March Madness 2013: Bubble Teams That Must Finish Strong

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March Madness 2013: Bubble Teams That Must Finish Strong
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Missouri's next games are big

With most teams having three to five games left on their schedule, we are getting closer and closer to the most wonderful time of the year: March Madness.

We know the teams that are locks to go to the dance, but some still need to make some noise in the next few weeks if they want to get into the bracket. 

Here are two bubble teams that have to finish out the regular seasons on a strong note.

 

Missouri

Oh, if only you would have beat Kentucky at home. 

After that impressive win over Florida, Missouri seemed poised to join the dance with a victory over Kentucky. The stars were just aligned - Phil Pressey had gotten off his slump by recording 10 assists against Florida and had a huge game against Kentucky with 27 points and 10 assists.

But Julius Mays had other plans, didn't he?

Still an OT loss on the road to Kentucky is not the worst thing to ever happen to this Missouri team. The Tigers have three games left—home games against LSU and Arkansas and a visit to Tennessee—all very manageable wins. But dropping any of those games (especially the home games) could mean a lot of trouble. Missouri is perfect at home this season—which is probably its greatest argument.

 

North Carolina 

With the word, Eamonn Brennan from ESPN:

"Every bubble season there is at least one team - usually more than one, but at least one -that isn't good enough to beat any of the good teams it plays but easily handles inferior competition, and somewhere along the way, thanks to the vagaries of the RPI and the NCAA's SOS figure, backs into the NCAA tournament anyway. This year, that team is UNC. The Tar Heels aren't safe, but their top-30 RPI and top-15 SOS make them a lot more formidable than you'd think if you, you know, watched them play basketball."

The Tar Heels have four games left on their schedule—home affairs vs. Florida State and arch-rival Duke, as well as visits to Clemson and Maryland. Following Brennan's logic, North Carolina needs to beat Florida State, Clemson and Maryland—period. A loss to Florida State would make the Tar Heels jump from "not safe, but in" to "does this team even know how to play basketball?" territory. 

Before you even say anything—no, don't bet on them upsetting Duke. Don't be silly.

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