SI.com's Stewart Mandel gives the lowdown on who's in and who's out.
Luke Ridnour and Oregon may not be locks for the NCAA tournament after all.Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Once upon a time, these teams were considered near-virtual locks for the NCAA tournament. Now, remarkably, they need a strong showing in their conference tournaments this weekend to avoid a sad Selection Sunday.
Oregon (20-9) : The Ducks suffered some bad losses down the stretch and sunk to 10-8 in the top-heavy Pac-10 and No. 52 in the RPI. Just one win in the Pac-10 tourney would probably wrap it up for them, but they face an Arizona State team that just beat them 91-77.
Auburn (19-10) : The Tigers started the season 15-2 against a lightweight slate, then lost eight of their last 12 to finish 8-8 in the SEC. Their RPI remains in the low 30s, though, and an upset of Georgia in the SEC quarterfinals could reverse their fortunes.
Indiana (18-11) : Of all the things not to do, the Hoosiers lost to lowly Penn State in their regular-season finale and finished the year losing eight of 12. No way does the committee take such a sagging team -- unless perhaps they win twice in the Big Ten tourney.
Alabama (17-10) : Despite a 7-9 league mark, the Tide are actually in better shape than Auburn, thanks to several quality wins -- Oklahoma, Xavier, Mississippi State and at Tennessee. One problem: They run into Kentucky in the SEC quarters.
North Carolina State (16-11) : The Wolfpack have had so many chances to get over the hump only to blow it at the end. At 9-7 in the ACC, they’re our last at-large team in this week, but upsets in other tourneys will surely take that spot away by Sunday. Better knock off Wake Forest.
SI.com will provide a daily version of the Bubble Watch beginning Thursday through Selection Sunday.
Seeding the 65
S.C. State/ NC Asheville*
E. Tennessee St.*
UC Santa Barbara
Compiled as if Selection Sunday was March 9. Teams are not matched to locations. * = already clinched automatic bid.
If Selection Sunday were today: 4 Duke, Wake Forest, Maryland, N.C. State As they stand right now -- No. 62 in the RPI, 1-7 against the top 50 -- the Wolfpack would be the worst at-large team in human history. That’s how slim the pickings were for that last spot.
St. Joe's (22-5)
Rhode Island (17-10)
If Selection Sunday were today: 3 Xavier, Dayton, St. Joe's Rhode Island would have to win the A-10 tournament. Never discount the possibility of a surprise Temple (13-14) run -- but only if someone knocks off Xavier for them.
Boston College (17-10)
Seton Hall (16-11)
If Selection Sunday were today: 6 Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Connecticut, Boston College, Seton Hall Seton Hall is in better shape than Boston College, thanks to playing in the stronger division. Providence put itself in the mix for the first time with wins over Connecticut and Seton Hall last week but would still need to do significant damage at MSG.
Michigan State (18-12)
If Selection Sunday were today: 4 Wisconsin, Illinois, Purdue, Michigan State Michigan State won seven of its last 10 to reach safe haven. Indiana and Minnesota have done the exact opposite, with the Gophers losing their last four. Their RPI has sunk into the 60s.
If Selection Sunday were today: 6 Oklahoma State, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, Colorado Barring a first-round Big 12 upset, Colorado has things wrapped up, thanks to four top 25 wins. The Red Raiders were still in the running until their loss to Baylor on Saturday left them at 6-10 in the league.
St. Louis (15-12)
If Selection Sunday were today: 5 Marquette, Memphis, Louisville, Cincinnati, St. Louis Once 8-12, the Billikens closed with a seven-game streak that included wins over Louisville and at Cincinnati and DePaul. They also have a Memphis win on their resume. They’re not out of the woods yet, though, and the Blue Demons aren’t done either, thanks to their Louisville win last week.
Southern Illinois (24-5)
If Selection Sunday were today: 2 Creighton, Southern Illinois Monday’s Bluejays-Salukis title game should be a formality -- it would be hard to deny regular-season champ SIU an at-large berth at this point.
If Selection Sunday were today: 2 Utah, BYU This seems like the perfect league for someone -- Wyoming? UNLV? San Diego State? -- to make a run through the tournament and steal one of the big boys’ berths.
Arizona State (18-10)
If Selection Sunday were today: 5 Arizona, Stanford, California, Oregon, Arizona State It’s amazing, but despite playing seemingly similar schedules, the Sun Devils remain 20 spots higher than the Ducks in the RPI and would probably be hurt less by losing their first-round Pac-10 game.
Mississippi State (19-8)
If Selection Sunday were today: 7 Florida, Kentucky, Georgia, Mississippi State, LSU, Tennessee, Alabama Of the four bubble teams, LSU is in the best shape because of a strong finish and that win over Arizona. Tennessee, at 9-7 in the stronger East division, isn’t far behind.