Over the next few days, a handful of NCAA tournament bubble teams will make it easy on the selection committee by surging or fading in their respective league tournaments. Here are three teams that really need victories Tuesday as their conference tournaments get underway:
You can talk about how the Huskies emerged from a mediocre 9-9 Big East finish last season to win the conference tournament and then the NCAA tournament. This season, they finally got Coach Jim Calhoun back on the bench, but there’s no Kemba Walker to put the team on his shoulders.
Yes, the Huskies had just an 8-10 league regular season record this season. But they played the nation’s third-strongest schedule and have beaten five RPI top 50 teams, including three on the road or on a neutral court. The Huskies also avoided a loss to DePaul in the opening round of the Big East tournament on Tuesday, a black eye that would have made the selection committee cover their eyes.
Seton Hall (19-11)
The Pirates were well on their way to the NCAA tournament when they suffered a six-game losing streak in conference play in January. But they recovered in February and earned an attention-grabbing victory over Georgetown on Feb. 21.
The problem is they followed the 18-point Georgetown victory with two blunders, an overtime loss at home to Rutgers and an inexplicable 28-point defeat at DePaul. The Pirates watched their RPI drop 30 points. They have four top 50 victories but are teetering. A loss to Providence on Tuesday night would make it easy on the selection committee.
The Flyers had more stumbles than impressive moments in February, and they lost two overtime games that otherwise would have put them in much better position. Let’s be clear: A win Tuesday over George Washington is not going to be enough.
The Flyers need to make a run in the Atlantic 10 tournament. They have three strong top 50 wins - Temple, Saint Louis and Alabama - and they need one or two more to offset earlier losses to woeful Miami (Ohio) and Rhode Island. Assuming the beat the Colonials at home on Tuesday night, the Flyers will need to also beat Xavier on Friday in Atlantic City and may also need another win in the league semifinals — likely against the Billikens — on Saturday.
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