Bama, believe it or not, still had a shot at an at-large bid heading into last week as Georgia would have been a top 50 win. They need a lot of teams in front of them to fall in order to get into the conversation, but it is College Basketball in 2017, anything can happen. The Tide will host Mississippi on Wednesday as they jockey for positioning in the SEC tourney and have a chance for a quality win at Tennessee to finish up the regular season.
Butler (AP: 13 Coaches: 15)
Hell of a week for Butler, so good in fact, that it showed us 5 reasons why the Dawgs can win it all. Butler completed a season sweep over Villanova and Xavier last week and have jumped into the conversation for a 4 seed. This team looked so complete last week, they take care of the ball, play such good team defense and have many talented scorers. The Dawgs close out the year against a Seton Hall team that is on the bubble and desperate for one final marquee win.
Creighton (AP: RV Coaches: RV)
It has been a horrendous month of February for Creighton as the Jays are just 2-4 overall. They lost a home game to bubble team Providence and didn’t have enough on the road at Nova. Creighton is desperately fighting to keep a good seed and they need at least one win this week as they host St. John’s and head to Milwaukee to play Marquette.
Dayton (AP: RV Coaches: RV)
The Flyers capped off a perfect February with an overtime win on the road at Davidson. It all comes down to the Wednesday matchup against VCU for the Atlantic 10 Conference title. VCU won the first game in Richmond by 5 and I would expect this game to be another great game. A balanced scoring attack wins that game for Dayton. They also head to DC to close the season against George Washington.
With the weakest bubble in NCAA history, the Fighting Illini are somehow, some way, back in the mix for an at-large bid. John Groce and company deserve all the credit in the world as they have won 4 of their last 5 including a sweep of Northwestern. Fortunate scheduling has allowed the Illini another opportunity at a win that would be huge at home against a red-hot Michigan State team. Illinois will close the season in New Jersey against Rutgers, who could be the kiss of death for their post-season hopes.
ISU clinched the regular-season Missouri Valley Conference championship after picking up wins over Southern Illinois and Northern Iowa. Even with the bubble as weak as it is, the Birds are not being shown much love and will likely need to reach the MVC final if they want to get a tourney bid. Arch Madness kicks off on Thursday, Illinois State will play the winner of Evansville and Indiana State Friday at Noon Central time.
Indiana tried their hardest to extend the losing streak to 6 games against Northwestern on Saturday, but the Wildcats couldn’t pull off the comeback. As I have said many times above, the bubble is as weak as Ukraine, and the Hoosiers still have a small glimmer of hope. They need a pair of wins this week at Purdue and at Ohio State, then need to make a little noise in the Big Ten tourney. Focus on Purdue first, a team the Hoosiers played well in Bloomington.
Eights are wild for the Hawkeyes as they are 8-8 in Big Ten play which is good enough for 8th place. They ended a three-game losing streak by beating Indiana at home in an absolute shootout, Peter Jok scored 35 points and got to the free-throw line 23 times. Throw in a nice win at Maryland and it was a nice little week for Iowa. A road trip to Madison and a home game against Penn State are how the Hawks close out the year, a good chance to improve their Big Ten seed.
Marquette has had a very up-and-down February which was concluded with a loss at Providence, dropping the Golden Eagles to 8-8 and creating a log-jam in the middle of the Big East standings as four teams currently sit at 8-8. A tough finish, but one with ample opportunities to improve their resume for Marquette as they head to Cincinnati to play Xavier and then host a struggling Creighton team.
Notre Dame (AP: 19 Coaches: 13)
Wow, the disparity between the coaches and AP is wild. The Irish survived a scare Saturday at home against Georgia Tech pulling out a 4-point win. Bonzie Colson is playing his best basketball right now and it is perfect timing as Vasturia and Beachem seem to have hit a lull. Shooting is what paces the Irish and when they aren’t shooting well it is on Bonzie to clean up the glass, play strong defense and bring the energy. ND hosts BC and then heads to Louisville in a game that could decide the 2nd seed in the ACC tournament.
A fantastic bounce-back win over Xavier following the beat-down against Nova was exactly what The Hall needed. And the Rosemont scaries continued for the Pirates as I nearly saw them blow a 20+ point lead to DePaul (THANK GOD THEY’RE LEAVING THAT BUILDING). The Hall will likely be without lockdown defender and glue guy Ish Sanogo as he re-aggravated his ankle in the win at DePaul. The burden will fall on the trio of juniors: Khadeen Carrington, Angel Delgado (most underrated big man in America) and Desi Rodriguez. The Hall gets Georgetown at home and then heads to Hinkle to play a very good Butler team.
St. John’s (MN)
A narrow defeat in the MIAC Conference championship is how the Johnnies season ended. St. John’s pulled off the upset over top-seeded St. Thomas on Thursday before falling in the final to Bethel.
Washington University (St. Louis)
Wash U dropped a game to U of C to end the regular season, but the Bears received a bid to the NCAA Tournament and will play Rippon (20-5), this Friday. If the Bears win they will play the winner of Hope (21-6) and Wisconsin-Oshkosh (17-10).
Northwestern (Coaches: RV)
This has been a February to forget for the Wildcats who went just 2-5 for the month. They dropped a pair of road games last week to Illinois and Indiana and now need a win to stop the bleeding. They get a home game against Michigan, who has been playing great of late and Purdue who could be the worst matchup for the Wildcats. Win one of these games and the Cats are dancing, no wins and they might be back on the bubble.