March Madness 2014: Bubble Teams in Need of Strong Conference Tournament

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistMarch 13, 2014

Minnesota guard Andre Hollins runs onto the court during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Purdue in Minneapolis, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)
Ann Heisenfelt/Associated Press

While the NCAA tournament selection committee looks at resumes from the entire season, the conference tournaments give bubble teams one last shot to prove themselves to the nation.

This seems to be said every season, but this year's bubble appears to be as weak as ever. Squads that continue to lose games keep getting more chances to play their way into the field.

However, the time for chances is running out. There are a number of teams who need to perform well with one or two wins in their conference tournament or else they will be destined to end their season in the NIT.

These squads still have a chance to go dancing but will need wins.

Saint Joseph's 

An 11-5 record in the Atlantic 10 helps boost St. Joseph's profile, but the squad has too many questionable losses to feel safe about its resume.

The Hawks lost to city rival Temple earlier in the year and were not even competitive in losses to LSU or Richmond. To make matters worse, the team could not get a win in either of its last two regular-season games.

When asked about how the latest defeat would affect his postseason chances, head coach Phil Martelli said, "No idea. ...I haven’t thought about it, I haven’t talked about it. People keep saying ‘Well, you must talk to Joe Lunardi hourly.’ I don’t," via Matt Haughton of CSN Philly.

Whether he knows the situation or not, the truth is that his team is in trouble. There are quality wins over Massachusetts and VCU, but otherwise it is a very weak strength of schedule.

The squad has a bye into the quarterfinals of the conference tournament, but this could end up hurting the Hawks because the competition will be tougher. A third loss in a row will certainly not look good to the selection committee.

As a result, it will be vital for St. Joe's to at least get to the semifinals of the Atlantic-10 tournament.


Florida State

Florida State got its postseason off to a great start with an exciting win over Maryland, detailed by Chris Burke of Sports Illustrated:

And now Florida State with a buzzer-beating dunk. College hoops in March is amazing.

— Chris Burke (@ChrisBurke_SI) March 13, 2014

Boris Bojanovsky scored the game-winning basket with less than one second left, helping their case for the NCAA tournament, according to Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports:

Boris Bojanovsky! Florida State beats Maryland 67-65. Noles with a huge win to keep NCAA hopes alive. Noles now play Virginia Friday.

— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) March 13, 2014

Unfortunately, this is not enough to clinch a spot just yet. The Seminoles are just 3-8 against the RPI Top 50 and 5-11 against the Top 100. A recent win over Pittsburgh is the only top-50 win since the start of 2014.

This means that Florida State still has some work to do before it can feel comfortable on Selection Sunday. Fortunately, it will get a chance to shine against top-seeded Virginia in the ACC tournament.

The Seminoles lost by 12 in each of the two meetings against the Cavaliers during the regular season, but a win in on a neutral floor would be enough to show anyone that they belong in the Big Dance.


While Minnesota still has to prove itself against top teams, it also has to show it can beat anyone consistently. The squad ended the regular season with just four wins in its last 11 games and ended with an 8-10 record in the Big Ten.

The committee will love to see the No. 5 strength of schedule for the Golden Gophers, but a 19-12 record is clearly not enough, especially with a 3-8 record against the Top 50 in the RPI.

They will face Penn State in the first round of the Big Ten tournament, and head coach Richard Pitino thinks a win should be enough to get an NCAA bid. According to Marcus R. Fuller of the Pioneer Press, the coach explained:

You want my opinion. I honestly believe if we win one game and things go our way, we can be in the NCAA tournament. Because you get 20 wins, you have a top-five strength of schedule. But things have got to go our way.

Despite this confidence, the squad might need a little bit more. A win would put Minnesota in the quarterfinals against Wisconsin, and a victory in this game would certainly be enough to earn a bid.

If the Gophers cannot get it done in these games, it will be just a poor end to the season that should knock 


Note: RPI numbers courtesy of ESPN.