Kentucky's big man and best player, Nerlens Noel went down, they have yet to win a road game. Recently, they suffered an embarrassing 30 point beat-down by Tennessee, a 15 point loss to Arkansas and their worst loss came Wednesday night against a horrendous 15-15 Georgia team. Their regular season finale comes against the SEC's best team, Florida. Simply put, Kentucky has no chance of getting into the tournament short of winning the conference tournament.
Best Win: Florida
Worst Loss: Texas A&M
The Tigers have some quality wins that might boost their appeal in the eyes of the selection committee. With wins over Florida, Virginia Commonwealth, and Illinois, that might be all it takes to get the Tigers back into the tournament in hopes to avenge last year's embarrassing loss to Norfolk State. The Phil Pressey lead Tigers have been a disappointment this year after the dismissal of guard Michael Dixon. Their play on the road has been dismal and may be their downfall if the committee leaves them out. However, I think their win over Florida and lack of a truly embarrassing loss will have them wearing their dancing shoes next week.
Best Win: Florida
Worst Loss: Georgia
Although winners of seven of their last 8 games, Tennessee still has work to do if they hope to sneak into the NCAA tournament. The Vols will have to take care of business against Missouri this weekend and win a couple of games in the SEC tourney to strengthen their resume and hope everyone has forgotten about their loss to lowly Georgia.
Alabama 19-11, Arkansas 18-12, Ole Miss 22-8
The SEC hasn't been this awful since 2009. The SEC was only able to produce two NCAA tournament teams that season. 2013 looks like it will be a very similar year with Florida and Missouri looking to be the only programs to represent the conference this March. The other programs are simply proving why the SEC is considered 'just a football conference.'
Verdict for all three teams: OUT
Joshua Caudill is a writer for CraveOnline Sports. You can follow him on [email protected] or subscribe at Facebook.com/CraveOnlineSports
Photo Credit: Getty