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College Basketball Bubble Watch 2017

Saturday, January 18, 2020 11:44:09 PM

Selection Sunday bubble debate: Middling power conference team vs. Illinois State and Syracuse are two of the hottest debated bubble teams of heading into Selection Sunday. Illinois State lost in its conference tournament finale and has had to sit on the sidelines and wait this week as other bubble teams try to make their cases. We just try to get ready to play either way. The message: Stay steady and together as a team.

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But each game especially matters for these teams. They are fighting for their NCAA tournament lives. Here are seven schools who could wind up on the bubble come Selection Sunday. Syracuse Syracuse has found itself in this spot frequently as of late. But the Orange have been inconsistent, and just suffered an ugly point home loss to Georgia Tech.

The defense is still good. It ranks 15th in KenPom and is stingy in just about every aspect. The offense has been another story. The Orange rank 95th on that end, and they just don't seem to have enough efficient scorers. Syracuse's best shot is to muck the game up and pull it out in the end; that's worked in the NCAA tournament lately.

It will have chances to earn big wins with teams like Duke, North Carolina and Virginia still on the schedule. Keep an eye on the Orange these next few months. Florida Florida feels like the best team on this list, but at the end of the day, the resume is the resume.

The Gators are , and while just about all of their losses are defensible, you'd like to see them win a game in which they don't have a clear talent advantage. Tennessee beats Florida, There is reason to think Florida will play its way out of this group.

The Gators rank sixth on defense, and that should sustain. The offense has lagged behind, and that's mostly because Jalen Hudson and KeVaughn Allen, but to a lesser degree have struggled.

Those guys are proven college scorers who haven't looked like themselves this year. That's no guarantee, of course.

Florida is dangerous, but it has to notch a few signature wins. Cincinnati The Bearcats are the most likely team on this list to earn an auto bid, but this is assuming they don't. They're with a win over Ole Miss, which is solid.

But the way the AAC unfolds may have more to do with their at-large resume than their actual record. Houston and UCF are good, but do wins over either of them really move the needle?

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If Cincinnati only loses a couple of games in the AAC, it should be fine. But drop a few against lesser opponents like East Carolina , and the Bearcats may be nervous on Selection Sunday.

They beat Florida the first time they met, and lost by 34 the second time.

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That's a decent resume. The Big East is wide open this year, and it's easy to picture Butler's season going in either direction.

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It lacks its usual identity. Butler teams of the past are usually more disciplined and better-coached than the opponent. We haven't seen that edge this year.

Butler hasn't missed the NCAA tournament since We'll see if the Bulldogs can find some stability. Arizona State Arizona State has been a funky team to try to evaluate the past few years. The Sun Devils' offense is fast-paced and fun, and when it's clicking, one of the toughest to stop in college basketball.

They can play with anyone, as Kansas knows. But they just throw up too many clunky performances to be trusted. The Kansas win is big, and it also has a nice one over Utah State.

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And we know they faded last season after an incredible start. You never know which version of Arizona State is going to show up, which is both exciting and frustrating if you're a Sun Devils fan. Creighton You'll notice something with bubble teams: they usually lack balance.

Creighton is another example. Its offense is great; the Bluejays rank seventh on that end and lead the country in effective field goal percentage.

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That's par for the course for Greg McDermott. Creighton ranks rd there. It's off to a Big East start, too, and only notched one noteworthy win in the nonconference over Clemson. In the Bluejays defense, though, it's usually easier to fix a team's defense than its offense.

Creighton has enough talent to succeed, and while it doesn't have any ace individual defenders, effort and strategy pay more dividends on offense than defense.

That stuff can be fixed. We'll see if the Bluejays can make adjustments in the next few months. Minnesota Minnesota has been a pleasant surprise this season after struggling to meet expectations in They also have two big wins over Nebraska and Wisconsin, with opportunities to pick up more quality Ws as Big Ten play progresses.

That said, the schedule is also incredibly difficult, and the win percentage figures to take a hit. Minnesota still has to play Michigan twice and Michigan State once.

Nine of the Gophers' remaining 15 games are against top KenPom teams. Their road is brutal. If they can manage to go. But that's not a sure thing. You can imagine how that went. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NCAA or its member institutions.

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