Just over one month remains in the college basketball regular season. At this point, we normally know which teams are final four contenders and who will most likely be NIT bound. However, the parity is at an all time high, leaving many experts guessing on where to place certain teams.
We try our best to measure teams based on ‘Locks’, ‘Should Be In’, and ‘Bubble’.
Right now, the American is a total guess. Some teams have show flashes, but so far, it’s a conference that has lacked a team very high in the NET or a team with major non-conference victories.
Should Be In: 2
Houston: At 21st in the country, the Cougars are the highest ranked team in the latest poll. The 16-4 record does them justice, but the win over Washington doesn’t hold the same weight as it did a few weeks ago. 23+ wins and Houston is in.
Wichita State: The Shockers hold an impressive 17-3 record, which alone should get them in, as long as they don’t tumble down the stretch. 31st in the NET isn’t too shabby either.
Memphis: Currently, the Tigers are in by a couple of seed lines. However, a loss this week to either UCF or UConn, and it’ll be a different story.
Tulsa: At 6-1, Frank Haith’s team has the best conference record along with Houston. Non-conference play was strong, but they lacked a marquee win, leaving this team with a need for quality conference wins. The blowout over Memphis was certainly a start.
SMU: SMU is a tricky team. 15-4 (5-2) speaks for itself. However, their best non-conference win was a four point victory over UNLV, placing them at just 60th in the NET.
Cincy: Reputation and Jarron Cumberland may have a play on the Bearcats reaching the Big Dance, even though it shouldn’t. However, a strong non-conference schedule which included wins over Tennessee and Vermont and losses to Ohio State, Xavier, and Iowa will have the committee talking.
Louisville: 17-3, a win over Duke, and just one loss in conference play speaks volumes for the Cardinals. Having Player of the Year candidate, Jordan Nwora, doesn’t hurt either.
Duke: A pair of non-conference wins over Kansas and Michigan State will keep the Blue Devils in regardless of what happens down the stretch.
Florida State: The Seminoles could lose every game on their schedule from here on out and may still have enough to get in. Wins over Florida, Tennessee, Purdue, and Louisville are hard for anyone to match, let alone it’s only two losses to Pitt and Indiana.
Should Be In: 2
NC State: Let’s be honest. Other than the three teams mentioned above, the ACC has been dismal. However, the Wolfpack has been one team that has had it’s act together for most of the season. Wins over Wisconsin and Virginia don’t hold a lot of value, but certainly help.
Virginia Tech: This could be a stretch, but the Hokies should be in. Michigan State should serve as a win big enough to hold a lot of weight. However, past that, VTech may want to win one more big one to be safe.
Syracuse: One month ago, Syracuse wouldn’t have been on this list. However, five straight wins and a 6-3 record in ACC play have the Orange on the rise. A win over Clemson and an upset over Duke this week, and the ‘Cuse is in the column above.
Pitt: Few teams have been up and down like Pitt. An opening game win over Florida State had the Panthers talking, but then the following game they dropped one to Nicholls. Pitt needs to get a few more Q1 wins before they’re in.
Virginia: Sorry Virginia, winning last year’s tournament doesn’t matter for this season. The Cavaliers sit at 13-6 (5-4), and are in my latest bracketology. However, that 59th NET ranking is shaky.
Notre Dame: On paper, 11-8 (2-6) looks awful. However, then you take a deeper dive. Six of Notre Dame’s eight losses came by five points or less. The other two? To UNC with a healthy Cole Anthony, and AT (at the time) third ranked Maryland. Irish are in need of a big win.
Baylor: Right now, the Baylor Bears have the best resume in all of college basketball. A complete team, Baylor currently owns a 17-1 record, with wins over Kansas, Villanova, Butler, Arizona, Texas Tech, and Florida. The only loss came at the hands of Washington when the Huskies were playing their best ball.
Kansas: Sure, Kansas has had a rocky season to this date, most recently with the fight against Kansas State, but their play on the court has been tremendous.
West Virginia: This is arguably one of Bob Huggins’ most talented teams. This Mountaineers squad can defend and score, leaving many teams with a tough challenge to come away with a win. Two game against Baylor and one against Kansas still remain, but wins over Ohio State, Texas Tech, and Wichita State are certainly notable.
Should Be In: 1
Texas Tech: Coming off of a National Champion Game appearance, the Red Raiders started the season with little to no expectations. However, Chris Beard has worked his magic, and coached this team to a 12-7 (3-3) record to this point. However, that 38 mark in the NET rankings, to go along with a dub over Louisville is keeping their stock up.
TCU: You probably haven’t heard much about the Horned Frogs this season, and that’s just how Jamie Dixon wants it. TCU quietly sits in a tie for third place in the Big 12, with a 13-6 overall record. A recent win over Texas Tech however was their best to date, and that might not be enough.
Oklahoma: The Sooners are a tough bunch to grade. Brady Manek and co. are a talented group, but this is a team without many quality wins. They’ll have chances down the stretch to change that though.
Texas: The 2-4 record in Big 12 play could haunt the Longhorns. However, the win over Purdue is keeping them in talks for the moment.
Seton Hall: The Pirates have an All-American in Myles Powell and are currently playing as good as anyone in the country. Wins over Maryland and Butler and a strong non-conference slate will help them with seeding too.
Villanova: The ‘Cats aren’t Jay Wright’s most talented bunch. However, they still rank in the top-15 in both the AP Poll and NET rankings, thanks to wins over Kansas and Butler. Nova should still be feared come March.
Should Be In: 3
Butler: The Bulldogs are about as close as anyone to being a complete lock, and they’ll probably be there by next week. They have a bunch of good wins in Creighton, Marquette, Florida, Stanford, Purdue, and Minnesota, but are still waiting on a great one. However, those good wins will probably still be more than enough.
Creighton: The ‘Jays are that sleeper team in the Big East that can prove to be dangerous. Ty-Shon Alexander and Marcus Zegarowski are legit. A lot of eyes will be on them come Saturday, when they face over against Villanova.
Marquette: The Golden Eagles are the Markus Howard show, and that’s okay. One of the most exciting players in college basketball might be able to lead his team in to the Big Dance all by himself, which is worth watching.
Xavier: The Musketeers are that team that keep sliding in and out of weekly bracket projections. After going 11-2 in the non-conference slate against a decent schedule, Xavier has fallen to 13-7 overall, leaving critics doubting.
DePaul: DePaul has won AT Iowa, AT Boston College, AT Minnesota, vs Texas Tech, and vs Butler. All in a few month. Take note of the team from Chicago.
Michigan State: The Spartans have had their struggles, but are still title contenders. Cassius Winston leads this talented bunch, who have already taken down the likes of Seton Hall, Georgia, and numerous powerhouses in the Big Ten.
Maryland: Maryland was one of my Final Four picks at the beginning of the season. While they’ve fallen off a bit, they still own wins against numerous top teams, placing them at 13th in the NET as of now. Jalen Smith is also one of the most talented bigs in the country, on a team with a lot of scoring guards.
Iowa: Perhaps I’m a bit high on the Hawkeyes, but wow have they done a good job this season. Low expectations were no match for Fran McCaffrey, who have the team from Iowa City in the top-20 of the AP Poll, and a resume that includes wins over Maryland, Michigan, Rutgers, Texas Tech, Syracuse, Cincinnati, and Minnesota.
Should Be In: 5
Illinois: The fighting Illini are actually tied with Michigan State for the Big Ten lead. However, a weak non-conference and games left against six currently ranked teams have me guessing on how good this team really is. Time will tell.
Rutgers: Is New Jersey a basketball state? The Scarlet Knights are sure trying to add to that slogan. 15-5 with two wins over ranked teams have people talking. Geo Baker is also a solid guard who can hold his own against anyone.
Indiana: Who knows if the Hoosiers are headed back to their glory days, but it’s nice to think about it. Archie Miller has led IU to a 15-5 record and two huge wins over Florida State and Michigan State.
Penn State: Hold your horses, the Nittany Lions aren’t a basketball school just yet. However, they are 14-5 with an impressive few wins against Maryland, Iowa, Ohio State, Michigan, and Syracuse.
Ohio State: Talk about a team that’s fallen off. A few months ago, Kaleb Wesson had his team rolling, in talks as the top team in the country. Now, the Buckeyes are trying to hold on from dropping to the bubble. For now, the wins over Villanova, Kentucky, and a healthy North Carolina (by 25) will be enough.
Wisconsin: At 12-9 (5-5), the Badgers are a quality team that will most likely hear their name called on Selection Sunday. While the Richmond and New Mexico State losses aren’t terrible, they certainly don’t help the case.
Minnesota: 11-9 you say? Yes. The Gophers have been on a tear as of late, taking down Michigan State, Michigan, Penn State, and Ohio State (twice).
Purdue: I personally have Purdue in, but I can see the case against them too. The Boilermakers have no one superstar – quite different from last year. However, they do play with each other as good as any team in the country, helping them to numerous quadrant one wins and a NET placement of 36th as of today.
Michigan: I’m not the biggest fan of putting the Wolverines in the tournament. Sure, Zavier Simpson has been other worldly, and Jon Teske can hold his own. However, after taking down Creighton, UNC, Gonzaga, and Iowa, the team from Ann Arbor has gone 3-7 with only one win over a fellow power-conference opponent.
Oregon: Payton Pritchard is a household name and these Ducks should be feared. West Coast basketball is on the rise, and Oregon has been a big reason for that. A weak schedule from here on out could hurt them, but it also means the Ducks could run the table until the conference tournament.
Should Be In: 4
Colorado: Colorado is one of my darkhorses for a Final Four run. The Buffs are currently 16-4 with great wins over Dayton and Oregon. Their defense is noteworthy and McKinley Wright is a player to keep an eye on come March Madness.
USC: USC’s lack of quality wins is keeping them from a lock. Sound similar? In 2018, the Trojans went 21-10, but were held out of the tournament due to a poor strength of schedule. This year should be different, as very few teams have as many wins to this date as USC, but a quality win here or there wouldn’t be frowned upon.
Arizona: The Wildcats are 10th in the NET, which may come as a surprise, but still will hold a lot of weight when CBS reveals the 2020 bracket. Wins over Illinois and Colorado will be noticed by the casual fan. Wins over New Mexico State and South Dakota State – teams currently projected to win their respective conferences – will be taken into consideration by the committee.
Stanford: The Stanford Cardinal are in the same boat as Arizona, but don’t even have the type of wins over power conference teams that the Cats boast. Two games against Colorado and one against Oregon could be key if Stanford wants to feel safe on Selection Sunday.
Arizona State: I watched ASU play Virginia in November and one thing stood out to me: Remy Martin. This guy can take over any game, but will need to do just that in a few more regular season contests before he gets a chance to show out in March.
Washington: Washington is the coldest team in the country. The Huskies started out 10-2 with a win over Baylor and single-digit losses to Gonzaga and Tennessee. Since then, Mike Hopkins’s team has won just two of nine, leaving the Huskies at the bottom of the Pac-12 and no remaining games against currently ranked Pac-12 teams.
Utah: A win against Kentucky has Utah fans clinging to their hope. The BYU win should also factor in, and if Timmy Allen can continue his scoring over the rest of the season, Utah will have a chance to play in the Round of 64.
Kentucky: After the opening night win over Michigan State, ‘Big Blue Nation’ hasn’t been as strong. However, they were able to take down rival Louisville, and a tough Texas Tech team last week, which gives them more than enough reason to be feared. If Ashton Hagans can make jump shots, this team is tough to beat.
Should Be In: 4
Auburn: Auburn started the season unbeaten, until it dropped two straight road games to Alabama and Florida. A very weak schedule also has critics wondering how good this team really is. A win against Kentucky or LSU in the coming weeks would go a long ways.
LSU: The lone team still undefeated in SEC play, LSU is interesting. Skylar Mays is a tremendous ballplayer, and the Tigers are a good team. However, it didn’t exactly roll through it’s schedule, and a loss against East Tennessee State can be taken a few different ways.
Arkansas: Ahhh the Razorbacks. Much like USC, here’s a team with a lot of wins, but few being quality. The Tulsa and TCU victories are looking better, but Arkansas should find a way to the tournament if it continues winning the majority of games on it’s schedule.
Florida: To me, Florida is in, but the record is also closer to .500 then most would feel comfortable with. 37th in the NET will propel this team forward, but losses to Connecticut and Missouri are dismal.
Tennessee: Two weeks ago, the Volunteers would be in the category above, but the wins over Washington and VCU don’t look as great, and neither does the loss at home to Memphis. Still, this is a quality team with a good coach that has winnable games and plenty of opportunities for quadrant one wins.
Alabama: Bama is a tricky team to grade. Right now, I have them out, but they can make a case to sneak in depending on how they play over the next month. A lot will depend on the play of Kira Lewis.
Mississippi State: Mississippi State had a chance to beat Villanova, which could be the difference maker on them getting in or out of the NCAA Tournament. Upcoming games against Florida, Tennessee, and Kentucky might also decide their fate.
Other Notable Teams:
Gonzaga: The Zags are not only America’s team, but can also make the case for America’s best team. Mark Few has already led his team over much needed victories against Oregon, Arizona, and North Carolina. The Bulldogs are 7-0 in conference, and have won those games by a combined 193 points.
San Diego State: The Aztecs are the lone undefeated team, now at 21-0. Wins over BYU, Creighton, and Iowa show that they can handle good competition. Malachi Flynn will be playing in the NCAA Tournament – the only question will be what seed.
Dayton: If you haven’t heard of Obi Toppin by now, you must not watch college basketball. The stretch four can really do it all, and has led the Flyers to being ranked seventh in the nation and fifth in the NET as of now. The Atlantic 10 is also very good this year, meaning the Flyers have a chance to earn that coveted one seed.
Should Be In: 2
Saint Mary’s: Often known as Gonzaga’s little sister, the Gaels are different this year. Jordan Ford could be an All-American, and with wins over Wisconsin and Utah State, this isn’t just ‘lil ole Saint Mary’s.
VCU: VCU started the season ranked, and quickly earned a win over LSU. However, subsequent losses to Purdue and Tennessee quickly knocked the Rams off the radar. All of their losses have been quality, but they need to come away with a few wins by March.
BYU: BYU’s NET will be the talking point for the rest of the season. Currently 29th in that metric, they hold the highest position for a non-power conference team who also doesn’t lead it’s conference.
Utah State: Most people thought Utah State was a top-25 team to begin the season. However, at 16-6 (5-4) they haven’t put forth their best case to date. The country would benefit from Sam Merrill playing in the tournament, but the Aggies have some work to do.
Stephen F. Austin: 17-3 and a win over Duke. Nuff said – monitor the Lumberjacks.
Saint Louis: After getting blown out by Seton Hall, this Billikens team didn’t even look NIT worthy. However, they rattled off five straight wins, and almost took down Auburn, virtually turning their season around. An NCAA Tournament berth will be tough without at least 24 wins.
Richmond: Of these Bubble teams, Richmond is the one to keep an eye on most. At 15-5 (5-2), this already looks like a decent team. Pair that with the fact that they’re top-50 in the NET with a win over Wisconsin, and all the sudden Richmond is a very quality team. The A-10 could get up to three teams in the tournament, and they could be that third.
East Tennessee State: The SoCon has become an underrated conference in years past, and ETSU is the cream of the crop. The 18-3 overall record speaks for itself, but wins over LSU and Winthrop also help. This conference could see two teams in the tournament, as long at ETSU makes it to the SoCon finals.
Northern Iowa: The Panthers biggest claim is an away win against Colorado, which alone speaks volumes. They’ve also taken down South Carolina, and have a great NET given their conference, at 49th. However, if they don’t win the MVC Tournament, they will need a minimum of 27 wins to even be considered.