As usual, championship week is the make-it-or-break-it period for teams. There are 31 automatic bids and 37 at-large spots. A lot of squads are going to need a strong run in their conference tournaments to stay in the mix. So who needs help?
Atlantic 10 –
Already in: Xavier, Temple and Richmond.
Needs help: None.
Already in: Duke, North Carolina, Florida State.
Needs help: Clemson (20-10, 9-7), Boston College (19-11, 9-7), Virginia Tech (19-10, 9-7). These three teams will be fighting for two spots. The first one that loses is probably out. Virginia Tech is especially in trouble after consecutive losses to Boston College and Clemson.
Big 12 –
Already in: Kansas, Texas, Texas A&M, Kansas State.
Needs help: Missouri (22-9, 8-8), Colorado (19-12, 8-8). Wins over Missouri, Kansas State and Texas have kept Colorado alive. Missouri played itself onto the bubble with three straight losses.
Big East –
Already in: Pitt, Notre Dame, Louisville, Syracuse, St. John’s, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Georgetown, Connecticut.
Needs help: Villanova (21-10, 9-9), Marquette (18-13, 9-9). Yes, Jay Wright’s crew is in trouble. The Wildcats have lost four in a row and six of their last eight. The two wins were against Seton Hall (60-57) and DePaul (77-75 OT). They have to win their first-round game against South Florida. Marquette, losers two in a row to Cincy and Seton Hall, is in the same boat.
Big Ten –
Already in: Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin.
Needs help: Michigan (19-12, 9-9), Illinois (19-12, 9-9), Michigan State (17-13, 9-9). Michigan perked up the last two weeks, winning six of its last eight games, including an important win over Michigan State on Saturday. The Wolverines still need at least one win in the Big 10 tourney to feel better. Illinois is in the same predicament as Michigan. As chance would have it they Illini and Michigan play each other in a Big 10 tournament quarterfinal game on Friday. The loser might lose its invite to the dance. With just 17 wins, Michigan State, which has lost two of its last three, has to beat Iowa in the Big 10 first-round on Thursday.
Already in: Old Dominion (Won CAA Tournament).
Needs help: George Mason (26-6, 16-2). Old Dominion beating VCU in the CAA final was the best thing that could’ve happened to George Mason. Barring a terrible oversight, George Mason should be in. Then again, we’ve been down this road before. Just ask the Hofstra 2005-2006 team that got the cold shoulder from the NCAA Tournament selection committee.
Mountain West –
Already in: BYU, San Diego State.
Needs help: UNLV (23-7, 11-5). The Runnin’ Rebels, winners of six in a row, have caught fire at the right time. They have non-conference wins over Virginia Tech, Wisconsin and Kansas State. That should be enough. A loss to Air Force in the MWC tournament could make things tight.
Already in: Arizona, UCLA, Washington.
Needs help: USC (18-13, 10-8). USC has won five of their last six. And they knocked off Arizona during that stretch. They also have wins over UCLA and Tennessee. Another win against Cal on Thursday in the PAC-010 tournament will make it hard on the selection committee.
Already in: Florida, Kentucky, Alabama.
Needs help: Vanderbilt (21-9, 9-7), Georgia (20-10, 9-7), Tennessee (18-13, 8-8).
Vandy has dropped two of its last three and absolutely has to beat LSU on Thursday in the SEC tournament. Georgia crippled itself with a loss at Alabama on Saturday. They have to win against Auburn in the SEC tourney on Thursday. Early-season wins over VCU, Pitt, Villanova and Memphis keeps the Vols in the mix. But they need to win at least two games in the SEC tournament to stay on the bubble.
West Coast –
Already in: St. Mary’s, Gonzaga.
Needs help: None.
Already in: Utah State.
Needs help: None.