NCAA Basketball March Madness

10 Teams That Have to Win Conference Tournament to Make the Big Dance

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Teams That Have to Win Conference Tournament to Make the Big Dance

College Basketball Conference tournaments
Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Every year there are teams that sneak into the NCAA tournament. Some make runs down the stretch and solidify their spot in the field of 68 and others do the unthinkable by stealing a bid as a result of winning their conference tournament. This year will be no different. So, let’s take a look at 10 teams that have to win their conference tournament to make the Big Dance.

All of these teams have decent records and are more than capable of winning a game or two in the tournament. The problem is getting there.

The great thing about college basketball is that a team with a losing record can still make the tournament. Winning a conference tournament will earn a team an automatic bid every single time.

However, when a team does steal a bid, it takes the place of a bubble team. Therefore, bubble teams absolutely do not want to see an underdog capturing a conference tournament.

It happens every year, though.

These 10 teams have not done enough to make the NCAA tournament based off of their resume. They will all have to win their conference tournament if they plan on not playing in the NIT.

A couple of these teams are in the same conference, so it is impossible for every single team on this list to win its conference tournament.

Well, let’s get to those 10 teams. If your favorite team is on this list that is a bummer. Just remember, March Madness is the craziest month of college basketball for a reason. There is still hope.

Trevor Lowry is a Senior Writer and Copy Editor at If you’re a tweeter feel free to follow him @TheTrevorLowry or add him to your network on Google.

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Clemson Tigers

Clemson Tigers
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Record: 18-10, 9-7 ACC

The Clemson Tigers are riding a one-game win streak. It really doesn’t matter, though, because they will need to win the ACC tournament to make the dance.

I guess they could sneak in if they win out and make a run in their conference tournament, but even that would probably not be enough. You could say that with every single bubble team because you really never know what the tournament committee is going to do.

Losses to Notre Dame, Auburn and Wake Forest and not enough quality wins put Clemson in this position.

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Marquette Golden Eagles

Marquette Golden Eagles
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Record: 17-12, 9-7 Big East

Marquette has had a very disappointing season after making the Elite Eight last year. The Golden Eagles aren’t even a bubble team at this point and definitely have to win the Big East tournament to make the dance.

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Indiana Hoosiers

Indiana Hoosiers
Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Record: 17-12, 7-9 Big Ten

Wins against Iowa and Ohio State in back-to-back games may have people thinking Indiana is back on the bubble, but the Hoosiers have a lot of bad losses. It is amazing to think that Indiana has also beaten Wisconsin and Michigan and will more than likely not make the tournament. Well, unless if they win the Big 10 tourney that is.

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Florida State Seminoles

Florida State Seminoles
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Record: 17-11, 8-8 ACC

Florida State has some nice wins on the season which includes victories against VCU, Massachusetts, Clemson and Pittsburgh. However, the Seminoles simply have not done enough to earn a bid.

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Indiana State Sycamores

Indiana State Sycamores
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Record: 21-8, 12-5 MVC

This one really should not be that big of a surprise. Indiana State ended the regular season on a three-game losing streak and it plays in the MVC. Still, the Sycamores could have made a case for making the dance before their recent skid.

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Georgetown Hoyas

Georgetown Hoyas
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Record: 16-12, 7-9 Big East

That record pretty much tells it all. The Hoyas have made it interesting up until this point, but they have lost three out of four and have played their way out of an at-large bid.

Georgetown could make things interesting by beating Creighton and Villanova in its last two regular season games, but it really has not done enough this season to earn that at-large bid.

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Utah Utes

Utah Utes
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Record: 19-9, 8-8 Pac-12

The Utah Utes have a pretty good record and play in a competitive Pac-12 Conference -- if you take Arizona out of the equation. Unfortunately, there are so many teams fighting for a spot in the tournament and the Utes simply do not cut it.

Utah has beaten Arizona State and Colorado in its last two games and will close out the season by playing road games against Cal and Stanford. Wins in those contests could make things very interesting.

As of right now, the Utes need to win the Pac-12 tournament.

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Ole Miss Rebels

Ole Miss Rebels
Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Record: 17-12, 8-8 SEC

Ole Miss has now lost five games in its last six. That is never going to get it done for any bubble team and the Rebels will need another magical run in the SEC tournament to make the NCAA tournament. But hey, they managed to pull that feat off last year.

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Boise State Broncos

Boise State Broncos
Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

Record: 19-10, 9-7 MWC

Boise State was supposed to challenge for a MWC title, but it is five games out of first place. The conference is down this year and two bids is definitely the max. Unless if a team like Boise State wins the conference tournament, of course.

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Richmond Spiders

Richmond Spiders
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Record: 18-11, 8-6 A 10

Richmond had a great chance to earn an at-large bid, but then it lost to George Mason and Rhode Island in back-to-back games. That is not okay. Losing to bad teams is the worst thing a bubble team can do this late in the season.

Rhode Island is 4-11 in the A 10 and George Mason is 3-11, so you can definitely say those are bad teams.

The Spiders close out the season against VCU and Dayton. I am not sure if wins in those two contests would override losses against Rhode Island and George Mason, but we will tackle that issue if Dayton actually comes up on top in both games.