NCAA Tournament Outlook(Pre-conference tournaments)

2019 has been an odd year for men’s college basketball. The conferences that are supposed to have ten teams locked in already only have about five or six. Mid-major conferences usually never get at-large bids, but now we could be looking at two or three of those mid-majors having teams receive at-large bids based on how bad some of the elite basketball conferences have been this year. As conference tournaments kick off tonight with the Atlantic Sun, let’s breakdown the number of teams by conference that I believe are already locked in as of right now and teams that are currently on the bubble(right and wrong side).

American Athletic Conference: 

Locks: (12)Houston, (20)Cincinnati, (25)UCF

Bubble: Temple(right side)

Easily the best year in AAC basketball history. They will have teams in UCF and Houston that I believe will make a lot of noise during March Madness. Temple, at 21-8(11-5 in conference) will be in the tournament with a solid run in the AAC Tournament.

Atlantic-10 Conference:

Locks: VCU(23-6 overall, 14-2 in A-10)

Bubble: Davidson(wrong side)

It has been a rough year for a conference that usually has 2-3 teams locked in by now. VCU should be a lock with their overall body of work. Davidson will need to win the A-10 to solidify their spot in the NCAA Tournament.

ACC:

Locks: (2)Virginia, (3)North Carolina, (4)Duke, (14)Florida State, (15)Virginia Tech, Syracuse

Bubble: Louisville(right side), NC State(wrong side)

Knowing how the committee treats ACC teams, you can guarantee that Syracuse is in regardless of how their last week goes. Louisville, at 19-11 is on the bubble but will be in with a solid final week and conference tournament outing. NC State will need a lot of help to guarantee a spot.

Big 12 Conference:

Locks: (8)Texas Tech, (18)Kansas State, (13)Kansas

Bubble: Baylor(wrong side), Iowa State(right side),

In no way, shape, or form should TCU, Texas, and Oklahoma be considered for the NCAA Tournament unless one of them wins the Big 12.

Big East Conference:

Locks: (23)Villanova, (16)Marquette

Bubble: Georgetown(right side), Xavier(wrong side), St. John’s(wrong side)

Markus Howard can lock up the Naismith Trophy by carrying Marquette to a conference title. Georgetown, Xavier, and St. John’s will need to see drastic changes for them to get into the tournament.

Big Ten Conference:

Locks: (11)Purdue, (7)Michigan, (9)Michigan State, (21)Wisconsin, (24)Maryland, Iowa

Bubble: Ohio State(wrong side), Minnesota(Wrong side)

Iowa should be in regardless of what happens over the next two weeks. Ohio State and Minnesota are both 8-10 in conference. IT IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

Conference USA:

Locks: Old Dominion

This is one of the mid-major conferences that deserve an at-large team. Old Dominion is 23-6 overall and 13-3 in C-USA play. Hopefully, the committee rewards regular season success instead of just giving spots to the power conferences.

MAC:

Locks: (19)Buffalo, Toledo

Bubble: Bowling Green(wrong side)

Another conference that deserves an at-large bid or two. Buffalo has been fantastic minus a couple of slip-ups. Toledo is 23-6 with an 11-5 MAC record, which is better than a lot of the major bubble teams. Bowling Green gets the nod with a 20-9 overall record and a win over Buffalo.

Mountain West:

Locks: Utah State, (17)Nevada

Bubble: San Diego State(wrong side)

Utah State, who is 24-6 overall with a 14-3 conference record and a win over Nevada, should be locked in already. San Diego State also has a win over Nevada, but sit at 19-10 overall, which is not a good look for a mid-major conference.

Pac-12:

Locks: Washington

Bubble: Arizona State(right side….for now)

To say lightly, the Pac-12 has been a disaster this year. Washington should be with a 23-6 record, even though they are 0-3 against teams in the top 25 this year. ASU has had their moments, but six losses in the conference do not bode well for their tourney hopes if they don’t win the Pac-12.

SEC:

Locks: (5)Tennessee, (10)LSU, (6)Kentucky, Mississippi State

Bubble: Auburn(right side), Ole Miss(right side), Florida(wrong side), Alabama(wrong side)

The SEC has been the deepest conference this year, along with the Big Ten. Mississippi State has had a fall off since they started the season hot. Auburn, at 20-9, should be enough. Ole Miss, Florida, and Alabama are going to need to shine in these next two weeks.

Southern:

Locks: (22)Wofford

Bubble: UNC Greensboro(right side), East Tennessee State(wrong side), Furman(wrong side)

The Southern Conference has been better overall than the Pac-12. By the time Selection Sunday comes around, the top four teams will have 25 or more wins. How can you not reward a team that is currently 26-5 with a 15-3 conference record? If it were up to me, the Southern Conference would have four teams locked into the Big Dance, but we know the committee is not that brave.

West Coast Conference:

Locks: Gonzaga

It’s Gonzaga’s conference. Saint Mary’s is not a challenge for them. Cakewalk for the Zags, who will be a one seed this year.

WAC:

Locks: New Mexico State

The Aggies are riding a 15-game win streak with a 26-4 overall record and only one loss in conference. They should be a lock without having to win their conference.

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