Bubble Teams 2013: Schools That Need a Strong Conference Tournament Showing
The NCAA tournament bubble is a fickle thing, and there a bunch of talented teams currently on the wrong side of it.
Squads have spent the entire season trying to boost their profile in order to claim they are worthy of an at-large bid to the big dance. However, a bunch of schools have not quite done enough. The conference tournament will be the last chance for them to prove their worth.
Obviously, any team can get an automatic bid by winning their conference tournament. However, these teams could earn an at-large bid with a couple of victories over the next week.
By defeating Kansas in the last game of the regular season, Baylor remained in the conversation for an at-large bid. However, their inclusion in the field is far from secure.
The Bears still only have an 18-13 overall record with a 9-9 record in conference. The 3-10 record against the RPI Top 50 is not ideal, especially considering that Kentucky could fall out of that group by Selection Sunday.
In addition, three losses to teams outside of the Top 100 in the RPI hurt as well.
Baylor's first game in the conference tournament is against Oklahoma State. A loss means that the team would have dropped nine of the last 13 games. However, a victory would give the Bears one more impressive win.
Beating Oklahoma State and at least playing well against Kansas State in the semifinals should be enough to put Baylor in the field of 68.
A month ago, it would have seemed insane to question whether Cincinnati belonged in March Madness. However, their recent slide will force the selection committee to second-guess the Bearcats.
The squad ended the year with six losses in the final nine games, and the games against Louisville and Notre Dame were not even competitive.
With only one big-time win over Marquette, an at-large bid is far from secure.
In the first game of the Big East tournament, Cincinnati will face fellow bubble team Providence. If Mick Cronin's group is unable to escape with a victory, it will be tough to argue it deserves to be in the tournament over the Friars.
However, a win will put them in much better position. Beating Georgetown in the next round would end any doubt.
No conference is more jumbled at this point of the year than the SEC. Florida will be one of the top seeds and Missouri is somewhere in the field, but the rest remains a mystery.
Kentucky helped its case with a win over Florida on Saturday, and Ole Miss won twice during the week, including a victory over Alabama. Tennessee also beat Missouri and is in pretty good shape.
This puts Alabama far down in the pecking order for teams in this conference, even after surviving against Georgia with a half-court buzzer-beater.
A double-bye in the SEC could actually work against the Crimson Tide, as it gives them fewer opportunities to win games. Their first game might be against Tennessee, and a loss could end their season.
In order for the Tide to feel comfortable on Selection Sunday, they will likely need to not only win in the quarterfinals but beat Florida in the semifinals as well.
Otherwise, there will be some nervous fans as the brackets are released.
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