We are officially one week 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 33 teams are going to the NCAA Tournament:
Villanova, UNC, Kansas, Virginia, Xavier, Auburn, Michigan State, Texas Tech, Cincinnati, Tennessee, Miami, Creighton, Wichita State, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Gonzaga, West Virginia, Michigan, Arizona, Duke, Ohio State, Seton Hall, TCU, Clemson, Texas A&M, Houston, Virginia Tech, Florida, Florida State, Missouri, NC State, and Purdue
LOOKING SOLID – These 3 teams are likely to be in the field, but they enter Championship Week without a bid fully locked up. They may be able to take an early conference tournament loss, but it is no guarantee:
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:
Alabama – The Tide have plenty of quality wins, but that record (17-14) is brutal. They can’t afford to go winless in St. Louis. But how many wins they need is very much up in the air.
Arizona State – At one time, Arizona State was a one seed on this site. That’s how bad the PAC-12 season was for the Sun Devils. They’re still likely going dancing because of wins over Xavier and Kansas, but this bid is far from locked up.
Butler – The Bulldogs get Seton Hall in the Big East quarters. A win should be enough to dance. Whether a loss will be fatal would be a close call. They would probably end up barely staying in the field.
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.
USC – The Trojans could’ve all but punched their ticket with a home win over UCLA. Instead, they’re right near the cutline. A trip to the Pac-12 finals will probably be enough, but a loss before that would probably see them fall short.
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. The equation is simple: beat UNC and get in, beat only Wake and sweat it out, lose to Wake and accept what is almost a sure NIT bid.
Washington – Winning at potential one seed Kansas is a huge feather in the cap, but the Huskies simply didn’t consistently beat the teams they should beat. They’ll have to do serious work in the conference tournament.
Kansas State – It was an amazing Big XII season for the Wildcats, as they basically won every game they should and lost no games they shouldn’t. That’s the perfect recipe for a spot on the bubble entering Kansas City. The good news is a win over TCU will almost surely send them dancing. The bad news is a loss is more likely than not to doom the Wildcats to the NIT (though it would be close).
UCLA – Winning at USC completely changed the Bruins’ outlook. They probably can’t afford to go winless in the Pac-12 tourney, but they’re a fair amount above the cutline. The odds are in their favor.
Louisville – Beating Florida State in the ACC tournament would keep them very close to the cutline, and may or may not be enough. Adding a win over Virginia would obviously lock them. Losing to FSU, though, would almost certainly send them to the NIT.
Utah – A run to the Pac-12 finals might be enough to get in, but even that isn’t a guarantee.
Marquette – They are right on the cutline and their Big East Tournament performance will determine whether they make it. Winning two games (over DePaul and Villanova) should see them through. Beating only DePaul, though, may not be enough.
St Bonaventure – The Bonnies are solidly in the bracket right now. If they avoid a bad loss in the A-10 Tournament, they’ll likely sneak in.
Baylor – The Bears get West Virginia in the Big XII quarters. A win should be enough to dance, but a loss is more likely than not fatal.
Oklahoma State – Beating rival Oklahoma is an absolute must and beating Kansas probably is, too. If the Cowboys do get a third win over Kansas, though, they’ll likely be dancing.
LONGSHOTS – These teams aren’t totally out of it, but their bubble is on the verge of being popped:
Georgia, Mississippi State, LSU, Oregon, UCF, Notre Dame, Temple, South Carolina, Nebraska, Penn State, and MTSU
If you were keeping count, 36 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.