Ten NCAA Major Conference Teams With The Most To Gain Thursday

Sean EdmistonContributor IMarch 12, 2009

If you're a college basketball fan then you don't need to be told that this is a big week for alot of teams.

There are still seventeen conferences that have yet to crown their post season tournament champion, and among those seventeen are the six major conferences (Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-10, ACC, SEC, and Big East).

Three major conferences (Big 12, Big East, Pac-10) have already started tournament play with the other three (SEC, ACC, Big Ten) starting Thursday.

While many of these teams have already staked their claim to an NCAA Tournament bid, there are still a handful who need to make a statement in their respective conference tournaments. Here are ten that can greatly improve their resumes with a "W" on Thursday.

1. Florida (22-9, 9-7 SEC)

While a 9-7 conference record would be impressive for a team from one of the other five major conferences, but the SEC has been by far the worst. The Gators don't have that great a resume to date either.

An unimpressive RPI of 48, strength of schedule in the 80s, a 2-6 record against the RPI top 50 heaped on top of a run that has seen the Gators drop 5 of their last 8 cries out in need of a good SEC tourney run for the Gators.

2. Providence (19-12, 10-8 Big East)

Despite their ten wins in what is arguably the most talented conference this season, the Friars have an RPI ranking of 70.

If Providence can add a victory against a Louisville team that won the regular season conference title to a resume that includes victories against Syracuse and then top-ranked Pittsburgh, the selection committee might just look past that 6-8 road record.

3. Oklahoma State (21-10, 9-7 Big 12)

The Cowboys may have received a blessing on Wednesday when not only did they advance to the Big 12 tourney quarter-finals, but then saw fellow Big 12 bubble-team Texas A&M blow a 22-point lead to Texas Tech and lose 88-83.

The Cowboys have a high RPI and strangth of schedule, but have a 1-6 record agasint the RPI top 25. If the Cowboys can take down Blake Griffin and Oklahoma for their eighth win in their last nine games, that may solidify their NCAA bid.

4. Penn State (21-10, 10-8 Big Ten)

The Nittany Lions have an impressive resume that includes six victories over the RPI top 50, three of which have come against the top 25. But in a conference where all but two teams can make a case for a tournament bid, picking up another win or two can't hurt.

5. Kansas State (21-10, 9-7 Big 12)

Like Oklahoma State, the Wildcats may have been helped by Texas A&M's loss on Wednesday, but the Big 12 is still considered a league that will receive six bids.

Despite winning ten of the last thirteen, KSU still has a low RPI and strength of schedule.

If the Wildcats want to steal a bid or be the Big 12's seventh team, getting a second victory over the Texas Longhorns would really help their case.

6. Michigan (19-12, 9-9 Big Ten)

The Wolverines have a top 15 strength of schedule and a long list of impressive victories, but have also posted twelve losses this year.

Of those twelve losses, nine have come on the road. Michigan is in the same situation as Penn State, they are in a deep league that looks to have alot of NCAA bids and advancing in conference tourney play will go a long way in securing one of those bids.

7. Minnesota (21-9, 9-9 Big Ten)

The Golden Gophers have a decent RPI and strength of schedule and have picked up some impressive victories along the way, but of those nine losses, six have come in the last nine games.

Right now the Big Ten looks like it will receive eight NCAA bids and Minnesota is that eighth team at the moment. Tommorow the Golden Gophers face a Northwestern team making a push for their first NCAA Tournament bid, so if Minnesota wants to go dancing, they need to make sure Northwestern doesn't.

8. Arizona (19-12, 9-9 Pac-10)

The Wildcats have an impressive resume but ended the regular season by dropping four of five. Arizona might be able to punch their NCAA ticket by knocking off in-state rival Arizona State in the Pac-10 quarter-finals.

9. Boston College (21-10, 9-7 ACC)

This is another school that has a nice resume but has been fading as of late. The Eagles could solidify an NCAA bid if they pull it together and grab a win or two in the ACC tourney.

10. Northwestern (17-12, 8-10 Big Ten)

The Wildcats are a long shot at this point, but have put together a decent set of eight conference wins including one at regular season conference champion Michigan State. Thursday they face a fading Minnesota team and a neutral site victory would put them alot closer to their first big dance.

These ten teams are sure to provide us with some good games on Thursday. Lets see which ones are playing on Friday.