Several teams across the country are fighting for their NCAA Tournament lives during the last few days of the college basketball season, a few of which are squarely on the bubble and searching for big wins in their conference tournaments. At the same time, other teams who are already eliminated from their conference tournaments are holding their breath as their postseason hopes lie in the hands of the selection committee.
This could change as the conference tournaments continue, as bubble teams can earn a spot with a strong effort, or fall out because of a poor effort. Plus, another team could surprisingly win its conference tournament and steal a spot. With that in mind, here are the last four teams in the tournament, and the first four teams out.
LAST FOUR IN:
UConn probably put themselves on the right side of the bubble with their stunning 4 OT win over Cincinnati in the AAC Tournament. The win now puts the Huskies 3-5 against RPI Top 50 teams, and with their 42nd ranking in the RPI, UConn should feel confident about their chances on Selecton Sunday.
The Bearcats picked up a critical win over SMU in the season finale, and that should be enough to push them into the tournament despite their loss to UConn. They're 4-4 against the RPI Top 50, and five of their 10 losses this season have come by two points. Expect them to be in as well.
Michigan's stunning last-second win over Indiana doesn't make them a lock to get in the tournament, but it does give them another quality win they so desperately needed. Even though they have 11 losses on the season, 10 of those came to teams ranked in the RPI Top 50 - but they do have three wins over RPI Top 25 teams, which it the biggest plus on their resume.
The Hawks are 27-7 this season, but a loss to Iona means they won't be getting the automatic bid. The sheer volume of wins is impressive and they are among the better mid-majors this season. They have three losses to teams outside the top 200 in RPI and that will hurt their chances, but will be in the tournament because of their 13 road wins (most in the country).
FIRST FOUR OUT:
Wichita State Shockers
The Shockers put themselves in a tough place because of a loss to Northern Iowa in the MVC tourney. With no automatic bid for the Shockers, several bad losses could put them on the outside looking in. A win over Utah helps and the committee might give them a break because Fred VanVleet missed time this season, but having just four wins against RPI Top 100 teams will ultimately keep them out of the tournament.
Syracuse's hot start to the season was drastically cooled once they hit conference play, and they've finished with a 19-13 overall record this season. They do have conference wins over Duke (on the road) and Notre Dame, but also have a terrible loss to St. John's on their resume. The Orange's loss to Pittsburgh will likely result in the Syracuse just missing out, especially with all the tournament upsets that have occurred.
Oregon State Beavers
Oregon State was a trendy pick to be a tournament team out of the Pac-12 behind the play of Gary Payton II, but they simply aren't a NCAA Tournament team. At 19-12, the Beavers had a .500 record in conference play (9-9) and do not have a notable win from their non-conference schedule. They still find themselves firmly on the bubble thanks to wins over USC, Oregon, and Utah, but that simply won't be enough to outweigh the negatives on their resume.
St. Mary's Gaels
St. Mary's won the West Coast Conference regular season title, including two wins over Gonzaga, but ultimately fell in the conference tournament title game to the Zags. Now on the bubble, their lackluster non-conference schedule has them on the outside looking in. Their best road win (other than Gonzaga) is against Santa Clara, and their best non-conference win is against Stanford. That simply won't be enough to get them in the tournament.
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