One of the most interesting things prior to the start of the NCAA Tournament is to see and analyze which teams are “on the bubble” when it comes to reaching a spot in The Big Dance. This year isn’t any different, and despite the shortened season due to the COVID-19 campaign, there are quite a few bubble teams to watch entering the final days prior to Selection Sunday and in the Tournaments for each Conference.
We will focus on three teams here — the St. Bonaventure Bonnies, the Michigan State Spartans, and the Seton Hall Pirates.
The Bonnies ended at the top of the Atlantic 10 standings with an 11-4 conference record and a 15-4 overall record, but it remains to be seen whether that will be enough to make it to the NCAA Tournament — if they don’t win the A10 Tourney, of course. Fortunately for them, they are just one game from determining whether they will earn an automatic berth or not since they reached the A-10 Tournament final, where they will meet the VCU Rams. That game will probably determine St. Bonaventure’s season outcome, but they should be considered as safe based on what they’ve done thus far. They have two Quadrant 1 and that might not be enough, but a top-30 non-conference strength of schedule and top-30 NET score will be difference-makers on Selection Sunday.
The Spartans are coming off a massive 70-64 win over Michigan in their regular-season finale and undoubtedly boosted their chances of securing a spot in the NCAA Tournament this year — that was in doubt earlier this year when they dealt with a COVID-19 outbreak while losing four games in a row. Now, Michigan State ended the season in a strong run of form with five wins in their last seven contests — that streak included wins over three Top-10 ranked teams such as Illinois (#5), Ohio State (#4), and Michigan (#2), while the losses came against the Wolverines and against Maryland. Selection Sunday will be key for them, but all signs point towards the Spartans cracking the NCAA Tournament field due to their impressive late-season surge.
The Pirates are 13-12 this season and are just 10-9 in conference play this season, meaning their results in the Big East Tournament will be key to determine what happens with their NCAA Tournament chances. Seton Hall is coming off a disappointing 81-71 loss against St. John’s on Saturday night and finished their regular-season campaign with four straight defeats, so all of their eggs will be in the Tourney basket — where they will face St. John’s against on Thursday. To make things even more complicated for Seton Hall, they have posted a 3-7 record against Quad 1 teams this season. Seton Hall will need to deliver an exceptional Big East Tournament performance because otherwise, their chances of not playing in March Madness are getting more and more real.
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