bubble teams were able to
breathe easier when Murray St and Creighton won close conference titles, the
coast is not entirely clear.
Here's a brief look at the remaining teams most likely to "steal" bids from the bubble hopefuls**.
With UNC and Duke lurking, its hard to imagine a spoiler coming from the ACC, but you never know..
Clemson (16-14, 8-8, RPI #138)
The ACC might be down this year, but .500 in that league still counts for something. The Tigers would need to beat VT in the opening round and then steal one from Duke. Clemson only lost to Duke by 7 at Cameron.
Maryland (16-14, 6-10, RPI #110)
The Terps have an easy opening game against Wake Forest, and they'd they have to beat UNC in the quarterfinals.
While Temple and St Louis are locks, there is a ton of parity in the A10. All of these teams deserve more respect than they get nationally and are extremely dangerous in the A10 tournament.
Dayton (20-11, 9-7, #73)
cruised past GW in the opening round and now faces Xavier. While Xavier is more
likely to get an at-large bid, both teams have similar resumes. The loser of
that game will be eliminated from at-large contention.
La Salle (210-11, 9-7, #79)
beat a tough Richmond squad in the opening round and now faces Saint Louis. La
Salle struggled against the Billikens earlier in the year, but does have a
geographical advantage playing in Atlantic City.
St Bonaventure (17-11, 10-6, #95)
dangerous squad, St Bonaventure faces bubble team Saint Joseph's Wednesday
afternoon. The Bonnies have already beaten Saint Joe's and with Andrew Nicholson
leading the way, no one wants to face them.
UMASS (21-10, 9-7, #87)
topped Duquesne Tuesday night, which sets up an afternoon game with #1 seed
Temple. UMASS took Temple to OT a few weeks, so they're far from scared.
UCONN showed that its not impossible to run through the Big East Tournament from a Tuesday start.
Pittsburgh (17-15, 5-13, #98)
Perhaps there is a little bit of magic left from this preseason top 25 team that struggled mightily.
These 3 teams have had their moments during the season, and would need to go on epic runs to win the league.
Illinois (17-14, 6-12, #82)
As bad as
Illinois has been, how many teams have beaten the likes of Michigan St, Ohio St,
and Gonzaga. The Illini would need Brandon Paul to go off for 40 every game in
Iowa (16-15, 8-10, #131)
been surprisingly competitive this year, and has beaten Wisconsin twice along
with beating Michigan and Indiana. They face Illinois in round one, the winner
could have great momentum going forward.
Minnesota (18-13, 6-12, #81)
Once considered a potential tourney team, Minnesota's season went south in a hurry. They face bubble team Northwestern in round one and could seriously hurt the Wildcats at-large hopes.
While the RPI suggests Memphis and Southern Miss are by far the class of this league, these teams certainly have to be feared. If not for the tournament being in Memphis, the odds of one of these teams stealing a bid would be even bigger.
UCF (21-9, 10-6, #64)
opening round by, the Knights would face the winner of UAB or Tulane in round
two. UCF is a close loss or two away from being firmly in the NCAA Tournament
field. With the exception of one bad showing at Memphis, UCF has been
competitive in every CUSA game.
Marshall (18-12, 9-7, #66)
Like UCF, Marshall is a dangerous squad that could be looking at the NCAA's with a little more luck. As it is, they have a very favorable spot in the bracket, opening against SMU and then potentially facing Tulsa in the quarterfinals.
Tulsa (17-13, 10-6, #112)
Most wouldn't have guessed that Tulsa would earn the #3 seed in the CUSA Tournament.
UTEP (14-16, 7-9, #158)
darkhorse as a #8 seed, UTEP has beaten Memphis and Southern Miss this year, so
you never what could happen if they got hot.
The MWC is a small league, so you only have to win 3 games to earn the title.
Wyoming (20-10, 6-8, #80)
The Cowboys face UNLV in the opening round, and have already beaten the Rebels. While they've struggled away from home, they can't be written off.
TCU (17-13, 7-7, #101)
ruin Colorado St's bubble hopes in the opening round. The two split their season
series, and the game should be close.
The Pac-12 is a complete mess. Cal and Washington can't be considered locks and a ton of teams could potentially win the league title.
Arizona (21-10, 12-6, #77)
awaits the winner of UCLA/USC after getting a first round bye.
Colorado (19-11, 11-7, #83)
seed opens with lowly Utah. The Buffs aren't that much worse than anyone else in
Stanford (20-10, 10-8, #97)
team in the league to beat a Top 50 opponent in non-conference play, Stanford
has been playing better after slumping a few weeks back.
UCLA (18-13, 11-7, #118)
With the tournament in Los Angeles, and a favorable bracket, you certainly can't write off the Bruins.
Outside of Kentucky, the SEC is much more even than you might think. Teams like Florida and Vanderbilt are overrated, and 2nd seed Tennessee is not that great away from home. Kentucky might lose focus, and then the league is up for grabs.
Arkansas (18-13, 6-10, #100)
Hogs can get by LSU, they'd face Kentucky in the quarterfinals. If they could
somehow beat UK..
LSU (17-13, 7-9, #89)
The same exact situation as Arkansas.
**I'll define the bubble as including the following teams: