March Madness 2018: Highlighting Tournament's Most Dangerous Bubble Teams

Maurice Bobb@@ReeseReportFeatured ColumnistFebruary 26, 2018

AMES, IA - FEBRUARY 21: JD Miller #15 of the TCU Horned Frogs takes a shot as Zoran Talley Jr. #23 of the Iowa State Cyclones blocks in the first half of play at Hilton Coliseum on February 21, 2018 in Ames, Iowa. TCU Horned Frogs won 89-83 over the Iowa State Cyclones. (Photo by David K Purdy/Getty Images)
David K Purdy/Getty Images

On March 11, the entire sports world will have tunnel vision for one thing and one thing only: Selection Sunday.

That's when March Madness officially begins.

The NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Committee will announce the 68 teams that will fill millions of brackets across the country.

There are teams that are virtual locks for the tourney. Teams like Villanova, Michigan State, Virginia, Duke, Kansas, North Carolina, Wichita State and Auburn will all be chasing the national championship.

Then there are the teams that will be biting their nails, hoping the 10 committee members choose them and that they get to hear their names called on March 11. These are the teams on the edge of making it, the bubble teams.

Don't sleep on the bubble teams, though. These are the squads most likely to bust a bracket near you. 

There's still time for teams to make their cases, but here are three teams that will make some noise should they get the call.



AMES, IA - FEBRUARY 21: Desmond Bane #1 of the TCU Horned Frogs drives with the ball as Jeff Beverly #55 of the Iowa State Cyclones puts on pressure in the second half of play at Hilton Coliseum on February 21, 2018 in Ames, Iowa. TCU Horned Frogs won 89-
David Purdy/Getty Images

The Horned Frogs helped their case for joining March Madness with their 82-72 win over Baylor on Saturday.

The pivotal victory at Schollmaier Arena marked the first time since 1989 that TCU (20-9, 8-8 in the Big 12) swept the Bears, making it almost certain it will earn its first tournament birth since 1998.

The Frogs also swept Iowa State and Oklahoma State this year and has two games remaining this season. They are fifth place in the Big 12, and most analysts have at least seven teams from the Big 12 going to the Big Dance.

Should they get in, TCU is primed to play Cinderella. They are incredibly well-coached by Jamie Dixon and have already had to deal with adversity by playing through injuries.

TCU Basketball @TCUBasketball

Back-to-back 2⃣0⃣ win seasons. 14 of 15 seasons for @CoachDixon. #GoFrogs https://t.co/nqy5P4L11k

Led by Vladimir Brodziansky, Desmond Bane and Alex Robinson, the Frogs have five players who average double figures and know how to score the ball. They are No. 4 in KenPom.com's adjusted offensive efficiency.

"Every day I'm coming up with a new first," Dixon told the Waco Tribune's John Werner. "The first time we beat them there and now sweeping them. We do have to recognize these guys made a decision to come to TCU when it was down and we were coming into a new conference. What they've done in a short amount of time is really remarkable.

Last year, the Frogs won the NIT Championship. This year? Maybe they will dance all the way to San Antonio.


NC State

SYRACUSE, NY - FEBRUARY 14:  Allerik Freeman #12 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack reacts to a made three-point basket during a time-out against the Syracuse Orange in the first half at the Carrier Dome on February 14, 2018 in Syracuse, New York. (Phot
Rich Barnes/Getty Images

For any team on the bubble, signature wins during this part of the season are the name of the game.

For NC State, that win was over Florida State, the No. 25 team in the country. Sunday's 92-72 ACC victory was the Wolfpack's fourth consecutive conference win and their fifth game in a row wherein they shot more than 50 percent from the field.

With wins over ranked opponents like Duke, North Carolina, Arizona and Clemson, NC State (20-9, 10-6 in the ACC) sits at No. 51 on the RPI, which means it only needs to avoid a bad loss to Louisville or Georgia Tech and it should be in.

The victory over the Seminoles gave the Wolfpack a bye into the second round of the ACC Tournament and likely gave the team a significant boost in confidence.

NCAA March Madness @marchmadness

🔥🔥 Wolfpack get hot and STAY HOT! 🔥🔥 @PackMensBball absolutely dismantles No. 25 Florida State, 92-72 picking a BIG resume win! https://t.co/6VxXFbCjfI

"We are able to attack our man one-on-one and get into the paint," guard Allerik Freeman told the News & Observer's Steve Wiseman. "Playing against any team, if you can break down anyone and get into the paint, get into the stress box, you cause help, you cause rotations and you can pretty much get any shot you want."

The shots NC State seems to want lately is the three-pointer. They hit 13 of 22 from behind the arc against Florida State and sit at No. 3 in the conference with 38.1 percent shooting from deep.

Their improved three-point shooting should help with their overall adjusted offensive efficiency on KenPom. They sit at No. 31 and need to improve if they plan on making it to the Alamodome.



PISCATAWAY, NJ - JANUARY 24: James Palmer Jr. #24 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers in action against Matt Bullock #13 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during a game at Rutgers Athletic Center on January 24, 2018 in Piscataway, New Jersey. Nebraska defeated Rutge
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Despite breaking the school record for most Big Ten Conference victories, with 13, after its 76-64 win over Penn State on Sunday and matching the second-most wins in 122 years, Nebraska still only sits at No. 61 on the RPI.

Still, that does bode well for them to get the invite, but its really too close for comfort.

What separates the Cornhuskers (22-9, 13-5 in the Big Ten), though, is they aren't sitting idly by for their slot. They are speaking up.

When asked what he would tell NCAA Basketball Committee Chairman Bruce Rasmussen, Nebraska center Jordy Tshimanga simply said, "Let us in!"

Nebraska Basketball @HuskerHoops

Undefeated at home during conference play. Only B1G team that can say that. 🏦🔒 https://t.co/3LW3UpBQOY

Teammate Evan Taylor, who finished with seven points and three assists against the Nittany Lions, offered up a longer explanation for the Huskers second bid in 20 years.

"We're a team that's playing well right now," Taylor told the Omaha World-Herald's Lee Barfknecht. "When or if we get into the tournament, we can beat some teams. Hopefully we get that opportunity because we deserve it. This team has been through everything and has persevered."

The easiest way for Nebraska to punch its ticket is to win the Big Ten tourney and get an automatic bid. But it will need to continue to play great defense.

The Cornhuskers are No. 38 in adjusted defensive efficiency on KenPom, and they will need to stay the course—as they did against Penn State, holding the Nittany Lions to 17 points on 25.9 percent shooting in the first half.

If they can continue playing lock down defense, they could prove dangerous in the Dance.


Note: RPI data obtained from ESPN.com.