These last two weeks before Selection Sunday and the beginning of the NCAA Tournament is an extremely exciting and nerve-racking time for fans of teams whose tournament hopes could be swayed by an upset in a league where you can't even name a single player. It stings, but my goal here is to look at the remaining bubble teams to try and provide both a sense of what to watch for down the stretch. With that, let's take a look at Michigan and their bubble counterparts:
American: With SMU being ineligible for the postseason, one of these teams presumably will win their conference tournament. If one doesn't? Well, then things get dicey. Cincinnati has six top-100 wins, but their most impressive to date is Tulsa and they could fall out of the RPI top-50. UConn beat Michigan earlier in the season, as well as Texas, Ohio State and SMU, so the Huskies should be on the right side of the bubble, especially if they can pick up a major victory at SMU on Thursday.
Temple has 12 conference wins and beat SMU as well, and the sweeps of UConn and Cincinnati look great despite losses to Memphis and South Carolina. Tulsa has the best RPI of this group, and wins over SMU and Wichita State could be enough to get this group in. I have absolutely no idea how this four team race will play out, but presumably the American will get two or three into the field.
ACC: Syracuse is an interesting case, as their play with or without Jim Boeheim will be heavily discussed on Selection Sunday. Wisconsin beat them earlier this year, and even though they do have seven top-100 wins, losses to Georgetown and St. John's are major black eyes. Saturday's road test at Florida State could provide another top-100 RPI victory, or could have the Orange sliding to the wrong side of the bubble. They're in for now, but lose to FSU and one more and could be out.
Atlantic 10: I don't totally understand the vibe around the Atlantic 10. Could a team like Penn State or Northwestern conceivably stroll into the conference and grab ten wins in their first season? I truly don't know the answer, but what I do know is that the A-10 bubble is cluttered as usual. St. Bonaventure has an RPI of 35 with wins over Saint Joseph's and Dayton, but losses to Duquesne and La Salle really hurt. Saint Joseph's at home on Wednesday night could help the Bonnies play their way into the field, but also could play them out with a loss.
George Washington only has four top-100 wins, but it includes a major home victory against Virginia. Saturday's game at Davidson could loom large for tournament implications, especially in picking up another top-100 victory. Right now, I see both of these teams as out, especially because losing can harm them way more than winning can help them at this point.
Big 12: Texas, Michigan's most impressive non-conference win, is the gift that keeps on giving. The Longhorns find themselves comfortably in, looking somewhere around a five to seven seed. The only Big 12 bubble team is Texas Tech, with a conference record of 8-8 despite playing in the toughest conference in America. Seven top-100 wins is great, but if they drop their final two, an 8-10 conference record might not be taken too kindly. They're in for now, unless they drop three straight and find themselves on the wrong side of the bubble again.
Big East: A few months ago, Providence was cruising to a high seed in the tournament with star Kris Dunn. Now, the Friars find themselves squarely on the bubble. They sit at 8-8 in the Big East with wins over Arizona and Villanova, but a pretty lackluster resume besides for that. Losses to DePaul and Marquette twice really hurt, and ending with Creighton and St. John's are must wins to keep their tournament hopes alive.
Butler is the other team, and a win over Seton Hall tonight would do wonders for their resume. They have that same 8-8 mark in conference, but not a major key win. Butler could play their way in, and Providence their way out, which is ultimately what I see happening.
Big Ten: While Michigan has been sweating out results and losing games that would have been a major boost for the resume, Wisconsin keeps winning. Barring a major end of season collapse, the Badgers are definitely in and are now playing for seeding. The only other Big Ten team left is Ohio State, who could have 11 conference wins but some horrible early season losses. For now, I see Michigan in and Ohio State out, but things can change down the stretch.
Missouri Valley: This only applies if Wichita State doesn't win the MVC title, and stranger things have happened. They've beaten Utah, but both Evansville and Northern Iowa could conceivably fall out of the top-100 giving the Shockers only one top-100 victory. In that case, the committee would very likely rule Wichita State out.
Pac-12: The league seems to be a pretty good bet for at least seven teams this season, but Oregon State, Washington and Stanford are all vying for bids as well. The Beavers have nine top-100 victories and no really bad losses, and games against USC and UCLA coming up could catapult them into the tournament. Stanford doesn't have any bad losses either, and traveling to the desert to play Arizona State and Arizona this week could knock them out with a loss or two. Washington is pretty much done, but the committee loves their eight top-100 wins. I think Oregon State could sneak in, but Washington and Stanford are pretty much done.
SEC: Kentucky's win over Florida should be enough to knock out the Gators, leaving LSU and Alabama as the two SEC teams on the bubble. Alabama has games remaining against Arkansas and Georgia, and need to win both to keep their tournament hopes alive. LSU is pretty much done despite seven top-100 victories, but six losses above the RPI-100 is a bad look, and I think ultimately both teams miss out.
West Coast: Gonzaga and Saint Mary's will be battling for the conference tournament crown as the top two seeds, and it's very likely the winner could be the only bid for the conference. Saint Mary's does have six top-100 wins despite none of them being in the top-50, but two losses against Pepperdine really sting. Gonzaga has three top-100 wins, with none being in the top-50 as well. Ultimately, I think this is a one-bid league coming from the conference winner.
Overall, Michigan is in pretty good shape considering how horribly weak this bubble is. The magic number for losses is 14 to essentially knock a team out for an at-large bid, and a number of teams on this list are close. For a succinct list of teams you want to lose in the next two weeks, here it is: Tulsa, Temple, Cincinnati, UConn, Syracuse, St. Bonaventure, George Washington, Texas Tech, Providence, Butler, Ohio State, Oregon State, Washington, Stanford, LSU, Alabama. Happy March!