NCAA Basketball Picks: Bubble teams that are in or out

LT Profits Sports Group

Friday, February 22, 2013 5:00 AM GMT

With less than a month left until Selection Sunday, who are the last four teams in or out? Here is our prediction of who will sneak into the 68-team field and who is probably NIT bound.

Selection Sunday for the 2013 NCAA Basketball Tournament is fast approaching on March 17th, when not only those anxiously waiting to fill out their NCAA brackets like the one coming soon to SBR will be glued to their television sets, but so will bubble teams anxious to know their NCAA fate. Here are our NCAA Basketball picks on who will be the last four teams in the 68-team field and who will be the first four teams out.

Of course keep in mind that these predictions would be impacted if some longshots win their conference tournaments, which would especially affect the last four in as each upset automatic bid takes away an available spot.

As fate would have it, our first four teams out are all from the six major conferences whereas only one of our last four teams in is a major conference team, so hopefully the NCAA selection committee will also embrace the philosophy of rewarding teams for what they have done on the court as opposed to their conference affiliations.

So without further ado, here are last four in and first four out for the 2013 NCAA Tournament .

Last Four In
La Salle Explorers: The Explorers just lost on the road at Temple, but we still feel that they deserve to be the fourth Atlantic 10 team to make the Big Dance. The top three teams in the conference, Saint Louis, VCU and Butler, are basically assured NCAA bids and then these Explorers are currently tied with Xavier for fourth place in the conference. The difference is that Xavier has bee unable to beat any of the Big Three, while La Salle has wins over Butler and VCU with the latter impressively coming on the road! The Explorers also have a win over Villanova in non-conference play and they are 4-1 in their first five games in February, which is important because the committee likes to take teams in good current form. La Salle projects to finish 19-10 in the regular season and another win or two in the Atlantic 10 Tournament should clinch their spot.

Ohio Bobcats: The general consensus is that the MAC leaders from Akron are assured a tourney berth whether they win the MAC Tournament or not, so if the Zips do win the conference tournament, the question becomes whether or not the committee wants to take a second MAC team. Well, Ohio is 20-6 as of this writing and 11-1 in the MAC with the only loss coming at Akron, and the Bobcats are close to Akron on the Pomeroy Ratings are they are 61st overall while the Zips are 52nd. Those are clearly the two best teams in the conference in a landslide and yet Akron seems to be a sure thing to get in and Ohio is considered to be on the fence? Our feeling as that as long as the Bobcats do not get upset early in the conference tournament, they should get a chance to try and duplicate what they did last season when Ohio upset Michigan in the second round of the Big Dance.

Mississippi Rebels: Our feeling in regards to the SEC this season is that Florida and Missouri are obviously in and that then the committee will likely choose two teams from among Kentucky, Mississippi and Alabama. We get that Kentucky lost Nerlens Noel for the season, but like it or not, the Wildcat name brand and them being the defending national champions probably gets them in as long as they do not completely collapse without Noel. So now it comes down to Old Miss and Alabama and Mississippi is ranked 45th overall on the Pomeroy Ratings, while Alabama is ranked 77th. Yes, we get that the Rebels are 2-5 following a 17-2 start, but they could rectify that rather easily as they have an easy remaining five games with the toughest game being vs. Alabama at home in what could turn out to be a pseudo play-in game. If that is indeed the case, Ole Miss has lost just one home game all season, to Kentucky.

Denver Pioneers: We already know that this is our most controversial choice and the Pioneers are literally our last team in. Denver certainly plays at its own pace, ranking 346th out of 347 Division I teams with 59.0 possessions per game, but it is a joy to watch the Pioneers almost always work for the best possible shot at the end of those possessions, as they lead the entire country in two-point shooting percentage at 57.1 percent! Denver has even learned to win on the road this season, which is why the Pioneers are in second place in the WAC behind only Louisiana Tech with a 13-2 conference mark.. Just Denver’s style alone would make it interesting to watch against one of the big boys.

First Four Out
Virginia Cavaliers: Believe it or not, Virginia is somehow still ranked 20th overall on the Pomeroy Ratings. Yes, the Cavaliers are 18-8, they played the Miami Hurricanes tough a few days ago and they beat North Carolina at home. What has us leaving them out of the Big Dance though is the fact that they have so many bad losses. Obviously losing to Miami and also to North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the rematch is no big deal, but check out Virginia’s other six losses along with the current Pomeroy Rating of the teams: George Mason (132nd), Delaware (163rd), Old Dominion (259th), Wake Forest (134th), Clemson (86th) and Georgia Tech (82nd). We are sorry, but a team with that many bad losses does not deserve to be in the NCAA Tournament, as we feel those losses offset the wins over North Carolina, NC State and also Wisconsin in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

Villanova Wildcats: Villanova made some noise last month with back-to-back upsets of Louisville and Syracuse, but the Wildcats have come back to earth since then. Now Villanova is not a bad team, but besides those two upsets, the Cats have just one other win all year vs. a team ranked in the top 80 on Pomeroy and that was over a Connecticut team that is not eligible for the post-season and was in a letdown spot after its own upset of Syracuse. Getting swept by Providence and losing by 18 points at home to Columbia do not help Villanova’s cause either. The Wildcats are also held back by ranking 197th in effective field goal percentage, 294th in offensive turnover percentage and 266th in two-point shooting at a mere 45.2 percent.

Baylor Bears: Baylor was once 14-5 this season, but the Bears are 2-5 since then while beating only a couple of bad teams in Texas Tech and West Virginia, they are losing with alarming regularity at home lately and they may have even more losses on the horizon with upcoming games vs. Kansas, Kansas State and Oklahoma. Plus, even during the 14-5 start, they lost at home to 151st ranked College of Charleston and 117th ranked Northwestern. Baylor is feeling the pinch this season from losing both Perry Jones III and Quincy Acy off of the team that went to the Elite Eight before losing to Kentucky last season.

Alabama Crimson Tide: As mentioned earlier, we gave the nod to Mississippi over the Crimson Tide for what we feel will be the last spot for an SEC that is the weakest of the six major conferences according to Pomeroy. Alabama may be 18-8, but its best win this season came at home by four points over Kentucky, as its only other win over a team ranked higher that 70th in the Pomeroy Ratings was over Villanova. The Tide are an awful shooting team that ranks 167th in offensive efficiency, 192nd in effective field goal percentage and 162nd in offensive turnover percentage. Even the defense is not as good as it was last year, and that is while facing a weaker schedule.