College Basketball Analyst & Writer
My personal rule is to attempt to not use the bubble phrase earlier than Feb. 1.
Well, we’re lower than 10 days away and there are many groups trending towards that minimize line for the NCAA Tournament.
The blue bloods as soon as considered heading within the fallacious route have righted themselves. So do not fret, there is not any purpose to imagine North Carolina, Duke and Kentucky will not be within the subject. The seeds might take a rollercoaster trip, and it isn’t out of the query that we may find yourself with an historic matchup between a Kentucky and a Duke at the same time as early as the primary or second spherical in the event that they ended up in a 7-10 or 8-9 recreation.
The listing of groups that will probably be on the seed strains from 11 to 12, both within the subject with out having to go to Dayton for the First Four, or heading to the primary nights of the match, is lengthy. And that listing goes to alter weekly over the following 40-plus days.
Here is my present listing, by way of Sunday’s video games, of 20 groups which have some work to do to get into the Big Dance.
1. Boise State (15-5): The Broncos received 5 of their first seven video games within the Mountain West and have been inside one possession of beating New Mexico in additional time on the Pit. Their greatest wins got here in opposition to Texas A&M, at Saint Louis, and over Pac-12 groups Washington State and Colorado on impartial courts. The Broncos nonetheless need to play at San Diego State (Feb. 3), and New Mexico (Feb. 22) and the Aztecs (Feb. 28) at residence. And they finish the season at Utah State (March 4). If Boise State desires to be within the subject, then going 2-2 in these 4 video games looks as if a should. Of course, the Broncos cannot lose video games in opposition to the underside of the league.
2. Creighton (11-8): The Bluejays should not be on this place, however accidents and a six-game shedding skid put them in a tricky spot. Creighton is wholesome and needs to be ready to be securely within the subject. But it could assist to not lose video games to the underside of the Big East. Of course, the wins over Texas Tech and Arkansas in Maui have a shelf life. The Bluejays have a five-game stretch from Feb. 11-25 that ought to decide their destiny: UConn, at Providence, at St. John’s, Marquette and at Villanova.
3. Arizona State (15-5): The Sun Devils went from probably being in first place within the Pac-12 to now needing to do some extra work. ASU received swept at residence by UCLA and USC. ASU has already misplaced at residence to Arizona and has a loss at Texas Southern and 37-point loss at San Francisco. The Sun Devils needs to be fantastic, however the closing 4 video games of the season are going to check them. They host Utah after which go to Arizona, UCLA and USC.
4. Maryland (12-7): The Terps raced out to an 8-0 begin however then misplaced at Wisconsin, to Tennessee in Brooklyn, and received blasted at residence by UCLA. The Terps have misplaced 4 straight Big Ten street video games. The excellent news is Maryland is residence for the following three. The Terps needs to be in place to get a bid, however ending the season at Ohio State and Penn State may presumably put them ready to want a win on the Big Ten Tournament.
5. Pitt (13-7): The Panthers have been a first-place ACC staff a couple of weeks in the past after beating North Carolina and Virginia at residence. Those two wins, in addition to successful at NC State, ought to quell any fears. But the Panthers would do nicely to not fully fall flat. Pitt nonetheless has to play Miami twice, go to North Carolina, and play a tough opponent in Florida State, which is beginning to play significantly better and simply beat the Panthers final weekend.
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6. Memphis (15-5): The Tigers should keep within the prime two within the American. Temple’s win over Houston is of concern for separation, however Memphis did already beat Temple in Philadelphia. The Tigers even have a win over Auburn on a impartial court docket. The résumé favors Memphis as the highest staff out of the American not named Houston. The Tigers can quell any fears by beating Houston in one among their two matchups — Feb. 19 on the street or at residence to finish the season on March 5. Playing host to Temple on Feb. 12 is sweet, too, for a potential sweep.
7. Ohio State (11-8): The Buckeyes are solely on this listing as a result of they misplaced 5 in a row, together with at Nebraska and at residence to Minnesota. They additionally missed out on some potential high-profile wins, shedding to San Diego State in Maui, at Duke and vs. North Carolina in New York. The concern for Ohio State is the remaining schedule. Sure, it is going to be an enormous assist if the Buckeyes win a couple of, however having to go to Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Purdue and Michigan State would not give them loads of room for error.
8. Penn State (13-6): The Nittany Lions missed out on a couple of probabilities, together with vs. Virginia Tech on a impartial court docket, at Clemson (double-OT loss) and at Wisconsin. The Nittany Lions have a street win at Illinois and residential wins over Indiana and Iowa which have them within the dialog for a bid. But Penn State may simply nonetheless play its method out, with street video games at Rutgers, Purdue, Ohio State and Maryland nonetheless on the schedule. And nothing is assured at Nebraska, Minnesota and Northwestern. Yes, that is seven extra street video games on the slate.
9. USC (14-6): The Trojans needs to be fantastic, because the win over Auburn is a separator for them, and beating ASU in Tempe was additionally large for the résumé. They practically received UCLA at Pauley, shedding by one possession. The Trojans host UCLA this week and finish the season with a rugged slate of going to Colorado, Utah and internet hosting Arizona and Arizona State.
10. West Virginia (11-8): The Mountaineers received off to a 10-2 begin, however have misplaced six of their final seven. The one win was huge by taking out TCU, however the Mountaineers have loads of work to do. It helps that they play host to Auburn within the SEC/Big 12 Challenge, a chance they can not let slip. The final three video games will probably be a serious check, with street video games at Kansas and Iowa State, and a season-ending residence recreation in opposition to Kansas State.
11. Nevada (15-5): The Wolf Pack had a golden likelihood to select up a résumé-builder on Nov. 22, however misplaced to Kansas State by one in additional time. The two-point win over Boise State helps within the Mountain West. But then getting blown out by 15 at Boise did not advance the trigger. There are three video games to circle — home-and-home in opposition to New Mexico and a house recreation in opposition to San Diego State.
12. Utah State (16-4): The Aggies have loads of high quality wins, however haven’t got one win but in opposition to a staff that may be assured will probably be within the subject. That places huge stress on the Aggies to select up a win in opposition to San Diego State — residence or street — in opposition to New Mexico at residence and/or Boise State.
13. Northwestern (12-5): The Wildcats have the wins at Michigan State, at Indiana and over Illinois at residence. If the season ended at the moment the Wildcats could be on the cusp of entering into the sector. But they’ve misplaced two in a row, and a week-long COVID pause means they have a jam-packed schedule over the following two weeks. They’ve received to discover a technique to come out of the following six video games with three wins to really feel like they’re nonetheless heading in the right direction. Ending the season with three of 4 on the street — at Illinois, at Maryland and at Rutgers — will check this squad.
14. Oklahoma State (11-8): The Cowboys received on the radar after Saturday’s win over Iowa State. OSU is 3-4 within the Big 12. The Big 12 provides up so many probabilities to be an NCAA Tournament staff, so, it is method too early to rule OSU out of rivalry. Getting TCU, Kansas, Kansas State and Baylor in Stillwater could possibly be a game-changer.
15. Oklahoma (11-8): I’m much less daring on the Sooners after they misplaced to Oklahoma State. But OU has a large alternative to show the narrative in its favor if the Sooners can beat Alabama within the Big 12/SEC Challenge. Getting Kansas, Kansas State and TCU at residence may additionally alter their postseason plans.
16. Wake Forest (14-6): The Demon Deacons have the products to get into the sector, with wins over Wisconsin, Duke and Clemson. Wake simply has to remain the course and never begin shedding to groups on the backside of the ACC. Wake nonetheless will get NC State and North Carolina at residence, however street video games at Pitt, NC State and Miami may alter its destiny.
17. Texas A&M (13-6): The Aggies whiffed on non-conference probabilities, so the work must be completed within the SEC. Losing at Kentucky is not detrimental so long as Texas A&M can pluck off a couple of key wins. The Aggies nonetheless play Auburn, Alabama and Arkansas twice, and get Tennessee at residence.
18. Utah (14-7): The Utes have been on the NCAA map with the win over Arizona on Dec. 1, however Utah continues to be trying to find a second vital win. Missing out on beating TCU at residence did not assist the trigger. The Utes get UCLA and USC at residence and nonetheless need to go to the Arizona colleges. Winning two of these would go a great distance towards incomes a bid.
19. Michigan (11-8): The Wolverines missed out on all their résumé video games within the non-conference, shedding to Arizona State in Brooklyn, Kentucky in London, North Carolina in Charlotte and Virginia at residence. The Pitt win in Brooklyn appears to be like higher now, however the loss at residence to Central Michigan stings. Michigan should begin beating the groups competing for the highest of the Big Ten, like Purdue (residence), Michigan State (residence), Rutgers (street), Indiana (residence and residential) and Illinois (street).
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20. Temple (12-9): The Owls are within the image now after successful at Houston on Sunday. Temple had already overwhelmed Rutgers and VCU. The Owls have received six of eight within the American. Temple nonetheless will get Houston at residence and has an opportunity to even the Memphis sequence after shedding the primary one. Ending the season at Tulane could possibly be a dicey scenario if Temple wants that one.
Andy Katz is a longtime faculty basketball author, analyst and host. He may be seen on the Big Ten Network, in addition to March Madness and NCAA.com, and he hosts the podcast “March Madness 365.” Katz labored at ESPN for practically 20 years and, previous to that, in newspapers for 9 years.
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