Bracketology: Making a Case for Bubble Teams That Should Be Dancing in 2013

Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IMarch 17, 2013

GREENSBORO, NC - MARCH 15:  Dez Wells #32 of the Maryland Terrapins celebrates a basket in the first half against the Duke Blue Devils during the quarterfinals of the ACC Men's Basketball Tournament at Greensboro Coliseum on March 15, 2013 in Greensboro, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Bubbles will burst on Sunday evening when the NCAA tournament selection committee releases the tournament bracket and announces the field of 68 teams set to go dancing this March.

While some teams have made a case by knocking off the nation's top dogs, others have proven their worth by scheduling tough games and performing out of conference. But it's not up to us. The selection committee will have the final say.

Here we'll make a case for a handful of bubble teams that should be dancing.


Maryland Terrapins (22-12, 8-10 ACC)

The only team to defeat Duke (a potential No. 1 seed) with Ryan Kelly in the lineup this season, the Maryland Terrapins knocked off the Blue Devils not once, but twice in the past month, handing Mike Krzyzewski's squad two of its five losses on the year.

Maryland's non-conference schedule was incredibly weak, but they did what they had to going 12-1 outside the ACC. The only loss was a three-point defeat to Kentucky with Nerlens Noel.

In addition to knocking off Duke twice, the Terps picked up a key win over NC State in January.

Plus, if the committee is looking for a team that's peaking right now, there are few teams as hot as Mark Turgeon's crew. Maryland was three points away from potentially advancing to Sunday's ACC tournament final, and the selection committee would be wise to consider that before deciding on the Terps' fate.


Minnesota Golden Gophers (20-12, 8-10 Big Ten)

Minnesota stumbled down the stretch this season, but the Gophers boast key victories over Indiana, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Illinois in the Big Ten this season.

The Gophers, who had one of the toughest schedules in college basketball this year, also finished with the same conference record as Illinois (8-10), which is seemingly a lock for the Big Dance after knocking off Gonzaga and Butler during its non-conference run.

After playing the third-toughest schedule in the nation, and picking up three wins against the RPI Top 25 this year, Minnesota makes a strong case for a tourney bid.

Either way, Tubby Smith has done a fantastic job in his sixth season with the Gophers, who haven't been to the NCAA tournament since 2010.


Virginia Cavaliers (21-11, 11-7 ACC)

Not only did the Cavaliers defeat Duke, North Carolina and NC State this season, but they knocked off Wisconsin and fellow bubble team Tennessee outside the conference. 

Virginia's poor strength of schedule and shaky finish to the season, losing three of its last four will give the committee reason to think twice about making room for them in the bracket, but there's no denying that the Cavs' entire body of work warrants a selection in 2013.

Tony Bennett's squad went 11-7 in the ACC this season with all seven losses coming on the road. The Cavs finished their non-conference schedule 10-3.

No, Virginia's RPI and strength of schedule don't impress, but among the bubble teams it's hard to argue the Cavaliers haven't stood out this year.


Find out which bubble teams will make the field this March by watching Selection Sunday at 6 p.m. ET. And be sure to download our printable 2013 NCAA tournament bracket.


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