March Madness is officially underway. Most teams have one week left on their regular-season schedule, followed by conference tournaments the following week. With the NCAA tournament set to tip off in just over two weeks, it’s time to start looking at which teams are going to receive bids and which teams may have to settle for NIT or CBI tournament bids. A lot can happen in the next two weeks, but here is a look at five bubble teams that have likely already done enough to punch their ticket to the Big Dance.
1. Oregon Ducks
- Record: 22-8
- RPI: 42
- Strength of schedule: 68
- Key wins: Utah (home), UCLA (home), Stanford (away), Illinois (neutral)
- Bad losses: Washington (away), Washington State (away)
The Ducks’ play over the past two weeks is more than likely going to be enough for them to earn a place in the NCAA tournament. During that stretch, they beat Utah, which ranks 12th in the country in RPI, to go with road wins against Cal and Stanford. A win over Oregon State in their regular season finale and at least one win in the Pac-12 tournament will seal the deal for the Ducks.
2. Colorado State Rams
- Record: 24-5
- RPI: 26
- Strength of schedule: 120
- Key wins: San Diego State (home), Boise State (home), UTEP (home)
- Bad losses: Wyoming (home), Wyoming (away), New Mexico (away)
Colorado State would likely be a top 20 team if it wasn’t for a trio of bad losses to Wyoming (twice) and New Mexico. The Rams have quality wins against Boise State and San Diego State, which are both ranked in the RPI top 30, but their overall strength of schedule may hurt them.
The Rams are set to close out the regular season with two very winnable road games against Nevada and Utah State. With wins in both games and a decent showing in the Mountain West tournament, CSU will be making its third NCAA tournament appearance in four years.
3. Xavier Musketeers
- Record: 18-12
- RPI: 30
- Strength of schedule: 25
- Key wins: Providence (home), Butler (home), Georgetown (home), Georgetown (away), Cincinnati (away)
- Bad losses: Long Beach State (neutral), Creighton (home), Auburn (away), DePaul (away)
Most experts believe the Musketeers are playing to improve their tournament seed as opposed to playing for their tournament life over the next two weeks. Yes, they have a questionable record, but they do have five wins over RPI top 50 teams, with four coming over RPI top 25 teams. Even if they lose their final regular-season game to Creighton and lose their first Big East tournament game, the Musketeers have likely already compiled an NCAA tournament-worthy resume.
4. N.C. State Wolfpack
- RPI: 36
- Strength of schedule: 3
- Key wins: Duke (home), North Carolina (away), Louisville (away), Boise State (home), Pittsburgh (home)
- Bad losses: Wake Forest (away), Boston College (away)
N.C. State likely locked up its place in the NCAA tournament with road wins over Louisville and North Carolina in February. The Wolfpack also has impressive wins over Duke, Boise State, and Pittsburgh on its resume to go with an impressive RPI-strength of schedule combination. While N.C. State does have 12 losses on the year, 10 of them have come against RPI top 85 teams. The Wolfpack can officially remove itself from the tournament bubble with wins over Clemson and Syracuse to close out the regular season.
5. Oklahoma State Cowboys
- RPI: 29
- Strength of schedule: 11
- Key wins: Kansas (home), Baylor (home), Baylor (away), Tulsa (away), Texas (home), Texas (away)
- Bad losses: TCU (away), Texas Tech (away)
Oklahoma State is another team with a questionable record but an excellent NCAA tournament résumé. The Cowboys did close out February with four straight losses, two of which are considered bad losses, but with wins over Kansas, Baylor (twice), Texas (twice), and Tulsa, to go with a great RPI-strength of schedule combination. The Pokes should feel confident that they will hear their name called on Selection Sunday.
All RPI and strength of schedule data courtesy of CBS Sports.
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