10 NCAA Basketball Teams That Need a Wake-Up Call ASAP
NCAA tournament wake-up calls in February are never pleasant and are usually jarring to the teams that receive them.
Sure, getting one now gives those programs a chance to do whatever is necessary to earn their way into March Madness.
But, especially for those teams whose schedules are loaded with tough opponents down the stretch, this can be a very unnerving time of the college basketball year.
Here are 10 teams that need a wake up call ASAP...before it's too late.
10. Creighton Bluejays
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It's hard to imagine that a program like Creighton (21-6; 10-5 MVC) would need a wake-up call at this point of the 2012-13 season.
But, three straight conference losses in February don't help build Selection Sunday security.
Especially after the Bluejays already lost to Drake (Huh?) last month.
Out of their four remaining regular-season games, Creighton has two stiff challenges: a bracket-buster matchup at St. Mary's (Feb. 23) and a home revenge contest against Wichita State in the last game before the MVC tournament.
Winning both would help CU considerably. Losing both would not be good.
9. Boise State Broncos
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Earlier this season, Boise State looked like it could become a March Madness sleeper team.
The Broncos beat Creighton in November. They were the first team to beat Wyoming when they were still undefeated after New Year's.
Even more recently, the Broncos have beaten UNLV and Wyoming (again).
The problem is that BSU has dropped four of its last six games which is no crime in the rugged Mountain West Conference.
But, Boise is a team that has virtually no margin for error if it's going to be "in" on Selection Sunday.
Before the MWC tourney, the Broncos have three tough games at the end of their schedule: Colorado State, at UNLV and San Diego State.
If they could win two of those three, that might give them some momentum as they make their last efforts to get in to March Madness.
8. Stanford Cardinal
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Going into February, Stanford (15-11; 6-7 Pac-12) needed to get hot in order to improve its 2013 NCAA tournament prospects.
Instead, the Cardinal have dropped three of their last four games and created a monstrous challenge for themselves heading towards Selection Sunday.
Two of the most ugly marks on their résumé are their losses to USC.
Also, the Cardinal played too many weak teams (UC Davis, Seattle and Alcorn State) at the beginning of their schedule.
7. California Bears
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It's a good thing that Cal is having an impressive February. Otherwise, the Bears wouldn't need a wake-up call. Someone would just need to perform a funeral for their 2012-13 season.
The Bears have beaten each of the top teams in the Pac-12 this month: Oregon (Feb. 2), Arizona (on the road on Feb. 10) and UCLA (Feb. 14).
Unfortunately, their nine overall losses weaken their March Madness résumé. And, four of their nine losses (UNLV, Creighton, Washington and Harvard) have happened at home.
6. Baylor Bears
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Baylor's 2012-13 season has been schizophrenic.
The Bears (16-9; 7-5 Big 12) have a collection of quality wins (Oklahoma State, @ Kentucky and St. John's) and confusing home losses against Northwestern and College of Charleston.
Scott Drew's crew has been up and down more than just in this season. Baylor made Elite Eight appearances in both 2010 and 2012, but failed to make the tournament in 2011.
5. Arizona State Sun Devils
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At the beginning of February, Arizona State was looking good for a solid stretch run.
A little over two weeks later, the Sun Devils (19-7; 8-5 Pac 12) have dropped three of their last five games, and things aren't nearly as stable going into the last five games of the regular season.
In the early part of their 2012-13 schedule, ASU loaded up on cupcake home wins against such powerhouses as Sacramento State, Coppin State, Central Arkansas, Dartmouth and Florida A&M.
Losses to Utah and DePaul don't help Sun Devils' footing right now either.
Three of the Sun Devils' remaining games before the Pac-12 tournament are on the road (USC, UCLA and Arizona).
Winning at least two of these three contests would get ASU headed back in the right direction.
4. Virginia Cavaliers
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Don't be fooled by Virginia's 18-7 (8-4 ACC) record.
The selection committee will be more interested in the Cavs' RPI, which as of today is a not-so-spectacular 79.
Many of their preconference wins were against inferior foes: North Texas, Morgan State, Lamar, Mississippi Valley.
Plus, losses to George Mason, Delaware and Old Dominion hurt the Cavs big time.
After losing to North Carolina on Saturday, UVA goes up against Miami on the road this week and Duke at home next week.
These may not be must wins, but if they have too many more setbacks, this will be thought of as a season that got away from the Cavaliers.
3. Villanova Wildcats
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Remember back in early January when you were impressed with Villanova after it beat Louisville and Syracuse back-to-back?
Since those two big wins, the Wildcats (16-10; 7-6 Big East) have lost the momentum that those games could have built.
They have gone 3-3 since then and have a difficult stretch (including games against Marquette, Pitt and Georgetown) to close out the regular season.
The other part of their record that doesn't help them was their early-season wins against softies such as Delaware, Marshall, Monmouth, Penn and N.J. Tech.
2. Maryland Terrapins
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Be careful, Maryland.
Your nice upset of Duke matters...a lot, but that win alone doesn't put you on solid ground in terms of Selection Sunday.
Beating the Blue Devils and North Carolina State (earlier this season) are quality wins. The problem is, after that, who are the Terrapins' other impressive victories? Stony Brook? Delaware State? IUPUI?
Home losses to Florida State and Virginia don't help Maryland's case at all.
Four of the Terps' last six games are away. If they can win all of those (which is possible), their March Madness standing will look much better.
1. Kentucky Wildcats
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No one involved in the NCAA tournament wants to see Kentucky on the outside of March Madness looking in.
But, the Wildcats are not guaranteed anything at this point.
If Selection Sunday were today, they would likely sneak in the back door of the Big Dance.
The question right now is: "Are they are going to be able to consistently take care of business the rest of the way through the regular season or in the SEC Tournament?"
ESPN.com's Dana O'Neil, after this 30-point blowout loss, blogged:
If this were an audition for the tourney bracket, the director would be yelling, "Next!"