NCAA Tournament countdown: Five March Madness bubble teams sweating the most
It's the first day of March and that can only mean one thing: Madness is just around the corner.
With one week left in the regular season before conference tournaments begin, every game for bubble teams will be scrutinized by the NCAA tournament men's basketball selection committee.
Although the committee examines the full body of work for a potential tourney team's respective profile, every outcome now can move a team to the right or wrong side of the bubble.
Take Virginia as an example. The Cavaliers were very much in the mix for an at-large bid entering Saturday. Then a last-second buzzer-beater by Florida State essentially ruined their push for inclusion in the NCAAs. Literally, one second changed the trajectory of the team's postseason fate.
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A look at the five bubble teams seating it out the most on the first day of March.
The Hoosiers (18-10, 9-9 Big Ten) have become regulars on the bubble over the last decade. Now under first-year coach Mike Woodson, Indiana is starting to get back on track with back-to-back wins over Big Ten doormats Maryland and Minnesota this past week. That snapped a five-game losing streak that was sinking this team's profile. The Hoosiers have three Quadrant 1 wins, no bad losses and a solid NET score in the 40s on the résumé, but a non-conference strength of schedule in the 240s will stand out to the committee. A home game vs. fellow bubble team Rutgers and a road game at Purdue to close out this week could make or break the season before the Big Ten tourney even begins. ► Last four in.
The Tar Heels' showdown at archrival Duke this Saturday could be the difference-maker in sweating or relaxing on Selection Sunday. That's because North Carolina (22-8, 14-5 ACC) only has one Quadrant 1 win on its tourney portfolio. A road victory at a projected No. 2 seed would help. . Aside from an ugly Quadrant 4 road loss to Pittsburgh, the rest of UNC's credentials check out. ► Last four in.
The Tigers (17-9, 11-5 American Athletic Conference) have won eight of their last nine, which is the late-season recipe for any bubble team to hear its name called on Selection Sunday. Penny Hardaway's squad owns three Quadrant 1 victories on its profile but could use one more to inch closer towards safety. That's why a regular-season finale at home vs. Houston this week is so important. Memphis is in the mix right next to fellow AAC bubble team SMU, which it lost to twice this season. ► First four out.
The Pac-12 has been extremely top heavy this year – with three clear-cut teams in the projected field (Arizona, UCLA, USC) and then a bottom pack of bad teams. The Ducks (18-11, 11-7 Pac-12) find themselves in the middle of that. A top 10 non-conference strength of schedule and wins over UCLA and USC are helping to offset a NET score in the 50s and three Quadrant 3 losses for coach Dana Altman's team. Road games at Washington and Washington State are must-win at this stage. ► Next four out.
The Gators (18-11, 8-8 SEC) resuscitated their at-large bid chances with a Feb. 19 upset of Auburn. Now they'll close out the regular season with two goals: to beat Vanderbilt and pull off another major upset at home vs. Kentucky. As it stands, Florida's credentials only showcase two Quadrant 1 wins and that's likely not enough to get in. The Gators need to beat the Wildcats or stage a deep run in the SEC tourney to be among the 68 NCAA tournament teams. ► Next four out.
Follow college basketball reporter Scott Gleeson on Twitter @ScottMGleeson.