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NCAA March Madness: Who Will Make It To The Tournament?

March Madness

12th of March will be a usual Sunday for many people, but not for college basketball teams who will cross their fingers and wait for the desired announcement on Selection Sunday. NCAA will award at-large berths to 36 teams who will make it to the March Madness tournament. While there are 32 automatic bids for the winners of the conferences, all the other teams will have to wait until that day to find out whether their names are on NCAA list or not.

Speculations rise and hundreds of predictions are made about the possible winners of this lottery, so let’s find out who have the highest chances of getting the “one-way ticket to the moon” and becoming the bubble teams of the tournament.

There are two teams, that will almost certainly play in the March tournament providing that they show the real basketball they are able to play: Michigan State Spartans and Alabama Crimson Tide.

Michigan State are on a good run of form and looked strong enough in their first encounter. Despite the fact that the Spartans still have some tough tests left, they look determined to claim their place in the tournament. Only one victory in the remaining three games can be enough for them to qualify.

Jan 7, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Michigan State Spartans guard Cassius Winston (5) high-fives guard Alvin Ellis III (3) during the second half against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Palestra. Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama Crimson Tide may lack consistency at some point, but their chances are still high enough for not losing sleep and having positive expectations. They have two home games left out of three. It’s true, that every game is a must-win for them at the moment, but Nick Saban’s men are pretty much confident in their abilities.

5 other teams are in the game for now: Providence Friars, Dayton Flyers, California Golden Bears, VCU Rams, Seton Hall Pirates.

Providence Friars have managed to grab victories in three big games in a row, beating Butler, Creighton and Xavier. Providence are yet to compete with Marquette and DePaul at home, and then visit St. John’s. It’s the most decisive and important point of the journey for them, as they now need to win the games they have to.

Dayton Flyers are atop of the Atlantic 10 conference along with the Rams. The Flyers will have to play VCU Rams which promises to be an entertaining affair. However, they should find their names on NCAA list unless they make a big mistake in the two other remaining matches.

The Golden Bears are one of the most unpredictable teams that have high chances of getting a place in the tournament. They have won 8 out of 9 games and then managed somehow to lose 3 straight matches, especially after the Oregon game, when they had a 16-point lead at a home game and let it vanish. They have to avoid big losses now in order to be sure about the participation in the March Madness.

Nov 23, 2015; Berkeley, CA, USA; California Golden Bears forward Ivan Rabb (1) reacts after a Sam Houston State Bearkats basket during the second half at Haas Pavilion. The California Golden Bears defeated the Sam Houston State Bearkats 89-63. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

VCU Rams are top of the table in A-10 with Dayton and look pretty good at home, though they have allowed a few unfortunate matches on the road, such as defeats at Illinois and Fordham. While there aren’t chances of getting some higher quality victories in the conference, they need to be cautious and avoid big losses.

Seton Hall Pirates are dealing with the same problem as the Friars do, as they managed to beat conference leaders on two occasions out of three possible, and now need to claim victories in the games where they are the firm favorites.

Several teams are still wandering on the border and are yet to find a way to get a pass to the tournament. Michigan Wolverines, Arkansas Razorbacks, Kansas State Wildcats, TCU Horned Frogs and Ole Miss Rebels are looking to use the final games to impress the selection committee as they haven’t done it yet, despite not having heavy losses. These are the teams that have had constant displays throughout the season, though their basketball hasn’t made the fans go crazy so far. They have barely managed to take victories from the games against top-50 or top-100 teams which complicate the situation for them. Three games, three finals…

Dec 21, 2016; Syracuse, NY, USA; Syracuse Orange assistant coach Mike Hopkins (L) and forward Tyler Roberson (C) and assistant coach Adrian Autry (R) react from the bench against the St. John's Red Storm during the second half at the Carrier Dome. St. John's won 93-60. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Other contenders to enter the 36-team list have to push really hard to deserve the call. Marquette Golden Eagles, Syracuse Orange, Rhode Island Rams, Boise State Broncos, Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders, Illinois State Redbirds, Nevada Wolfpack, UT-Arlington Mavericks, Wichita State Shockers and Wake Forest Demon Deacons are those teams that haven’t played really well against top competition and have poor statistics. However, history recalls many cases when such teams were selected by the committee at the end, so they should just work and keep fingers crossed with a hope of gaining three victories in the remaining matches. However, even these three victories will not guarantee a place in the March Madness for them, as the final say will be that of the NCAA committee members.

Some of these teams already count the hours and wait for the Selection Sunday with a feeling that the job is already done while others still have to work hard. Some other teams didn’t make it to our list but may deserve a ticket in the upcoming 2 weeks. Hence, let’s keep our eyes on the final rounds before March 12thannouncement arrives.