UCLA, Syracuse, and These Other Bubble Teams Need Big Wins Now to Get into NCAA Tournament

UCLA, Syracuse, and These Other Bubble Teams Need Big Wins Now to Get into NCAA Tournament

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UCLA, Syracuse, and These Other Bubble Teams Need Big Wins Now to Get into NCAA Tournament

With the committee using the quadrants this year, the gap between being a projected No. 10 seed right now, to getting your bubble busted can change with just one big win or bad loss.

With Selection Sunday around the corner on March 11, it is time to start talking about the teams that have the most to gain (or lose) over the next two weeks.

UCLA Bruins

Resume: 19-8, 3rd Pac-12 RPI: 47, KP: 52, SOS: 66

Big games coming up: at Utah, at Colorado, at USC

After going 4-4 in January, including being blown out at Stanford, things were looking grim for the Bruins.  February has been a different story though, as the Bruins must’ve realized they were in danger of missing the tournament. The Bruins opened the month with a huge win vs. USC (another bubble team), and then followed it up with their best win of the season, at Arizona.

The Bruins have now won four out of their last five games, but they do have some tough games coming up at Utah, at Colorado and at USC.  Their matchup at Utah tonight is the game that the Bruins should be the most worried about.  Utah is another bubble team themselves, and come into tonight’s game on a four game win streak.  Utah is 10-2 at home this year, and has always been a tough place to play for opposing teams.  And if the Bruins do end up winning tonight, they still have to face their rivals in the last game of the season, at USC.  If the Bruins can finish 2-1 in this last three game stretch, they should be able to punch their ticket to the tournament.

Syracuse Orange

Resume: 18-10, 10th ACC, RPI: 42, KP: 51, SOS: 22

Big games coming up: at Duke (5), vs. Clemson (15)

The Orange are on the bubble this season because of their lack of quality wins. They had a great chance to pickup one of those vs. North Carolina yesterday, but lost 78-74.  Looking at their resumé right now, the Orange’s best wins were vs. Louisville and Miami.  But with both of those teams headed in the wrong direction, those wins do not look as good as they did earlier this season.  The Orange’s season is going to come down to their next game at Duke. If the Orange lose to both Duke and Clemson, they can kiss their at-large bid goodbye.

Oklahoma Sooners

Resume: 16-11, 7th Big 12 RPI: 32, KP: 43, SOS: 12

Big games coming up: vs. Kansas State, @Baylor

Yes, it is time to start talking about the Sooners as a potential bubble team as they have lost six consecutive games and nine of their past eleven. The Sooners are also 6-9 in Big 12 play.

Even after their recent struggles, the Sooners resumé, as a whole looks good. They have wins at Wichita State and USC, beat TCU twice, and took care of business at home vs. Kansas and Texas Tech.  Those are a lot of quality wins to discount.  The Sooners have three games remaining, against Kansas State, Baylor and Iowa State.  If the Sooners lose that home game to Iowa State somehow, that is the kind of bad loss that can knock a team out of the tournament.

Florida Gators

Resume: 17-11, 7th SEC RPI: 64, KP: 29, SOS: 39

Big games coming up: vs. Auburn (12), at Alabama, vs. UK

Who would have thought the Gators would be on a possible bubble watch in late February after watching them play in the PK-80 tournament? The Gators have lost three in a row, including six of their last nine games, so yes, it is officially time to start talking about the bubble.  Florida does have some nice wins vs. Cincinnati and Gonzaga on neutral courts, and they did win at Kentucky, Missouri, and Texas A&M.  Florida now has three very tough games coming up against Auburn, at Alabama, Kentucky.  The Gators need to start playing with some urgency, otherwise they can easily play themselves out of the tournament if they don’t win any more games.

Penn State Nittany Lions

Resume: 19-11, 6th Big Ten RPI: 85, KP: 27, SOS: 83

Big games coming up: at Nebraska

The Nittany Lions started February red hot, winning four in a row, including a big win vs. Ohio State.  Things were setup perfectly for them to cement their place in the tournament, as all they needed to do was either beat Purdue on the road, or take care of business at home vs. Michigan.  Penn State ended up losing at Purdue by three, but I give them credit for keeping it close on the road.  On the other hand, losing to Michigan at home last night is the game that really hurts them.  If they had defeated the Wolverines, we would be talking about a different team right now in their place.  A win at Nebraska will help (Quadrant 1 game), but if they want to get in, they have some work to do in the Big Ten tournament.

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