When the NCAA committee released their top sixteen seeds a little over a week ago, it was clear that wins over tournament teams – specifically Quadrant 1 wins – were extremely important. For example, Kansas had six losses and was on the 3 seed line, while Nevada had but one loss and was a 4. Of course, Nevada does not have a single Quadrant 1 win to their name, while Kansas has 9. Beating tournament teams will get you a better seed come Selection Sunday.
For teams who are bereft of Quad 1 victories, this last month will be the time to pick a few of those up. The ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, and SEC are full of opportunities to do so. In the Big East and American there’s some potential. The Pac-12… Not so much.
Getting into the field is the goal for many teams who find themselves hovering on the 9 seed line and below. They are just a series of losses from backing their way out of the bracket. Conversely, if they go on a run and pick up wins against highly ranked teams, they could shoot themselves up to a much more appealing seed.
One win isn’t going to completely change a team’s profile. But with how weak the bubble looks like it will be, one more win over a legitimate tournament team can go a long way.
ACC: Locks – Virginia, Duke, North Carolina Should be in – Louisville, Virginia Tech, Florida State Work to do – Syracuse, North Carolina State, Clemson
Louisville was on their way to a lock before their complete meltdown against Duke. They, along with Florida State and Virginia Tech are looking like 5-6 seeds at the moment. Syracuse has quite a few opportunities to add to their resume in the last few weeks, but could also see a lot of losses pile up. They typically are right on the bubble and this season may be the same. Clemson hangs onto a spot for now, but will need to add more than a win over VT to their resume.
Big 12: Locks – Kansas, Texas Tech, Iowa State, Kansas State Work to do – Baylor, TCU, Texas, Oklahoma
Texas Tech, Iowa State, and Kansas State all join the locks this week. Of the other four, Texas has the best resume, but 11 losses already. Injuries have led to Baylor’s slide over their last few games, while TCU and Oklahoma need to string together some wins as well if they hope to stay on the right side of the bubble.
Big East: Lock – Marquette Should be in – Villanova, St. John’s Work to do – Seton Hall, Butler
St. John’s picked up a huge win over Villanova and now have three wins over the top two teams in the conference. Despite a poor NET ranking, the Johnnies look like a tournament team. Seton Hall has been taking care of business and is looking safer, while Butler needs to add a win over a likely tournament team to get a true shot.
Big Ten: Locks – Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue Should be in – Wisconsin, Iowa, Maryland Work to do – Minnesota, Ohio State, Indiana, Nebraska
Like the ACC, the middle tier of the Big Ten (Wisconsin, Iowa, and Maryland) feel very safe, but losing out would put them on the bubble, so we’ll hold off on lock status for now. Minnesota had been solidifying their position and have a huge test against Michigan up next. Ohio State continues to slide due to their poor offense and need to right the ship quickly. Indiana and Nebraska are all but done and both most likely need to win out.
Pac-12: Should be in – Washington Work to do – Arizona State
Washington has a good record, but not much more beyond that at this point. Still, it’s unlikely that the Huskies will drop too many more games against a diminished Pac-12 this season. They will have a hard time climbing the seed lines without Quad 1 opportunities, but should be able to avoid falling much further than an 8 of 9 seed. Arizona State nabs the last seed for now, due to their wins over Kansas, Mississippi State, and Washington.
SEC: Locks – Tennessee, Kentucky, LSU Should be in – Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Auburn Work to do – Alabama, Florida
Auburn feels like a tournament team, but still needs to find a Quadrant 1 victory to add to their resume. Ole Miss has quite a few of those and looks like they will join their state rival back in the tournament. Alabama faltered against Florida last time out and sits just inside the bubble, while the Gators are looking to jump the Tide and others to get back into the field.
American: Lock – Houston Should be in – Cincinnati Work to do – UCF, Temple
In the American, it is all about beating the teams behind you. Cincinnati, UCF, and Temple have been taking care of their inferior opponents. However, if UCF and Temple hope to make the field, they are going to need to add a couple wins against Houston or Cincinnati to their resume. UCF has the best chance remaining to grab some statement wins.
Others: Locks – Gonzaga, Nevada Should be in – Buffalo Work to do – Wofford, Lipscomb, VCU, Utah State, Furman
With just one loss, Nevada should be locked into the bracket. The Mountain West conference has been no match for them all season long. Buffalo looks like a likely tournament team as well, while Wofford and Lipscomb could find themselves in the bracket if they don’t end up winning their conference tournament. After touting UNC-Greensboro last week, they went and lost both of their games to fall out of the bubble watch. Furman replaces them as the next likely team to sneak a bid, mostly thanks to their road win over Villanova.
First Four Out: Butler, Florida, Temple, Utah State
*Large conference winners are in bold.
16. Quinnipiac/St. Francis (PA)
5. Kansas State
11. Ohio State
14. Old Dominion
15. Northern Kentucky
12. Arizona State/Clemson
4. Iowa State
14. UC Irvine
16. Sam Houston State
13. New Mexico State
14. South Dakota State
7. Mississippi State
10. Seton Hall
2. North Carolina
16. Norfolk State/Prairie View A&M
8. St. John’s
9. North Carolina State
5. Florida State
4. Texas Tech
6. Virginia Tech
14. Texas State
7. Ole Miss
2. Michigan State