I apologize for this coming a day later than usual, but with some unseasonably warm weather here in Southeast PA, I was pretty busy at work this weekend. So I’m a day late, but I’m definitely not a dollar short!
Anyway, being unable to afford the same amount of time to this as I normally do, I’ve switched it up a little bit this week. With just under three weeks until Selection Sunday, the Bubble is as exciting as ever. With most teams having just three or four games left in their regular season, some Bubble teams are better positioned to improve their resume than others. So before I get to my Top-25, here’s a look at five Bubble teams that can really increase their Tournament chances over the next couple weeks, and three teams that have quite the uphill battle ahead of them.
Bubble Teams with Best Chance to Improve Resume:
Iowa State (18-9, 10-5 B12)
The Cyclones may have played their way off of the Bubble recently, having won four in a row after last night’s 82-80 overtime win at Texas Tech. That being said, they could play their way right back onto the bubble if they struggle down the stretch. They finish with home games against Baylor and Oklahoma State, then travel to Morgantown to face West Virginia to close out the regular season. Win one of those three games against likely Tournament teams, and I’d say they’re in for sure. But if they go 0-3 in those games (which is not likely, but possible), a win in the Big 12 Tournament could be essential to their Tourney hopes.
Miami FL (19-8, 9-6 ACC)
Speaking of teams that have probably worked their way off the Bubble, the Hurricanes outlasted Virginia in overtime last night, picking up a huge road win, one that could stamp their ticket to the Dance. If they are still on the Bubble, though, they have a few marquee games remaining to enhance their resume. They’ll host Duke this weekend, which will be followed by trips to likely Tournament teams Virginia Tech and Florida State. Similarly to Iowa State, I think one more win gets Miami into the Tournament. If they can find a way to win two of their last three, or even possibly all three, I could see them rising to as high as a 6 or 7-seed believe it or not.
TCU (17-10, 6-8 B12)
The Horned Frogs have been on the Bubble for most of this season, and I don’t see that ending anytime soon. Jamie Dixon has done a remarkable job in his first season in Fort Worth, but his work is not done if he wants to get his team into the Tournament. Their next two games are at Kansas and versus West Virginia. A win in one of those games is exactly the kind of win TCU’s resume is lacking. I don’t expect them to win either of those, which will make their last two games, versus Kansas State and at Oklahoma, absolute must-wins. Otherwise, it’s NIT for TCU.
California (18-8, 9-5 P12)
In most seasons, a team with Cal’s resume would probably be fighting for their Tournament lives. But it’s a pretty soft Bubble this season, so right now, most experts have the Golden Bears in the field. That being said, they could use a few more big wins, and they’ll get chances. They host Oregon this week, and a win could punch their ticket to the Big Dance. If they aren’t able to knock off the Ducks, they close their season with the Utah-Colorado trip that has proven very tough for teams this year. Two wins there could impress the Committee enough to get them in.
Syracuse (16-12. 8-7 ACC)
The Orange started the year 11-9, 3-4 in the ACC with a loss to Boston College, and nobody had them even sniffing the Bubble. Then they won five in a row, including wins over Florida State and Virginia, and that got them back into the conversation. Now, they are currently on a three-game losing streak, they have 12 losses, and they need to finish at least 2-1 in their last three games to have a shot, and it won’t be easy. They host Duke on Wednesday, then travel to Louisville Sunday. The following weekend, they close with a home game against Georgia Tech. They are not easy games, but lose two of them, and I think Syracuse is out.
Bubble Teams with Worst Chance to Improve Resume:
Kansas State (17-10, 6-8 B12)
Wins versus West Virginia and at Baylor are driving the Wildcats’ hopes for making the Tournament. Outside of those two wins, it’s a very lackluster resume, and unfortunately for K-State fans, there aren’t any potential marquee wins left in the regular season. They still have to face fellow Bubble teams Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas Tech, but two of those games are at home, and in my opinion, they cannot afford to lose either of those games. Win all three and I think they have a good shot to get in, but getting to face, and defeat, one of the top teams in the league in the Big 12 Tournament could end up as the only chance they have to get into the Tournament.
Texas Tech (17-11, 5-10 B12)
It’s amazing to me that a team five games under .500 in their own league is being discussed as a possible Tournament team, but that is what this year’s Bubble has given us. The Red Raiders have lost two consecutive games in overtime, missing out on two wins that could have greatly improved their chances to get into the Big Dance. Just like Kansas State, Texas Tech has wins over West Virginia and Baylor that they hope can be enough to get them in. They have road games against Oklahoma State and Kansas State left on their schedule, and I’m saying they need to win both of those games, or they have no chance to get in.
Clemson (14-12, 4-10 ACC)
Clemson sees Texas Tech’s 5-10 Big 12 record and raises them a 4-10 record in the ACC. Now, in my opinion, the ACC is tougher than the Big 12 this year, and with that, I believe that Clemson is a better team than Texas Tech, but equally as deserving (or undeserving) of a berth in the Tournament. Clemson has one huge resume-booster left when they host Florida State this weekend. The Seminoles have struggled on the road in conference play, so Clemson needs to win that game. Especially considering that their final two games are at home against basement-dwellers NC State and Boston College. Wins in those games won’t help Clemson’s chances at all.
And now, here’s this week’s Top-25!
- VCU (Prev: NR)
This Week: Wed 2/22 vs Saint Louis (7:00 pm); Sat 2/25 @ Rhode Island (2:00 pm, ESPN2)
- Virginia (Prev: 16)
This Week: Sat 2/25 @ NC State (12:00 pm, ESPN)
- Oklahoma State (Prev: NR)
This Week: Wed 2/22 @ Kansas State (9:00 pm, ESPNU); Sat 2/25 vs Texas Tech (2:00 pm, ESPNU)
- Saint Mary’s (Prev: 25)
This Week: Thu 2/23 @ Pepperdine (10:00 pm); Sat 2/25 vs Santa Clara (10:00 pm)
- Notre Dame (Prev: 24)
This Week: Sun 2/26 vs Georgia Tech (6:30 pm, ESPNU)
- Wisconsin (Prev: 21)
This Week: Thu 2/23 @ Ohio State (9:00 pm, ESPN); Sun 2/26 @ Michigan State (4:00 pm, CBS)
- Creighton (Prev: 19)
This Week: Wed 2/22 vs Providence (9:00 pm); Sat 2/25 @ Villanova (3:00 pm, FOX)
- Florida State (Prev: 11)
This Week: Sat 2/25 @ Clemson (12:00 pm, ESPN3)
- Butler (Prev: 20)
This Week: Wed 2/22 @ Villanova (9:00 pm, FS1); Sun 2/26 @ Xavier (3:30 pm, FS1)
- Florida (Prev: 17)
This Week: Tue 2/21 vs South Carolina (7:00 pm, ESPN); Sat 2/25 @ Kentucky (2:00 pm, CBS)
- Cincinnati (Prev: 14)
This Week: Thu 2/23 vs Memphis (7:00 pm, ESPN); Sun 2/26 @ UCF (3:00 pm, CBSSN)
- West Virginia (Prev: 12)
This Week: Sat 2/25 @ TCU (2:00 pm, ESPN)
- SMU (Prev: 15)
This Week: Sat 2/25 @ Connecticut (12:00 pm, CBS)
- Purdue (Prev: 13)
This Week: Tue 2/21 @ Penn State (6:00 pm, BTN); Sat 2/25 @ Michigan (4:00 pm, ESPN2)
- Baylor (Prev: 4)
This Week: Tue 2/21 vs Oklahoma (7:00 pm, ESPN2); Sat 2/25 @ Iowa State (4:00 pm, ESPN)
- Kentucky (Prev: 10)
This Week: Tue 2/21 @ Missouri (9:00 pm, SECN); Sat 2/25 vs Florida (2:00 pm, CBS)
- Duke (Prev: 18)
This Week: Wed 2/22 @ Syracuse (7:00 pm, ESPN); Sat 2/25 @ Miami FL (4:00 pm, CBS)
- Arizona (Prev: 9)
This Week: Thu 2/23 vs USC (10:00 pm, P12N); Sat 2/25 vs UCLA (8:15 pm, ESPN)
- UCLA (Prev: 6)
This Week: Thu 2/23 @ Arizona State (9:00 pm, ESPN2); Sat 2/25 @ Arizona (8:15 pm, ESPN)
- Oregon (Prev: 7)
This Week: Wed 2/22 @ California (9:00 pm, ESPN2); Sat 2/25 @ Stanford (4:00 pm, P12N)
- North Carolina (Prev: 8)
This Week: Wed 2/22 vs Louisville (9:00 pm, ESPN); Sat 2/25 @ Pittsburgh (12:00 pm, ESPN3)
- Louisville (Prev: 5)
This Week: Wed 2/22 @ North Carolina (9:00 pm, ESPN); Sun 2/26 vs Syracuse (2:00 pm, CBS)
- Kansas (Prev: 3)
This Week: Wed 2/22 vs TCU (7:00 pm, ESPN2); Sat 2/25 @ Texas (6:00 pm, ESPN)
- Gonzaga (Prev: 1)
This Week: Thu 2/23 @ San Diego (10:00 pm); Sat 2/25 vs BYU (10:00 pm, ESPN2)
- Villanova (Prev: 2)
This Week: Wed 2/22 vs Butler (9:00 pm, FS1); Sat 2/25 vs Creighton (3:00 pm, FOX)