NCAA Tournament 2014: The 15 Biggest Teams On Bubble Watch
The 15 Biggest Teams On The Bubble Watch
Today is Valentine's Day, and while some college basketball teams "love" where they stand in the NCAA Tournament picture, other teams have not been up to par. With the regular season slowly coming to a close, now is the time for the "bubble" teams to play their way into the tournament or in some cases play their way out of the tournament picture.
College basketball fans across the nation now start to worry as their team's every game is now important in terms of boosting their tournament seeding and solidifying a team's overall resume. Just because a team has a great regular season record doesn't automatically guarantee an at-large bid. Teams now have to schedule quality opponents, both at home and on the road, to have a quality shot at making the tournament. Even losing to quality teams can also be considered a win for these teams in terms of building their resume as the ability to challenge other teams in their own environments rightfully gets rewarded
Other factors are taken into consideration for the Selection committee to decide as well. RPI is another big factor in determining the quality of a team's opponents. While the committee gets it right most of the time, the teams ultimately play themselves in or out of the discussion and put their own fate into the committee's hands.
For the teams on my top 15 bubble watch, they have either played a weak schedule (conference or non-conference) or have struggled mightily during their respective seasons. However many you agree or disagree with, these teams still have some work to do to get consideration as at-large bids come Selection Sunday.
Record: 15-8 (6-5)
Bad Losses: at Auburn
With zero impressive road wins, the Clemson Tigers' home wins against Duke and Florida St. don't look quite as impressive. The Tigers have two other big games at home (against Virginia and Pittsburgh). Wins against these teams might get them in, but they'll have to do some work in the ACC Conference tournament to seal a berth.
Record: 16-9 (5-7)
A recent loss to Wisconsin doesn't help Minnesota's cause. The most impressive road win all season was against Richmond back early in the season. The Gophers still have a three-game stretch where they are at Ohio St., home against Iowa and at Michigan to turn things around. Two wins out of these three games will get the Gophers in the dance.
Record: 15-8 (3-8)
Bad Losses: at Oregon State
A 3-8 record in the Pac-12 certainly won't get it done when trying to get an at-large bid. For a team that started 13-0, this 2-8 stretch won't get the Ducks in as it stands now. Oregon still has games at UCLA and at home against both Arizona State and Arizona to give them a better case.
Record: 15-9 (3-8)
Bad Losses: at Texas Tech
Much like Oregon, a solid non-conference start (12-1) is overshadowed by their poor conference record (3-8). The Bears' remaining schedule has games against six of the top seven teams in the Big 12 (three at home and three on the road). Wins in four of these six will seal a berth for the Bears.
Record: 17-10 (9-5)
Quality Wins: Texas
BYU has two remaining games that could turn around a poor resume. The Cougars will have to win out against St. Mary's on the road and at home against Gonzaga plus win the West Coast Conference tournament to have a chance at the NCAA tournament. An at-large bid is out of the question here.
Record: 16-8 (7-4)
Quality Wins: Arizona
Bad Losses: at USC
For a team whose most impressive road win is against Stanford, their weak schedule will not help the California Golden Bears get an at-large bid. Their win against previously unbeaten Arizona is not as strong because of Brandon Ashley's injury during that game. The Bears get Arizona on the road and UCLA at home, but these games won't be enough. The Golden Bears need to make a statement during the Pac-12 tournament to be considered as an at-large on Selection Sunday.
Record: 15-9 (6-5)
Quality Wins: Virginia
The Tennessee Volunteers' remaining schedule is weak, and only playing Missouri twice will keep the team in the at-large discussions. Tennessee lost all three games to conference powers Kentucky and Florida. The Volunteers also will have to make a statement in the SEC tournament to solidify their case.
Record: 15-9 (6-6)
Bad Losses: Northeastern, Seton Hall
A win against an injury-depleted Michigan State squad doesn't look as impressive as it seems. The Hoyas have games remaining against Creighton and Villanova that can turn it around, but the loss to Northeastern will be fateful come Selection Sunday.
Record: 14-10 (4-7)
Quality Wins: Michigan, Wisconsin
The Indiana Hoosiers' inconsistent Big 10 play has put the team in this position. The Hoosiers have four resume building games remaining against Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Michigan. There's no doubt that the Hoosiers have to win at least three of these four games to have a solid chance come Selection Sunday.
Record: 19-5 (8-3)
Bad Losses: at South Florida
The SMU Mustangs' weak non-conference schedule and zero impressive road wins have put Larry Brown's team on the bubble despite some impressive wins. The Mustangs can seal a bid with a road win over either UCONN or Memphis or a home win over Louisville.
Record: 17-7 (5-6)
Quality Wins: West Virginia
Bad Losses: Georgia, Illinois
A win last night against Arkansas won't do much for the Missouri Tigers, who don't have an impressive conference win. The Tigers have Tennessee twice to conclude the season, and the only way Missouri is in consideration is to win out in the regular season and make some major noise in the SEC conference tournament.
Record: 22-4 (12-1)
Quality Wins: at West Virginia, BYU
Bad Losses: at Portland
The Gonzaga Bulldogs lost a great opportunity to seal their NCAA fate by blowing a late lead to Memphis. Playing in the West Coast Conference constantly gives the Bulldogs a huge quantity of wins each year. Two road games at BYU and St. Mary's will seal the Bulldogs' at-large chances, but if this were a power six team, their resume would not be good enough.
Record: 20-5 (8-2)
Quality Wins: at Virginia
Bad Losses: at Northern Iowa
The inability to beat the other top teams in the Atlantic 10 has put the VCU Rams in this position. This can change with two games against conference leader St. Louis and games at Massachusetts and Richmond.
2. Oklahoma State
Record: 16-8 (4-7)
Quality Wins: Memphis, Texas
Bad Losses: at Texas Tech, Baylor
The Oklahoma State Cowboys' recent slide has slid them from preseason Final Four team to team on the bubble watch. Things don't get easier with Marcus Smart's suspension. The Cowboys need at least four wins against five of the top teams in the Big 12 to seal a berth or else the Cowboys will have to earn it the hard way in the Big 12 Conference tournament.
1. North Carolina
Record: 16-7 (6-4)
Quality Wins: at Michigan State, Kentucky,
Bad Losses: at UAB, at Wake Forest
The North Carolina Tar Heels' conference record has zero impressive wins, but with two games against Duke and one against Pittsburgh, North Carolina's road to the NCAA tournament will be sealed with wins in two of these three games.