This is an important time of year because teams are running out of time to get the wins they need to get in the tournament. The bubble is starting to shrink as teams either get more comfortably in the bracket or start to slide too far away. Still it is not too late for a team to join the bubble from either end.
One thing we may not see much of this season is potential bid-stealers. There are only a few non-major conferences where the likely regular-season champion is potentially at-large quality.
The most obvious of those is the American Athletic Conference, where Houston rules the roost. Memphis is a potential at-large team as well, but anyone else would have to win its way in. It is possible such a team could steal Memphis' bid, but it could also be that of some other bubble team.
FAU is having a great season in Conference USA, but to remain an at-large candidate, the Owls would have to lose in the conference tournament to either UAB or North Texas. Even then, an at-large spot would not be assured.
It would be considered quite an upset if someone besides Gonzaga or Saint Mary's won the West Coast Conference Tournament, although LMU did beat both teams during the regular season.
Oral Roberts is in the top 50 of the NET and only has Quad 1 losses, but its best win and only win above Quad 3 came at home to Liberty, which is Quad 2. Any loss in the conference tournament would be no better than Quad 3. That is probably not going to work out for the Golden Eagles to be an at-large team.
Of course, bids can be stolen in power conferences also. Virginia Tech stole Dayton's bid last season by winning the ACC Tournament.
NCAA Tournament locks
Locks based on résumé: 18 | Bids secured: 0 | At-large spots remaining: 36
On the cutline
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Check out all the teams on Palm's Bubble Watch, the field of the 68 and the entire bracket on the Bracketology hub
Bubble teams in action Saturday
| Vs. Kansas State, 2 p.m. | ESPNU, fuboTV (Try for free) – The Cowboys have a chance to pick up some high quality wins on their home floor coming up. After this one, they host Baylor before finishing at Texas Tech. Oklahoma State is 4-9 vs. Quad 1 and have three losses below that. They are also below .500 already against the top three quadrants, so they need to pick up a couple more wins either in the regular season or in the Big 12 Tournament. |
| Vs. Texas A&M, 3:30 p.m. | SEC Network, fuboTV (Try for free) – The Bulldogs are just 3-7 against Quad 1 teams and this is their final chance to add to that win total in the regular season. After this, all they can do is hurt themselves until they get to the SEC Tournament. This is a big opportunity on their home floor. |
|At Kentucky, 4 p.m. | CBS, CBSSports.com, CBS Sports App (Free) – Auburn is on this list because the Tigers are just 2-7 against Quad 1 teams and have two losses below that group. That would not be a problem if their finishing schedule wasn't at Kentucky, at Alabama, home to Tennessee. Losing all of those would not be a surprise, but then the Tigers are looking at 2-10 vs. Quad 1 entering the conference tournament and needing to do some work there.|
| At Kansas, 4 p.m. | ESPN, fuboTV (Try for free) – The Mountaineers sit at 16-12 overall, 10-12 against the top three quadrants. They finish the season at Kansas, Iowa State and home to Kansas State. Yikes. Then they get to go to the conference tournament. An 0-4 finish to the season is not out of the question, but making the NCAA Tournament with such a finish is. West Virginia has to find a way to at least one more win and likely two to get an at-large bid. |
| Vs. Virginia, 6 p.m. | ESPN, fuboTV (Try for free) – It's put up or shut up time for North Carolina. The Tar Heels are 0-9 vs. Quad 1 opposition and this is the only certain Quad 1 game left in the regular season. There is a chance the home finale with Duke will be as well. I think UNC needs a minimum of two Quad 1 wins to have a chance to get selected for the NCAA Tournament. |
| Vs. Notre Dame, 7 p.m. | ACC Network, fuboTV (Try for free) – Wake Forest is below .500 against Quads 1-3, so the Demon Deacons need to shore that up. Unfortunately, only the season-ending road game at Syracuse is not a Quad 4 game. Wake is looking to avoid disaster and live to fight another day. |
| At San Jose State, 7 p.m. – The Broncos have a couple of chances to build next week as the regular season concludes. This game is about taking care of business. Boise State already has half of its losses outside of Quad 1. It does not need any more. |
| At Utah, 8 p.m. | ESPNU, fuboTV (Try for free) – USC is just 2-5 against Quad 1 opposition but one of those wins is the home game with UCLA. The Trojans also have one loss in each of the other quadrants, which is the primary reason they are on the bubble. This would also be a Quad 1 win, but the Utes are not going to the NCAA Tournament without a Pac-12 Tournament championship. |
| Vs. San Diego State, 10 p.m. | CBS Sports Network (Channel finder | CBSSports.com | CBS Sports App) – New Mexico already beat the Aztecs in San Diego. Now the Lobos need to do it again. They did some serious damage to their tournament résumé with recent back to back losses to Air Force and Wyoming when they were without PG Jaelin House. This is a good chance to start making up for that. |
All references to NCAA Tournament selection records and trends refer only to tournaments going back to 1994 with the exception of 2021. Due to shortened schedules and a relatively small number of nonconference games in 2021, those rankings were not reliable enough to be considered.