Real-Time March Madness 2013 Picks: How Selection Committee Ranks 68-Team Field

Kerry MillerCollege Basketball National AnalystMarch 12, 2013

Real-Time March Madness 2013 Picks: How Selection Committee Ranks 68-Team Field

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    The field of 68 is set!

    In the slides ahead, we at On the Bubble are keeping a live tally of the 68 teams in the NCAA Tournament. Keep in mind, this is a raw tally of 68 teams, from worst to first. It is not intended as a bracket-allotment mechanism, and it does not take into account procedural particulars.

    Print your 2013 March Madness Bracket here!

68. Liberty

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    Record: 15-20 overall. 6-10 in Big South (ninth place).

    Best Wins: Charleston Southern (N) 87-76, Gardner-Webb (N) 65-62, High Point (N) 61-60

    Worst Losses: at Presbyterian 68-60, at Howard 60-53, at Longwood 102-101

    Why They're Here: Any time a 20-loss team makes it into the NCAA tournament, you can bet it'll be competing in a play-in game. The Flames' three best wins of the entire season came in a Big South tournament that was going to produce a No. 16 seed regardless of the outcome.

    Best-Case Scenario: The Flames live it up as the big men on campus for the next week after carrying Liberty to the tournament for the first time in nearly a decade.

    Who They're Watching: Presumably, they'll just be watching the local news on repeat. It's literally impossible to envision a scenario in which Liberty isn't in one of the play-in games.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: They actually have the stats to be an average team. They hit 73 percent of their free throws and 37 percent of their three-point attempts. Still, they opened the season with a 42-point loss to Richmond and have only played one RPI Top 150 school since Thanksgiving—an 18-point loss to Iona.

67. North Carolina A&T

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    Record: 19-16 overall. 8-8 in MEAC (seventh place).

    Best Wins: Eastern Kentucky 78-67, Savannah State 59-57, NC Central (N) 55-42

    Worst Losses: at South Carolina State 72-70, Utah Valley 64-55, at Bethune-Cookman 72-60

    Why They're Here: The top four seeds in the MEAC tournament were eliminated in the quarterfinals, leaving the Aggies of North Carolina A&T as the team to claim the conference’s automatic bid. If the first-place finisher in the MEAC was projected for a No. 16 seed, you can bet the seventh-place finisher will be as well.

    Best-Case Scenario: The Aggies are winless in nine appearances in the NCAA tournament. They’ll almost certainly be destined for a play-in game, where they could finally pick up their first win.

    Who They're Watching: No other team is likely to slip below NC A&T for the right to go to a play-in game.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: At 39.3 percent, North Carolina A&T has the lowest field-goal percentage of any team projected for the NCAA field. The Aggies also turn the ball over at an alarming rate of 15 times per game.

66. Southern University

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    Record: 23-9 overall. 15-3 in SWAC (second place).

    Best Wins: at Texas A&M 53-51, Texas Southern 63-57, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 84-50

    Worst Losses: at Alcorn State 61-57, at TCU 68-57, at Arkansas-Pine Bluff 55-52

    Why They're Here: It's very hard to find photographic evidence that Southern University has a basketball team. It does have Manute Bol's son, Madut, on its team, so hopefully this photo will suffice. By the way, the SWAC champion will be in one of the play-in games for all of eternity.

    Best-Case Scenario: The SWAC has three academically ineligible teams and a Grambling State team that has lost every game this season by double digits. It's already achieved the best-case scenario by putting together a better-than-.500 season.

    Who They're Watching: Barring a last-minute policy change in which play-in games no longer involve the four worst resumes, the Jaguars will be headed to Dayton for a game on Tuesday.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: All joking aside, this might not be a horrible team. They rebound well and shoot three-pointers better than your average team. Then again, they are the only team that TCU has beaten by double digits all season, so there's that.

65. James Madison

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    Record: 20-14 overall. 11-7 in Colonial (fourth place).

    Best Wins: at Delaware 72-71, Delaware (N) 58-57, Delaware 64-50

    Worst Losses: at Miami (Ohio) 76-58, at Duquesne 90-88, Georgia State 66-62

    Why They're Here: The Dukes upset the top two seeds in the CAA conference tournament en route to securing an auto bid. With an RPI near 200 and a SOS near 300, they'll very likely be involved in a play-in game.

    Best-Case Scenario: By winning the conference tournament, they've already experienced their best-case scenario, unless something unspeakably awesome occurs on the trip to or from Dayton.

    Who They're Watching: They're just watching the Selection Show to find out whether they're playing Liberty or NC A&T in the opening round.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: They rank in the bottom third of the nation in points, rebounds, assists and field-goal percentage. Take your pick at what's the biggest weakness.

64. LIU-Brooklyn

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    Record: 20-13 overall. 12-6 in Northeast (third place).

    Best Wins: Mount St. Mary's (N) 86-72, at Wagner 94-82, Mount St. Mary's 91-70

    Worst Losses: at Lamar 81-80, at St. Peter's 80-67, at Sacred Heart 77-73

    Why They're Here: The Blackbirds tore through the Northeast conference tournament, averaging 92 points per game. However, no amount of scoring can undo an RPI of nearly 200.

    Best-Case Scenario: They could be involved in the most exciting of the games between a No. 1 and a No. 16 seed, but it won't result in a win—just a whole lot of scoring.

    Who They're Watching: They'll just be keeping an eye on who's most deserving of a No. 1 seed, because they'll be playing one of those four teams in the first round.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: The Blackbirds are one of the highest scoring teams in the country at just a shade under 80 points per game. However, they also give up more than their fair share of points. In games this season against Kentucky, Maryland and Seton Hall—hardly elite scoring teams—they gave up 94.7 points on average.

63. Western Kentucky

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    Record: 20-15 overall. 10-10 in Sun Belt (sixth place).

    Best Wins: Florida International (N) 65-63, Florida International 76-63, South Alabama (N) 62-59

    Worst Losses: Florida Atlantic 65-62, at Florida Atlantic 84-78, Arkansas-Little Rock 59-54

    Why They're Here: The Hilltoppers stole a bid that should've belonged to Middle Tennessee after the Blue Raiders were upset in the conference semifinals. For a second consecutive season, Western Kentucky could be headed for a play-in game.

    Best-Case Scenario: If they're particularly lucky, they'll have a repeat of last year's performance, winning the play-in game and playing within 20 points of the eventual national champions.

    Who They're Watching: The difference in RPI between Western Kentucky and Albany is marginal enough that the Hilltoppers may be able to beat out the Great Danes for a No. 15 seed.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: Against a bubble team, the Hilltoppers might have a puncher's chance, but a top-seeded team will relentlessly take advantage of the fact that they commit 1.33 turnovers for every assist.

62. Albany

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    Record: 24-10 overall. 9-7 in America East (fifth place).

    Best Wins: Stony Brook (N) 61-59, at Washington 63-62, Wagner 66-63

    Worst Losses: at Maine 66-52, Quinnipiac 59-57, Boston U 85-80

    Why They're Here: The Great Danes knocked off three of the top five teams in the conference tournament, earning the America East auto bid after a thrilling win over Vermont in the championship game.

    Best-Case Scenario: They’ve been to the NCAA tournament just twice in school history. In 2007, they were destroyed by Virginia, but in 2006 they gave the No. 2 overall seed (Connecticut) a run for their money before falling out of it in the final few minutes. A repeat performance of 2006 wouldn’t be a complete shock.

    Who They're Watching: Though the America East champion is frequently in line for a No. 16 seed, there have been enough less-qualified teams from other conferences that have "stepped up" to secure spots on the bottom line. They're projected for a No. 15 seed now, and that's unlikely to change.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: They don’t have much perimeter defense and struggle against aggressive ones. In their three best losses of the season, the Great Danes’ opponents have made 25 of 43 three-point attempts, while they’ve made just 17 of their own on 52 tries. 

     

61. Iona

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    Record: 20-13 overall. 11-7 in MAAC (fourth place).

    Best Wins: Denver 65-58, at Loyola (Md.) 79-71, Canisius (N) 89-85

    Worst Losses: at St. Peter's 64-62, Marist 105-104, Quinnipiac (N) 98-92

    Why They're Here: Despite a RPI of 101 and 13 losses, Iona has a much better resume and does a better job of passing the eye test than any of the teams behind it.  

    Best-Case Scenario: If the Gaels get a raw deal in the seeding and this is finally the year, this is the No. 16 seed that could upset a No. 1 seed. Lamont "Momo" Jones and Sean Armand are among the best pure scorers in the nation. 

    Who They're Watching: I could see the Gaels getting a No. 14 seed, especially since they have fewer placement restrictions than Pacific, Florida Gulf Coast or Harvard, which played a combined 10 games against teams in the projected field.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: The Gaels are a very talented team, but they have struggled in close, late-game situations, falling by eight points or fewer in 12 of their 13 losses. Also, they play literally no defense, allowing 23 of their 32 opponents this season to score 70 or more points.

60. Pacific

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    Record: 22-12 overall. 13-5 in Big West (second place).

    Best Wins: Saint Mary’s (N) 76-66, at Xavier 70-67, Long Beach State 71-51

    Worst Losses: at UC Santa Barbara 66-53, at Hawaii 60-52, at Cal Poly 67-62

    Why They're Here: The UC Irvine Anteaters knocked off perennial Big West favorite Long Beach State in the conference tournament semifinal, opening the door for the Tigers to steal a bid. Pacific and Long Beach State had almost identical RPI and SOS, so it seems fitting to put Pacific in the spot we had reserved for the Beach.

    Best-Case Scenario: The Tigers are better than your average No. 15 seed. They’ve already beaten Saint Mary’s and Xavier this season. Granted, they’ll be dealing with a higher-caliber opponent in their opening game—an opponent the likes of Gonzaga that beat them by 18 points back in early December—but it wouldn’t come as a complete surprise if they were able to pull off a first-round upset.

    Who They're Watching: They’re pretty much locked into a No. 15 seed.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: As a team, they average just 1.3 blocks per game. Shouldn’t you at least be able to accidentally block two shots per game? Combined with their national rank in rebounding (270th), it’s pretty clear they have no interior presence.

59. Northwestern State

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    Record: 23-8 overall. 15-3 in Southland (second place).

    Best Wins: Louisiana Tech 89-83, Stephen F Austin (N) 68-66, Stephen F Austin 61-57

    Worst Losses: Nicholls State 93-78, at Oral Roberts 80-74, at Niagara 92-76

    Why They're Here: After knocking off Stephen F, Austin in the Southland championship game, the Demons are headed back to the NCAA tournament for the first time in seven years. With an RPI in the 90s, they have a good enough resume to earn a No. 14 seed on Selection Sunday.

    Best-Case Scenario: The Demons have won a game in each of their two trips to the NCAA tournament and could continue that streak behind an offensive attack that lead the nation in points per game.

    Who They're Watching: A loss by New Mexico State in the WAC championship could move Northwestern State one spot closer to a No. 13 seed.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: Sometimes they run the floor too much for their own good. Though they average better than 81 points per game, they’ve allowed 10 opponents to score 75 or more points in a game, and none of those opponents are of the caliber they’ll be facing in the first round.

58. Florida Gulf Coast

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    Record: 24-10 overall. 13-5 in Atlantic Sun (second place).

    Best Wins: Miami 63-51, Loyola (Md.) 65-50, Mercer (N) 88-75 

    Worst Losses: at Maine 84-78, at ETSU 85-75, Lipscomb 87-78

    Why They're Here: Florida Gulf Coast won the Atlantic Sun conference tournament and has a better RPI than any of the teams projected for a No. 15 or No. 16 seed. 

    Best-Case Scenario: Despite upsetting Miami way back in November, it's tough to see another surprise in the Eagles' future. They have lost five games to the RPI Sub-200, and they'll be drawing a top-10 team in the opening round.

    Who They're Watching: Thanks to losses by teams like Stony Brook, Middle Tennessee and Stephen F. Austin, the Eagles have climbed into strong consideration for a No. 14 seed.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: The Eagles hit just one out of every three shots they take from long range, good for roughly 200th place in the nation in three-point percentage. How they beat Miami by a dozen despite going just 1-of-11 from beyond the arc is a head-scratcher.

57. Harvard

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    Record: 19-9 overall. 11-3 in Ivy League (first place).

    Best Wins: at California 67-62, at Boston College 79-63, Princeton 69-57

    Worst Losses: at Columbia 78-63, at Pennsylvania 75-72, Vermont 85-78

    Why They're Here: The Crimson are headed back to the NCAA tournament for a second consecutive season after earning the Ivy League auto bid. With an RPI hovering around 100, they'll do no worse than a No. 15 seed.

    Best-Case Scenario: Though they only picked up one RPI Top 100 win during the season, they were right in it until the bitter end in four other losses. They could shock a No. 3 seed that's willing to let the game be played in the low 60s.

    Who They're Watching: Harvard is just about locked into a No. 14 seed.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: Despite only regularly playing one guy (Siyani Chambers) shorter than 6'5", Harvard is one of the worst rebounding teams in the nation, averaging fewer than 30 per game.

56. Montana

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    Record: 25-6 overall. 19-1 in Big Sky (first place).

    Best Wins: Weber State 76-74, San Diego 67-66, at Idaho 66-63

    Worst Losses: at San Francisco 78-68, at Weber State 87-63, South Dakota State 68-67

    Why They're Here: The Grizzlies only have one RPI Top 150 win—though they've been pretty close in three others—but they also have only one loss against the RPI Sub-100. They had a similarly deceptive record last year, only to be destroyed in the first round by Wisconsin.

    Best-Case Scenario: They carry their near-40 percent three-point shooting into the tournament and shock virtually no one by eliminating New Mexico in the first round.

    Who They're Watching: They're pretty firmly entrenched as a No. 14 seed.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: The Grizzlies are not a good rebounding team, having been significantly outrebounded in five of their six losses, including a particularly dreadful minus-23 margin against Colorado State to open the season.

55. South Dakota State

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    Record: 25-9 overall. 13-3 in Summit (first place).

    Best Wins: at New Mexico 70-65, at Montana 68-67, North Dakota State 69-53

    Worst Losses: at Hofstra 66-63, at Cal State Bakersfield 79-78, at South Dakota 74-71

    Why They're Here: Nate Wolters.

    Best-Case Scenario: Nate Wolters refuses to be denied and averages over 30 points per game for a stretch of two or even three games. 

    Who They're Watching: There's a pretty significant jump from Montana to South Dakota State, but someone in the RPI Top 75 is going to get stuck with a No. 14 seed unless the committee decides to put a play-in game that low. It wouldn't be the first time they did.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: Wolters' immune system. As long as he's healthy, the Jackrabbits can beat anyone in the country—seriously. If a No. 13 or No. 14 seed is going to the Sweet 16 this season, you're looking at it. After all, this is the only team in the country that won a game at New Mexico this season.

54. Davidson

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    Record: 26-7 overall. 17-1 in Southern (first place).

    Best Wins: at Richmond 70-64, Montana 93-87, West Virginia (N) 63-60

    Worst Losses: at Milwaukee 73-68, at Georgia Southern 70-57, at Drexel 69-58

    Why They're Here: The Wildcats are 22-3 in their past 25 games and looking as dominant as any Curry-less Davidson team has ever looked. From Jan. 26 through the end of the season, they scored at least 68 points in every game while only once allowing an opponent to score more than 63.

    Best-Case Scenario: The Wildcats could make it to the Sweet 16. They're an above-average shooting team that takes care of the ball (11.0 turnovers per game) and leads the nation in free-throw percentage (80.1). That's a pretty solid formula for a couple of upsets. Tough to see them knocking off a No. 1 seed, though. 

    Who They're Watching: They're pretty well positioned for a No. 13 seed, but they could really be in a coin-flip situation with South Dakota State for the final No. 14 seed.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: In a December loss to 13-18 Drexel, the Dragons had more offensive rebounds than the Wildcats had total rebounds. If a discrepancy like that rears its ugly head again, no amount of free-throw shooting will be able to save the Wildcats.

53. New Mexico State

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    Record: 23-10 overall. 14-4 in WAC (third place).

    Best Wins: Southern Miss 68-60, Louisiana Tech 78-60, Denver 53-42

    Worst Losses: at Oregon State 71-62, at Texas-Arlington 68-47, at Niagara 86-83

    Why They're Here: Going into the WAC tournament, the auto bid was a bit up for grabs between three different teams. However, both Denver and Louisiana Tech were eliminated in the quarterfinals, leaving the championship for the Aggies to claim.

    Best-Case Scenario: If matched up against a shorter, poor rebounding team, New Mexico State could pull off an upset or two. Between Bandja Sy’s 11.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per game and 7’5” Sim Bhullar’s 2.4 blocks per game, the Aggies can be pretty difficult to deal with in the paint.

    Who They're Watching: The Aggies are pretty much guaranteed to get a No. 13 seed.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: The Aggies have a very poor assist/turnover ratio of 0.81 and make fewer than 32 percent of their three-point shots. Translation: They turn the ball over a lot and can’t very well come back from a deficit.

52. Akron

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    Record: 26-6 overall. 14-2 in MAC (first place).

    Best Wins: Middle Tennessee 82-77, at Ohio 88-81, Ohio 86-72

    Worst Losses: at Coastal Carolina 74-70, at Buffalo 81-67, Kent State 68-64

    Why They're Here: Not long ago, the Zips were looking like a potential No. 10 seed, but they closed out the regular season with losses in two of their final three games. It has to suck to be a mid-major—one or two off nights and your entire season is derailed.

    Best-Case Scenario: Despite those recent losses, Akron is still a team that could bust some brackets by getting into the Round of 32 if it wins the MAC tournament. Zeke Marshall and Demetrius Treadwell are monsters in the paint.

    Who They're Watching: The Zips finished off a three-game season sweep of Ohio on Saturday night, with the final game being the most convincing of all. At this spot in the rankings, they're somewhere in between a No. 12 seed and a No. 13 seed, depending on where the committee seeds the at-large play-in games.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: Marijuana will be Akron's biggest issue. The Zips' primary ball-handler, Alex Abreu, was recently arrested and suspended from the team for alleged drug trafficking. It's unlikely he'll be reinstated, and it's pretty difficult to recover from losing your point guard in March.

51. Valparaiso

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    Record: 26-7 overall. 13-3 in Horizon (first place).

    Best Wins: at Detroit Mercy 89-88, Eastern Kentucky 82-60, at Murray State 66-64

    Worst Losses: Loyola (Ill.) 63-54, at Youngstown State 80-68, at Oakland 70-68

    Why They're Here: They needed some heroics in the Horizon semifinals but secured the auto bid in a Horizon conference that's still pretty good without Butler. The SOS is nothing to write home about, but with an RPI in the low 60s and two of the best big men in the mid-major world, the Crusaders are leaps and bounds ahead of the auto bids behind them.

    Best-Case Scenario: At long last, we're getting into the teams that could legitimately make a sustained run to the Elite Eight. Ryan Broekhoff is one of the best players in the country receiving absolutely no recognition for his tireless work. That will change when he leads the Crusaders into the second weekend of the tournament.

    Who They're Watching: Whether Valparaiso ends up with a No. 12 or No. 13 seed, it'll join Bucknell as the favorite double-digit seed to get to the Sweet 16.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: When Broekhoff or Kevin Van Wijk is struggling, the Crusaders are losing. In each of their seven losses, one or both of the big men has failed to score more than 10 points. They're in trouble if they run into a team like Syracuse with good interior defense.

50. Bucknell

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    Record: 28-5 overall. 12-2 in Patriot (first place).

    Best Wins: La Salle 74-66, New Mexico State (N) 62-49, at Lehigh 61-55

    Worst Losses: at Penn State 60-57, at Lafayette 63-62, at Princeton 79-67

    Why They're Here: They've lost a couple of bad ones, but the Bison are 7-3 against the RPI Top 150 and are the only team aside from Louisville to come within two points of beating Missouri either on their home court or in a neutral environment. Florida, VCU and Illinois can't make that claim.

    Best-Case Scenario: The Bison are a strong Sweet 16 candidate. If they can keep the game in the mid-60s and stay out of foul trouble, they're capable of beating anyone in the country.

    Who They're Watching: Having clinched the Patriot auto bid and boasting an RPI in the 50s, a No. 13 seed is about the worst they could get. Climbing any higher would depend heavily upon the bubble teams.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: Dionysus is the god of wine, Ares is the god of war, and Mike Muscala is the god of the paint (19.0 PPG, 11.2 RPG, 2.5 BPG). However, a one-man post show rarely leads to a deep tournament run. Three other guys average double figures, but the Bison unfortunately need to put a fifth man on the floor at all times. No one else on the team averages better than three points or 2.2 rebounds per game.

49. Middle Tennessee

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    Record: 28-5 overall, 19-1 in Sun Belt regular season (first place)

    Best Wins: Ole Miss 65-62, at Central Florida 75-61, at Florida International 66-64

    Worst Losses: At Arkansas State 66-60, Florida International (N) 61-57, at Akron 82-77

    Why They're Here: Five days ago, it looked like the Blue Raiders were going to suffer the malady of being a mid-major team that fails to win its conference tournament. But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? The bubble has crumbled to rubble, leaving Middle Tennessee as one of the best resumes still standing.

    Best-Case Scenario: Though just getting back into the picture is already a pretty darn good scenario, Middle Tennessee could legitimately be this year's Cinderella team. Defense and depth are two of the most important things in a frenetic tournament like the one they're about to enter, and they have a lot of both to offer.

    Who They're Watching: We'll all be watching on Sunday night to see whether MTSU or Kentucky shows up in the field.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: Who are they going to turn to in the clutch? Their biggest strength is their 10-man rotation, as it has no doubt kept them fresher than the teams that routinely play their stars 35-plus minutes per night. However, Marcos Knight is the only guy on the team who seems to have that proverbial scorer's mentality. Shut him down, and the rest of the team may follow suit.

48. La Salle

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    Record: 21-9 overall. 11-5 in Atlantic 10 (third place).

    Best Wins: at VCU 69-61, Butler 54-53, Villanova 77-74

    Worst Losses: Central Connecticut State 81-74, at Xavier 70-63, at Charlotte 74-65

    Why They're Here: The Explorers put together one of the more complete resumes amongst teams on the bubble, but will it be enough? With only one particularly bad loss, two great wins and an RPI in the 40s, the good seems to outweigh the bad, which is better than most of the bubble resumes can say.

    Best-Case Scenario: It's been a fun run, but they'll have to be pleased with getting back to the NCAA tournament for the first time in 21 years. In order to win a game, they would need to be matched up with an opponent that really isn't interested in the game.

    Who They're Watching: If Massachusetts sneaks into the field, it wouldn't be good news for the Explorers. The Minutemen lost to VCU on Saturday, which means La Salle might be able to get a few minutes of sleep on Selection Sunday Eve.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: For a team that averages nearly 73 points per game, they certainly struggle to score at times, failing to put up even 30 points in one of the halves of each of their eight best losses. Also, even in their big wins, they have routinely been outrebounded.

47. Boise State

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    Record: 21-10 overall. 9-7 in Mountain West (fourth place).

    Best Wins: Colorado State 78-65, UNLV 77-72, at Creighton 83-70

    Worst Losses: at Utah 76-55, at Nevada 75-59, at Air Force 91-80

    Why They're Here: The Broncos went 7-3 in the final 10 games of their regular season and picked up five of their seven best wins of the year in the process, but the loss in the MWC quarterfinal against San Diego State leaving them hoping to make the field.

    Best-Case Scenario: They could realistically shoot their way into the Final Four. The Broncos are one of the 15 most accurate three-point shooting teams in the nation, coming in at just under 40 percent. Derrick Marks can score 30 points in just about any game that he chooses.

    Who They're Watching: Both California and Colorado lost in the Pac-12 quarterfinals, slipping far enough to imagine Boise State finishing ahead of them on the ballots of some selection committee members.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: In 20 games against the RPI Top 150, the Broncos have held just one opponent under 60 points. Good shooting can fail you in the tournament; without a good defense to fall back upon, they could be beaten convincingly in the first round.

46. Wichita State

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    Record: 26-8 overall. 12-6 in Missouri Valley (second place).

    Best Wins: at VCU 53-51, Creighton 67-64, Southern Miss (N) 59-51 

    Worst Losses: at Southern Illinois 64-62, Evansville 59-56, at Evansville 71-67

    Why They're Here: Who could have guessed that game against VCU four days into the season would have this much of an impact? Without that win, the Shockers are probably dead and buried right now. Even with it, they'll be hanging on by a thread, hoping other bubble teams don't pass them by.

    Best-Case Scenario: Given their likely seed and the way they played over the final two weeks of the season, hearing their name on Selection Sunday might be the most memorable part of their tournament. They'll be back in Kansas in no time.

    Who They're Watching: Everyone on the bubble behind them, especially the SEC teams. Their season is finished, so all they have left to do at this point is hope.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: The Shockers don't have a particular weakness, nor do they have any particular strengths. Being an overall average team during an extraordinary time of year won't cut it. 

45. California

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    Record: 20-11 overall. 12-6 in Pac-12 (second place).

    Best Wins: at Arizona 77-69, UCLA 76-63, Colorado 62-46

    Worst Losses: Utah (N) 79-69, Harvard 67-62, Washington 62-47

    Why They're Here: After losing to Utah in the Pac-12 quarterfinals, the Golden Bears are going to come under a lot of scrutiny in the coming days. Do we praise them for the seven-game winning streak near the end of the season or chastise them for beating nobody in the nonconference before finishing in second place in a weak conference?

    Best-Case Scenario: If they can continue their recent momentum and ride the hot hands of Justin Cobbs and Allen Crabbe, the Golden Bears could make it into the Sweet 16. Defense will also be key, as they're 0-6 when allowing opponents to score more than 70.

    Who They're Watching: Whether the committee prefers how Cal finished the season or how Wichita State started it could be the difference between a play-in game or a direct flight to face a No. 5 seed.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: How will they fare against better conferences? They've abused the Pac-12 over the past six weeks, but they're literally the only team in the Pac-12 that doesn't look worse today than it did in mid-January. Their only nonconference win over the RPI Top 100 came against Denver.

44. Minnesota

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    Record: 20-12 overall. 8-10 in Big Ten (seventh place).

    Best Wins: Michigan State 76-63, Indiana 77-73, Memphis (N) 84-75 

    Worst Losses: at Northwestern 55-48, at Purdue 89-73, at Nebraska 53-51

    Why They're Here: Since knocking off Indiana and subsequently destroying Penn State, the Golden Gophers have lost three straight games to teams that finished the season below .500 in Big Ten play. They've done everything in their power to play their way out of the field, but the computer profile is still very strong.

    Best-Case Scenario: If they get back to playing the way they were until mid-January, they could win the whole tournament. If they play the way they have been for the past two months, they could lose by 25 in their first game. In your brackets, play it safe and assume the latter.

    Who They're Watching: Minnesota should be safely in the field, but we'll see on Sunday just how much weight the selection committee gives to strength of schedule.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: Inconsistency as a result of general apathy has been doing this team in all season. They looked very good in their nine games against Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Illinois and then looked like a junior varsity team on the road against the worst teams in the conference.

43. Colorado

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    Record: 21-11 overall. 10-8 in Pac-12 (fifth place).

    Best Wins: Arizona 71-58, Colorado State 70-61, at Oregon 48-47

    Worst Losses: at Utah 58-55, Arizona State 63-62, at Arizona State 65-56

    Why They're Here: The Buffaloes have a stronger computer profile than most teams on the bubble, but they've also lost five of their last 12 games, three of which were against teams nowhere near the tournament field.

    Best-Case Scenario: Whether you consider the Buffaloes to be an overachieving bad team or an underachieving good team, it's unlikely they could win more than one game in the tournament. They rely too heavily on one mustachioed man to make a prolonged run.

    Who They're Watching: Aside from procedural rules to avoid illegal opening round pairings, it's unlikely Colorado would move from this spot in the coming days. The four teams behind the Buffaloes have been eliminated from their tournaments, and the teams ahead of them couldn't fall behind them at this point.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: Take Spencer Dinwiddie's 82 percent clip out of the equation and Colorado is shooting 61.2 percent from the charity stripe as a team. The team also doesn't move the ball very well, getting credited for an assist on just 42 percent of its made field goals.

42. Cincinnati

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    Record: 22-11 overall. 9-9 in Big East (ninth place).

    Best Wins: Marquette 71-69, at Pitt 70-61, Iowa State (N) 78-70

    Worst Losses: St. John's 53-52, at Providence 54-50, Notre Dame 66-60

    Why They're Here: Since opening the season 12-0, the Bearcats are 10-11 with losses in seven of their last 11 games. However, the win over Providence in the Big East tournament makes it difficult to imagine them missing the NCAA tournament.

    Best-Case Scenario: The Bearcats could get back to the Sweet 16 for a second consecutive year, but only if Sean Kilpatrick gets hot and actually hits a few of the eight three-pointers he attempts per game. When he isn't scoring, Cincinnati isn't scoring.

    Who They're Watching: Ole Miss could conceivably still jump past the Bearcats, dropping them in range of a No. 12 seed in the process.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: Even in the best of times, they were never a good shooting team. Being seventh in the nation in both rebounds and blocks per game is great, but it's tough to win when you only shoot 40 percent from the field.

41. Villanova

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    Record: 20-13 overall. 10-8 in Big East (seventh place).

    Best Wins: Louisville 73-64, Georgetown 67-57, Marquette 60-56

    Worst Losses: Columbia 75-57, at Seton Hall 66-65, Providence 55-52

    Why They're Here: With four RPI Top 25 wins, there's no way the Wildcats are missing the tournament. Although, with an RPI in the 50s and a home loss to Columbia on their resume, it's difficult to imagine them doing better than a No. 10 seed.

    Best-Case Scenario: Trying to make sense of Villanova's season and then projecting a tournament outcome is an exercise in futility. The Wildcats have four wins over the RPI Top 20 and five losses by double digits to teams outside of the RPI Top 35. They could win it all, or they could lose miserably in their first game.

    Who They're Watching: With Ole Miss knocking off Florida and climbing further up the ladder, Villanova may now be looking at a No. 11 seed.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: At under 42 percent as a team, they don't shoot the ball very well. They don't take care of the ball either, turning it over 15.3 times per game—the most of any team projected to make the tournament.

40. Iowa State

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    Record: 22-11 overall. 11-7 in Big 12 (fifth place).

    Best Wins: Kansas State 73-67, Oklahoma State 87-76, Oklahoma (N) 73-66

    Worst Losses: at Texas Tech 56-51, at Texas 89-86, at Iowa 80-71

    Why They're Here: The Cyclones erased a lot of question marks by beating Oklahoma in the Big 12 quarterfinal, playing their way out of a play-in game and very safely in the field. They had a chance to move even further into the field with a win in the semifinal over Kansas but fell to 0-3 against the Jayhawks.

    Best-Case Scenario: As the team that takes the second-most three-point attempts per game in the nation, the best-case scenario is a fairly obvious one. When they're hot from long range, your only hope of beating them is getting even hotter.

    Who They're Watching: The Cyclones are all but locked into the range for a No. 10 seed.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: Sometimes you live by the three; sometimes you die by it. They've been brutally unlucky in late-game situations this season.

39. Oklahoma

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    Record: 20-11 overall. 11-7 in Big 12 (fourth place).

    Best Wins: Kansas 72-66, Oklahoma State 77-68, Iowa State 86-69

    Worst Losses: at Texas 92-86, Stephen F. Austin 56-55, at Arkansas 81-78

    Why They're Here: That loss to TCU was some kind of awful, but the Sooners finished in fourth place in the fourth-best power conference. The loss in the Big 12 quarterfinal to Iowa State certainly didn't help either, but the Sooners have done enough to remain in the field.

    Best-Case Scenario: It's been four years since the Sooners played in any postseason tournament. They'll be ecstatic with winning one game.

    Who They're Watching: The SEC championship game between Florida and Ole Miss should determine whether the Sooners would be aligned against a No. 2 seed or a No. 1 seed to get to the Sweet 16.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: What's the game plan if Romero Osby gets held in check, or if Steven Pledger isn't hitting three-pointers? Apparently, they lose to TCU. Osby is the only player on the team averaging more than three free-throw attempts per game, and Pledger is the only one averaging better than 0.85 made three-pointers.

38. Ole Miss

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    Record: 26-8 overall. 12-6 in SEC (third place).

    Best Wins: Florida (N) 66-63, Missouri 64-49, Missouri (N) 64-62

    Worst Losses: at Mississippi State 73-67, at South Carolina 63-62, at Texas A&M 69-67

    Why They're Here: Survive and advance. Most bubble teams were eliminated on Thursday or Friday, but Ole Miss just kept winning all the way to the SEC Championship. 

    Best-Case Scenario: If Marshall Henderson gets hot, there’s no telling what this team could do. They’re 14-2 this season when he hits at least 35 percent of his three-point shots. A trip to the Sweet 16 is a very real possibility.

    Who They're Watching: The Rebels had already distanced themselves from the bubble just by getting to the SEC championship game, but they secured the auto bid anyway. It's hard to see them doing any worse than a No. 10 seed after starting the week on the outside of the field.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: As great of a shooter as he can be, they rely far too heavily on Henderson and his 10.8 three-point attempts per game. The man knows no fear, but you can also rattle him with some relentless perimeter defense.

37. Saint Mary's

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    Record: 27-6 overall. 14-2 in West Coast (second place).

    Best Wins: Creighton 74-66, at BYU 70-69, BYU 64-57

    Worst Losses: Georgia Tech (N) 65-56, Pacific (N) 76-66, at Northern Iowa 82-75

    Why They're Here: Despite blowing all three chances against Gonzaga, the Gaels are clearly one of the 30 best teams in the country. Playing in the WCC might keep them from getting the seed they've earned, though.

    Best-Case Scenario: Behind hot three-point shooting and Matthew Dellavedova's leadership, the Gaels could make a run to the Elite Eight. It's the type of team for which everyone will root, regardless of how it affects their bracket pool.

    Who They're Watching: Aside from Middle Tennessee if it earns a bid, the Gaels may have benefited the most from an extremely lackluster week from teams on the bubble. My guess is they'll wind up with a No. 10 seed, but they deserve a little better.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: They're overreliant on three-pointers. In five of their six losses, they attempted 27 or more threes. For context on that number, only VMI has averaged more than 27 three-point attempts per game this season, and for most of the past decade VMI has been a gimmicky team that never wins anything important.

36. San Diego State

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    Record: 22-10 overall. 9-7 in Mountain West (fourth place).

    Best Wins: New Mexico 55-34, Colorado State 79-72, UCLA (N) 78-69

    Worst Losses: at Air Force 70-67, at Wyoming 58-45, at Colorado State 66-60

    Why They're Here: The Aztecs struggled over the final five weeks of the regular season but secured their bid by taking care of Boise State in the MWC quarterfinals. Unfortunately, they were unable to hold New Mexico to 34 points again in the semifinal.

    Best-Case Scenario: They might be able to win their opening game, but the Aztecs have virtually no chance of knocking off a No. 1 or No. 2 seed to make the Sweet 16. A team like Michigan State or Gonzaga would abuse them in the paint over and over again.

    Who They're Watching: San Diego State is probably headed for the No. 9 seed in the West region.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: The Aztecs have no interior presence on offense. J.J. O'Brien averages over 27 minutes per game but only 7.7 points. Their entire game runs through Jamaal Franklin and Chase Tapley, and Tapley is hardly a consistent scorer.

35. Temple

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    Record: 23-9 overall. 11-5 in Atlantic 10 (third place).

    Best Wins: Syracuse (N) 83-79, VCU 84-76, Saint Louis 64-54

    Worst Losses: Duquesne 84-83, St. Bonaventure 81-78, Canisius 72-62

    Why They're Here: Since losing to Duquesne and slipping out of the projected field, the Owls finished the regular season with seven consecutive wins to get comfortably back into the field.

    Best-Case Scenario: Of all the teams that will likely receive a No. 8 seed or worse, they have the best chance of getting to the Final Four. The Owls have proven they can beat anyone in the country. The only time they were handily beaten in a game this season was back when Duke was the hottest team in the country.

    Who They're Watching: Despite losing to Massachusetts in the A-10 quarterfinal, Temple should be playing in a No. 8/9 game.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: It's tough to find a weakness with this team. The Owls have shown they can handle VCU's pressure defense as well as they can handle Syracuse's 2-3 zone, scoring 80-plus points against each of them. Consistency could be their biggest problem, having lost a home game to Duquesne a month ago.

34. Illinois

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    Record: 22-12 overall. 8-10 in Big Ten (seventh place).

    Best Wins: at Gonzaga 85-74, Indiana 74-72, Ohio State 74-55

    Worst Losses: Northwestern 68-54, at Purdue 68-61, at Iowa 63-55

    Why They're Here: The Illini were a borderline bubble team at the end of the regular season but secured their bid by knocking off Minnesota in the Big Ten first round. A second win over Indiana in the quarterfinal would've been a nice boost to their bid, but alas, it wasn't meant to be.

    Best-Case Scenario: It's tough to put a ceiling on any team from the Big Ten, but the Elite Eight is a definite possibility. With five wins against the RPI Top 25, they've proven that they can hang with anyone in the country.

    Who They're Watching: They struggled in the Big Ten but did plenty in the nonconference to warrant a possible No. 8 seed.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: The Illini are far too reliant on perimeter shooting. In the six games this season in which they failed to score 60 points, they shot under 30 percent (39-of-133) from downtown. When those shots aren't falling, they have no other means of creating offense.

33. Belmont

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    Record: 26-6 overall. 14-2 in Ohio Valley (first place).

    Best Wins: Middle Tennessee 64-49, at Stanford 70-62, at Eastern Kentucky 85-74

    Worst Losses: Northeastern (N) 74-71, at Tennessee State 80-69, at Murray State 79-74

    Why They're Here: Perhaps they beat the system by playing 16 road/neutral games during the regular season, but the Bruins are a top-25 team according to the RPI. They were a borderline bubble team before the OVC tournament and should get a respectable seed after earning the auto bid.

    Best-Case Scenario: The Bruins made the NCAA tournament in five of the last seven years, but they have yet to win a tournament game. They'll finally break through that glass ceiling this season, but don't expect them to make any 1999 Gonzaga or 2008 Davidson runs into the Elite Eight.

    Who They're Watching: The Bruins are a bit of a wild card. Based on the computer profile, they should probably be a No. 8 or No. 9 seed, but will the committee give it to them?

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: The Bruins don't regularly put anyone taller than 6'7" on the court. That might work in the Ohio Valley, but it'll be a significant matchup disadvantage against just about any second- or third-round opponent.

32. Missouri

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    Record: 23-9 overall. 11-7 in SEC (fifth place).

    Best Wins: Florida 63-60, VCU (N) 68-65, Illinois (N) 82-73

    Worst Losses: at LSU 73-70, at Texas A&M 70-68, at Arkansas 73-71

    Why They're Here: Though they haven't beaten anyone good on the road, the Tigers went undefeated at home and avoided losing to any terrible teams. Not a great resume, but good enough to be in range for a No. 8 seed.

    Best-Case Scenario: They have the talent to get to the Final Four, with two big men in the paint, two guys who can drain it from downtown and one of the best point guards in the country. Missouri is the biggest threat to Missouri, because the Tigers are unstoppable when they're at their best.

    Who They're Watching: As much as conference standings don't matter, you have to wonder whether Missouri will get penalized for finishing in fifth place in a conference that might only send three teams to the tournament.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: Being unable to play at home will pose a serious problem for the Tigers. Though six of the games were decided by one possession, they went 0-8 in road games against the RPI Top 150. It really seems like a mental block at this point.

31. Colorado State

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    Record: 25-8 overall. 11-5 in Mountain West (second place).

    Best Wins: UNLV 66-61, San Diego State 66-60, Boise State 77-57

    Worst Losses: at Illinois-Chicago 64-55, at Boise State 78-65, at San Diego State 79-72

    Why They're Here: Based on their computer resume, the Rams should probably be a little higher than this, but it's hard to imagine them getting more respect than teams like Butler and VCU. Both of those teams went out of their way to schedule quality nonconference opponents rather than accidentally falling into some RPI Top 100 wins.

    Best-Case Scenario: They've staggered down the stretch, but the fourth-best rebounding team in the country is a legitimate threat for the Elite Eight. Just ask Virginia Tech. The Hokies were 9-2 before the Rams beat them by 36 points. They're 4-14 since then and reportedly still in therapy.

    Who They're Watching: If New Mexico's name shows up on Selection Sunday before Colorado State's and the Lobos don't receive a No. 2 seed, the Rams should expect to similarly be given a lower seed than they deserve.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: To save enough energy to grab 41 rebounds per game, the Rams don't play much defense. They average just five steals and 2.1 blocks per game, each of which puts them in the bottom 10 percent in the nation. They also gave up 91 points in regulation at home to a New Mexico team averaging just 67.4 points per game.

30. North Carolina State

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    Record: 24-10 overall. 11-7 in ACC (fourth place).

    Best Wins: Duke 84-76, North Carolina 91-83, Connecticut (N) 69-65

    Worst Losses: at Wake Forest 86-84, at Maryland 51-50, at Florida State 71-67

    Why They're Here: As disappointing as their season has been at times, the Wolfpack have earned a middling seed in the NCAA tournament by protecting home court for the majority of the season and picking up surprisingly valuable neutral-court wins over Connecticut and Massachusetts.

    Best-Case Scenario: This roster of guys could win the national championship if Mike Krzyzewski lost some bizarre bet to Mark Gottfried and had to coach the Wolfpack in the tournament. Short of that, their frustrating season will result in a Sweet 16 exit if they're lucky.

    Who They're Watching: The loss to ACC semifinal loss to Miami certainly didn't do them any harm, but it didn't do them any good either. They settled pretty securely into a No. 8 or No. 9 seed with the quarterfinal win over Virginia and should remain there on Selection Sunday to create a headache of a second-round game for a No. 1 seed.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: This team isn't ready for the big stage. Richard Howell and C.J. Leslie have looked overwhelmed and uninterested in large stretches of virtually every game this season. When they're engaged, they can beat Duke; when they aren't, they can lose to Florida State.

29. Butler

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    Record: 26-8 overall. 11-5 in Atlantic 10 (third place).

    Best Wins: Indiana (N) 88-86, Marquette (N) 72-71, Gonzaga 64-63

    Worst Losses: Charlotte 71-67, at Xavier 62-47, at VCU 84-52

    Why They're Here: Butler had four nonconference wins against the RPI Top 25. It was fairly average aside from that, but those wins kept it from ever truly slipping to anywhere near the bubble. Butler made it to the A-10 semifinals but suffered its third loss to Saint Louis once it got there. If the Bulldogs are going to make a deep run this year, they'll need to knock off a No. 1 or No. 2 seed to get to the Sweet 16.

    Best-Case Scenario: Until further notice, the best-case scenario for a Brad Stevens-coached team is the Final Four, but it would take some extra magic this season. The Bulldogs struggled over the final six weeks of the season with five losses over the final 13 games. If not for recent tournament success, we'd be pegging them as a Sweet 16 hopeful. 

    Who They're Watching: There's been a lot of arguing over who should get the fourth No. 1 seed, but that unlucky soul might be drawing Butler in the second round. If the Bulldogs do indeed receive a No. 8 seed, it won't be in Gonzaga or Indiana's region, as they've already played both of those teams this season.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: The Bulldogs are occasionally extremely sloppy. Rotnei Clarke is an excellent three-point shooter, but he has also committed at least three turnovers in 10 of 12 games since returning from a scary neck injury. As a team, they have consistently looked unprepared for pressure defense.

28. UCLA

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    Record: 25-9 overall. 13-5 in Pac-12 (first place).

    Best Wins: at Arizona 84-73, Arizona 74-69, Missouri 97-94

    Worst Losses: Cal Poly 70-68, at Washington State 73-61, USC 75-71

    Why They're Here: Despite a few awful losses and only two quality nonconference wins, the Bruins won the Pac-12 regular-season title. Unlike last year, that's actually worth something. They also won three games against Arizona, after knocking them out in the Pac-12 semifinal

    Best-Case Scenario: The Bruins could ride Larry Drew II to the Final Four. Ironic, considering Drew was the biggest thing holding back North Carolina a few years ago, but he is second in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio this season. He was sloppy over the final eight games of the season, though, averaging 4.25 turnovers per game.

    Who They're Watching: Many people have been doubting UCLA for much of the season, but now there's a very good reason to pick against the Bruins early in your bracket. Second-leading scorer Jordan Adams broke his foot on Friday night and will miss the NCAA tournament. They were already running primarily with a seven-man rotation, and now they're down to six.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: The Bruins are in trouble if Shabazz Muhammad isn't scoring, because he's just going to keep taking shots regardless. They're 11-2 when Muhammad scores 20-plus points and 8-7 when he scores 19 or fewer. If you can limit a consensus Top Five pick in the upcoming NBA draft, you can beat UCLA.


27. Creighton

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    Record: 27-7 overall. 13-5 in Missouri Valley (first place).

    Best Wins: Wisconsin (N) 84-74, Wichita State 91-79, at California 74-64

    Worst Losses: Illinois State 75-72, at Drake 74-69, at Northern Iowa 61-54

    Why They're Here: They showed up when it mattered most, winning their last five games and earning the Missouri Valley auto bid. With 11 RPI Top 100 wins, they should do no worse than a No. 7 seed.

    Best-Case Scenario: Two months ago, the Bluejays were looking like a Final Four team, but now it's tough to see them getting past the Sweet 16. Doug McDermott is awesome, but his supporting cast will leave you wanting more.

    Who They're Watching: The Bluejays are in prime positioning for a No. 7 seed.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: They don't play much defense. They're content with running the floor and running up the score, despite only having one guy on the roster averaging better than 10 points per game. 

26. Memphis

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    Record: 30-4 overall. 16-0 in Conference USA (first place).

    Best Wins: at Southern Miss 89-76, Southern Miss 89-73, at Tennessee 85-80

    Worst Losses: at Xavier 64-62, VCU (N) 78-65, Minnesota (N) 84-75

    Why They're Here: They won 24 of their final 25 games, going undefeated in C-USA play for what feels like the 11th time in the past 10 seasons.

    Best-Case Scenario: The Tigers are this year's wild-card team. They played just three games against "quality" opponents, losing all three of those games. Are they an above-average team playing in a below-average conference, or a good team that struggled against a trio of very good defensive teams?

    Who They're Watching: I could really see Memphis getting anywhere from a No. 5 seed to a No. 7 seed. The fact that no one else from the C-USA is getting into the conference really helps with their flexibility in placing the brackets.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: The Tigers turn the ball over nearly 15 times per game. They love to play aggressive defense and get transition buckets, but they're prone to giving their opponent the same advantage. Force them to play a slower, half-court game and they're very beatable.

25. Pittsburgh

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    Record: 24-8 overall. 12-6 in Big East (fourth place).

    Best Wins: at Georgetown 73-45, Syracuse 65-55, at Cincinnati 62-52

    Worst Losses: at Rutgers 67-62, Cincinnati 70-61, Notre Dame 51-42

    Why They're Here: Typically a team that makes a strong showing in the Big East tournament, the Panthers were knocked out by Syracuse in their first game. Despite a strong regular season in the Big East, a poor postseason performance and lackluster nonconference schedule leave the Panthers vulnerable to drop even further.

    Best-Case Scenario: This is one of the most composed teams in the nation, and that could carry the Panthers into the Final Four. Pitt takes care of the ball and distributes it well, registering an assist on 65 percent of its made field goals and ranking third in the nation in assists per turnover.

    Who They're Watching: The Panthers are projected for a No. 7 seed, but perhaps I'm overvaluing the team directly ahead of them.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: The Panthers are not a three-point shooting team. They make 36 percent of the ones the team does take but are among the bottom in the nation in attempts at 13.9 per game. Should they need to stage a comeback, it's Tray Woodall from deep or bust.

24. Oregon

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    Record: 26-8 overall. 12-6 in Pac-12 (third place).

    Best Wins: at UNLV 83-79, Arizona 70-66, at UCLA 76-67

    Worst Losses: at Utah 72-62, at Stanford 76-52, at UTEP 91-84

    Why They're Here: We're still trying to figure out how to evaluate the Ducks now that Dominic Artis is back in the lineup. They looked very good in winning the Pac-12 championship, so we may need to start evaluating them the same way we were before his injury.

    Best-Case Scenario: Even when the Ducks were hot, it just felt like they were catching teams off-guard. When given several days to prepare for them, any coach worth his weight in basketballs should be able to figure out how to beat them.

    Who They're Watching: I know UCLA was without Jordan Adams, but the scary part about Oregon's convincing win over the Bruins is that Artis had no points, two assists and three turnovers. If he can eventually bounce back to form the way Kwamain Mitchell eventually return to his normal self for Saint Louis, look out for the Ducks.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: Granted, a lot of them came in the nine games without their starting point guard, but the Ducks turn the ball over more than 15 times per game. They're also in the bottom 15 percent in the nation in three-point shooting.

23. Virginia Commonwealth

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    Record: 26-8 overall. 12-4 in Atlantic 10 (second place).

    Best Wins: Memphis (N) 78-65, Belmont 75-65, Butler 84-52

    Worst Losses: at Richmond 86-74, Wichita State 53-51, La Salle 69-61

    Why They're Here: They have head-to-head wins over Belmont, Butler and Memphis, so it only seems right that they should be above all three of those teams. Though they whiffed in six other chances at RPI Top 50 wins, they finished in second place in a very strong A-10 conference.

    Best-Case Scenario: The Rams would be lucky to make it to the Elite Eight. The word is out on Shaka Smart's game plan, and the Havoc defense won't be catching teams off-guard in this year's tournament. They'll get plenty of turnovers and fast-break buckets in the early rounds, but they'll lose once they face a team with experienced (see: composed) guards.

    Who They're Watching: VCU took care of both Saint Joseph's and Massachusetts to get to the A-10 championship game but came up short in the rematch against Saint Louis. The Rams should be looking at a No. 6 seed on Sunday night.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: Though 11th in the nation in points per game, VCU is not a great scoring team. Limit their transition buckets and force them to play a half-court game and you'll beat them. Of the six times they've been held under 69 points, they've lost five times, and they would've likely lost the sixth to Lehigh if C.J. McCollum hadn't been injured during the game.

22. UNLV

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    Record: 25-9 overall. 10-6 in Mountain West (third place).

    Best Wins: New Mexico 64-55, Colorado State 61-59, at San Diego State 82-75

    Worst Losses: Fresno State 61-52, at Fresno State 64-55, at Air Force 71-56

    Why They're Here: Save for a home loss to Fresno State in the finale, the Rebels closed the season strong, running their record against the RPI Top 100 to 12-6.

    Best-Case Scenario: As long as they don't find a way to run into Fresno State, you have to like UNLV's chances of getting to the Sweet 16. Anchored by Anthony Bennett, the Rebels are in the top 10 in the nation in rebounding.

    Who They're Watching: By losing to New Mexico in the Mountain West championship game, the Rebels will probably get into the tournament as a No. 6 seed. Even if VCU and UCLA both win their championships, that would leave UNLV at No. 24 overall.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: Bennett is falling apart down the stretch. The super frosh averaged 18 points per game in UNLV's first 26 games but scored just 5.0 per contest over the final five games of the regular season. The Rebels are struggling to figure out who's going to score in his stead.

21. Notre Dame

48 of 68

    Record: 25-9 overall. 11-7 in Big East (fifth place).

    Best Wins: Louisville 104-101, at Pittsburgh 51-42, Marquette (N) 73-65

    Worst Losses: Saint Joseph’s (N) 79-70, at Providence 71-54, at St. John’s 67-63

    Why They're Here: With a huge win over Marquette in the Big East quarterfinal, the Irish vaulted ahead of Pitt and several others on Thursday night. The game against Louisville was a huge opportunity for advancement, but the loss doesn't do them any harm.

    Best-Case Scenario: Winning more than one game might be a stretch. At no point this season did anyone come away from an Irish game thinking "I could see that team making a deep run in March." Jack Cooley has been a double-double machine, but he can be neutralized by an opponent with an above-average post presence.

    Who They're Watching: The Irish are more or less destined for a No. 6 seed.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: Outside of Cooley's 14 points and 10 rebounds per game, they've been an extremely inconsistent team. Here's a list of Notre Dame's points scored over a stretch of six consecutive games: 65, 79, 47, 104, 82, 54. It seems like the Irish would prefer to play a game in the mid-60s, but it also seems like they're incapable of dictating the pace of a game.

20. North Carolina

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    Record: 24-10 overall. 12-6 in ACC (third place).

    Best Wins: UNLV 79-73, N.C. State 76-65, Virginia 93-81

    Worst Losses: at Texas 85-67, at Virginia 61-52, Butler (N) 82-71

    Why They're Here: Don't look now, but the once bubbly Tar Heels are knocking on the door for a No. 4 seed.

    Best-Case Scenario: Let's not overreact to the beating they took against Duke to finish the regular season. Prior to that game, the Tar Heels were peaking and looking like this year's No. 5 seed that could go to the Final Four, and there's every reason to still believe that's true. When they're hot, they're the hottest team on the planet.

    Who They're Watching: After losing to Miami in the ACC championship game, the Tar Heels are likely headed towards a No. 5 seed

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: Their biggest weakness all season has been apathy in the first half. They've trailed by at least nine points at the half in six different games. Perhaps they could bring in Ray Lewis for pregame speeches, because whatever Roy Williams has been saying isn't working.

19. Arizona

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    Record: 25-7 overall. 12-6 in Pac-12 (second place).

    Best Wins: Miami (N) 69-50, Florida 65-64, San Diego State (N) 68-67

    Worst Losses: at USC 89-78, at Oregon 70-66, Cal 77-69

    Why They're Here: Something of a polar opposite to Pittsburgh, the Wildcats had a rather dreadful conference season but more than made up for it with some excellent nonconference wins. Those miracle wins over Colorado, Florida and San Diego State have been worth the souls they sold to the devil to get.

    Best-Case Scenario: Unless Derrick Williams is walking through that proverbial door, it's tough to see this Arizona team making it out of the Sweet 16. Since the infamous Sabatino Chen game, the Wildcats are 0-5 against the RPI Top 50.

    Who They're Watching: The Wildcats picked up their third loss against UCLA this season in the Pac-12 semifinal. In doing so, they fall behind the likes of Saint Louis and Wisconsin to the back-end of the No. 5 line. North Carolina could send them even further down the totem pole.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: Arizona's guard play is average at best. Mark Lyons does a nice job of creating his own shot, but you would hope a team's primary ball-handler would have more than three assists per game. 

18. Marquette

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    Record: 23-8 overall. 14-4 in Big East (first place).

    Best Wins: Georgetown 49-48, Syracuse 74-71, at Pittsburgh 74-67

    Worst Losses: at Green Bay 49-47, at Villanova 60-56, at Cincinnati 71-69

    Why They're Here: Marquette as a top-15 team really snuck up on a lot of people, myself included. The loss to Green Bay was ugly, and it would've been nice if the game against Ohio State hadn't been cancelled. The Golden Eagles made up for both of those losses by winning 10 RPI Top 100 games and finishing in a tie for first place in the Big East.

    Best-Case Scenario: If you look at Marquette's stats, you wonder where the 14 Big East wins came from. No one grabs even five rebounds per game, only three guys score more than 9.0 points per game, and they're shooting just 30 percent from long range as a team. Smoke and mirrors rarely carry a team beyond the Sweet 16.

    Who They're Watching: So much for those "If Marquette wins the Big East tournament" scenarios. The Golden Eagles drop back in line for a No. 5 seed after losing to Notre Dame in the Big East quarterfinal and could still get passed by North Carolina and VCU before all is said and done.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: They went undefeated at home, but away from home against the RPI Top 100, the Golden Eagles are 3-6 and needed overtime to get two of those wins. Putting them on a neutral court has a more neutralizing effect than it does on most teams in the nation.

17. Oklahoma State

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    Record: 24-8 overall. 13-5 in Big 12 (third place).

    Best Wins: at Kansas 85-80, Kansas State 76-70, N.C. State (N) 76-56

    Worst Losses: at Virginia Tech 81-71, at Baylor 64-54, at Iowa State 87-76

    Why They're Here: Aside from that weird loss to Virginia Tech, this has been one of the best teams in the country. It split the season series with both Kansas schools and nearly won all four of those games. The Big 12 semifinal against Kansas State? Well, not so much. Still, the Cowboys have earned their spot as a No. 4 or No. 5 seed.

    Best-Case Scenario: Of all the teams projected in the No. 4/5 range, Oklahoma State seems the most likely to knock off a No. 1 seed to get to the Elite Eight—it has already won a road game over Kansas. At that point, there's no telling how much further the momentum might carry the Cowboys.

    Who They're Watching: Oklahoma State is probably already cemented to a No. 5 seed. There's still plenty of Sunday action for the teams surrounding them, but even if Saint Louis loses, it likely means VCU would be taking its spot as a No. 4 seed.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: The Cowboys have two guys who love to play hero ball. In their 18 games decided by 14 or fewer points, Markel Brown has taken 10-plus shots 16 times, while Marcus Smart has done it 15 times. Kansas' Ben McLemore—who averages more points per game than either Brown or Smart—has only taken 10-plus shots in 12 of Kansas' 18 close games. It's one thing to take a lot of open shots, but both Smart and Brown have a tendency to force shots that aren't there under pressure.

16. Kansas State

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    Record: 27-7 overall. 14-4 in Big 12 (first place).

    Best Wins: Florida (N) 67-61, at Oklahoma 52-50, Oklahoma State 73-67

    Worst Losses: at Iowa State 73-67, at Oklahoma State 76-70, Gonzaga (N) 68-52

    Why They're Here: The Wildcats convincingly beat both Texas and Oklahoma State en route to a third showdown with their in-state rival in the Big 12 Championship game. Unfortunately, they lost all three of those games and are probably headed for a No. 4 seed.

    Best-Case Scenario: The Wildcats have struggled considerably against the teams they're likely to run into beyond the Sweet 16. They're 1-4 against the RPI Top 25, with three of the losses coming by at least 14 points. Getting to the Elite Eight might be a stretch.

    Who They're Watching: Kansas State could still get bypassed by Saint Louis and North Carolina on Sunday.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: They lack an interior presence and have been outrebounded in every loss this season. Jordan Henriquez-Roberts has been a huge disappointment in his senior season.

15. Syracuse

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    Record: 26-8 overall. 11-7 in Big East (fifth place).

    Best Wins: at Louisville 70-68, Georgetown (N) 58-55, San Diego State (N) 62-49

    Worst Losses: at Villanova 75-71, Temple (N) 83-79, at Connecticut 66-58

    Why They're Here: The Orange are creeping up the proverbial ladder after spending the final six weeks of the season falling down it. After knocking off Pitt and Georgetown in consecutive days, they're getting very close to a No. 3 seed. They jumped out to a big lead over Louisville in the Big East championship game, only to get outscored by 33 points over the final 15 minutes of the game.

    Best-Case Scenario: Whether it's in the first round against Bucknell or South Dakota State or in a later round against Michigan or Duke, the Orange will eventually run into a team that doesn't turn the ball over very often and can defensively shut down C.J. Fair and/or James Southerland. The Elite Eight is about as good as it could get.

    Who They're Watching: It was a great run to the Big East championship game, but they ran out of gas down the stretch. As a result, the Orange are in much better shape than they started the week, but it would be something of an upset if they got higher than a No. 4 seed.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: Brandon Triche and Michael Carter-Williams each make just 28 percent of their three-pointers, yet they trail only Southerland in long-range attempts this season. Syracuse is great in transition, but it doesn't have much of a half-court game. Also, the 2-3 zone is forever susceptible to a team that lives on the perimeter.

14. Michigan

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    Record: 26-7 overall. 12-6 in Big Ten (fourth place).

    Best Wins: Michigan State 58-57, at Minnesota 83-75, Ohio State 76-74

    Worst Losses: at Penn State 84-78, at Wisconsin 65-62, at Ohio State 56-53

    Why They're Here: The last six weeks of the season weren't very kind to the Wolverines, but they're still absolutely one of the best teams in the country. Michigan was bounced in the Big 10 quarterfinal round, as Wisconsin scored 51 in the second half and surged to a 68-59 victory.

    Best-Case Scenario: Tim Hardaway Jr. and Nik Stauskas take turns having the hot hand, and Trey Burke steers the ship to a national championship. We know Burke is going to score 15 to 30 points per game, because he's done it for 20 straight games, but will his supporting cast show up when it matters?

    Who They're Watching: Not only is a No. 2 seed now out of the question after losing in the Big Ten quarterfinal to Wisconsin, but the Wolverines seem destined for a No. 4 seed unless Florida slips up in the SEC championship game.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: The Wolverines have no post presence. Mitch McGary is OK, but you're lucky if you get 20 minutes out of him. A team with serviceable big men can beat them, which explains their losses to Indiana and Michigan State and their near losses to N.C. State and Pitt.

13. Saint Louis

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    Record: 27-6 overall. 13-3 in A-10 (first place).

    Best Wins: New Mexico 60-46, at Butler 65-61, VCU 76-62

    Worst Losses: Rhode Island 82-80, Santa Clara 74-62, at Washington 66-61

    Why They're Here: Once a bubble team getting Rodney Dangerfield levels of respect, the Billikens have become widely regarded as the best mid-major team not named Gonzaga. They won 15 of their final 16 games to win the A-10 regular-season title and conference championship.

    Best-Case Scenario: The Billikens finished out the regular season with a 16-3 record after getting Kwamain Mitchell back from offseason surgery. He's rounding into form at the right time, with 18 points per game over the last three games, and could lead them to the Final Four.

    Who They're Watching: Between their win over VCU and Florida's loss to Ole Miss, I briefly considered swapping Saint Louis and Florida. However, Florida has a much strong RPI and SOS and will likely have the edge. Just let it be known how impressive this team has been.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: In their six losses, Cody Ellis has shot 13-of-50 from beyond the arc. It might be unwise to rely that heavily on a career 33.5 percent three-point shooter to bring you back from a deficit.

12. Florida

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    Record: 26-7 overall. 14-4 in SEC (first place).

    Best Wins: Marquette 82-49, Middle Tennessee (N) 66-45, Missouri 83-52

    Worst Losses: at Arkansas 80-69, at Tennessee 64-58, at Kentucky 61-57

    Why They're Here: They oscillated between the No. 1 and 2 lines for most of the past three months, but the Gators have fallen from grace in recent weeks.

    Best-Case Scenario: It could change with a nice neutral-court run through the SEC tournament, but their ceiling is the Elite Eight. The Gators are 0-6 this season away from home against the RPI Top 80. That likely won't pose a problem in their first game, but it would be foolish to expect them to win three straight games of that ilk.

    Who They're Watching: The Gators came up short against Ole Miss in the SEC Championship game, slipping a spot in the rankings but more than likely maintaining a No. 3 seed.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: The Gators have struggled to score in their six losses, averaging just 61.5 points per game. Announcers would have you believe that the best offense is a great defense, but Florida's excellent defense hasn't always led to a lot of points. In those six losses, leading scorer Kenny Boynton has made just seven of his 35 three-point attempts.

11. Wisconsin

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    Record: 23-11 overall. 12-6 in Big Ten (fourth place).

    Best Wins: at Indiana 64-59, Indiana (N) 68-56, Ohio State 71-49

    Worst Losses: Purdue 69-56, at Iowa 70-66, Virginia 60-54

    Why They're Here: So perhaps the Badgers got sick of hearing discussions about the top four teams in the Big Ten that didn't involve them. They comfortably took care of Michigan on Friday and only briefly relinquished the lead midway through the second half on Saturday before knocking Indiana from its throne.

    Best-Case Scenario: Our best-case scenario is that they get eliminated immediately, so we don't have to watch them try to play games in the 50s. Their best-case scenario is probably the Sweet 16. They just looked worn out over the past three games, which is hard to believe, since I've never seen a Wisconsin team run the floor.

    Who They're Watching: It was an impressive run to the Big Ten championship game, but the Badgers came up just short against the Buckeyes. Still, behind their two great wins to get to that point, they've climbed high enough to earn a No. 3 seed.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: When they run into a team that isn't easily frustrated by playing at their pace, the Badgers are very beatable. It's a perfect explanation for their close games against Penn State, Iowa and Virginia. If they face a team with a disciplined half-court defense, they will really struggle to score. Even more than usual.

10. Georgetown

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    Record: 25-6 overall. 14-4 in Big East (first place).

    Best Wins: Louisville 53-51, at Syracuse 57-46, Marquette 63-55

    Worst Losses: at South Florida 61-58, at Villanova 67-57, Pittsburgh 73-45

    Why They're Here: After an overtime loss to Syracuse in the Big East semifinal, the chase for a No. 1 seed has officially come to an end for the Hoyas. Still, with the run they went on over the final two months of the season, they're in good shape to be on that second line.

    Best-Case Scenario: Team chemistry is a crazy thing. With Greg Whittington in the lineup, the Hoyas were a bubble team. After he was ruled academically ineligible, they finished out the regular season 14-2. Whittington isn't a bad player by any means, but as long as he doesn't come back, the Hoyas could win it all.

    Who They're Watching: For the time being, the Hoyas slip to a No. 3 seed, as Miami advanced to the ACC championship game with a convincing win over NC State. After New Mexico beat UNLV on Saturday night, Georgetown can probably forget about getting back up to a No. 2 seed.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: The Hoyas have been labeled as a low-scoring team, and rightly so. Even during their post-Whittington success, they've averaged just 66.2 points per game—precisely what Wisconsin has averaged all season. If for some strange reason Otto Porter isn't scoring in a game, who else is going to step up?

9. Michigan State

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    Record: 25-8 overall. 13-5 in Big Ten (second place).

    Best Wins: Kansas (N) 67-64, Michigan 75-52, Ohio State 59-56

    Worst Losses: Connecticut (N) 66-62, at Minnesota 76-63, at Ohio State 68-60

    Why They're Here: The Spartans had nine RPI Top 100 wins during the regular season, and their one loss to a team outside of the RPI Top 25 was on the first night of the season in Germany. With all the fuss about Kansas' loss to TCU, Michigan's loss to Penn State and Georgetown's loss to South Florida, what's not to love about Michigan State?

    Best-Case Scenario: Not only is their best-case scenario a national championship, but their worst-case scenario is a trip to the Elite Eight. This team is too talented and too well-coached to stumble against an inferior opponent, which is what it would be facing at least until the regional final.

    Who They're Watching: The Spartans made a cameo appearance on the top line before losing to Ohio State in the Big Ten semifinal. It wasn't long after that before they dropped in range for a No. 3 seed. The last No. 2 seed is a toss-up between the Spartans and the Hurricanes right now.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: Keith Appling is alarmingly inconsistent and has been just plain bad recently. In the Spartans' final seven games of the regular season, their point guard had 16 assists, 16 turnovers and made just four of his 30 three-point attempts (13 percent). That they went 4-3 over that stretch is amazing.

8. New Mexico

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    Record: 29-5 overall. 13-3 in Mountain West (first place).

    Best Wins: at Colorado State 91-82, UNLV 65-60, UNLV (N) 

    Worst Losses: South Dakota State 70-65, at San Diego State 55-34, at Saint Louis 60-46

    Why They're Here: The Lobos are in the top five in the nation in both RPI and SOS, but does anyone really believe in them as a contender for the national championship? The last-second loss to Air Force knocked them down a few pegs, but they could get back up to a No. 2 seed by winning the MWC tournament.

    Best-Case Scenario: Since the tournament field expanded to 64 teams, the Lobos have never made it into the Sweet 16, but they are poised for a run to the Final Four. Seven-footer Alex Kirk is a matchup nightmare for most teams in the tournament field. He's peaking at the right time, averaging 17.5 points and nine rebounds over the past four games.

    Who They're Watching: The Lobos won the MWC championship, and now it's up to the committee to decide whether or not they trust those lofty computer numbers. We have them projected for a No. 2 seed, but would they drop off that line if Miami wins the ACC tournament? They shouldn't.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: Despite leading the nation in RPI Top 100 wins, they haven't really been battle-tested. Their only game this season against a team projected for a No. 5 seed or better was a 14-point loss at Saint Louis. The 34-point showing at San Diego State is also a giant red flag.

7. Duke

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    Record: 27-5 overall. 14-4 in ACC (second place).

    Best Wins: Miami 79-76, Louisville (N) 76-71, Ohio State 73-68 

    Worst Losses: at Virginia 73-68, at Maryland 83-81, Maryland (N) 

    Why They're Here: They're on top of the college basketball world in both RPI and SOS and have been for a long time. With those computer numbers, the Blue Devils probably didn't need to actually win the ACC tournament to get a No. 1 seed, but they really needed to get past Maryland in the quarterfinal.

    Best-Case Scenario: With Ryan Kelly back in the fold, the sky's the limit for the Blue Devils. As has been the case since they painted the three-point arc on the floor, as long as they're hitting their threes, they can win it all.

    Who They're Watching: It's pretty tough to imagine Duke getting back onto the top line now. Even if Wisconsin wins the Big Ten championship, Duke is going to be stuck with a No. 2 seed. Although, if that happens, they could at least get the No. 2 seed in the East region rather than getting shipped out west.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: The Blue Devils struggle against aggressive perimeter defenses. In games against Louisville, Virginia and VCU, they hit just 16 of their 60 three-point attempts. They also struggle to play interior defense. If the NBA doesn't pan out, Mason Plumlee could have a fruitful career as a matador.

6. Miami

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    Record: 27-6 overall. 15-3 in ACC (first place).

    Best Wins: Duke 90-63, Michigan State 67-59, at North Carolina 68-59 

    Worst Losses: at Wake Forest 80-65, Georgia Tech 71-69, at Florida Gulf Coast 63-51

    Why They're Here: Losses in three of the final five games of the regular season not only thwarted Miami's chances for a perfect ACC season, but the caliber of opponent in two of those losses may keep the Hurricanes from getting a spot on the top two lines.

    Best-Case Scenario: By blowing out both Duke and North Carolina at home, the Hurricanes demonstrated that they can beat anyone. The rest of the season, however, indicates a team that is too inconsistent to get beyond the Final Four.

    Who They're Watching: Miami has done enough to get a No. 1 seed, but it's doubtful that they would receive one, despite winning both the regular season and conference tournament titles in the ACC this season. The resumes ahead of them just seem too strong to be passed.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: We glossed over losses to Florida Gulf Coast and Indiana State for most of the season, because the 'Canes were without a key player in each game. Recent losses suggest a deeper, functional problem—no interior presence on offense or defense. They're extremely mortal when Shane Larkin isn't on fire.

5. Ohio State

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    Record: 26-7 overall. 13-5 in Big Ten (second place).

    Best Wins: at Indiana 67-58, Michigan State 68-60, Michigan 56-53 

    Worst Losses: at Wisconsin 71-49, at Illinois 74-55, Indiana 81-68

    Why They're Here: The Buckeyes finished in second place in the best conference in the nation without picking up a single bad loss. However, they were just 4-6 in the games that could have cemented their perception as a top-10 team.

    Best-Case Scenario: Deshaun Thomas can absolutely carry the Buckeyes to the Final Four. Asking them to win it all might be pushing it. However, if anyone in the nation can single-handedly will his team to six consecutive victories—a.k.a. pulling a Kemba Walker—it's Thomas.

    Who They're Watching: It will certainly be interesting to see what the committee decides with these top seven teams. Gonzaga has the best record. Duke has the best computer profile. Miami, Louisville and Kansas all won their regular season and conference championship. Indiana and Ohio State merely took home titles from the best conference in the country.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: You know you're getting 20 points from Thomas, but where are the rest of the points going to come from? Lenzelle Smith is incredibly streaky and has as many games with more than six points as he does with six or fewer in the Buckeyes' last 20 games. Aaron Craft can be pretty hit or miss as well.

4. Kansas

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    Record: 29-5 overall. 14-4 in Big 12 (first place).

    Best Wins: at Ohio State 74-66, at Kansas State 59-55, at Oklahoma State 68-67

    Worst Losses: at TCU 62-55, Oklahoma State 85-80, at Oklahoma 72-66

    Why They're Here: Just a few days ago—before getting destroyed by Baylor—the Jayhawks were in line for the No. 1 overall seed. Now that they won the Big 12 conference tournament, there's a good chance they'll at least return to the top line for Selection Sunday.

    Best-Case Scenario: They made it to the championship game in 2012 and are ready to cut down the nets in 2013. It's up to Ben McLemore to lead them to the promised land.

    Who They're Watching: By beating Kansas State, the Jayhawks have all but locked up a No. 1 seed. Ohio State and Miami still pose a threat as a team that could crash onto the top line, though.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: The Jayhawks struggle when Jeff Withey gets into foul trouble. In the 10 games this season in which Withey has been whistled for three or more fouls, KU's average margin of victory is 2.6 points per game as opposed to an average margin of 18.5 when he can chase blocks without fear of getting disqualified.

3. Indiana

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    Record: 27-6 overall. 14-4 in Big Ten (first place).

    Best Wins: at Michigan State 72-68, at Michigan 72-71, at Ohio State 81-68

    Worst Losses: Butler (N) 88-86, at Illinois 74-72, Wisconsin 64-59

    Why They're Here: After losing the Big Ten semifinal to Wisconsin, the Hoosiers loosened their choke hold on the No. 1 overall seed enough for both Gonzaga and Louisville to pass them by.

    Best-Case Scenario: There will be no moral victories in Bloomington. The consensus No. 1 team in the preseason is just as likely to cut down the nets today as they were four months ago. Anything short of that will be a failed season.

    Who They're Watching: Ohio State poses the biggest threat to the Hoosiers. Playing in the Midwest region would be a huge geographical advantage for Indiana, and Ohio State could be given that spot if it beats Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: The Hoosiers have no real identity. In their losses and near losses, they’ve allowed their opponent to adapt the pace of the game to whatever best fits their style. That could become a real problem if they run into Virginia or Virginia Commonwealth.

2. Gonzaga

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    Record: 31-2 overall. 16-0 in West Coast (first place).

    Best Wins: Kansas State (N) 68-52, Oklahoma (N) 72-47, at Oklahoma State 69-68

    Worst Losses: Illinois 85-74, at Butler 64-63

    Why They're Here: For a few hours between Indiana's loss and Louisville's win, Gonzaga was the No. 1 overall seed. They drop a spot after the Cardinals won the Big East championship, but they remain on the top line. 

    Best-Case Scenario: It's been 14 years since everyone's favorite Cinderella made it as far as the Elite Eight, but this might be the most complete team that Mark Few has ever assembled. Kelly Olynyk has been the most consistently great big man in the country, and he could carry the Bulldogs to a national championship.

    Who They're Watching: What happens if Ohio State wins the Big Ten championship? Prior to all of the conference tournament chaos, it was assumed that if one of the top teams won the tournament, it would receive a No. 1 seed. But Kansas and Louisville have earned a spot on the top line by winning their tournaments. It doesn't seem likely that Indiana could be a No. 2 seed, so in order for Ohio State to move up, wouldn't Gonzaga need to drop?

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: The Zags' perimeter defense is apathetic, at best. In eight games against NCAA tournament teams, their opponent is averaging eight made three-point field goals on 23.4 attempts.

1. Louisville

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    Record: 29-5 overall. 14-4 in Big East (first place).

    Best Wins: at Syracuse 58-53, at Memphis 87-78, Marquette 70-51

    Worst Losses: at Villanova 73-64, at Notre Dame 104-101, Syracuse 70-68

    Why They're Here: After winning the Big East tournament and watching Indiana and Duke drop out before winning theirs, the Cardinals become the No. 1 overall seed for the NCAA tournament.

    Best-Case Scenario: The Cardinals could absolutely win it all. Russ Smith is a fringe Player of the Year candidate, and Gorgui Dieng would be right there with him if he hadn't missed seven games with a broken wrist. Aside from perhaps VCU, they have the most active defense in the nation, averaging 15 steals and blocks per game.

    Who They're Watching: Louisville isn't worried about anyone else in the field at this point.

    Biggest Tournament Weakness: The Cardinals are not a strong three-point shooting team, registering just a 32-percent success rate from downtown. In fact, no individual player shoots better than 37 percent.