March Madness is only a couple weeks away, and the tournament bubble picture is starting to shape up.
Here are five teams to keep an eye on as they fight for a chance to play in the NCAA tournament.
Michigan: The Wolverines are 20-10, which generally would be enough to guarantee a bid for any power conference team. However, Michigan has an abysmal 3-10 record against top 100 RPI teams. The good news for Michigan is that they have wins over Maryland, Texas and Purdue. The Wolverines could have solidly boosted themselves into the tournament with a win over Wisconsin but failed to accomplish that objective. They are truly on the bubble and will need at least one Big Ten Tournament win against a top 50 RPI team to guarantee a spot in the tournament. Prediction: In for now.
Butler: The Bulldogs have an impressive 19-9 record but only have five wins against top 100 RPI teams. However, the good news for Butler is that they don’t have any really bad losses on their resume, which will certainly help their case for the committee. Their two best wins were against Seton Hall and Purdue. The Bulldogs will play Seton Hall again before the season is over, and they need to win that game to have a great shot of making the tournament. If they lose that game, they’ll likely need to win their conference tournament to get a bid. Prediction: Out.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes were dead-on-arrival for March until a shocking win against Iowa revived their tournament chances. OSU has an 3-8 record against top 100 RPI teams, which is better than Big Ten rival Michigan, who has likely qualified for the tournament. Unlike Michigan, however, they lack as many marquee wins. OSU plays Michigan State to end the season, and a win is almost a necessity to keep their chances alive. A win against MSU and two wins in the Big Ten Tournament would make it very hard to keep the Buckeyes out of the tournament. Anything short of that will likely make the Buckeyes NIT bound. Prediction: Out.
Connecticut: The Huskies hold a 20-9 record with great wins over Texas and Southern Methodist University. Possibly even more importantly is the fact that UConn doesn’t have any bad losses. With six wins against top 100 RPI teams, it’s going to be hard to keep the Huskies out of the tournament. If they beat SMU in their next game then the Huskies’ ticket has been punched for sure. Prediction: In.
LSU: The Tigers have seven wins against top 100 RPI teams but have also lost six games to teams outside of the top 100, which poses a massive problem for the 17-12 Tigers. They have the best player in the nation, Ben Simmons, but he hasn’t done enough to secure LSU a tournament bid. The Tigers must beat Kentucky and win two games in the SEC Tournament to get into the big show. Anything short of that won’t get it done. Prediction: Out.