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Bubble Watch: Everything you need to know about every bubble team heading into the final week of the season



March is officially here and the NCAA Tournament is right around the corner as the regular season comes to an end next weekend before the conference tournaments begin. This is a crucial time for many teams that are on the bubble whether they are right on the outside looking in or just clinging on to one of the final spots in the Big Dance.


Here is a look at the teams that are currently on the bubble heading into the final week of the regular season. For the sake of this article, we will use Joe Lunardi's Bracketology when discussing these teams.



Florida Atlantic (Last Four Byes)


Remaining games: Tulane, at North Texas, Memphis


The Owls were the darling of last year's NCAA Tournament, making a stunning run to the Final Four in Houston.


But a step up in conference, and some surprise mid-season struggles have put them in a precarious spot going into the final few weeks.


With two losses in their last three games and three in seven overall, the Owls sit in Lunardi's "Last Four In" heading into the final 10 days of the season. The good news is they have the balance of winnable games (Tulane, at North Texas) with one tough test (Memphis at home), and should they sweep, should comfortably be in the field.


At this point for the Owls, it's mostly about avoiding bad losses - something they can do Saturday with a noon home game against struggling Tulane.


Virginia (Last Four Byes)


Remaining games: At Duke, Georgia Tech


If it seems like it was only a few weeks ago that Virginia seemed to be a lock for the NCAA Tournament, it's because it was. But the Cavaliers are reeling late, with three losses in their last five games.


The good news is for Virginia that they some solid out of conference wins (Florida on a neutral and Texas A&M home) and no really bad losses either. The issue is, they simply don't have enough of the former, as the ACC simply doesn't allow teams to stack their resumes with great wins this year.


The good news is, Virginia has a showcase game Saturday at Duke. Win that one and you're almost certainly in. Lose that one? Then, you really have no margin for error in the season finale against Georgia Tech or in the ACC Tournament for a bad loss.


Wake Forest Demon Deacons (Last Four Byes)


Remaining Schedule: At Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Clemson


It's been a wild few weeks for Wake Forest, which missed a chance at a signature win with a one-point loss at Virginia two weeks ago, then seemed to seal a tourney bid with their win over Duke last Saturday - in a game that was made all that more interesting because of the court-storming drama.


Then, just when it looked like the Deamon Deacons were a tourney lock, they messed around and lost to Notre Dame. Thankfully it only counted as a Quad 2 loss, but also left little margin for error going forward.


So yes, Wake Forest is firmly on the bubble, but the good news is the schedule also breaks nicely for them. As things stand, a road trip to Virginia Tech and a home game against Clemson both count as Quad 1 opportunities.


Winning both (along with Georgia Tech) would give them near "lock" status heading into the ACC Tournament. Lose one or more, and it gets more murky.


Nevada Wolfpack (Last Four Byes)


Remaining schedule: Fresno State, at Boise State, UNLV


Unlike so many teams on the bubble, Nevada is actually playing its best basketball late with seven wins in their last eight games. That includes some of their best wins of the season, including a win over San Diego State at home and this week's stunning buzzer-beating victory over Colorado State.


And also unlike most of the teams on this list - and even within their own league - the schedule breaks nicely for them down the stretch, with home games against Fresno State on Friday night and UNLV to close season and a road game at Boise State.


With Boise State as a near tourney lock, a loss there really wouldn't hurt the Wolfpack. So really, what the next two weeks are about is avoiding bad losses, be it to Fresno or in-state rival UNLV. Win those two games, and it feels pretty good that Nevada will make the field of 68, regardless of how the Mountain West Tournament goes.



Gonzaga (Last Four In)


Remaining Schedule: at Saint Mary's


By now, the Bulldogs story has long been discussed - as the possibility exists that Gonzaga misses the NCAA Tournament for the first time ever under Mark Few.


To their luck however, the Zags two toughest conference games came to close the regular season, and to their credit, Gonzaga took care of the first one Thursday night at San Francisco. Win at Saint Mary's on Saturday and it feels like - barring a catastrophic loss in the conference - Gonzaga would be in position to get an at-large bid.


Lose on Saturday, and the Zags really might have to win the WCC tournament to get into the NCAA Tournament.


Seton Hall (Last Four In)


Remaining Games: At UConn, Villanova, DePaul


Seton Hall's slow start to the season continues to haunt them, as early season losses to USC, Iowa and Rutgers (none of which are very good right now) continue to haunt them. At the same time, big home wins over UConn and Marquette have kept them in the conversation.

So I guess you have to take the good and the bad with the Pirates.


Right now for the Pirates its really about closing strong. No one really expects them to win at UConn Sunday (if they somehow did that might punch their ticket), but a home game mid-week against Villanova gives them a chance to add to their resume.


We're not even going to go down the road of the Pirates losing on Senior Day to DePaul, if Seton Hall loses those first two, they would probably have to win multiple games in the Big East Tournament to feel confident on Selection Sunday.


Providence College Friars (Last Four In)


Remaining Schedule: Villanova, at Georgetown, UConn


Providence is another Big East team that Lunardi has in the “Last Four In.” It really has been a tale of two seasons for Providence, which beat the likes of Wisconsin, Marquette and others prior to the injury of star Bryce Hopkins, but not surprisingly haven't been the same team since. To their credit, they had one three in a row prior to Wednesday's loss at Marquette.


The good news for the Friars is that there are games ahead that will allow them to punch their ticket. A home Villanova on Saturday would do wonders for their resume, and if they could somehow get UConn at home to close the regular season that might seal an at-large win.

Should the Friars lose to UConn (no shame there), but take care of Villanova and Georgetown, one win at the Big East Tournament would seemingly all but clinch their at-large chances.


New Mexico Lobos (Last Four In)


Remaining Schedule: At Boise State, Fresno State, at Utah State


Like Wake Forest, the Lobos seemingly clinched an at-large bid with wins at Nevada and Colorado State at home in recent days, only to take a stunningly bad loss to Air Force at home earlier this week. While we all respect the troops, the loss to Air Force was a Quad 4 defeat, that sunk a year's worth of good work for the Lobos. The fact that they don't have much of an out of conference resume to speak of certainly doesn't help.


It's also especially crushing because the Lobos have done solid work in league play, sweeping Nevada, beating San Diego State and Colorado State just a few days ago.


Most importantly, it has now left New Mexico with their backs against the wall.


One, they absolutely cannot lose to Fresno State in the middle of next week. That would probably be a bubble buster. And realistically, they probably have to either win at Utah State or at Boise State (currently the top two teams in the league) to feel really good about an at-large berth.


Lose both, and they'll have to likely win a pair of games in the Mountain West Tournament to have any sort of bubble argument.



Villanova (First Four Out)


Remaining Schedule: at Providence, at Seton Hall, Creighton


As you've probably heard, Villanova has the wildest resume in the sport. Neutral site wins against the likes of North Carolina and Memphis at the Battle 4 Atlantis have basically kept their bubble hopes alive, all while losses to Penn, St. Joe's and LaSalle have nearly sunk their whole season.


It also leads to good news and bad news for the Wildcats heading into the final 10 days of the season.

The bad news, they have a brutal stretch, that includes games against bubble teams Providence and Seton Hall, as well as Creighton at home on Senior Night.


The good news is, there are three more chances to add significant wins to their resume before the Big East Tournament. Admittedly, it feels like the Wildcats probably have to go 2-1 in those games to feel good about their bubble chances headed to the Big East Tournament.


Utah Utes (First Four Out)


Remaining Schedule: Cal, at Oregon State, at Oregon


The Utes are seemingly still riding a hot start to the season that saw them snatch wins over BYU, Wake Forest and Washington State early in league play. Because over the last few weeks, there hasn't been much to write home about. After an 11-2 start to the season, the Utes are just 6-9 since, getting swept by the Arizona schools, the Washington schools and taking a bad loss at USC.


Still, Craig Smith's squad still has hopes of making its first NCAA Tournament bid under his watch.


They likely need to go 3-0 to be in the bubble conversation, with a road game at Oregon to close the regular season presenting a Quad 1 opportunity.


Colorado Buffaloes (First Four Out)


Remaining Schedule: Stanford, at Oregon, at Oregon State


Colorado is in an eerily similar predicament as Utah heading into the final 10 days of the season. To their credit, the Buffaloes have been playing better basketball of late, winning their last three.


Like Utah, they can't afford a loss to Stanford or at Oregon State in the coming days, and a win next Thursday at Oregon would certainly help things. Going 3-0 over that stretch would put them in good position going into the Pac-12 Tournament.

St. Johns Red Storm (First Four Out)


Remaining Schedule: at DePaul, Georgetown


Talk of Rick Pitino's demise has been greatly exaggerated! That's because since (basically) calling his team fat and lazy (again, we're paraphrasing) in a postgame press conference, the Johnnies are now 3-0 with key wins over Creighton and at Butler.


With that, they are firmly back on the bubble, and the rest of the season is really about avoiding bad losses at DePaul and to Georgetown, than picking up big wins. Should the Johnnies sweep both, they'd still have work to do in the Big East Tournament, but at that point they'd be very much in the mix.


One caveat to remember: Because the Big East Tournament is at Madison Square Garden, any wins there will count as home victories (not neutral site like everyone else), which hurt them in the computers.



Iowa Hawkeyes (Next Four Out)


Remaining Schedule: at Northwestern, Illinois


To their credit, Iowa has played itself back onto the bubble with three wins in their last four games. That included big wins against Wisconsin and at Michigan State, the only two Quad 1 wins of their season.


With a resume that is a resume that is largely lacking otherwise, and includes some strange losses (including a Quad 3 defeat to Michigan at home) the Hawkeyes need to win their next two just to be on the bubble heading into the Big Ten Tournament.


As the scheduling gods would have it, they're a pair of Quad 1 opportunities at Northwestern and Illinois. Win both and the Hawkeyes become a very real bubble candidate going into the Big Ten Tournament.


Kansas State Wildcats (Next Four Out)


Remaining schedule: at Cincinnati, at Kansas, Iowa State


After making the Elite Eight just a season ago, Kansas State is reeling this year at 17-11 and 7-8 in league play. Even worse, prior to a two-game win streak (BYU and West Virginia at home) they lost seven of eight. Ironically, the only victory in that stretch was over rival Kansas.


That's the bad news, but the good news is, darn it did the schedule makers do K-State favors down the stretch, with three Quad 1 opportunities to close the season. They probably need to go 2-1 to feel good about their bubble chances going into the conference tournament, but one thing you can't deny: The path to the field of 68 is definitely there for them.


Texas A&M (Next Four Out)


Remaining Schedule: At Georgia, Mississippi State and at Ole Miss


If Iowa is surging late and Kansas State somewhere in the middle, Texas A&M is in a free fall. They have now lost five straight, including defeats to Vanderbilt and Auburn, two of the worst teams in the league. It has largely undermined what the Aggies did earlier in the season, where they beat Kentucky, Florida and Tennessee at home.


The good news is, like so many of these other teams, the opportunities are there for A&M to make their move - as their three remaining games are all Quad 2 opportunities. A three-game sweep would keep them on the bubble, but based on how they've played of late it's hard to imagine them doing just that.


Ole Miss (Next Four Out)


Remaining Schedule: at Missouri, at Georgia, Texas A&M


Like A&M, Ole Miss is reeling with a staggering six losses in their last seven games. Even worse they missed a golden opportunity on Wednesday, as they were up at the half to Alabama, only to fall apart late. It was the Quad 1 and headline grabbing victory they so desperately needed.


Now, they end the regular season similar to Texas A&M - with a chance to pick up decent wins, but none that are great. Missouri - the worst team in the SEC - is must-win Saturday, and at Georgia and A&M are Quad 2 opportunities that help, but don't bolster the resume.


Even if the Rebels go 3-0, they probably need a win or two at the SEC Tournament to feel really good about their tourney chances.


Follow Ethan on Twitter - @_EthanBurke_ 













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