Bracketology: Bubble Teams Who Will Make Noise in the NCAA Tournament
As we approach the 2013 NCAA Tournament, certain teams have become locks for a selection by the committee. With that being said, there are are teams that have not yet earned a guaranteed spot in the postseason.
The question is, which bubble teams are bound to make noise come March Madness?
Some teams have becomes leaders of the mid-major realm—although incapable of making the leap to a guaranteed NCAA Tournament berth. Others are on the weaker end of the major conferences, but remain in position to make the leap to the big show.
So who should you be looking out for to shock the world come March Madness?
Record: 24-6, 14-2 OVC
Last 5: 4-1
The Belmont Bruins are one of the most dominant mid-major forces in the NCAA.
They're 24-6 on the season and 14-2 in-conference. Unfortunately, they also lost 89-60 against the Kansas Jayhawks.
Assuming they lose their conference tournament, Belmont could be a tragic snub. Unfortunate, but that's the way of the tournament.
With that being said, there are few teams that could be as dangerous as Belmont.
The Bruins are an extraordinary offensive team. They move the ball well, create high-percentage looks inside and convert consistently from beyond the arc.
To be precise, Belmont has a 496/.395/.736 slash line as a team.
Individually, Ian Clark has been masterful—he's averaging 18.1 points on a slash line of .543/.462/.826.
All together, Belmont is in prime position to make a run through the NCAA Tournament.
Record: 20-9, 11-5 SEC
Last 5: 3-2
Nerlens Noel's injury may have severely depleted the Kentucky Wildcats' interior defense, but don't sleep on the rest of this roster.
Kentucky has won three of their past four games.
Alex Poythress has begun to discover his aggression as a scorer. Already an elite perimeter defender and efficient shooter, Poythress' development as an aggressive force could lead the Wildcats deep.
If that doesn't do it for you, try the fact that Willie Cauley-Stein is averaging 13.0 points, 8.8 rebounds and 4.3 blocks over his past four games.
The Wildcats may have lost their leader, but they remain one of the most talented teams in the nation. Keep in mind, Poythress and Archie Goodwin were both Top 15 recruits, per ESPN.
A repeat may be a long shot, but Kentucky will be no easy out.
Minnesota Golden Gophers
Record: 20-9, 8-8 Big Ten
Last 5: 3-2
According to Minnesota's RPI and Strength of Schedule, they're a pure and utter lock to make the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
Unfortunately, they're 5-8 during the span of their past 13 games. Although five of those eight losses have come against ranked teams, that will put the voters off.
Fortunately, Minnesota does have the computers on their side.
Andre and Austin Hollins have proven to be one of the most dynamic tandems in the Big Ten. Trevor Mbakwe is a monster inside, averaging 10.0 points and 8.8 rebounds.
Rodney Williams and Joe Coleman round out a quality five.
Come the NCAA Tournament, this is the type of team that can make noise. The offensive firepower is in place and the toughness is undeniable.
This is the type of team that could make a run to the Sweet Sixteen.
Record: 21-8, 10-6 SEC
Last 5: 3-2
It's hard to imagine that the Missouri Tigers will not end up in the NCAA Tournament. With that being said, it's not an impossibility.
They're 3-2 during their past five games and 2-7 on the road—the recipe for a tournament snub.
With that being said, Missouri has the traits of a Cinderella Story.
Phil Pressey is a dynamic playmaker and six different players are averaging double-figure scoring. That includes transfer Alex Oriakhi, who is putting up 11.1 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game.
This isn't last year's Missouri team—they're less explosive from three, but also a more well-rounded team than in year's past.
They're also a Top 25 team in terms of free-throw shooting. Consider Missouri to be a threat to anyone they come across.
Whether or not they win, however, depends on if they convince themselves that it's acceptable to win away from home.
Ole Miss Rebels
Record: 21-8, 10-6 SEC
Last 10: 4-6
When it comes to the NCAA Tournament, only three things are certain: free throws decide games, a 12-seed will upset a 5-seed and college superstars will be born.
This year, mercurial scoring guard Marshall Henderson could be that star.
Henderson is currently averaging 19.5 points per game. As trigger-happy as he may be, Henderson is one of the nation's great clutch shooters.
Just don't think for a second that the Rebels are limited to his contributions.
Murphy Holloway has proven to be a dominant interior presence. For evidence, note that he's currently averaging 14.8 points and 9.8 rebounds per game.
The issue going against Ole Miss is that they are 69.4 percent free throw shooters as a team.
With all of this being established, Ole Miss needs to turn their luck around to actually make the tournament because they're only 4-6 during their past 10 games.
South Dakota State Jackrabbits
Record: 22-9, 13-3 Summit
Last 5: 3-2
The South Dakota State Jackrabbits are a team led by one of the premier players in the NCAA.
Nate Wolters is currently averaging 22.8 points, 5.7 assists, 5.7 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game. He is currently posting a slash line of .495/.411/.798.
With Wolters leading the charge, this will be one tough out.
As a team, South Dakota State is shooting 39.3 percent from beyond the arc. They're also hitting 75.2 percent of their free throws.
Look for Jordan Dykstra to make a name for himself come the postseason.
This is a dangerous team, regardless of whom they draw.
Record: 20-9, 10-6 ACC
Last 5: 2-3
The Virginia Cavaliers appeared to be safely into the tournament after solidifying their resume with a 73-68 win over No. 3 Duke.
Unfortunately, Virginia followed that up with a 53-52 loss at the 13-16 Boston College Eagles—their seventh loss to a team with an RPI of 125 or lower.
With that being said, this Virginia team is as dangerous as any in the nation.
Joe Harris is a legitimate star, averaging 17.3 points on a slash line of .503/.462/.778.
Backcourt mate Jontel Evans rarely ever shoots, but he is averaging 5.2 assists.
As for their interior presence, Akil Mitchell is posting 12.8 points and 8.8 rebounds per contest. He's also shooting a respectable 70.0 percent from the free-throw line as a big man.
If Harris' shots are falling—history says they will—the Cavaliers will be a very tough out.