NCAA Tournament Bubble Teams – 02/26/07
This edition, in honor of the regular season’s final week, looks at five teams in “must-win” situations heading into their final games:
At worst a split of Georgetown at home or Villanova on the road is essential if the Orange want to make the Tournament. The ‘Cuse picked up a nice win at Providence to get themselves into serious consideration over the weekend, but an 0-2 record this week necessitates another miraculous run through the Big East Tournament for Jim Boeheim’s team.
Off the court, it was one of the worst weeks in history for Illinois basketball fans, as they saw their beloved Chief Illiniwek perform for the final time, and learned of the alleged criminal behavior of sharp-shooting sophomore Jamar Smith. On the court, however, Illinois put together two of its best performances of the season, knocking off Michigan at home and blowing out Penn State for a much-needed road win. A fourth Big Ten road win at Iowa next Sunday is critical for the Fighting Illini to continue their seven-year NCAA Tournament streak.
A number of bracket experts have proclaimed BYU a “lock” already, but they may not even be in the Tournament without an outright MWC regular-season title. The Cougars are a mediocre 5-7 away from Provo and have an embarrassing loss to Lamar on their resume. Tough games at Air Force and at home to rival Utah are on tap this week. Picking up a road win at AFA would actually be preferable to a home win over the Utes in terms of beefing up their profile.
The Yellow Jackets blew a golden opportunity to lock up an at-large bid by falling late at Virginia on Saturday. Two home games against ACC powers UNC and Boston College loom this week, and a split (or better) to get to 7-9 in conference play is essential. GT has plenty of good non-conference wins (N-Purdue, N-Memphis, Georgia), but a record four games below .500 in conference would be disastrous.
The Cowboys are now just 1-6 in their last seven games (5-8 overall in the Big XII) and still lack a true road win. Defeating Kansas State at home, and Baylor and Nebraska on the road will be an absolute must for Sean Sutton’s team. I just don’t see a sub-.500 Big XII team getting into the Tournament, despite two good non-conference wins over Syracuse and Pittsburgh.