With February nearly concluded, it’s time to start focusing our efforts on the March Madness and the 2013 NCAA tournament.
It’s going to be another wild year and it seems to be a wide-open event that any team in the field could win, but first they’ll have to get in.
There are plenty of automatic bids and locks to make the 68-team tourney, but there are seemingly just as many programs straddling the border between in and out—an undesirable situation known as being on the bubble.
Let’s take a look at some of the bubble schools to keep an eye on as Selection Sunday draws nearer.
Will the Kentucky Wildcats make the NCAA tournament?
The Wildcats are sitting at 19-8 with four important regular season games left, including matchups against Mississippi State, Arkansas, Georgia and Florida. Winning a handful of those will be crucial, as will a nice run through the SEC tournament.
Because of the relative weakness of the conference, UK has a chance to push through to at least the semifinals and prove to the selection committee that it deserves a chance to defend the title.
Kentucky certainly looks safer after knocking out Missouri and Vanderbilt this past week, but there is still plenty of work to be done.
La Salle Explorers
At 19-7 with a 39th ranked RPI, the Explorers are making a good case to return to the NCAA tournament for the first time in over 20 years.
Largely due to some big wins against Butler and VCU, combined with a solid road record, this small Philadelphia-based program is just a few games away from locking up a bid.
They’ll have to get by Duquesne and George Washington at home before a tough regular season finale at the Saint Louis.
Due to the strength of the A-10 conference, we wouldn’t be surprised to see La Salle crush their Duquesne and GW before getting into an extremely close showdown with the Billikens.
Win or lose, as long as it’s close and the Explorers don’t botch the A-10 tourney, they’ll be dancing in 2013.
Arizona State Sun Devils
Going into the season, it looked like ASU would have a tough time making the NCAA tournament, and that still holds true with March nearly here.
The Pac-12 program has one of the weakest non-conference schedules in the nation, and has some ugly losses to teams they should have easily defeated (notably Utah and DePaul.)
Arizona State will need to come up big in their closing three regular season games, which includes matchups with UCLA, USC and No. 11 ranked Arizona—all on the road.
If they can complete a sweep of the Bruins and Trojans, plus hang tough with the rival Wildcats, things will be looking up for. Unfortunately, it seems that the field is just too crowded for another Pac-12 team at this juncture, so ASU could have to outright beat ‘Zona to make it in.
Should the Sun Devils desire to dance this March, they'll need to not only be good, but get lucky.