Selection Sunday will finally rear its beautiful head on March 12, which just so happens to be this Sunday. What does that mean for college basketball fans? Well, it simply means the real fun is about to begin in the form of the 2017 NCAA tournament. It also means it is now or never for bubble teams far and wide.
With Selection Sunday right around the corner, let’s take a look at five bubble teams that appear to be doomed ahead of the unveiling of the ultimate bracket.
Reminder: Miracles tend to happen in college basketball, especially this time of the year, so every team on this list theoretically has a shot. Also, there are plenty of other teams that have bubble written all over them. These are just five squads that are on the verge of missing out on the Big Dance festivities.
Syracuse Orange: 18-14 (10-8 ACC)
The biggest knock on the Syracuse Orange? They have 14 losses on the season — they are only four games over 0.500, folks! Not only that, but they have already been eliminated from the ACC tournament, meaning they no longer control their own destiny. While other bubble teams — and there are a good amount of them — are alive and battling it out for a conference tournament championship, the Orange are done. They are now playing the waiting game, an agonizing contest every single time.
There are two sides to every bubble story, though. For example, yes, Syracuse might have its fair share of losses, but it has also taken down the Florida State Seminoles (ranked No. 6 at the time), Virginia Cavaliers (ranked No. 9 at the time), and Duke Blue Devils (ranked No. 10 at the time).
The Orange might look down and out when it comes to dancing, but if they do find a way to sneak in, they have already proven that they can take down any team in college hoops.
At the time of writing, the Orange are part of ESPN’s Joe Lunardi’s last four times in.
USC Trojans: 24-8 (10-8 Pac-12)
The USC Trojans are still alive and well in the Pac-12 tourney. With that said, they will take on the UCLA Bruins next, a team that is ranked No. 3 in college hoops. Therefore, if USC somehow finds a way to pull off the upset, it will be doing itself a huge favor when it comes to making the 2017 NCAA tournament.
Here’s one rather important thing to keep in mind: The Trojans have already taken down the Bruins once this season. For all it’s worth, they are also riding a three-game winning streak.
If you are a believer of Lunardi’s bracket (why wouldn’t you be, because the man is a bracketology genius), then you are likely feeling pretty good about where USC stands. As of right now, the Trojans would get one of the last four bye spots — according to Lunardi, of course.
If they lose against UCLA, which is expected by many, then who knows where the Trojans will stand.
California Golden Bears: 20-11 (10-8 Pac-12)
Here’s yet another Pac-12 team riding the bubble wave.
Not only are the California Golden Bears still alive, but they also have a much easier draw in their next contest — well, compared to USC, that is — which will be played against the unranked Utah Utes.
When it comes to head-to-head action, Cal has already taken down USC. Still, the Golden Bears find themselves as a next-four-out team, according to Lunardi. Translation: They need to go on a serious winning streak to sneak into the dance. That tends to be the case when a team has lost five out of its last seven games this late in the season.
If California knocks off Utah, it will more than likely play the Oregon Ducks next. If the Golden Bears win that contest, then we will talk.
Illinois Fighting Illini: 18-13 (8-10 Big Ten)
The Illinois Fighting Illini will take on the Michigan Wolverines next, a team that they split the season series with.
The bottom line for the Fighting Illini: They need some wins. Not only did they have a losing record in conference play, but they also lost to Rutgers in their last contest. The Scarlet Knights finished last in the Big Ten standings with a 3-15 record.
Luckily for Illinois, the calendar has already turned over to March, a month in which anything is possible (hence the name March Madness). As of right now, Illinois is part of the first-four-out group, according to Lunardi.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons: 19-13 (9-9 ACC)
The Wake Forest Demon Deacons have “doomed” written all over them when it comes to dancing in the 2017 NCAA tournament. Wake Forest might be one of the last four teams in at the time of writing (via Lunardi), but they have already been knocked out of the ACC tourney.
Now all Wake Forest can do is sit around and wait for its name to be called (or not called) on Selection Sunday. If the season ended today, then the Demon Deacons would likely be in — but it doesn’t. Wake Forest plays in the best conference in America, and that might be enough to get this squad into the dance. Nonetheless, this is yet another team that will be sweating it out on Selection Sunday.
Time will tell, but NCAA tournament bubbles are bursting everywhere.
[Featured Image by Al Bello/Getty Images]