For the next few weeks, I’ll only be covering what everyone – inside the sports world and out of it – lives for this time of year: March Madness.
This week the major conferences begin their tournaments, which mean we’re less than a week away from Selection Sunday. But even with such little time remaining, there is still so much up in the air. In one of the craziest college basketball seasons EVER, the line between “NCAA Team” and “NIT Team” is incomprehensibly blurry.
That being said, a lot of those teams on the fence need to have a very good next couple of days to keep their hopes alive. Here are the teams that have the most riding on the conference tournaments.
Kentucky – Kentucky finally showed people they can win a big game when it mattered most yesterday, but several question marks remain. Before their win over Florida, I had written the Wildcats off completely. Now, they’ve taken a major step towards getting back into my (and probably the committee’s) good graces. You know what will change all that, though? A one-and-done in the SEC tournament. The ‘Cats need to go on a bit of a run to persuade the doubters.
Virginia – Okay, so the Cavs have some nice highlight wins. Hey, you remember when ODU beat them? And no, not the good ODU of years past. For every positive UVA has there is as big a negative. As far as I can tell, that means this team sits squarely on the fence and could fall either way. They could use a last-minute momentum swing to keep their bubble from bursting and the ACC tournament away from the safe confines of Charlottesville is just that opportunity.
Massachusetts – UMass is that rare bubble team this season that doesn’t have a REALLY bad loss on their resume. On the flip side of that coin, though, they are just 1-6 versus the RPI Top 50 and their strength of schedule ranks 75th. As of this writing, they look like that good-but-not-great team that deserves to be in the NIT. However, being in a bracket with Butler, VCU, and St. Louis provides plenty of opportunities to make change minds at the last minute.
Iowa State – The best antidote to the “home court team” label would be a few solid neutral site victories when it matters most. In that regard, the Cyclones, with an RPI of 46, have everything riding on this Big 12 tournament. A few quality “W’s” away from Ames would do wonders in diminishing some of the anti-tournament stigmas surrounding this squad.
LaSalle – The Explorers showed their affinity for the big upset during the regular season, but that may not be enough to get them an invite to the big dance. Sure, those wins grabbed headlines, but there’s still that early ugly loss to Central Connecticut State (go ahead, look it up) that no one wants to remember. So why not just call the regular season a push and leave it all to the A-10 tournament? It may just be that simple.
Oklahoma – This one comes with an asterisk. Even with a bad showing in the Big 12 tourney, it’s very conceivable the Sooners will hear their name called on Sunday. However, some of their worst losses have come most recently, leaving some to wonder whether Oklahoma is hitting a cold streak. If it extends into the conference tournament, where they’ll start off in a rematch against Iowa State, it may convince the committee to go in another direction.
NOTE: This story was originally published on SportsHead. To read this article and others click here.
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