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NCAA Tournament 2013: Early Predictions for Bubble Teams

GAINESVILLE, FL - FEBRUARY 12:  Forward Willie Cauley-Stein #15  of the Kentucky Wildcats looks for a rebound against the Florida Gators February 12, 2013 at Stephen C. O'Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida. The Gators won 69 - 52. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
Alex KayCorrespondent IFebruary 26, 2013

The NCAA tournament is one of the most thrilling events in sports each and every year, and the drama leading up to Selection Sunday is almost as exciting.

Over the course of the 2012-13 season, a number of contenders have emerged and there are plenty of locks to make the 68-team field, but there’s also plenty of decent to above-average programs right on the bubble.

Those are the ones we are interested in, so let’s take a look at a handful that should be dancing in the tournament, and those that could be left out in the cold.

 

Creighton Blue Jays (22-7)

This squad looked to be a lock at one point, but now has some work left to do to make it into the tournament.

In early February, the Bluejays lost three straight—to Indiana State, Illinois State and Northern Iowa—and recently faltered to the Saint Mary’s Gaels. There are only two games left for them to prove their mettle, against Bradley and Wichita State.

Winning the latter of the two will be crucial, as the Shockers should be participating in March Madness. If Creighton gets that “W”, they’ll likely be joining their Missouri Valley Conference foes in the dance.

Prediction: In

 

St. John’s Red Storm (16-11)

The Johnnies are looking like a huge long shot to make the field after back-to-back losses to Syracuse (77-58) and Louisville (72-58) by wide margins. An unimpressive showing against Pittsburgh (63-47) didn’t help their cause on Sunday, and it seems the final two games will determine this team’s fate.

While the Big East always has a strong showing in the tournament, the Red Storm will not be joining their brethren unless they can score at least one impressive win over No. 21 Notre Dame or No. 22 Marquette to finish strong.

If they aren’t able to turn things around on March 2nd against Providence, a game they need to win leading up to those two showdowns against ranked foes, the Johnnies won’t even have a chance to dance.

 

Prediction: Out

 

Kentucky Wildcats (19-8)

Without Nerlens Noel, coach John Calipari’s squad initially struggled—as evidenced by their 88-58 defeat to the Tennessee Volunteers.

However, things quickly changed and the Wildcats managed to knock off both Vanderbilt and Missouri (in an overtime thriller) to regain their composure.

They have four contests left, including battles against Mississippi State, Arkansas, Georgia and an important rematch versus Florida to end the campaign.

Kentucky can wow the selection committee by winning at least three of these and continuing to play great team basketball in the wake of their star’s season-ending injury.

Prediction: In

 

Indiana State (17-11)

The Sycamores need a lot of help if they want to become this year’s Cinderella story, and it doesn’t seem anything short of Larry Bird walking through that door with a glass slipper on will save them.

This squad faltered at the wrong time, dropping three straight to Missouri State, Bradley and Wichita State, and only has pending games against Drake and Evansville to prove itself.

Perhaps a win in the season finale will be just enough to show the selection committee that the Sycamores can win on the road, and they will certainly have to if they want to make it into the tournament.

Prediction: Out 

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