Bubble teams with the most on the line this week
SEASON IS DONE
BYU: No team in the country is going to be more nervous this week than BYU, a team whose sole top 50 win just so happens to be one of the top five wins any team has earned this season. The Cougars lost to No. 7 Gonzaga in the WCC title game on Tuesday night, meaning that they will spend the next seven days hoping that every bubble team on this list loses in the first round.
Murray State: Steve Prohm and his players can make all the impassioned pleas that they want, they’re not getting into the NCAA tournament. It’s not because they aren’t good enough, mind you, because they are. Cameron Payne is as good as any point guard in the country, and if, by some miracle, the committee does throw them a bone, the Racers could very well win a game or two. The problem? If they do get invited, it will mean that the committee has to completely change what they value when it comes to at-large profiles.
If anything, hopefully Murray State can be a harbinger for change. It’s time we started to reward regular season championships, especially when those champions went 16-0 during the regular season in their conference.
GAMES LEFT TO PLAY
Texas: The Longhorns played one in one of the toughest conferences in the country, and it shows in their record. Texas is 19-12 overall and 8-10 in the Big 12 with just a 3-11 record against the top 50. The best thing about their profile? No bad losses, which is what makes their Big 12 tournament opener against Texas Tech so important.
Indiana: The Hoosiers have four top 50 wins and three top 25 wins, which is impressive, compared to just one sub-100 loss this season. But they’ve lost eight of their last 12 and some poor non-conference scheduling -- they played four sub-300 teams and six sub-230 teams -- has crippled their power numbers. They would be wise to avoid a loss to Northwestern in the Big Ten opener.
Temple: Temple has a profile that looks an awful lot like BYU’s: One great win -- by 25 over Kansas in Philly -- and a whole let of ‘meh’ beyond that. The Owls have proven to be tough when they’re healthy, however, which is why this week is important. They can play their way into the Big Dance with a few wins.
Texas A&M: The Aggies have one of the most boring profiles of anyone in the country. They’ve lost 10 games this season, but the worst loss was to Alabama. They’ve won 21 games this season, but none of them were more noteworthy than LSU, who they swept.
Ole Miss: Three top 50 wins -- none of which came at home -- and three sub-100 losses -- none of which came in SEC play. The Rebels are just ... weird. They’re also probably in the tournament with a win over South Carolina or Missouri.
Davidson: The Wildcats put themselves in a terrific position to get an at-large by winning the Atlantic 10 outright and ending the regular season with a blowout win over VCU, giving them a quality win to hang their profile on. But they’re not safe, not with a non-conference strength of schedule in the 230s and two sub-100 losses. The Wildcats are dangerous enough to win a game or two in the NCAA tournament if they get there.
Boise State: The Mountain West regular season champs are probably safe at this point, but with the MWC being filled with potential landmine losses, the Broncos are not safe yet.
Colorado State: The same can be said for Colorado State, who sit even closer to the bubble than Boise State. The Rams are one of the teams most susceptible to playing their way out of the tournament with a bad loss, which is crazy seeing as they were projected as a potential No. 9 seed less than a month ago.
Miami: Miami’s 16-point win at Duke is keeping them in the conversation, but they have some work to do before they can feel comfortable. Beat Virginia Tech today and get a win over Notre Dame in the quarterfinals and we can talk. Until then, the Hurricanes are in trouble.
Illinois: The Illini have three really good wins -- Maryland, Baylor, at Michigan State -- but are just 5-11 against the top 100. They get Michigan in the first round and, with a win, get to take a swing at Wisconsin. They probably need both.
Tulsa: Tulsa swept Temple this year, but that’s really all there is on their resume that is worth discussing. With a poor non-conference strength of schedule and a loss to Oral Roberts on their resume, the Golden Hurricane have some work to do this week. Playing in a league tournament where there aren’t as many quality wins available certainly doesn’t help their cause.
UCLA: This is what the Bruins need to do to get an at-large bid: beat the Arizona State-USC winner in the quarters, then beat Arizona in the semis. If that doesn’t happen, they’re going to the NIT.