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March Madness: As Championship Week begins, who’s in, who’s on the bubble, who’s out of NCAA Tournament

March Madness
Credit: Dawson Smith

Championship Week is upon us.

And what that means for March Madness enthusiasts is we are in for an exciting week of championship basketball to help set up the rest of next week’s 68-team NCAA Tournament field. What that means is this week, a few teams will have a chance to move up in the seedings, some teams will get over the proverbial bubble while some blue-blood programs will likely find themselves left on the outside of the NCAA Tournament.

Like most years, we come into Championship Week with a good idea which four teams the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee has in mind for the four No. 1 seeds so the conference tournament normally doesn’t have much drama for the four best teams. It’s usually just a matter of the order. But coming into the week this year, we have five teams who can all make legit claims for the four top seeds.

Kansas, Alabama and Houston are locks for No.1 seeds, but depending on who’s resume the Committee likes best, Purdue and UCLA both have strong cases for the final No. 1 seed. That leaves a rather strong No. 2 seed contingency with Arizona and Big 12 rivals Texas and Baylor rounding out the three spots.

As exciting as it will be to see which teams will occupy the top spots, all eyes this week will be on the team vying for those last few at-large bids. Teams like Penn State, Wisconsin, Auburn, Rutgers, Oklahoma State and Nevada have to work to do in their respective conference tournaments this week if they don’t want the bubble to burst on them.

It’s also looking as though the North Carolina Tar Heels are on the verge of having the dubious distinction of being the last national runner-up team since the 2011-12 Butler Bulldogs to not make the NCAA Tournament the following year.

March Madness: No Worries, They are In

march madness
Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas (25-6)

Alabama (26-5)

Houston (29-2)

Purdue (26-5)

UCLA (27-4)

Texas (23-8)

Baylor (22-9)

Arizona (25-6)

Tennessee (22-9)

Duke (23-8)

Kansas State 23-8)

Marquette (25-6)

Gonzaga (26-5)

USC (22-9)

UConn (24-7)

Indiana (21-10)

Miami (24-6)

St. Mary’s (25-6)

Xavier (23-8)

Kentucky (21-10)

TCU (20-11)

Clemson (22-9)

Virginia (23-6)

Iowa (19-12)

Iowa State (18-12)

San Diego State (24-6)

Creighton (20-11)

Illinois (20-11)

Northwestern (21-10)

Texas A&M (23-8)

Michigan State (19-11)

Missouri (23-8)

Maryland (20-11)

Providence (21-10)

Florida Atlantic (28-3)

Arkansas (19-12)

SE Missouri (19-16; automatic bid for winning Ohio Valley Conference Tournament)

UNC-Asheville (27-7; automatic bid for winning Big South Conference Tournament)

Farleigh Dickinson (19-14; automatic bid due to Division I transition rule)

The Kansas Jayhawks will be the overall No.1 seed of the NCAA Tournament after notching the most Quad 1 wins any team in the nation at 15-6. And The next question is who will the second No.1 seeded team. It seems like Alabama is most deserving given its head-to-head win over Houston this season and much stronger nine wins in Quad 1 games vs. the three wins the Cougars have in those games.

Sitting on the Bubble

ncaa tournament
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North Carolina State (22-9)

Pittsburgh (21-10)

Auburn (20-11)

Rutgers (18-13)

Penn State (19-12)

Nevada (22-9)

Perhaps no conference tournament will be as scrutinized the Big Ten conference tournament will be, with Rutgers, Wisconsin and Penn State all come into the week hoping to do enough to secure an NCAA Tournament berth. Penn State likely moved ahead of Wisconsin following its Top 25 win over Maryland. Pitt, Auburn and Nevada all sit on the bubble and will need to win a game or two in their respective conference tournaments to make the 68-team field.

Still Have Work To Do

Oklahoma State (17-14)

Clemson (22-9)

Arizona State (20-11)

Oregon (18-13)

Mississippi State (20-11)

Wisconsin (17-13)

All of these teams enter Championship Week with some serious work to do. Oklahoma State and Wisconsin both enter conference tournament week with six Quad 1 wins, while Arizona State has four and Oregon only has three but is 6-4 in Quad 2 games. All three will need to make runs in their conference tournaments, but Oklahoma State has the smallest margin for error with 14 losses going into the week. The Mississippi State Bulldogs went into the final weekend of the regular season to make a strong case for making the NCAA Tournament but a loss to Vanderbilt puts them in a situation where they will need at least one win in the SEC Tournament to make the field.

Better Luck Next Year

North Carolina (19-12)

Michigan (17-14)

Vanderbilt (18-13)

Syracuse (17-14)

The North Carolina Tar Heels went into the final weekend of ACC play needing a win over rival Duke but fell 62-57, denying them the quality win needed to make a case for the 68-team field. Barring a four-win run in this week’s ACC Tournament, the Tar Heels’ 1-9 showing against Quad 1 opponents has eliminated them from the 68-team field. Michigan entered the final two games likely needing at least a split during road games against Illinois and Indiana, but the Wolverines came up short in overtime against both. Michigan enters the Big Ten Tournament 17-14, so given the Selection Committee’s dislike for 15-loss teams when it comes to at-large berths, the Wolverines will need to win it all to have a shot. Vanderbilt enters this week’s SEC Tournament as a No.6 seed and will need a big run to make a case for an NCAA Tournament spot.

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