College basketball season is about halfway through. The bubble is starting to form, and with a wild season thus far, is starting to look different than the past. Teams who do not usually worry about hearing their names called on Selection Sunday are now finding their names on the bubble. These teams have half a season to turn things around, or else they will be playing in the NIT in March.
The Buckeyes are the only team on this list who currently sit on the inside of the bracket field at this point in the season, but the Buckeyes are having a less than ideal start to Big Ten play. Ohio State started with a good win over Penn State, but then fell to a weak Minnesota squad shortly after. Since, the Buckeyes have only beaten Nebraska, and have fallen to Wisconsin, Indiana, and Maryland.
The Buckeyes have an opportunity in February and March to solidify their status in this years tournament. With the Big Ten being so strong this year, Ohio State faces off with five currently ranked opponents, in addition to scorching hot Rutgers and capable Iowa. If the Buckeyes can win 4-5 of those games, they will be a lock in March.
The Huskies have a solid out of conference resume, with a win over Baylor and only three losses, one of which coming to Gonzaga. Washington has had a rough go about it in PAC-12 play, however. The Huskies have lost to UCLA, Stanford, and California.
Washington can turn their season around, but in a weak conference, they have to convert on all their opportunities. Washington faces off with Oregon and Colorado, both top 20 teams. However, after those January matchups, the Huskies do not face another ranked opponent in the regular season. If the Huskies can win both those games, they should be in the field, but one loss would mean they have to beat Arizona on the road and go deep into the PAC-12 tournament.
The defending national champs have struggled greatly on offense this season. Virginia has yet to win a game in which they allow more than 60 points, and have lost to South Carolina, Boston College, Purdue, and Syracuse. In addition, Virginia’s “good wins” have all come against teams who have yet to live up to expectations, such as North Carolina, Arizona State, and Vermont.
Virginia missed out on an opportunity to pick up a nice win at Florida State, losing by four, but can still boost its resume before selection. The Cavaliers will face Louisville twice, Florida State once more, Duke, and red hot Virginia Tech again. If Virginia can secure a double bye in the ACC tournament and make it to the semi finals, they will be a tournament team. But Virginia has a lot of work to do on the offensive end before that becomes a possibility.
The Cyclones have the worst record on this list but have the talent to turn their season back on track. Iowa State has wins over Seton Hall and Alabama, but sit just 1-3 in the Big 12 thus far. The Cyclones also have lost to Florida A&M, Iowa, and Oregon State, dampening their resume.
Of all the teams on this list, Iowa State has the best chance to boost their resume. The Cyclones still have matchups with Baylor, Kansas, West Virginia, and Auburn, all top 15 teams as of now, as well as top 25 Texas Tech. If the Cyclones can come away with four wins in these games, they will become a lock, but three wins will need a solid rest of conference play as well as a decent run in their conference tournament.
Man, what a rough year for the Tar Heels. UNC sits at 8-8, the worst start for Roy Williams in the century. Cole Anthony is out, and Carolina does not have the talent to be a powerhouse this season. Losses to Ohio State and Virginia started the skid for Carolina, which continued to fall down a slippery slope against Wofford, a game in which it lost. UNC is 1-4 in conference play, but it does have a win over Oregon early on. Can Carolina make it to the dance this season?
There’s a chance. Do they have to win the ACC tournament? Probably. But an at large is not out of the question quite yet. Wins over Duke (twice), Louisville, and Florida State would look great for Roy Williams and co. UNC also has games left with NC State, Virginia Tech, and Notre Dame, all possible at large teams. At this point in the year, it will be tough, but the Tar Heels can sneak in if their season gets turned around quickly.