Who’s in and who has work to do?
With Selection Sunday nearing the corner, it’s make or break time for teams on the bubble. Some teams are already virtual locks in the tournament, while others have played themselves out of March. Matty Brackets gives his best look at Power Conference Teams, High Mid Majors, and Mid Majors with great resumes:
In order to understand how the best bracketologist in the world sees the field *cough cough* (Mat Mlodzinski), here are the tiers in which he has the field and the bubble:
- Tier A: Ceiling is the roof, 1 seed contenders
- Tier B: For sure locks, competing for 2-4 seeds
- Tier C: Most likely in, but a bit of work to do
- Tier D: Bubble trending in
- Tier E: Bubble treding out
Tier A: Ceiling is the roof, 1 seed contenders
- Virginia – The Cavaliers are currently the best choice for the number one overall seed. At 24-2, with wins over North Carolina, Florida State, Wisconsin, Maryland, Virginia Tech, Louisville, and NC State (2X), it would be tough for them NOT to earn a one seed.
- Kentucky – John Cal’s team has burst onto the scene thanks to taking down the number one Tennessee Volunteers. Since then, the Cats have looked all the most like a National Championship contender.
- Duke – Duke has looked a bit off since losing Zion, but everyone knows that at full strength, Coach K’s squad will be a title favorite.
- Gonzaga – Gonzaga is a one seed for now, but a weak conference schedule could drop them down to a 2-seed. However, if the Zags run the table, it would be tough not to put a two loss team with a win over Duke on the one line.
- North Carolina – UNC is the hottest team in the country right now, most recently with a convincing win AT Duke (albeit without Zion). The Heels still play Duke one more time, plus the ACC tournament. Will the ACC get three one seeds? It’s a strong possibility.
- Tennessee – The Vols have fallen off a bit, but still have the resume for a one seed. Tennessee has non-conference wins over Gonzaga and Louisville, but are in need of a quality SEC win. They’ll have that chance hosting Kentucky on March 2nd.
- Michigan State – The Spartans have been teetering between the 2 and 4 line for practically the whole year, but still have it in them to bring home a 1 seed by Selection Sunday. Izzo’s squad has been riddled by a ton of injuries, but has a 23-5 record, with another regular season matchup against Michigan before the Big Ten Tournament.
- Michigan – Michigan seemed like they’d have a 1 seed in the books for over half the season, but a recently downhill spiral has made bracketologist rethink the Wolverines. Nonetheless, they have an impressive resume, and a date with MSU in early March.
- Marquette – The Golden Eagles have the slimmest chance on this list to come away with a 1 seed, but it could definitly happen. Woj’s team boasts wins over Villanova, Wisconsin, Louisville, Kansas State, and Buffalo. If they can run the table (which would include at least another victory over Nova, Markus Howard and co. could be the final 1 seed in the Big Dance bracket.
Tier B: For sure locks, competing for 2-4 seeds:
- Texas Tech – The Red Raiders COULD potentially vouch for a number one seed. However, they don’t have as many Q1 wins as the teams in Tier A, and also don’t have the best schedule ahead to gain more really good wins. If they run the table, they could have a case, but right now, they’re looking at the 2-4 range.
- Purdue – The Boilermakers have a 20-7 record, but have as many high-quality wins as ANYONE in the country. Carsen Edwards and co. have already beaten Michigan State, Wisconsin, Maryland, Iowa, Davidson, and Belmont. They have four virtual wins to close out their Big Ten schedule, before the B10 tourney.
- LSU – At 22-5, LSU has risen onto the scene in the past two weeks. Tremont Waters and Naz Reid are a great 1-2 punch, and the Tigers have some really impressive wins in Kentucky and Tennessee.
- Houston – Houston is in the tournament no matter what, and if they keep winning, could claim a 2 seed. The Cougars are 26-1, with the lone loss coming @ Temple. LSU is their best non-conference dub, however, a 30 win Houston team would be hard pressed to fine anything less than a 3 seed.
- Kansas – This isn’t the same Jayhawks team as past years. However, take away the ‘Kansas’ name and you have a team that is 21-7 with wins over Tennessee, Michigan State, and Villanova. Quality team with some issues.
- Florida State – FSU has become an ACC powerhouse over the past couple of years. Again, Leonard Hamilton has the Noles at 22-6 in position to finish in the top four of the ACC for the vaunted double bye.
- Maryland – Maryland lives and dies by Bruno Fernando, which is very rare to see in 2019. Fernando is a dominate big man, but the Terps with need other guys to step up if they want to improve their seed. They are safely in, and still play Michigan, so their seed will fluctuate a lot over the next couple weeks.
- Kansas State – Dean wade and co. have KState back with a chance for another Elite 8 bid. Seriously. The Wildcats have had some struggles, but overall have a team that can compete for a 4 seed if they get hot.
- Virginia Tech – The loss of Justin Robinson has not only hurt VTech on the court, but as also hurt the overall persona of the Hokies. However, when it gets down to it, this team has over 20 wins. With five or six more wins between the ACC regular season and ACC Tournament, this team could still reach a 3 or 4 seed.
- Washington – Mike Hopkins has turned Washington into the best Pac-12 team BY FAR. The for Syracuse coach has all but locked up the Pac 12 title. In fact, Washington could still find a way to get a 3 or 4 seed even with how bad the Pac-12 has been. Quality team.
- Iowa – Fran McCaffrey has a solid Iowa team that I have liked since day one. Tyler Cook is the most underrated player in the Big Ten, and while he may not lead them to a Big 10 title, he could definitly get them on a Big Ten Cinderella Run on route to a very nice seeding.
- Nevada – Nevada has a TERRIBLE NET ranking, due to their easy conference play. It doesn’t help when one of those losses happened in an utter blowout. The Pack do boast wins over Arizona State and other high mid majors, but they lack a significant win that could really propel their aura. 3 seed is their ceiling.
- Wisconsin – Wisconsin didn’t really help their case in the first half of the season, losing to Virginia and Marquette, leaving them NC State as their only true quality win. However, the Badgers are 11-5 in Big Ten play, including wins over Michigan and Maryland. They may need one more win to be totally safe, but with Indiana and Penn State still left on the schedule, that shouldn’t be a problem.
- Villanova – Nova was in play for a two seed and then they hit rock bottom and have now lost three straight games. However, Jay Wright’s squad has beat Florida State, and lost on just one possession to Kansas. It isn’t the same Villanova team has it has been in past years, but if Eric Paschall and co. get hot from downtown, it’s a team that can still get a 3-4 seed and make a late run in March.
- Ole Miss – First off, I’d like to express my support for the Ole Miss players that took a knee during the National Anthem due to pro-confederate rallies on campus. However, from a basketball standpoint, this is a team that came from near bottom projections of the SEC to a team with multiple quality wins and most likely in the tourney. They can still be in play for a 4 seed as well, if they run the table or lose just one game.
- Cincinnati – While Houston has made the most noise out of the AAC, Cincinnati has had their share. At 23-4, they have shown that they can win, win, win, but they’ve done so without too many quality wins, with the most notable victories over Ole Miss and UCF. A matchup against Houston on March 10th could be vital.
- Buffalo – There aren’t many scenarios in which the Bulls will be left out of the Big Dance. They’ll most likely get an auto bid, but with wins over Syracuse, San Francisco, and West Virginia, they’ve proved enough that they can ball with the best of them.
- Mississippi State – The Weatherspoon brothers have Mississippi State at a solid 20-7, and boast wins over Cincinnati, Auburn, Wofford, and Clemson. They still have Tennessee on the schedule, which could put Hail State in position for a potential 3 seed at best.
Tier C: Most likely in, but a bit of work to do:
- NC State – NC State would be in the top list, but they aren’t for two reasons – not much scoring and an unimpressive resume. The Wolfpack’s best wins are Auburn, Syracuse, and Clemson, and they don’t play at a tempo that often gets noticed. One more win and they’re safe.
- Iowa State – Okay I’m probably wrong here. 95% of people would have put Iowa State in Tier B. However, the Cyclones have lost 3 of their last 5, giving me some reason for concern. Like NC State, one more win and I think they’re good, but you never know.
- Syracuse – Good news, Orange fans! You won’t be on the bubble this year. A big win @ Duke virtually puts Syracuse into the tournament with at least 18 wins. Two more wins, and they’ll reach 20, which should easily be enough. However, with games against UNC and UVA remaining in the regular season, the Orange can keep climbing.
- Baylor – Baylor has come on the scene after a dismal non-conference fairing. However, the Bears have nine conference wins, which is good for fourth in the Big 12. Two more wins and I think this team is safely in, but with Kansas and Kansas State still left, they need to bring their A-game.
- Louisville – For a while it was looking like Louisville might make a run and get themselves as high as a 3 seed. However, now it’s a Cardinals team trying to stay alive and not get sent to the NIT. At 18-10, their record won’t blow anyone away, and I think they need to win 2 of their last 3 regular season games to feel good going into the ACC Tournament.
- St. John’s – The Johnnies had perhaps the worst non-conference schedule in recent memory of a team of their caliber. Shamorie Ponds and co. can ball with the best of them, and they’ve beaten Marquette twice and Villanova once. However, a lackluster NET will cause bracketologist to judge them hard. 23 wins and they’re in safely.
- Auburn – Auburn was once a top ten team with a lot of buzz around them. Now, they’re 18-9 with games against Mississippi State and Tennessee left on the schedule. Tigers need at least 2 of their last 4 and a win in the SEC Tournament to feel good.
- Wofford – Fletcher Magee will be a household name by March, if he isn’t already. The sharpshooter has turned Wofford into a nationally ranked team – 24th in the latest AP Poll. If Wofford wins out, they can get as high as a six seed, as the SoCon has been the best Mid Major conference all season long. However, 2-3 losses to close out the season and Wofford will be sweating it out on Selection Sunday.
- TCU – The Horned Frogs have the talent to play like a 4 seed once they reach the tournament, but right now they have the feel of an 8-10 seed. An under .500 Big 12 record needs to change soon.
- Arizona State – Arizona State’s win over Kansas will help them all the way until Selection Sunday. I think the Sun Devils are in, but because of how bad the Pac-12 is, it might be a good thing for Bobby Hurley’s team to win at least a couple more games until then.
- UCF – It’s Tacko Fall’s senior season, and I think that every college basketball fan is rooting for UCF to make the tournament for his case. The big man’s team has 20 wins, but in the AAC, it would be safe for UCF to win at least 24 and maybe even an appearance in the American Semis or better.
- Ohio State – At 17-10 a a resume that is neither bad or eye popping, Ohio State is a true bubble team. However, this year, the bubble is worse than it has ever been, meaning that a 20 win season will get the Buckeyes in.
Tier D: Bubble trending in:
- Florida – The hottest team as of late, the Gators have rebounded as of late, thanks to a 3-game win streak including one over LSU. Gators end the SEC regular season with LSU and Kentucky, meaning they MUST win the two games before that.
- Oregon State – Can Oregon State make it three teams for the Pac-12? Not sure to be honest. They could win five more games up until then and it will still be up to the committee to decide if the Pac 12 is worthy of getting a 3rd team in.
- South Carolina – At 14-13, South Carolina is that one team on the bubble that could sneak in based on their conference record. The Gamecocks best non-conference win is George Washington. However, at 9-5 in the SEC, with victories over Mississippi State, Auburn, Ole Miss, and Florida, it seems like Frank Martin has stabilized his team. They have four winnable games to close out the regular season, and may need to make it to the SEC semifinals in order to receive a tourney bid. Just don’t count them out yet.
Tier E: Bubble trending out:
- Seton Hall – The Pirates probably have the best bubble resume in terms of quality wins, which includes Kentucky at a neutral site and Maryland @ College Park. However, Kevin Willard’s crew has lost their last two. The Pirates may need 2 of their next 3 – GTown, Marquette, and Nova – to be safely in.
- South Florida
- Texas – I’m in love with the Longhorns, but 15 wins at this point is nothing to brag about. Texas is in with 20, and 18 or 19 will keep them in a lot of consideration thanks to a very good resume given their record.