We are nearing the middle of February, which means we are less than a month away from conference tournaments and just over a month away from Selection Sunday. Many bubble teams have the potential to bust in the next few weeks, so which teams will go to the big dance, and which ones will fall short.
Syracuse (16-9, 8-4): After struggling in November and December with losses to UCONN, St. John’s, and Boston College, the Orange have turned the corner. Syracuse has gone from a NIT type of team, to beating the likes of No. 6 Florida State, No. 9 Virginia, and Clemson. If Jim Boeheim’s crew can go 3-3 the rest of the way, and then advance one round in the ACC tournament, they should be in. However, the Orange face some difficult opponents in Duke, Georgia Tech, and Louisville (twice).
Verdict: NCAA Tournament, No. 9 Seed.
Iowa State (14-9, 6-5): Defeating No. 3 Kansas on the road may have saved the Iowa State season, pushing them that much closer to the NCAA Tournament. However, their Tuesday night loss at 10-14 Texas was a microcosm of the Cyclones season. There is still a lot of work to be done because of bad out-of-conference losses to Iowa and Vanderbilt, and slip-ups against TCU and Texas in the Big 12. If the Cyclones want to return to March Madness, they must go 5-2 the rest of way, and avoid losses at Kansas State and Texas Tech. Also, an upset over No. 6 Baylor on Feb. 25 would be hugely impactful.
Verdict: NCAA Tournament, No. 11 Seed.
Michigan State (14-10, 6-5): In the first 10 minutes against Arizona on the first day of the college basketball season, Tom Izzo’s team looked like one of the best. Since then, the Spartans have been extremely disappointing. Losses to Northeastern, Penn State, and Ohio State have put Michigan State on the outside, looking in. With seven games remaining, the Spartans must defeat two of the following three: No. 16 Purdue, No. 7 Wisconsin, No. 21 Maryland, and win all four of their other games against lesser opponents.
Verdict: NCAA Tournament, No. 12 Seed.
Utah (15-8, 6-5): After two consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, the Utes are in trouble of missing out on a third trip. That is because of missed opportunities against Butler, Xavier, and UCLA, and a neutral court slip-up against San Francisco. If Utah wants to return to the field of 68, they must win 5 of their final 7 games, and advance past the first round of the Pac-12 tournament.