Analyzing the bubble for the NCAA Tournament
February 28, 2017
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With Selection Sunday less than two weeks away, teams will try to impress the committee with signature wins to boost their resumes. A relatively weak list of teams on the bubble makes for an interesting last two weeks before the NCAA Tournament.
The Golden Bears have played solid all season, shown by their 19-9 record, but they are still on the bubble due to their lack of signature wins. Their only win against a team projected to make the tournament is USC, who has been up and down all year. While they do not have many big wins, they are fortunately lacking bad losses, with the exception of a loss at Stanford, which is not an easy win due to the game being played in Palo Alto. Despite just playing decent this season, I think the Golden Bears should be in the field because of their solid Pac-12 record.
Georgia has had an up and down season this year, but after a sluggish start to SEC play, they are still in the conversation for the NCAA Tournament. Georgia’s resume is a little sketchy due to some of their weak losses, such as games against Texas A&M, Alabama and Oakland. However, the Bulldogs have had some strong wins against teams like Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt, who are both also in the hunt for the tournament. To make the Big Dance, the Dawgs likely would have to win their last two regular season games and win a game in the SEC tournament.
The Wildcats are looking to end their cursed history as the one Power Five school to never make the NCAA Tournament. They are 20-9 this year with a strong resume. All nine of their losses have been against teams that rank in the top 100 in RPI. Also, Northwestern should be helped by two impressive wins against Wisconsin and Wake Forest. Wednesday’s game against Michigan is a big game for their tournament chances, as the Wolverines are also trying to sneak into the tourney. If they can win either of the last two regular season games, they should be on the way to their first NCAA Tournament appearance.
Kansas State had a great start to the 2016-2017 season, starting 12-1, but they have performed inconsistently since the Wildcats’ stellar start. They have had big wins against teams such as Baylor and West Virginia, but they have also lost games they shouldn’t have against Texas Tech and Oklahoma, both of whom are expected not to make the Tournament. On Wednesday, the Wildcats face TCU for what could be an unofficial tournament play-in game. TCU is also on the bubble with an identical 17-12 record to Kansas State. To make the tournament, the Cats likely have to win their last two regular season games against TCU and Texas Tech, which is very possible.