The countdown to Selection Sunday has already begun, so it’s time to take a look at who’s in and who’s on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament:
No. 1 seeds: East, Syracuse; Midwest, Wichita State; South: Florida; West: Arizona.
America East: In: Vermont. Bubble: none.
Winners of eight straight but with no wins in the top 100 of the RPI, the Catamounts are likely headed for a No. 15 seed.
American Athletic: In: Cincinnati, Louisville, SMU, Memphis, Connecticut. Bubble: none.
Five solid teams here, but none are built for lengthy postseason runs. Cincinnati will learn defense gets you to the Sweet 16, but offense gets you to the Final Four. Larry Brown and SMU are a year away.
ACC: In: Syracuse, Virginia, Duke, Pittsburgh, North Carolina. Bubble: Clemson, Florida State.
The Orange, Cavs and Dukies are all Final Four caliber teams, although like Cincinnati, Syracuse’s offense is unreliable. Duke’s Jabari Parker started the season as a jump shooter but now he’s the best all-around player in the country. Keep an eye on the Tar Heels, who have won 10 of 11.
Atlantic Sun: In: Mercer. Bubble: none.
Dunk City – Florida Gulf Coast – is tied with the Bears, who have do-everything point guard Langston Hall.
Atlantic 10: In: Saint Louis, VCU, George Washington, Massachusetts, Richmond. Bubble: Saint Joseph’s, Dayton.
Most anticipated a drop this season after the departures of Butler, Charlotte, Temple and Xavier. Raise your hand if you thought, theoretically, the A-10 could earn seven NCAA bids? Saint Louis is a dauntless defensive team while VCU is always dangerous in March. There are times where St. Bonaventure can play with anyone in the league, which makes them scary coming into the A-10 Tournament.
Big 12: In: Kansas, Texas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Iowa State. Bubble: Baylor.
By far the deepest league in the country. Kansas has the tools to win it all with Andrew Wiggins, Perry Ellis and a healthy Joel Embiid. Oklahoma State is closer to the bubble than not and a win Saturday at home over the Jayhawks will help immensely. Iowa State is fun to watch and difficult to defend. You look at Texas’ talent and wonder how the Longhorns are winning. Must be the coaching.
Big East: In: Villanova, Creighton, Xavier, St. John’s, Providence. Bubble: Georgetown.
Villanova would be in the mix as top seed in most seasons if not for the two losses against Creighton. Look for the Wildcats to play in Buffalo as a No. 3 seed. Can Doug McDermott shoot the Bluejays into the Sweet 16 and beyond? Xavier, St. John’s and Providence won’t make it out of the first weekend.
Big Sky: In: Weber State. Bubble: none.
High-scoring Davion Berry and former Wildcats guard Damian Lillard, now with the Portland Trail Blazers, were AAU teammates in their hometown of Oakland.
Big South: In: VMI. Bubble: none
It’s VMI today, but tomorrow it could be High Point. Or Coastal Carolina. Or Gardner-Webb. Or UNC-Asheville.
Big Ten: In: Michigan State, Michigan, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio State. Bubble: Minnesota, Nebraska.
How special would Michigan State be if all its pieces were healthy? Michigan loses the national Player of the Year in Trey Burke to the NBA and Mitch McGary to injury, yet the Wolverines are on the verge of a No. 3 seed. Says a lot about the coaching ability of John Beilein. Tim Miles isn’t receiving much consideration for Coach of the Year but when was the last time Nebraska was this good?
Big West: In: UC Santa Barbara. Bubble: none.
Gauchos junior Alan Williams (22.5 ppg., 12.0 rpg.) is a double-double machine.
Colonial Athletic: In: Delaware. Bubble: none.
The Blue Hens lost at St. Bonaventure on Dec. 30 and have suffered only two setbacks since.
Conference USA: In: Middle Tennessee. Bubble: Southern Mississippi.
Kermit Davis’ Blue Raiders, the one-time Sun Belt member, snuck up on UTEP and Southern Miss the last month by winning nine straight.
Horizon: In: Green Bay. Bubble: none.
Pound-for-pound, no one is tougher than 5-11 Keifer Sykes.
Ivy: In: Harvard. Bubble: none.
League title will be decided March 7 when Harvard visits Yale, which defeated the Crimson on the road on Feb. 8.
Metro Atlantic: In: Iona. Bubble: none.
Put pressure on the Gaels guards, especially when they spot up in the corners, and you might have a chance. But I wouldn’t bet against Billy Baron shooting Canisius into the NCAAs. This time last year Niagara was pointing toward the NCAAs but now it looks like a 25-loss season.
Mid-American: In: Toledo. Bubble: none.
Hats off to the Rockets’ Tod Kowalczyk for turning around the program so quickly. The MAC Tournament should be as competitive as ever with Toledo, Western Michigan, Buffalo, Ohio and Akron all capable of winning. Like Baron, Javon McCrea can carry the Bulls to the championship.
Mid-Eastern: In: North Carolina Central. Bubble: none.
The Eagles lost to Wichita State by 11 but beat N.C. State on the road back in November.
Missouri Valley Conference: In: Wichita State. Bubble: none.
In 2004, Saint Joseph’s was 2-0 against the RPI’s top 50 and 5-1 against the top 100 and earned a No. 1 seed. The Shockers are 2-0 versus the top 50 and 6-0 against the top 100. Any questions?
Mountain West: In: San Diego State, New Mexico. Bubble: none.
The Aztecs have victories over Creighton, Marquette, Washington and Kansas.
Northeast: In: Robert Morris. Bubble: none.
Karvel Anderson and Lucky Jones can play with anybody. High-major ADs should have Andrew Toole’s number on speed dial.
Ohio Valley: In: Belmont. Bubble: none.
The Bruins won at North Carolina back in November. Don’t count out Murray State.
Pacific-12: In: Arizona, UCLA, Arizona State, Colorado, California, Stanford. Bubble: Oregon.
Arizona was so much better with Brandon Ashley and without him offense is a struggle. Stanford can be a dangerous No. 8 or No. 9 seed.
Patriot: In: Boston University. Bubble: none.
The Terriers have adjusted well in their first season in the league.
SEC: In: Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee. Bubble: none.
This is the Gators’ best team since the Noah-Horford era and they’re led by seniors. There’s been talk of Kentucky’s lack of chemistry all season and the problem is the lack of a true point guard.
Southern: In: Davidson. Bubble: none.
The Wildcats provide even more depth when they join the A-10 next season.
Southland: In: Stephen F. Austin. Bubble: none.
Any team with five players scoring in double figures is treacherous for a higher seed.
SWAC: In: Alabama State. Bubble: none.
Southern leads the league, but APR issues could keep the Jags from the postseason.
Summit: In: North Dakota State. Bubble: none.
The Bison are in control of a good, balanced league.
Sun Belt: In: Georgia State. Bubble: none.
Here’s a surprise: R.J. Hunter, the Georgia State coach’s son, leads the team in scoring at 19.3 per game.
Western Athletic: In: New Mexico State. Bubble: none.
Tonight’s matchup at Utah Valley is a de facto regular season championship game.
West Coast: In: Gonzaga, Brigham Young. Bubble: none.
Not hearing much about the Zags this time around, but you can’t overlook 23 wins.