Wake Forest Demon Deacons 17-12 (8-9)
Key Wins: Miami (FL), Louisville
Key Losses: None
The Demon Deacons made a statement Wednesday with a win over Louisville that they are a tournament caliber team. Of all the teams on the bubble, it was the best win of the week (thus far). With a few teams ahead of them faltering, don’t be surprised to see Wake Forest in the field when Joe Lunardi unveils his next version of the bracket. No bad losses is the key stat when looking at this Wake Forest team, they have two nice wins and the chance for one more against Virginia Tech to close out the season.
Rhode Island Rams 20-9 (12-5)
Key Wins: Cincinnati (Neutral Site), VCU
Key Losses: LaSalle, Fordham
Now just because I put the Rams in the “trending in” category doesn’t mean I think they are in or safe, but they have started playing well at the right time of the year. Rhody has rattled off 4 straight wins and has won in 8 of their last 10. This is a team that people expected to easily be in the field to start the season with EC Matthews back and healthy, but the Rams haven’t played well this year. Hurley’s team has picked the perfect time to start playing their best basketball of the year. The Rams will probably need to beat either VCU or Dayton in the A-10 tourney, which would pretty much require a run to the title game, to have hopes of getting an at-large bid. But there is still hope.
Illinois Fighting Illini 17-12 (8-9)
Key Wins: VCU (Neutral Site), Michigan, @Northwestern, Northwestern, Michigan State
Key Losses: None
The resume looks good for the Illini, however, that is because of how well Winthrop has played lately. The win this week over Michigan State should put Illinois on the better side of the bubble. Now, Illinois CANNOT stumble in New Jersey against Rutgers otherwise their season is over. A win over Rutgers would get Illinois to 9-9 in conference play, which a lot of people are saying is crucial to earning a bid, normally I wouldn’t agree with that, but looking at the Illini’s case, it is pertinent because of how bad the Big Ten has been this season.
Xavier Musketeers 18-12 (8-9)
Key Wins: Wake Forest, Seton Hall, @ Creighton
Key Losses: @ Colorado
Xavier is a healthy Edmond Sumner away from being a top-15 team. But unlike Duke getting consideration for Coach K taking a leave for surgery, Xavier is now on the bubble and quickly fading. The Musketeers have lost 6 straight and arguably couldn’t have found a better time to get a trip to Rosemont to play DePaul. A win this weekend would bring X to 9-9 in the Big East and even then it still seems like they would need to win at least one game at Madison Square Garden if they want to be assured of an at-large bid. Much like the aforementioned Fighting Illini, their game this weekend can only hurt them.
California Golden Bears 19-10 (10-7)
Key Wins: @ USC
Key Losses: San Diego State (Neutral Site)
I mentioned it last week, but Cal has one of the most blah resumes around. They are 0-6 against the top 25, 1-7 against the top 50 and 4-9 against the top 100. Yikes. I don’t care what Bill Walton says, even if the Pac-12 is the “Conference of Champions”, which it’s not, the conference has won a national title since 1997. 4th place, in this case, shouldn’t get a bid. Cal has had many chances to pick up wins to easily put them in the field and they continue to falter. The Bears have dropped 4 of their last 5 including a 30 point blowout at Utah. The Bears close at Colorado and will need to win that plus a couple in the Pac-12 tourney, specifically against a top 50 team! Cal controls their own destiny at this point but they are quickly falling out.
Kansas State Wildcats 18-12 (7-10)
Key Wins: @ Oklahoma State, West Virginia, @ Baylor
Key Losses: @ Oklahoma
While the Big 12 is one of the best conferences in the country, but 3-8 in their last 11 just isn’t going to cut it. This is a talented team that Bruce Weber has and they just cannot seem to put it together in the last month and a half. The Wildcats close the regular season at Texas Tech and a loss would be killer to their resume. K-State cannot improve their Big 12 standing but have a chance to pick up another quality win in the Big 12 tourney and need it at this point.