Bubble Watch: 5 Reasons Why SMU Will Make the Tournament
Bubble Watch: 5 Reasons Why the Mustangs Will Make the Tournament
Until this season, the SMU Mustangs had not been ranked in the Top 25 since the 1984-85 season (via ESPN.com). That is quite the drought and could lead to an NCAA tournament appearance this year. Which is why you are probably here and I will be providing five reasons why SMU should in fact make the Big Dance.
SMU was a mid-major just a season ago. Then the American was formed and the Mustangs joined the new conference that is currently considered a power conference in college basketball.
They have looked nothing like a mid-major in their first year in the conference and wins against Connecticut, Memphis and Cincinnati prove that.
As it stands, SMU is only 2.5 games behind the Cincinnati Bearcats in the AAC standings. Not to mention, the Mustangs are currently the only team that has beaten the Bearcats in the conference.
There are five teams ranked in this conference. Not a bad first year. All five of those teams really should make the dance and if the season were to end today that would likely be the case. Teams in the top 25 tend to make the tourney.
The Mustangs’ non-conference schedule may weigh them down some, but that is okay. They actually have a pretty good resume and we will get to that later.
Seeing Larry Brown in the NCAA tournament would be awesome. Really awesome. There is a very good chance of that happening.
Well, let’s see why SMU will make the 2014 NCAA tournament.
Has Beaten Three Ranked Opponents
Out of the five ranked opponents in the AAC--SMU being one of them--the Mustangs have beaten three of them. The only ranked team that they haven’t beat in the conference is the Louisville Cardinals.
SMU will get a chance to knock off the defending national champs on March 5.
All in all, this team has beaten three ranked teams and has only lost to one (at the time). That is not a bad stat to have.
Tough Final Stretch
SMU will have a very tough final stretch. That could be a good or bad thing, but this team has been playing great basketball all season long and I doubt it will fall apart at the end.
The Mustangs will have to play Connecticut, Louisville and Memphis in three out of their final four games. A couple of wins to close out the season will definitely lead to a tournament appearance.
Top Five Team in the American
The Mustangs are tied for third place in the American right now. If they finish in that position there is no doubt that they will be part of the field of 68. However, finishing in the top five should be good enough to get them into the dance.
After all, every team in the top five is ranked in the top 25 right now.
Could Still win the Conference Title
Cincinnati is 11-1 in the AAC standings. SMU stands at 8-3. If the Mustangs can somehow finish the rest of the regular season perfect, there is a chance that they will win the regular season conference title.
Cincinnati will go through a stretch where it plays Louisville, Connecticut and Memphis in back-to-back-to-back games. The Bearcats could lose two to three more times as a result.
Larry Brown’s team only has one bad loss on the season and that came against South Florida on the road. The Mustangs also lost to Arkansas (on the road), Virginia (neutral court by three), Cincinnati (on the road) and Louisville (on the road).
Wins against Memphis, Connecticut and Cincinnati go a long ways. A win against Louisville would easily put this team into the Big Dance.
Regardless, a 19-5 record overall and 8-3 record in the AAC looks very, very good.