Championship week is upon us. A few conferences have already held their tournaments, but a majority of schools, including the big-name ones, are competing for an automatic tournament bid starting today. Bubble-team fans across the nation hope their team can make a run and possibly an upset or two.
BYU is in a pretty good position, having made it to the WCC tournament final. A neutral-court loss to Gonzaga doesn’t hurt the Cougars, and they’re clearly playing their best basketball of the season at the right time. They’ve also been helped by several bubble teams losing early in conference tournaments.
Here’s your update on the teams competing with BYU for an at-large NCAA tournament berth. We’ve included the 16 teams surrounding the “cut line,” according to ESPN’s bracketology expert Joe Lunardi, as well as any teams who were recently on the bubble but have since made their case for selection or fallen off.
Cincinnati (22-10, 13-5 AAC)
Last game: March 13 — L 57-54 AAC quarterfinal vs. 6 UConn
The Bearcats rolled into the American tournament having won five in a row following a three-game losing streak in early February. Sweeping league leader SMU in the regular season should be good enough to get them in despite their last-second loss to defending champion UConn.
Davidson (24-6, 14-4 A-10)
Last game: March 13 — W 67-66 A-10 quarterfinal vs. 9 La Salle
Next game: March 14 — A-10 semifinal vs. 5 VCU
Davidson has won 10 straight games. That much success in late February and early March means the team is going to the Big Dance. A loss to tournament-bound VCU in the A-10 semis wouldn’t hurt the Wildcats a bit.
Colorado State (27-5, 13-5 MWC)
Last game: March 12 — W 71-59 MWC quarterfinal vs. 6 Fresno State
Next game: March 13 — MWC semifinal vs. 2 San Diego St.
The Rams are the epitome of a true bubble team. Their one bad loss, at New Mexico, is canceled out by two good wins, Boise State and San Diego State. If they beat the Aztecs again they’ll be in for sure, but even with a loss they look pretty safe.
Purdue (20-11, 12-6 Big Ten)
Last game: March 13 — W 64-59 Big Ten quarterfinal vs. 13 Penn State
Next game: March 14 — Big Ten semifinal vs. No. 6 Wisconsin
Purdue is now a lock for the tournament whether it wins or loses against the Badgers. Considering the number of fellow bubble teams who have lost, the mere fact that the Boilermakers didn’t drop their Penn State game is enough for them.
Last four byes
Oklahoma State (18-13, 8-10 Big 12)
Last game: March 12 — L 64-49 Big 12 quarterfinal vs. No. 15 Oklahoma
OSU’s third loss to arch-rival Oklahoma took away their last chance to help its at-large case. The Cowboys are still in pretty good shape, having beaten Kansas and swept Baylor, but a 1-6 record to finish the season might scare away some committee members.
BYU (25-9, 13-5 WCC)
Last game: March 10 — L 91-75 WCC final vs. No. 7 Gonzaga
As we mentioned above, the Cougars have done the work they needed to do to get into the Big Dance. After BYU lost to Pepperdine for the second time on Feb. 5 it looked like NCAA tournament hopes in Provo were basically dashed. But the Cougars then rattled off eight straight, including a huge upset of then-No. 3 Gonzaga, before falling to the Zags in the WCC final. There’s just no way the committee keeps the triple-double king and a top-25 all-time NCAA scorer out of the tournament.
Temple (21-9, 11-5 AAC)
Last game: March 13 — W 80-75 American quarterfinal vs. 5 Memphis
Next game: March 14 — American semifinal vs. No. 20 SMU
Great non-conference scheduling significantly improved the Owls’ chances of dancing. A win against league regular-season champ SMU would lock them into the tourney, but Temple is pretty safe regardless.
Texas (20-13, 8-10 Big 12)
Last game: March 12 — L 69-67 Big 12 quarterfinal vs. No. 13 Iowa St.
Texas had an opportunity to get the last shot in a tied game against the Cyclones last night. A win would have essentially sealed the Longhorns’ place in the tournament. Instead, Javan Felix decided to take a three with 10 seconds left and give the ball back to Iowa State. Now they’ll just have to wait and see.
Last four in
LSU (22-9, 11-7 SEC)
Last game: March 7 — W 81-78 at No. 18 Arkansas
Next game: March 13 — SEC quarterfinal vs. 13 Auburn
LSU followed its impressive win against Arkansas with a discouraging loss to 13-seed Auburn. With no more chances to improve their resume, the Tigers will be nervous for a few more days.
Boise State (25-8, 14-4 MWC)
Last game: L 71-66 MWC semifinal vs. 4 Wyoming
The Broncos lost just their second game in over two months on Friday to a very good Cowboy team. Wyoming is a potential bid-thief, and BSU shouldn’t be punished for the loss. Boise will be in.
Ole Miss (20-12, 11-7 SEC)
Last game: March 12 — L 60-58 SEC second round vs. 11 South Carolina
The Rebels were feeling really good a week ago. They had a solid resume that included an overtime loss to No. 1 Kentucky and two top-25 wins. They had just been upgraded to a “lock” in Eamonn Brennan’s ESPN Bubble Watch. Then they lost four out of their last five and returned to the bubble conversation. They might not get much sleep until Selection Sunday.
Indiana (20-13, 9-9 Big Ten)
Last game: March 13 — L 75-69 Big Ten quarterfinal vs. No. 8 Maryland
The Hoosiers couldn’t pull out another upset of Maryland, which keeps them squarely on the bubble until Sunday. They’ll be cheering hard against potential bid-thieves like Wyoming, UConn and Rhode Island.
First four out
Miami (FL) (21-12, 10-8 ACC)
Last game: March 12 — L 70-63 ACC quarterfinal vs. No. 11 Notre Dame
Miami couldn’t capitalize on Notre Dame’s frantic attempt to give the game away in the second half last night. Had the ‘Canes won, they would have vaulted to the right side of the bubble, but now they’ll be glued to the TV on Sunday.
UCLA (20-13, 11-7 Pac-12)
Last game: March 13 — L 70-64 Pac-12 semifinal vs. No. 5 Arizona
UCLA didn’t drop any further on the bubble list as a result of its tournament loss to the Wildcats, but that game was the Bruins’ last chance to convince the committee that they’re worthy of a March Madness spot. They don’t have enough good wins to make a real case.
Tulsa (22-9, 14-4 AAC)
Last game: March 13 — W 59-51 AAC quarterfinal vs. 10 Houston
Next game: March 14 — AAC semifinal vs. 6 UConn
The Golden Hurricane took care of business against Houston, but its reward is Ryan Boatright and the reigning national champs. Tulsa needs to win that game and hope SMU beats Temple to give it another shot at the Mustangs and a quality win.
Old Dominion (24-7, 13-5 C-USA)
Last game: March 12 — L 59-52 C-USA quarterfinal vs. 6 Middle Tennessee
Old Dominion went into the Conference USA tournament knowing it needed to at least make it to the final. Instead, the Monarchs dropped their first game to a bad team and effectively ended their tournament hopes. With no more chances to improve its resume, it would take a miracle for ODU to get in.
Next four out
Texas A&M (20-11, 11-7 SEC)
Last game: March 12 — L 66-59 SEC second round vs. 13 Auburn
The Aggies finished a mediocre season with a colossally terrible final few weeks. Three straight losses to average or bad teams (Florida, Alabama and Auburn) pushed them straight down to the bottom of the bubble. Barring some bizarre decision-making by the committee, Texas A&M is going to the NIT.
Rhode Island (22-8, 13-5 A-10)
Last game: March 13 — W 71-58 A-10 quarterfinal vs. 6 George Washington
Next game: March 14 — A-10 semifinal vs. 2 Dayton
The Rams really don’t have much of an at-large resume. They’ve had chances to beat good teams but didn’t take advantage of them. A win over the Flyers would help, but Rhode Island needs the auto-bid to go dancing.
Buffalo (22-9, 12-6 MAC)
Last game: March 13 — W 68-59 MAC semifinal vs. 7 Akron
Next game: March 14 — MAC final vs. 1 Central Michigan
Buffalo is another team that realistically needs to win its conference tourney to get into the national tournament. It lost both regular-season matchups against the Chippewas, but the Bulls are currently on a seven-game winning streak.
Murray State (27-5, 16-0 OVC)
Last game: March 7 — L 88-87 Ohio Valley Championship vs. Belmont
When Taylor Barnette sank his miraculous, game-winning 3-pointer to win the OVC title, he also sank the Racers’ NCAA tournament dreams. Murray State had a disappointing non-conference schedule, and its conference just isn’t strong enough to deserve another bid. It’ll have to try again next year.
Iona (26-8, 17-3 MAAC)
Last game: March 9 — L 79-69 Metro Atlantic Championship vs. Manhattan
Here we have another case of a regular-season champion from a lesser conference losing its tournament final. Iona, like Murray State, simply doesn’t have a resume that deserves at-large consideration. The Gaels’ only shot at dancing was stolen by the Jaspers Monday night.
Richmond (19-13, 12-6 A-10)
Last game: March 13 — L 70-67 A-10 quarterfinal vs. 5 VCU
Richmond has far too many bad losses, and apart from a 2OT victory over VCU, its best wins are against other bubble teams. Richmond’s bubble has popped at this point, which is a shame, because nobody in the country has a better mascot than the Spiders.
Illinois (19-11, 9-8 Big Ten)
Last game: March 12 — L 73-55 Big Ten second round vs. 9 Michigan
The Fighting Illini needed a quarterfinal upset of No. 6 Wisconsin to put them back in the at-large conversation. Instead, they lost in the second round to a terrible Michigan team and dropped off the bubble map.
Stanford (18-12, 9-9 Pac-12)
Last game: March 12 — L 80-56 Pac-12 quarterfinal vs. No. 17 Utah
It would have taken at least a pair of upsets over Utah and Oregon for the Cardinals to become relevant again. But they couldn’t hang with the Utes, and their tournament dreams are officially dashed.