5 Teams in Need of a Wake-Up Call Before 2013 NCAA Tournament
As Championship Week rolls on and Selection Sunday gets closer, college basketball teams are going in every direction possible.
Some teams' March Madness hopes are improving, while others have been snuffed out.
Another group of programs may be relatively secure in terms of their ticket being punched for the Big Dance, but are in need of a something to stir them up before the opening round games begin next week.
Here are seven teams in need of a wake-up call before the 2013 NCAA tournament.
5. Saint Mary's Gaels
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You might ask, “Why in the world does a team like Saint Mary's (27-6; 14-2 WCC) need a wake-up call?”
After all, the Gaels had an excellent 2012-13 season, winning more games than almost any team in the nation.
It’s not the number of games that Randy Bennett’s bunch lost. It’s to whom they lost…three times.
They lost to Gonzaga twice in the regular season and once in the WCC tournament title game.
“Being owned” can mess with a team’s psyche. Rather than staying confident, the Gaels could become timid or tentative.
As long as Saint Mary’s can keep their entire body of work in mind, they should be fine. If those three losses to the Zags stay in the Gael’s heads, it could impact how they play in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.
4. Cal Bears
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Cal made a late-season push to go from the middle of the Pac-12 standings to a No. 2 seed in the Pac-12 tournament and a Selection Sunday pick.
SF Allen Crabbe was named the 2013 Pac-12 Player of the Year.
With impressive February victories over UCLA and Arizona, head coach Mike Montgomery had the Bears booming in Berkeley.
Then they dropped their season finale against Bay Area rival Stanford and then, without explanation, lost to Utah in the opening round of the conference tourney in Las Vegas.
As of today, ESPN’s bracketologist Joe Lunardi still has Cal as a No. 11 seed.
To avoid a first-round elimination, the Bears need to find their mojo from February, when they went 7-1 for the month.
3. Wichita State Shockers
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Wichita State has put together another outstanding season. The Shockers are currently 26-8.
However, over the past three weeks, Gregg Marshall’s squad has been more average than awesome.
WSU lost in the regular-season finale to Creighton in a game that gave the Bluejays the MVC regular-season title.
That loss was after an uncharacteristic home misstep to Evansville.
Most recently, Wichita State lost to Creighton for the second time in eight days in the MVC tournament championship game.
The Shockers need to shake themselves before the beginning of March Madness. If they don't, they could make an opening-round exit for the second year in a row.
2. Cincinnati Bearcats
Cincinnati is the kind of gritty, Big East squad that lots of teams don’t like to face.
They apply relentless pressure on defense, blocking shots and stealing the ball at every possible opportunity.
However, the Bearcats have had to battle just to stay in the running for a place in this year’s March Madness.
They entered the month of February with a 17-4 record.
Now, after getting pounded by Georgetown in the second round of the Big East tournament, Cincy anxiously sits with a 22-11 mark waiting to see what will happen on Selection Sunday.
1. Kentucky Wildcats
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They have been up and down, finishing the regular season by going 4-4.
A final-game victory over Florida seemed like a sign that maybe the Cats were putting things together.
But in the SEC quarterfinals, Kentucky was barely competitive, losing to Vanderbilt by 16 points.
Can John Calipari work some motivational magic to get his young team ready for the NCAA tournament?
Even he might be at a loss of what to do to right the ship before March Madness action begins next week.