Harrison Leipold – NCAA Basketball Blog

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It’s that time of year again.  As the month of February winds down, March Madness is suddenly once again looming.  This season it seems as if the NCAA Tournament field is as wide open as ever with several teams from each conference sitting squarely on the bubble.  This, along with the race for the conference championships, should make for a very interesting last two weeks of the season.  Let’s take a look at the breakdown for the six power conferences.

Big East

Locks: Pitt, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Louisville, St. John’s, Syracuse, Villanova, Uconn

On the Bubble: West Virginia, Cincinnati, Marquette

How I see it playing out: I believe that the Big East will get a record nine teams into the NCAA Tournament with West Virginia getting in at .500 in the conference and having one of the toughest schedules in the nation.  The same factor will hurt Cincinnati, as I believe that their 119th ranked schedule will keep them out despite currently being 21-6 overall.  Marquette has struggled too much down the stretch to be considered.

Big Ten

 

Locks: Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin

On the Bubble: Illinois, Michigan State, Minnesota, Penn State, Michigan

How I see it playing out: The Big Ten probably has the most interesting bubble scenario of any of the power conferences.  As of now, I see Michigan State, Illinois, and Penn State getting in.  The Spartans do not have a very tough remaining schedule and so I see them getting to 10-8 in conference play which will be enough for them.  As long as Illinois can beat bottom-feeders Iowa and Indiana they will finish no worse than 9-9 in the conference, which should get them in as well.  As for Penn State, they will have to win two of their last three to get to 9-9, which I am projecting they will, just barely getting them in.  Though their resume includes some bad early season losses, their strong play down the stretch and 5th ranked toughest schedule can’t be denied.  Minnesota is 1-6 since starting point guard Al Nolen went down with a season-ending injury so there is no reason to think they will get back to .500 by winning three out of their last four.  Michigan came on strong towards the end of the season, but their remaining schedule is too tough for them to get to nine wins.

 Big 12

 

Locks: Kansas, Texas, Texas A&M

On the Bubble: Missouri, Kansas State, Nebraska, Baylor

How I see it playing out: I see two of these bubble teams getting in with Missouri and Kansas State.  Missouri should not have a problem finishing with a winning record in Big 12 play and already has 21 wins overall.  As long as Kansas State can hold at .500, they will get in with the 7th ranked toughest schedule.  As for Nebraska, they really only made the bubble by pulling a shocker and upsetting #2 ranked Texas last weekend.  They would basically have to win out to get in, which I don’t see happening.  For Baylor, a team that made it to the Elite Eight last season, the only way to get into the tournament is to win three out of the last four in a brutal stretch of their schedule that includes three ranked teams.  That does not seem likely to happen.

ACC

 

Locks: Duke, North Carolina, Florida State

On the Bubble: Boston College, Virginia Tech, Clemson

How I see it playing out: I see the ACC getting five teams in, with Boston College and Virginia Tech making the cut.  Though only currently 6-6 in conference play, Boston College has the 16th toughest schedule in the nation and should be able to finish above .500 with the easy part of their schedule remaining.  As for Virginia Tech, currently 7-5 in conference, it is important that they get to at least nine wins with their weak strength of schedule.  I believe they will pull an upset over Duke down the stretch to punch their ticket.  For Clemson, .500 will not be enough with such a weak schedule.

PAC 10

 

Locks: Arizona

On the Bubble: Washington, UCLA

How I see it playing out: Not only does the PAC 10 once again lack a deep field of good teams, but this year it also lacks any drama.  As long as neither team completely collapses down the stretch, both Washington and UCLA will get in having both already won ten conference games.

SEC

 

Locks: Florida, Vanderbilt, Kentucky

Bubble Teams: Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama

How I see it playing out: I believe only Tennessee will get in out of the three bubble teams.  The SEC is just simply not a very good conference and even though Georgia and Alabama have good conference records, their strength of schedule and lack of signature wins will keep them out.  Tennessee only gets in because of early season wins over top ten ranked Pitt and Villanova.