Which Teams Will Be In and Out of the NCAA Tournament on Selection Sunday?
We are officially less than three weeks away from Selection Sunday, and it's time to look at which college basketball teams will be dancing in March.
Some teams are making huge strides down the stretch, some are hanging on for dear life and some are still figuring out how to win away from their home court.
Regardless of the momentum, it's essential that bubble teams continue to win and make a positive last impression on the NCAA committee.
Here is a look at which teams will be playing in the NCAA tournament and which will fall into the NIT.
Big East Record: 9-6
As inconsistent Villanova has looked this year, the Wildcats show up in the big games.
Villanova has knocked off four teams ranked 26th or higher in the RPI rankings, and has won five of its last six.
Even though the Wildcats got off to a shaky start, their only head-scratching loss was against Columbia.
In this case, the pros of being hot and defeating the top Big East teams outweigh the cons of having one bad loss and 10 losses overall.
The Wildcats finish the regular season at Seton Hall, at Pittsburgh and at home against Georgetown. It's crucial for them to finish the regular season strong, not just to keep winning, but for the seeds in the Big East Tournament too.
With West Virginia's departure and Connecticut being ineligible, the 14-team format sets up well for the No. 5 and No. 6 seeds. If the Wildcats earn one of those spots, Villanova will get a first-round bye with its first game coming against an opponent like Seton Hall or DePaul.
If Villanova slips and gets a lower seed, it would have to face a much better and rested team like Cincinnati or Providence (lost to twice) in its first game
Nonetheless, for how well the Wildcats are playing, they will win two of their last three and make a run in the Big East Tournament.
Big East Record: 7-8
Once recognized as a contender for the Big East title heading into conference play, the Cincinnati Bearcats are facing the bubble after losing five of their last six.
Despite the recent losses, the resume still favors Cincinnati to get to the NCAA tournament. The Bearcats have six wins inside the RPI Top 100 and their worst loss was at Providence.
The recent schedule has been brutal, but as long as the Bearcats don't let the close losses hurt their confidence going forward, they should be fine.
Cincinnati's remaining schedule has it playing Connecticut at home, at Louisville and South Florida at home.
The Connecticut game is a must win for the Bearcats. A victory gives them another quality win; a loss adds fuel to the fire of a late-season collapse.
The Bearcats will use the week off to regroup and win two of their last three games. The overall body of work is enough for Cincinnati to make the dance.
ACC Record: 9-5
All bubble talk should be eliminated for North Carolina.
The Tar Heels have won six of their last eight, with their two losses coming at Duke (No.1 RPI) and Miami (No. 2 RPI). Furthermore, six of UNC's wins overall have come in the RPI Top 100, including two in the RPI Top 25.
The only losses North Carolina has suffered from a team ranked worse than 31st in the RPI were at Texas (141st) in December and at Virginia (79th) in early January.
Furthermore, if you like style points, North Carolina takes care of business against the teams they should beat. The last eight victories for the Tar Heels have been by double digits.
North Carolina's remaining games are at Clemson, Florida State at home, at Maryland and Duke at home. The Tar Heels will win three of their last four and will be dancing regardless of how the ACC tournament turns out.
ACC Record: 7-7
There aren't enough strengths for Maryland to lean on.
The Terrapins do have wins against Duke and NC State, but after that their best, and only, win in the RPI Top 100 is against Stony Brook (91st).
On the flip side, Maryland has two losses against Florida State, one at home to Virginia and another at Boston College.
The Terps next two games are on the road at Georgia Tech and Wake Forest, contests that can hurt more than they can help. Then Maryland will finish the final week at home against North Carolina and then travel to Virginia.
If Maryland wins its final four games, the Terrapins should be on the correct side of the bubble. Although, considering that Maryland has only won two true road games this season (Northwestern, Virginia Tech) and that North Carolina is playing significantly better down the stretch, it's not going to happen.
ACC Record: 9-5
There's one simple question the NCAA committee will have to ask itself when it comes to Virginia: What takes priority between quality wins and bad losses?
Virginia has three wins in the RPI Top 25, but also has six losses outside the RPI Top 100, including one against Old Dominion (321st).
The Cavaliers are an impossible team to figure out. One minute, they get destroyed by Clemson and only score 44 points. The next, they win by double digits and put up 80 points at Maryland.
In Virginia's last two losses, one came at North Carolina with the two teams combining for 174 points. The other loss came against Miami where they combined for 104 points.
Essentially, Virginia is having trouble slowing down the game consistently in ACC play.
The Cavaliers can't erase any of their bad losses, but they can add another quality win by defeating Duke in their next game. Virginia will then have back-to-back road games with Boston College and Florida State before closing at home with Maryland.
While the Cavaliers are perfectly capable of winning their last four games, they are also capable of losing all of them as well.
Virginia needs to either win its last four or make a significant run in the ACC tournament to prove they are worthy of an at-large bid. The six bad losses and inconsistent play stand out too much.
The Cavaliers will win two of their last four and come up short in the conference tournament.
SEC Record: 9-5
Even though their resume still needs to be polished, the Ole Miss Rebels are in great position to make the NCAA tournament.
Other than a bad loss at South Carolina, the Rebels haven't done anything to hurt themselves.
They have four wins in the RPI Top 100 and will have two more chances at home against Texas A&M and Alabama. The other two remaining games are at Mississippi State and at LSU.
Considering that Ole Miss has only lost at home once this season, and has avoided shooting itself in the foot for the most part, the Rebels will run the regular-season table and be dancing in March.
SEC Record: 10-4
The Kentucky Wildcats are the perfect team subject to the "how you finish" criteria for the NCAA committee.
Kentucky has been a bubble team for several weeks, and how the Wildcats finish without Nerlens Noel will play a huge role in their chances at making the dance.
Since Noel's injury, the Wildcats are 2-1. That includes getting blown out by 30 at Tennessee and squeaking by Vanderbilt and Missouri at home.
While Kentucky doesn't have any losses outside the RPI Top 100, the Wildcats' overtime victory over Missouri is their only RPI Top 50 win.
The Wildcats should have no problem with Mississippi State, but they will finish with back-to-back road games against Arkansas and Georgia before a home finale against Florida.
Willie Cauley-Stein and others have stepped up in Noel's absence, but Kentucky simply isn't the same. It's too much for a young team without depth to beat a team like Florida or make a run in the SEC Tournament.
SEC Record: 10-4
The triple overtime loss to LSU has nearly doomed Alabama.
Even though the Crimson Tide have six wins in the RPI Top 100, their best win came against Kentucky (45th) and they have five losses outside the RPI Top 100.
The strength of schedule and overall weakness of the SEC (ranked eighth in conference RPI) doesn't provide the safety of conference losses like it used to.
Alabama will have no problem delivering payback to Auburn in its next game. The problem is the Crimson Tide then face back-to-back road games with Florida and Mississippi before closing with Georgia at home.
With a dicey resume as it is and its best true road win at Georgia (121st RPI), Alabama will lose both road games and be in the NIT.
Big Ten Record: 6-8
I know this seems crazy, but think about it.
Minnesota hasn't won a road game since January 9 and has lost eight of its last 11.
The Golden Gophers finish with home games against Indiana and Penn State, then close on the road at Nebraska and at Purdue.
Assuming Indiana takes care of Minnesota, can a reeling Gophers team actually win away from "The Barn" in the toughest conference in college basketball?
If the Gophers enter the Big Ten tournament as a No. 9 seed with a 7-11 conference record and then go down to Purdue or Iowa in the first round, does Minnesota get to dance?
The Gophers have several great wins against Wisconsin, Michigan State and Memphis, but to have that many losses in conference play, regardless how stacked the Big Ten might be, is certainly concerning.
This is a Minnesota team with a ton of talent, but they don't seem to have a guy that can initiate a spark offensively when things aren't going well.
The Gophers will fall to Indiana, but only lose one of their last two road games. After getting knocked out in the first round of the Big Ten tournament, Minnesota will watch anxiously on Selection Sunday, but barely get in.
Big Ten Record: 7-8
Illinois was in a similar position as Minnesota is now, but has now won five of its last six.
When the Fighting Illini lost to Northwestern on their home floor, the constant jump shooting and low field goal percentage was a significant issue.
Now Illinois has done a better job attacking the basket and getting out in transition.
The Illini welcome Nebraska for their home finale before closing the regular season at Iowa and at Ohio State.
Iowa City and Columbus have been tough places to win for the visiting team. Although, even if Illinois finishes 8-10 in the Big Ten and stubs its toe in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament, the Illini have enough quality wins to dance.
Beating two likely No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament (at Gonzaga, Indiana) basically gives them a pass on their bad losses.
Big Ten Record: 6-8
The monstrous collapse at Nebraska was the last straw.
Up 19 late in the first half against the Cornhuskers, the Iowa Hawkeyes let one get away and took a terrible 64-60 loss.
It's been a season of tough and close defeats for Iowa. Six of its eight conference losses have been by four points or less.
The Hawkeyes play at home against Purdue and then travel to Indiana this week. Then Iowa will close at home against Illinois and Nebraska.
If Iowa pulled off an improbable upset at Indiana, ran the table in the regular season and made it to the championship game of the Big Ten tournament, it would give the Hawkeyes a legitimate shot to make the dance.
However, with Iowa's continuous inability to win close games, there isn't a reason to suggest that this will happen.
Big 12 Record: 9-5
Iowa State is simply solid.
The Cyclones have a couple good home victories against Kansas State and Oklahoma, but they also have a couple bad losses at Texas Tech and at Texas.
They seem to always control tempo with their fast paced offense, but sometimes give up big runs on defense.
The schedule sets up well for Iowa State to finish the regular season, considering that it is undefeated at home this season.
It starts with a crucial showdown against Kansas, a game at Oklahoma that could determine the No. 4 seed for the Big 12 tournament, another big home game with Oklahoma State and a finish at West Virginia.
Unless the Cyclones surprisingly collapse, there is a lot more to gain than there is to lose.
In short, Iowa State is one more quality win away from earning a birth to the NCAA tournament. The Cyclones will get it.
Big 12 Record: 7-7
It was good. Then it was okay. Now it's ugly.
After a 5-1 start in the Big 12, the Bears have dropped six of their last eight.
Not only that; Baylor did exactly what you aren't supposed to do as a bubble team in a major conference.
The Bears lost to the other two bubble teams in the Big 12 and are now 0-4 against Iowa State and Oklahoma combined.
Baylor's best win came against Oklahoma State (28th RPI) in January and its next best win is at Kentucky (45th RPI).
The remaining schedule is at West Virginia, Kansas State, at Texas and Kansas.
Essentially, the two home games could be quality wins but the two road games are potential bad losses.
Baylor has given up 86 points per game in its last three contests and the lack of defense will not provide the necessary consistency down the stretch.
Pac-12 Record: 10-4
UCLA should be penciled in for the NCAA tournament and is one more RPI Top 100 win away from being locked in.
The Bruins' two wins inside the RPI Top 30 came on the road against Colorado and Arizona. They have eight wins inside the RPI Top 100. Their only loss outside the RPI Top 100 came against Cal Poly in November.
There really isn't anything that should scare the NCAA committee unless UCLA loses out for some odd reason.
The Bruins will make the NCAA tournament with ease.
Pac-12 Record: 10-5
In just two weeks, the California Golden Bears have gone from barely being a bubble team to having one of the best resumes of all bubble teams.
California is on a five-game winning streak with four of its wins coming against the RPI Top 100. More impressively, the Golden Bears got their two best wins on the road at Arizona and at Oregon.
Overall, California has seven wins inside the RPI Top 100 and zero losses outside of it.
The best part for Cal is that its last three games are at home against Utah, Colorado and Stanford.
California will close the regular season on an eight-game winning streak, make a run in the Pac-12 tournament and coast into the dance.
Pac-12 Record: 9-6
With a shaky resume and consistency being Arizona State's main issue, losing its last home game to Washington was the last thing the Sun Devils could afford.
In the month of February, the Sun Devils earned impressive wins over California and Colorado, but dropped two games to Washington, a home game to Stanford and a road loss to Utah (RPI 177th).
Similar to Virginia, one game the Sun Devils are scoring in the 90s, and the next they are in the 50s.
Looking ahead, unlike California, Arizona State's last three games are all tough tests on the road against UCLA, USC and Arizona.
Even though the Sun Devils have a chance to impress the committee, it's hard to play catch up when the rest of the bubble teams in the Pac-12 have elevated their games in just the sixth rated conference in the RPI.
The Sun Devils will be one of the first four teams out.
MWC Record: 6-6
If the committee made its selections to the dance today, Boise State probably wouldn't make it. However, the Broncos will change that in the next three weeks.
Boise State finishes the season with three of its four games at home and has only lost in Boise once this year.
The Broncos have revenge on their mind and will take care of a struggling Nevada team. Boise State then hosts Colorado State (15th in RPI), travels to UNLV (14th) and will then finish at home against San Diego State (32nd).
Also, the one thing to remember is that the Mountain West is the second highest ranked conference in the RPI.
The Broncos will win the rest of their home games and get a victory in the Mountain West tournament to get them into the dance.
Atlantic 10 Record: 9-4
La Salle has kept a steady and safe resume all winter.
The Explorers' only bad loss was in their second game of the year against Central Connecticut State. They have five wins inside the RPI Top 100, but none inside the RPI Top 25.
The next two home games should be easy with Duquesne and George Washington before a showdown at Saint Louis to finish the regular season.
La Salle is currently tied with Butler at 9-4 for the No. 3 spot in the Atlantic 10 and beat the Bulldogs earlier this year.
As long as La Salle doesn't fall asleep at home and give the committee a reason to raise their eyebrows, the Explorers shouldn't have to sweat it out on Selection Sunday.
Atlantic 10 Record: 8-5
The Temple Owls have been in the bubble situation many times before, and they are handling it just how you are supposed to.
After a rough one-point loss to Duquesne, the Owls won at Massachusetts (56th in RPI), against La Salle at home (38th) and at Charlotte (55th).
Despite three losses outside the RPI Top 100, Temple has eight wins inside the RPI Top 100 and is taking advantage of the other Atlantic 10 bubble teams.
Temple has a home date with Rhode Island, a road game at 6-22 Fordham and the finish at home against VCU.
The Owls will finish strong.
Other Teams on the Bubble
Now for the schools that everyone on the bubble roots for in their conference tournaments so they don't take up an at-large spot.
There are several smaller schools this year that you might think have to win their conference tournament to get to the NCAA tournament, when in fact they will take that No. 12 seed as an at large.
Here is the list of teams that will be in or out if they don't win their respective conference tournaments.