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NCAA Tournament Bubble Watch


Get your dancing shoes out. With just 3 weeks remaining in the regular season portion of the 2008-09 college basketball campaign talk of the NCAA Tournament becomes more and more a matter of serious discussion.

For teams that are sitting ‘on the bubble’ it becomes crunch time and with it the pressure begins to mount. It’s do or die time or better yet, now or never as Elvis would say. And while there are always post-season conference tournaments for most teams to impress the NCAA tournament committee, the truth is most teams’ fate are virtually sealed well before these events tip off. Let me explain.

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Outside of winning a conference tournament the fact of the matter is unless teams own both a winning overall and winning conference record for the season the chance of being invited to the ‘dance’ is slim and remote. Teams who post 20 wins for the season often times find that unles they were a ‘double-winner’ the NCAA is likely to kick them to the curb. And for a lot of the right reasons, we might add. They recognize the fact that 20-win teams that ended up the season with a losing record in conference play likely picked up the bulk of the victories against inferior non-conference competition and it just doesn’t cut the mustard in the panel’s eyes.

With this thought in mind, I present of group of 8 teams from lined conferences that all have a legitimate shot at 20 wins this season who are all currently .500 or worse in conference play heading into the February 21st weekend.

They are:

ACC – Maryland
BIG 12 – Baylor, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M
BIG 10 – Michigan and Minnesota
MVC – Drake
SEC – Vanderbilt

Notice that any of the 8 teams outlined above could catch fire and close out the season a double-winner (20 wins and winning conference log). Their performance to date, however, says otherwise. Collectively, this unit has posted a sterling 36-23-2 ATS mark outside the conference this season. In conference play, though, they are a combined 41-57-1 ATS.

Worse, in conference games when playing off a double-digit win these wannabes are only 6-16 ATS this season. They are at their absolute worst when squaring off against formidable competition where they stand 7-30 SU and 13-24 ATS against .777 or greater foes. Bring them into these games off a loss and they are 4-13 SU and ATS. Put them up against .777 or greater opponents who beat them in their most recent gathering and they are 1-15 SU and 3-13 ATS, including 0-7 SU and ATS in a combined role of playing off a loss and with revenge.

Unless they suddenly change their ways – and I can’t recall the last time a leopard changed its spots – its likely this group of 8 will perform not-so-great under the pressure of having to win over the course of the next three weeks. The heat is on.

Let’s watch and see…

Marc Lawrence has been handicapping sports professionally since 1975 – Check out his weekly picks today here at Capperspicks.com >>>


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