March Madness: Bubble Busters Edition

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We’re down to the wire for this year’s Division 1 men’s college basketball season. Most teams will be finishing up final games within the week before the conference tournaments begin. Sunday after next is when we’ll learn which teams make it to the Field of 68 along with the seedings.

We’ve been tracking the potential brackets for the past few weeks and have seen at least one bubble team, Gonzaga, get off the bubble and find itself assured of a post season berth. As crazy as it seems, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has 11 Big East teams as potential selectees. Only West Virginia and Marquette seem to be on the bubble, but both teams may make it in on the basis of several high quality conference wins this season.

Let’s take a look at the top bubble teams and see if the bubble will burst for them or whether it will carry them to the post season:

Richmond — At 22-7, the Spiders have a high quality early season win over Purdue, but they also got pounded by Xavier and Temple down the stretch. It seems likely that Richmond will be 24-7 as they enter the Atlantic 10 tournament, but they may need to win the tournament or lose in the championship game to have a chance of getting in.

Michigan — Had the Wolverines beat the Wisconsin Badgers last week, we might have seen the selection committee add Michigan to the Field of 68. Instead, the Wolverines must beat Michigan State and hope for Illinois to lose to Indiana to have a chance. If both things happen, then just maybe. If not, NIT here we come.

Alabama — Leading the SEC West, the Tide at 19-10 should be in. What can help is a 20th win on Saturday at home against Georgia. If the Bulldogs win, then they’re in and Bama may miss out.

Baylor — The Bears must beat Texas at home on Saturday or they’ll be forced to count themselves out for the season. Some people are of the opinion that Baylor is already busted given its Tuesday night loss to Oklahoma.

Boston College — There are five ACC teams headed to the Big Dance and room for one more. The Eagles should be in even if they finished tied with Maryland at 9-7 in the conference. With two wins over the Terrapins, Boston College should secure the final spot.

Memphis — A tournament without Memphis seems possible this year although at 21-8 with two games left, the Tigers still have a shot. Losing to UTEP last week hurt, but the Tigers have two victories over Southern Miss and a win over Gonzaga to aid its cause.

Wichita State — The Missouri Valley Tournament gets underway tonight and the Shockers get to play on Friday. At 23-7 and sporting a second place regular season finish, Wichita State may still get in, but why chance it? Getting to the tournament file may not be enough especially if the Big East manages to field 11 teams.

Colorado State — Three consecutive losses have hurt the Rams, but upsetting San Diego State on Saturday would help Colorado State’s cause. Unfortunately, the Mountain West may only get three spots in the tournament despite having a pair of top ten nationally ranked teams.

As always, upsets in conference tournaments can change everything. Look for at least one of the eight mentioned bubble teams to pull a surprise and get in based on how they do over the next 10 days.

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