So Close, Yet So Far Away: Ranking the Teams on the Bubble, Part 1 (No. 12-7)

Logan DaltonCorrespondent IFebruary 16, 2010

PORTLAND, OR - MARCH 19:  Jon Brockman #40 of the Washington Huskies goes up for a shot against Jarvis Varnado #32 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs in the second half during the first round of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the Rose Garden on March 19, 2009 in Portland, Oregon.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images


12. Virginia Cavaliers 14-9 (5-5 ACC)

Key wins: Georgia Tech, UAB

Heartbreaking losses: Penn St., at Auburn

UVA started slow, but then they went on a tear by leading a weaker than usual ACC. Joe Lunardi has the 'Hoos as his 8th team out and they're on a three-game losing streak, losing a nail-biter to Wake Forrest on the road.

I think if UVA wins five out of their last six games and beats either Duke or Maryland, they're in. A key factor for UVA is help for Sylven Landesberg. He's one of the better guards in the ACC, but UVA needs a Luigi to help Landesberg's Mario in the scoring department and to help defend the elite backcourts at Duke and Maryland

11. Notre Dame Irish  17-9 (6-7 Big East)

Key wins: West Virginia, Cincinnati

Heartbreaking losses: Loyola Marymount, Rutgers

Notre Dame is also another possible bubble team in a slide. They lost to a mediocre St. John's team that they led most of the game. Close losses to sub par teams reveal that the Irish should probably not be in the field of 65.

This team has lost five one-possession games and have shown potential especially when Harangody has big scoring nights (see W. Virginia game). If ND can go on a tear and win three out of their last five with at least one road win, this talented team could be dancing.

10. Wichita State Shockers 21-6 (10-5 MVC)

Key wins: Northern Iowa, Texas Tech

Heartbreaking losses: at Drake, at Evansville

The Shockers have been under the radar all year, being overshadowed by the more hyped Northern Iowa. Their nonconference schedule was like a bakeshop, but they've proved themselves with a huge home win against Northern Iowa and even led at halftime in their road loss to the Panthers.

Wichita St's strengths are their balanced scoring (six players average at least six ppg) and hard-nosed defense (ranked first in the MVC). A win against WAC leader Utah St. in Bracket Busters would give the Shockers a nice OOC victory and boost their resume. Even with a loss, a run to the Missouri Valley final should get this up and coming team in the tourney

9. San Diego State Aztecs 18-7 (7-4 MWC)

Key wins: New Mexico, UNLV

Heartbreaking losses: at Pacific, at Wyoming

SDSU is one team that's gotten hot at the right time and could continue to dominate down the Mountain West home stretch. The Aztecs crippled themselves early with some tough road losses to decent teams like Pacific and Arizona St. However, they've been unstoppable at home and only lost to BYU after Jimmer Fredette led the Cougars to a heart-breaking win.

San Diego St. should be in the NCAA tournament because of their rugged defense and rebounding and no star, team-first outlook. A road win against BYU would seal the deal, but even if they lose again to the Cougars, hopefully the committee won't overlook the underrated Aztecs. They are a team that has given every good team in the MWC a run for their money.

8. Florida Gators 17-8 (6-4 SEC)

Key wins: Michigan St., Florida St.

Heartbreaking losses: South Alabama, at South Carolina

I saw Florida play Tennessee and they are a long and athletic squad that can make plays. Kenny Boynton is a true diaper dandy (14 ppg), and Chandler Parsons is cool in the clutch (e.g. the NC St. game). They've lost to some good teams like Syracuse and Kentucky, but a couple bad losses pop their bubble at this point.

If Florida has a winning record in the SEC and beats one of the Beasts of the East (UK, Vandy,or Tennessee), they should definitely be in and have at least a 9 seed. First, they have to stop their current cold streak and beat Auburn in a trap game.

7. Mississippi State Bulldogs 18-7 (6-4 SEC)

Key wins: Old Dominion, two wins against Ole Miss

Heartbreaking losses: Rider, at W. Kentucky

Maybe the Bulldogs will the be the sheriff in the OK Corral of the wild SEC West. They've won back-to-back home games, including a win vs. fellow bubble buddy Ole Miss and are playing UK close at half-time.

State's biggest strength is Jarvis Varnado, who's a double-double machine and game-changing human eraser. He's probably one of the most dominant post defenders in the college game. The Dawgs have an easy stretch run playing Alabama, Auburn and win-less LSU. Time will tell, but their frontcourt could lead them to a pleasant postseason destination.