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CBK 99 43 Teams that need big conference tournaments 31626679 Baylor (62nd RPI, 18-13, 9-9 Big 12) Baylor+%2862nd+RPI%2C+18-13%2C+9-9+Big+12%29 CBK

It’s impossible to overstate the impact of Baylor’s obliteration of fourth-ranked Kansas in its final regular-season game. Without that win, Baylor would have had to win the Big 12 tournament to get into the Big Dance with the automatic bid. As it stands, Baylor still has some work to do to prove it belongs. Its season has been filled with lost opportunities. Baylor will get one more opportunity in its first Big 12 tournament game against 13th-ranked Oklahoma State. Win that and Baylor might get in. Win two and it will.

Waco Tribune Herald, Rod Aydelotte - AP Images
CBK 99 43 Teams that need big conference tournaments 31626678 Akron (53rd RPI, 24-6, 14-2 MAC) Akron+%2853rd+RPI%2C+24-6%2C+14-2+MAC%29 CBK

Not long ago, the Zips were the hottest thing in college hoops, having won 19 games in a row, the longest winning streak in the nation. March has not been kind to the Zips. They’ve lost two out of three games, and their starting point guard was arrested on charges of trafficking and possession of marijuana. If they’d won out in the regular season, the Zips could have made a long-shot case for being an at-large team in the tournament, even though they’re from the MAC. As it stands, they’ll need to win their conference tournament — highly unlikely without their starting point guard and with a hot, second-seeded Ohio University team staring them in the face.

Tony Dejak - AP Images
CBK 99 43 Teams that need big conference tournaments 31627687 Iowa State (46th RPI, 21-10, 11-7 Big 12) Iowa+State+%2846th+RPI%2C+21-10%2C+11-7+Big+12%29 CBK

Iowa State should be happy that college basketball relies partially on the eye test instead of following the computer-heavy rankings of BCS football. While its record implies Iowa State would need a win over Oklahoma in its first Big 12 tournament game to get into the NCAA tourney, common sense should mean the committee will look kindly upon ISU’s two overtime losses to Kansas. In one, KU needed a banked-in 3 to force overtime. In the other, the Jayhawks needed an egregious non-call by a ref to force OT. Still, the Cyclones will be feeling a lot calmer on Selection Sunday if they can win at least one game in Kansas City, Mo.

Reese Strickland - USA TODAY Sports
CBK 99 43 Teams that need big conference tournaments 31626676 Ole Miss (56th RPI, 23-8, 12-6 SEC) Ole+Miss+%2856th+RPI%2C+23-8%2C+12-6+SEC%29 CBK

Some years, finishing second in the SEC sounds like a virtual guarantee of playing in March Madness. This is not one of those years. Ole Miss’ best RPI win was over Missouri (33rd in RPI), and Mizzou is incapable of winning on the road. A couple of bad losses to South Carolina and Mississippi State really hurt Ole Miss’ chances at a tournament bid. The Rebels are a three-seed in the SEC tournament, so they’ll have to beat the winner of Missouri-Texas A&M — and might need to win a second game and make the SEC title game — to win over the selection committee.

Kim Klement - USA TODAY Sports
CBK 99 43 Teams that need big conference tournaments 31626675 Minnesota (24th RPI, 20-11, 8-10 Big Ten) Minnesota+%2824th+RPI%2C+20-11%2C+8-10+Big+Ten%29 CBK

The case for Minnesota getting an at-large bid in the NCAA tournament is easy to make, if you pick the right numbers: The Gophers are 24th in RPI. They have the second-toughest schedule in the nation. They knocked Indiana off its perch as the No. 1 team in the country. But consider the other numbers, too: They’re under .500 in their conference, they’re 5-10 since Jan. 12, and they followed up the program’s biggest win in more than two decades by losing to two teams (Nebraska and Purdue) that are not in the top 100 in RPI. If they lose in the first round of the Big Ten tournament, do they still deserve an at-large bid?

Journal & Courier, Alex Farris - AP Images
CBK 99 43 Teams that need big conference tournaments 31626674 Alabama (61st RPI, 20-11, 12-6 SEC) and Tennessee (55th, 19-11, 11-7 SEC) Alabama+%2861st+RPI%2C+20-11%2C+12-6+SEC%29+and+Tennessee+%2855th%2C+19-11%2C+11-7+SEC%29 CBK

Usually bubble math comes with contingencies: Team A can get in if it beats Team B and if Team C also loses. This one is pretty black and white. Tennessee is on our “last four in” list, while Alabama is on the outside looking in. Assuming Tennessee beats Mississippi State (a fair assumption), Alabama and Tennessee will face off in the SEC tournament on Friday in what might be a win-and-in game.

The Tuscaloosa News, Michelle Lepianka Carter/, Julie Bennett - AP Images
CBK 99 43 Teams that need big conference tournaments 31626673 Boise State (37th RPI, 21-10, 9-7 Mountain West) Boise+State+%2837th+RPI%2C+21-10%2C+9-7+Mountain+West%29 CBK

Boise State looks to be the top benefactor of the Mountain West’s inexplicable No. 1 ranking in conference RPI, but the Broncos might have taken a hit with Wednesday's six-point loss to San Diego State in the MWC quarterfinals. The Broncos did beat Creighton in November, a great nonconference win, and beating UNLV, Colorado State and San Diego State — all at home — should count for something. Balance that with a loss to Nevada (167th in RPI) and the Broncos are squarely on the bubble. With Wednesday's setback, the Broncos can only wait until Sunday to see if they receive an at-large bid — and they will have to hope other bubble teams lose and there are no shocking upsets in conference tournament finals.

Matt Cilley - AP Images
CBK 99 43 Teams that need big conference tournaments 31626672 Maryland (79th RPI, 20-11, 8-10 ACC) Maryland+%2879th+RPI%2C+20-11%2C+8-10+ACC%29 CBK

As it stands, Maryland has a lot of work to do in the ACC tournament in Greensboro, NC, to get into the NCAAs. Its season is a story of good home wins (North Carolina State, Duke) and bad road losses (Georgia Tech, Boston College). Making it to the ACC championship game would give the Terrapins a place in March Madness. Given that this team hasn’t fulfilled expectations all year, don’t expect it to start now.

Norm Shafer - AP Images
CBK 99 43 Teams that need big conference tournaments 31626671 Kentucky (50th RPI, 21-10, 12-6 SEC) Kentucky+%2850th+RPI%2C+21-10%2C+12-6+SEC%29 CBK

It’s difficult to pick a more underachieving team than John Calipari’s freshman-laden Kentucky squad. But a home win over 11th-ranked Florida on Saturday marked its biggest statement win since Nerlens Noel’s season-ending injury (even though a home win against Florida isn’t as impressive as it would’ve sounded a month ago). The Wildcats are on the inside of the bubble now, but a loss to a lower-seeded team in their first game of the SEC tournament could change that and knock them out.

James Crisp - AP Images
CBK 99 43 Teams that need big conference tournaments 31626670 Colorado (36th RPI, 21-10, 10-8 Pac-12) Colorado+%2836th+RPI%2C+21-10%2C+10-8+Pac-12%29 CBK

Colorado picked up a nice victory over Oregon State in Wednesday's Pac-12 opening round. Next up for the Buffaloes are the 18th-ranked Arizona Wildcats in a Thursday quarterfinal. After plenty of big regular-season conference wins (over Arizona, Cal, twice over Oregon), you’d think the Buffaloes had punched their tourney ticket. Then they lost to Oregon State, tied for the bottom of the conference, in their regular-season finale. Back to the bubble. The Buffaloes are hoping to make the NCAA tournaments in back-to-back seasons for the first time since the 1960s.

Brennan Linsley - AP Images
CBK 99 43 Teams that need big conference tournaments 31631153 About to burst? About+to+burst%3F CBK

So many teams are teetering on the NCAA tournament bubble. With Selection Sunday rapidly approaching, which teams need big showings at their conference tournaments in order to make the Big Dance? — Reid Forgrave

Note: RPI rankings are through Tuesday.


Mark Zerof - USA TODAY Sports
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