We are getting so close to Selection Sunday! Here are the four distinct categories of teams: Tourney Bound, Looking Solid, Truly Bubbly, and Longshots.
Let’s break down each category.
TOURNEY BOUND – These 31 teams are going to the NCAA Tournament:
Villanova, UNC, Kansas, Virginia, Xavier, Auburn, Michigan State, Texas Tech, Cincinnati, Tennessee, Miami, Creighton, Wichita State, Kentucky, Arkansas, Gonzaga, West Virginia, Michigan, Arizona, Duke, Ohio State, Seton Hall, TCU, Clemson, Texas A&M, Houston, Virginia Tech, Florida, Missouri, NC State, and Purdue
LOOKING SOLID – These 7 teams are likely to be in the field and will cement a spot with the following number of regular season wins:
Alabama – 1
Butler – 1
Florida State – 1
Oklahoma – 1
Rhode Island – 1
Arizona State – 2
Nevada – 2
TRULY BUBBLY – These teams represent the “true bubble.” Some will play themselves in comfortably, some will play themselves out, and some will stay on the bubble all the way through the Selection Show:
Providence – There are great wins over Villanova and Xavier, but those were in Providence. The three bad losses could be a differentiator if they fall too close to the cut line. Still, they have to like their chances.
Texas – The Longhorns picked up a desperately needed one-point home win over Oklahoma State before losing at Kansas. Their five Quadrant 1 wins are great, but their 17-13 overall record is not. Still, a home win over West Virginia should be enough to see them through to the NCAAs if they can get it.
USC – The Trojans are playing surprisingly well sans Boatwright. That said, they have ZERO wins against definite tournament teams and a home loss to Princeton. Beating UCLA will make them sleep a whole lot easier.
St Mary’s – The Gaels seemingly put themselves in position to miss the tournament ever year by failing to schedule tough out of conference. This year is no different. They’ll need to beat BYU in the WCC tournament and hope other bubble teams falter to make the field.
Syracuse – The Orange have a very mediocre profile, but that’s enough to keep them on the bubble. Wins at Miami and Louisville will help, but there isn’t a marquee win on the resume. That will hurt if they fail to beat Clemson.
Washington – Winning at likely one seed Kansas is a huge feather in the cap that should take away all of the sting from losing to Oregon State. It’s crucial that the Huskies defend their home court against the two Oregon schools to close out the year. If they do, they’ll likely find themselves on the right side of the bubble.
Kansas State – This profile is nice, but TCU at home, at Texas, and at Baylor shouldn’t be your best three wins of the year if you’re trying to make the tournament from a power conference. Protecting their home court against Baylor would leave them on the right side of the bubble for the time being.
UCLA – It’s going to be a very tough climb for the Bruins if they can’t beat USC. Even a win there would be no guarantee.
Georgia – A win at home over LSU doesn’t move the needle much, but it was absolutely necessary. The last two are Texas A&M in Athens and at Tennessee. Splitting will keep them alive. Winning both will likely send UGA to the NCAAs.
Middle Tennessee – There are three Quadrant 1 wins, a strong 24th-rated RPI, and no truly bad losses. But they don’t have a single win over a team that is in serious competition for an at-large bid. If MTSU can beat Western Kentucky before falling in the CUSA tournament, then this one will be VERY close.
Louisville – What a HUGE road win in Blacksburg. The Cardinals aren’t just back in it, they’re back into the field. The final two are Virginia at home and at NC State. A win in either might be enough to make the field, but those are two really tough games to end with.
Utah – Getting blown out by USC is not the right statement to make right now, but there is still enough good on the resume to be close (including three Quadrant 1 road wins). It will take a run in the PAC-12 tournament to make it, but this could still happen.
Nebraska – It is looking increasingly likely that Nebraska will go 13-5 in the Big Ten and miss the field. Make a run to the Big Ten final, or else…
Marquette – Winning at Georgetown was step one. Now they need to beat Creighton or make a Big East finals run to have a chance.
Temple – They have two tough road games to close the year. Win both and the Owls will be in better position than most think to make a run at this thing.
St Bonaventure – The Bonnies would likely be in if Selection Sunday were today, but they still have to play Saint Louis on the road. If an at-large is needed, it may very well come down to how many A-10 tournament games they win.
Baylor – The Bears really needed that win over Oklahoma. They’ll get a chance to firm up a bid on the road against Kansas State.
LONGSHOTS – These teams aren’t totally out of it, but their bubble is on the verge of being popped:
Mississippi State, LSU, UCF, Notre Dame, South Carolina, Penn State, Western Kentucky, Loyola-Chicago, and Oklahoma State
If you were keeping count, 38 teams from 9 conferences are Tourney Bound or Looking Solid. That means there are only nine bids available for teams that are Truly Bubbly or Longshots.