NCAA March Madness Bubble Watch: Feb. 9
The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is slowly approaching, and this time of year, under-the-radar teams are attempting a push into the field of 68.
With less than five weeks away from the bracket being revealed, teams are entering some of the toughest stretches in their season. Some teams may soar through their remaining schedules, while others may drop to the NIT.
BYU Cougars, West Coast Conference
The BYU Cougars were picked as one of the favorites to come out of the WCC via an at-large bid or as a conference champion. Senior guard Alex Barcello, who leads the team with 17 points per game, had hopes of leading the Cougars back to the Big Dance, considering their last time out was a loss to the No. 11 seed UCLA Bruins as a No. 6 seed.
All looked well for the team out of Provo, Utah, but four straight losses in conference play sends you flying down the WCC standings. In fact, as each loss piled on, so did the competition and the margin of defeat.
Their first loss was a one-point loss to Santa Clara University, which created a domino effect toward a 33-point loss to the No. 2 Gonzaga Bulldogs. If the Cougars need to make the tournament, they need to run the table and win out the rest of the regular season and make a deep run into the conference tournament.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish, ACC
The ACC is weak this year, with the usual perennial contenders like the Virginia Cavaliers, North Carolina Tar Heels and Louisville Cardinals having down years, the conference seems to have four bids this year. Notre Dame is making a run to give the ACC its fifth bid.
The Fighting Irish have put together quite an impressive resume. One of their most impressive wins came at home against the Kentucky Wildcats, who were ranked No. 10 at the time.
Winning 14 out of its last 17 games, Notre Dame finds itself a half game back from the top of the ACC. Looking at their remaining schedule, the Irish can find big wins against Florida State in Tallahassee, Wake Forest in Winston-Salem and Syracuse in South Bend.
Memphis Tigers, American
In the preseason, the Memphis Tigers were a favorite to make a deep run in the tournament. This season has shown quite the opposite.
All the hype around freshmen forwards Jalen Duren and Emoni Bates look to be smoke in mirrors, especially Bates. Recently, Bates and his father announced that he is stepping away from the team until his back feels fully healthy.
A big loss for the Tigers, especially with how the American Athletic Conference has played out. They must deal with a Houston Cougars team down their two best players, yet they have not skipped a beat, along with more teams above them in the AAC standings.
UAB Blazers, Conference USA
Conference USA usually finds itself as a one or two-bid league entering march. The UAB Blazers now are making a case to add a third team.
The Blazers strung together big conference wins against teams with loaded talent like Kenneth Lofton Jr. and the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs. The team can thank Jordan Walker, Quan Jackson and KJ Buffen for the scoring brigade they have put on, all hitting double figures in the process.
To keep up the process, they must beat North Texas to help solidify their current resume. If they keep up their winning ways, they can surely steal the bid from the Mean Green.
Jonathan Draeger is a second-year student majoring in broadcast journalism. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Third Year / Broadcast Journalism