NCAA Basketball March Madness

2014 NCAA Tournament: 25 Potential Bubble Teams That You Should Know

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25 Potential Bubble Teams That You Should Know

Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2014 NCAA Tournament quickly approaching, the teams that should be going to the Big Dance are finally separating themselves from the pack. However, as always going into February, there is still a lot of college basketball to be played and a lot of teams still competing for a 2014 NCAA Tournament berth.

If you look at the top three leagues in college basketball, the Big 12, the Big 10 and the SEC, it’s easy to see why the NCAA Selection Committee is going to have a lot of work to do on Selection Sunday. The Big 12 has more than half of the conference ranked, the SEC has the second most teams in all of college basketball with a 100 RPI or better with nine and Purdue is the only team in the Big 10 ranked outside the top 100 RPI with 101. College basketball may have never been more competitive all-around than it has been this season.

The list of potential “bubble” teams does not just include schools from major college basketball conferences. I tried to throw in some possibilities from other mid-major conferences as well. The teams on the verge of making the tournament have to start putting work in now, because February is the last real opportunity for teams to build up their resumes in conference play.

Here is a list of 25 teams that you should watch out for going into the final stretch of the college basketball season, because they all could make a run to sneak into the 2014 NCAA Tournament. If you know of any other teams that you think were left off this list that will jump into the “bubble” talk, feel free to leave a comment in the section below.

Taylor Sturm is an SEC Basketball Writer for Follow him on Twitter @TSturmRS, like him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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No. 25 Clemson Tigers

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

At 13 – 6, the Tigers will have ample opportunity to up their tournament resume with remaining games against No. 2 Syracuse, No. 18 Pittsburgh and should-be-ranked Virginia. Clemson has a win against Duke and could go on a late run to get into the tournament.

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No. 24 Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders

Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

MTSU sits tied for third place in C-USA one game behind the leaders. They are far from earning an at-large bid, but the Blue Raiders are definitely capable of winning the C-USA tournament and stealing the automatic bid.

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No. 23 Washington Huskies

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

With three wins over RPI top 50 teams, the Huskies would be considered in the tournament if it wasn’t for two bad losses. Washington might be on a direct route to the NIT.

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No. 22 Florida State Seminoles

Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

With wins over VCU and UMass, Florida State is missing a major marquee win. It will be disappointed if it doesn’t make it, because it lost to Florida by one and Michigan by two. Luckily, it will have an opportunity to defeat Pittsburgh or Syracuse. All it needs is one big win and a decent finish in the ACC tournament.

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No. 21 Dayton Flyers

Rob Leifheit-USA TODAY Sports

If Dayton can win eight of its last 10, it can make the tournament. Two of those wins would be over top 50 RPI teams.

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No. 20 Ole Miss Rebels

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Ole Miss has no wins against top 50 RPI teams. It plays four to finish out the season and must win at least two if it wants to go to the tournament. Don’t ever count out Marshall Henderson.

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No. 19 UTEP Miners

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

As the Miners continue to rack up wins in C-USA play, the team who UTEP got its biggest win of the season over, the Tennessee Volunteers, keep rising in the tournament seeding. A 21+ win UTEP team with a win over an 8-seed or better Volunteers could mean an at-large bid for the Miners.

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No. 18 St. Bonaventure Bonnies

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Bonnies don’t look like a tournament team on paper, but have not lost an Atlantic 10 game by more than eight. St. Bonaventure could go on a hot streak and win the conference tournament.

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No. 17 BYU Cougars

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

The WCC is most likely only getting two tournament bids. BYU will face Saint Mary’s twice; only one will go to the tournament with Gonzaga.

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No. 16 Boise State Broncos

Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

Boise State is considered a bubble team by many, but still needs a few more wins in order to make the Big Dance. It still has a chance against the No. 5 San Diego State Aztecs.

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No. 15 Arkansas Razorbacks

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Arkansas has three top 50 RPI wins against Kentucky, Minnesota and SMU. Both of its “bad” losses were away losses. However, they have six remaining away games and, as the Razorbacks have proven all season long, they are not a tournament team when playing away from home.

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No. 14 Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Wake Forest is another team from the ACC that could sneak into the tournament. All but one of its losses were to a 1 – 50 RPI team. The lone non-top 50 RPI loss was at fellow ACC bubble team the Clemson Tigers. If they could win all but three of their final games, the tournament may be a reality for the Demon Deacons.

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No. 13 Indiana State Sycamores

Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

By falling by 20 to Wichita State, Indiana State may have killed its conference’s reputation and its chances at the NCAA tournament. If it only loses the remaining game against Wichita State, it could still be just an NIT team. It must put up a good performance against the Shockers on Feb. 5.

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No. 12 Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Louisiana Tech could likely finish the season with 25+ wins. That will be hard for the selection committee to ignore.

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No. 11 Illinois Fighting Illini

Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

One team in the Big 10 is outside of the top 100, and Purdue is 101. At 13 – 8, if Illinois can make it to 20 wins it could rack up enough top 100 wins to make the tournament.

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No. 10 Richmond Spiders

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Richmond’s one top 50 RPI win is boosted by four top 100 wins. It will have three more chances to beat a top 50 team. If it can win two of these games, consider it a lock for the tournament.

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No. 9 North Carolina State Wolfpack

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

I absolutely love this team to sneak into the tournament. They are a youthful, energetic team that no one considered a legitimate threat in the ACC to start the season. If NC State could win three of its final road games, it might have a chance at going to the Big Dance.

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No. 8 California Golden Bears

Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

A few weeks ago Cal was considered a lock for the tournament. After a three game losing streak it will face the No. 1 Arizona Wildcats with its tournament hopes fading fast.

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No. 7 Baylor Bears

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Baylor is 1 – 7 in Big 12 play. The Big 12 may be the most talented conference in the country (not RPI-wise but talent-wise), but it’s going to be impossible to make the tournament without a few tough wins.

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No. 6 Missouri Tigers

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Missouri has only one win in the top 50 RPI, but play four more top 50 RPI teams. Unfortunately, the Tigers struggle against good defenses, and the SEC is one of the better leagues defensively.

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No. 5 SMU Mustangs

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SMU has a decent record, but need a few more big wins. Facing five more top 50 teams, it’s do-or-die time for the Mustangs.

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No. 4 Stanford Cardinal

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Stanford would be in the tournament if it had pulled off the upset over Arizona; unfortunately, it didn’t. However, this team has beaten some really talented opponents in the non-conference portion of its schedule and should finish out the season strong.

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No. 3 Providence Friars

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Providence Friars deserve to make the tournament. Unfortunately, deserving to make the tournament doesn’t get you in. The Friars are in as long as they don’t fall to a lower half Big East team to finish the season.

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No. 2 Arizona State Sun Devils

Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

ASU is considered in the tournament by many, but its final 10 game stretch contains six teams with an RPI of 51 or better. The Sun Devils must win at least six of their final 10 games, or they will find themselves in the NIT.

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No. 1 LSU Tigers

Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

The SEC has the second most teams of any conference with a top 100 RPI behind the Big 10. With a marquee win over Kentucky, LSU could make it to the tournament, because the Tigers will have every opportunity to finish out the season losing only two more games -- at Florida and at Kentucky.