Is it possible we will see neither of the two teams who played for the NCAA title last April in this year’s Field of 68?
With 26 days until Selection Sunday, both Connecticut and Butler each have some work to do in order to give themselves a chance to get back to where they were a year ago.
Four years ago, Florida and Ohio State—the two finalists from the year before—both missed the NCAA Tournament. Ohio State, who were runners-up in 2007, won the NIT in 2008. In 2010, North Carolina—the 2009 national champs—missed the NCAAs.
Last year, Butler were in a dicey situation after going to the finals in 2010. At this same point of the season, the Bulldogs were 18-9 overall and were fighting to stay on the bubble. They wound up finishing the regular season on a nine-game winning streak to finish 23-9 and won the Horizon League tournament to earn the league’s automatic bid.
Meanwhile, Connecticut were never really in danger of not making the NCAA Tournament last year. While the Huskies weren’t playing particularly well toward the end of the regular season, they had been competitive enough in a loaded Big East to ensure they would be fine come Selection Sunday.
This year, neither team is in as good a spot as they were last year. As a result, both are more of a doubt to be part of the brackets than a certainty.
What will it take for each to return to the NCAAs this year? Here’s a breakdown.