Bracketology: Analyzing Hottest March Madness Contenders After Week 12
The NCAA tournament is closer than you realize. College basketball teams need to use this point of the season to really improve their resumes.
While squads in the Big Ten are spending this time of year beating each other up, others are really making a move with huge wins over conference rivals.
There are limited spaces in March Madness, but the selection committee is more interested in how teams are late in the year. For this reason, early losses can be forgiven for good, late wins.
The following teams took that lesson to heart with an impressive week to help their tournament profiles.
Results: Win vs. No. 1 Duke, 90-63; Win vs. Florida State, 71-47
No team looked more impressive in two games this week than Miami. The Hurricanes completely demolished the top team in the country, making it almost comical for the students to rush the floor.
They used their great athleticism to prevent Duke from getting quality shots, while Kenny Kadji has simply been unguardable on offense.
The defense came through again against Florida State and only allowed 47 points.
Miami's nonconference season featured bad losses to Indiana State and Florida Gulf Coast. However, the Hurricanes' recent play will have the selection committee completely forgetting about those early games.
With great computer numbers to go along with a 6-0 conference record, the Hurricanes now look like they will get a very high seed in the NCAA tournament.
Results: Win vs. No. 5 Louisville, 73-64; Win vs. No. 3 Syracuse 75-71
One win over a Top Five team could be a fluke, but two in one week is something special.
Villanova knocked off both Louisville and Syracuse during an amazing week of basketball for the Wildcats.
Unfortunately, this does not completely absolve them of their seven losses on the season, some of which are pretty embarrassing (75-57 to Columbia).
Still, these victories give Villanova a starting point. If the team can continue winning and finish near the top of the Big East, it has a chance to sneak into the tournament. However, it cannot go back to losing winnable games.
It will be just as important for the Wildcats to win games against Providence and DePaul as the season progresses as it will be to defeat more ranked teams.
San Diego State
Results: Win at Nevada, 78-57; Win vs. No. 15 New Mexico, 55-34
It might have been one of the ugliest games of the college basketball season, but San Diego State got a huge win this week over New Mexico.
The Aztecs were incredible defensively, and the Lobos were only able to make 11-of-44 shots from the floor to go with 17 turnovers.
While fans often do not give respect to the Mountain West Conference, it is truly one of the toughest in the nation. Do not be surprised if it gets at least four teams into the NCAA tournament this year.
After losing two games the previous week, San Diego State re-established itself as a premier team in this underrated league.
All this team must do is win the games it should and it will be dancing this postseason.
Results: Win vs. Oklahoma State, 64-54; Win at TCU, 82-56
Although Baylor did not do anything to turn heads this week, it is quietly becoming the second-best team in the Big 12.
Kansas continues to be the class of the conference, but the rest of the teams continue to beat each other up at home and on the road. Baylor has stayed near the top of the standings by winning the games it should.
There is a lot of talent on the Bears roster between Pierre Jackson, Isaiah Austin and others. If this team keeps up its recent level of play, it will be a dangerous squad in March.
Like other teams around the country, bad early losses will not mean much if Baylor dominates in a major conference. Baylor must keep winning to allow people to forget about a loss to the College of Charleston.
However, second place in the Big 12 could end up getting the Bears a top-four seed in the NCAA tournament.
Results: Win at No. 24 Notre Dame, 63-47; Win vs. No. 5 Louisville, 53-51
Georgetown has been a tough team to get a read on this season. The squad was 10-1 to start the year, with the lone loss coming in overtime against Indiana.
However, the Hoyas struggled to start Big East play, losing three of their first five games.
This week was huge for them as they were able to defeat two ranked teams in Notre Dame and Louisville.
Although the win over the Cardinals has less significance as a continuation of their three-game losing streak, it is still a big victory.
Georgetown has held 11 teams to under 56 points this season, but the offense has been inconsistent. If the Hoyas can keep winning as the schedule gets easier, they will be firmly in the NCAA tournament with a mid-level seed.
Results: Win vs. Tennessee, 62-56; Win at Auburn, 63-61
As a football conference, the SEC is easily the strongest in the country. When it comes to basketball, however, the teams have been less than impressive.
Only two squads have separated themselves from the pack in the 14-team conference: Florida and Ole Miss.
Florida has remained in the Top 10 for most of the season, while the Rebels have gotten much less respect despite a 17-2 record. Even with a weak schedule, this team deserves recognition.
Murphy Holloway has been a double-double machine as of late, and Marshall Henderson has been a pleasant surprise as the team's leading scorer.
Mississippi hosts Kentucky this week and then travels to Gainesville to take on the Gators on Saturday. This will tell us a lot more about what this team can do.
Even going 1-1 with good performances will go a long way toward impressing the selection committee.