With just a month to go until the conference tournaments start, it’s time to look at how resumes stack up and take a peek at where teams stand. The “locks” will all make the tournament, while the “should be in” have a lot of good things going for them, and barring a total collapse, are well on their way to making the field. The “work to do” are those sitting on the bubble at this point in time, and – obviously – have work to do.
ACC: Locks – Virginia, Duke, North Carolina Should be in – Virginia Tech, Louisville, Florida State Work to do – Syracuse, North Carolina State, Clemson
The ACC is broken down into three groups of three at the moment. Virginia Tech and Louisville are close to lock status already as well. I feel good about the ACC receiving eight bids come Selection Sunday. Syracuse needs to hang their hat on more than their upset win at Duke, while NC State needs to push past their historic loss against Virginia Tech. Clemson is outside the field for now due to a lack of meaningful wins. They have a chance to add quite a few going forward and jump into the field.
Big 12: Locks – Kansas Should be in – Iowa State, Texas Tech, Kansas State Work to do – Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma, Texas
The Big 12 might receive eight bids as well. However, Oklahoma needs to stop their slide, much the same as they needed to last year. At 3-7 in Big 12 play, it will be interesting if that dings their resume despite a handful of good wins. Texas is also an interesting case, as they already have ten losses. However, they have a lot of good wins to keep them in the tournament field for now.
Big East: Should be in – Marquette, Villanova Work to do – St. John’s, Seton Hall, Creighton, Butler
The Big East looks like a team that will have a majority of the true bubble teams for the rest of the season. St. John’s needs a couple more strong wins to add to their solid overall record to feel better about their chances. Seton Hall has a few high profile wins, but they, Creighton, and Butler are all piling up losses. If the Big East stops cannibalizing itself, maybe one or two of those teams might sneak into the field.
Big Ten: Locks – Michigan, Michigan State Should be in – Purdue, Wisconsin, Iowa, Maryland Work to do – Ohio State, Minnesota, Indiana, Nebraska
The Big Ten could really bounce back from last year when they only got four seeds, to grabbing ten bids this year. In order to do that, Indiana and Nebraska are going to have to stop their slides down the seed lines. They have good wins (especially the Hoosiers’ win over MSU to stop their skid), but a poor conference record and almost as many losses as wins might not cut it.
Pac-12: Work to do – Washington, Arizona State, Arizona
If the Pac-12 receives just one bid, I wouldn’t be surprised. Yes, Washington is undefeated in conference play, but an untimely losing streak could turn their season around in a hurry. Arizona State has two good wins against Kansas and Mississippi State to hang their hats on and not much else. These three teams’ records may look good, but their best chance of being in the field is avoiding losses to all the mediocre teams the conference has to offer.
SEC: Locks – Tennessee, Kentucky Should be in – LSU, Mississippi State Work to do – Auburn, Ole Miss, Florida, Alabama, Arkansas
Much like the ACC, Big 12, and Big Ten, the SEC offers plenty of chances to bolster one’s resume over the last month. That being said, due to the toughness of such a conference, a team might pile up a few more losses. The group in the “work to do” have one or two good wins to their names at this point in time. A few more good wins against the top four in the conference, or each other would go along way on Selection Sunday.
American: Should be in – Houston Work to do – Cincinnati, UCF, Temple
Houston has just one loss, but I’m holding off lock status for just a week longer. They have their toughest week of the season, with games against the next two best in the conference. If they win just one they should be good to go. As for the rest of the teams, Cincinnati and UCF need to take advantage of this opportunity against Houston while avoiding more damaging losses the conference provides. Temple needs to find more to hang their hat on than their being the team to give Houston their only loss.
Others: Locks – Gonzaga Should be in – Nevada Work to do – Buffalo, VCU, Wofford, Lipscomb, San Francisco, Utah State, Davidson, Murray State, UNC-Greensboro
With the NCAA’s new NET system, it will be interesting to see their thoughts on mid-majors with gaudy records. Buffalo had looked like a tournament team, while VCU and Lipscomb do have a good win on their resume. Wofford is also rolling along in their conference and might have a shot at an at large bid. But would they have enough? San Francisco and Utah State have good records, but haven’t really beaten anybody. Same goes for Murray State, Davidson, and UNC-Greensboro. Do these teams have a chance? History says no, but if any of them ran the table up until their conference final, maybe they have a shot this year.
First Four Out: Seton Hall, Clemson, VCU, Creighton
*Large conference winners are in bold.
16. Rider/Robert Morris
9. Ohio State
4. Iowa State
13. Old Dominion
6. Mississippi State
11. Arizona State
14. Bowling Green
7. Florida State
2. Michigan State
11. St. John’s
3. Virginia Tech
15. Illinois State
16. Sam Houston State
8. North Carolina State
14. Northern Kentucky
2. North Carolina
15. Georgia State
16. Norfolk State/Prairie View A&M
9. Ole Miss
5. Texas Tech
12. New Mexico State
13. South Dakota State
6. Kansas State
14. UC Irvine