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For the nation’s top-ranked men’s college basketball teams, Selection Sunday is a day of validation. it solidifies their position as a major threat to enter the NCAA tournament and win it all.
And then there are the “bubble teams,” the ones that have to scrap at the end of the regular season for a resume good enough to get in.
Depending on how one looks at it, though, those teams can be the most dangerous in the entire field, because they managed to find a way to come together and gel at the right time to warrant one of the 36 at-large bids to the Big Dance.
Ready for March Madness?
Here’s a look at a few teams that are on the bubble and ready to add their own brand of magic to the best three weeks in sports.
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For SMU (20-7, 11-4 AAC), one loss shouldn’t be the end of the line.
After winning four of their last five games, the Mustangs lost to the Houston Cougars 75-61.
This is the same team they beat just a few weeks ago, but now with the loss, they sit in second place in the American Athletic Conference one game ahead of Memphis.
But with two games left in the regular season against Cincinnati and Tulane, SMU can end their season on a high note and hope to get the call.
They are led by Kendric Davis, who is averaging 19.3 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game and they still believe they can punch their ticket to the Dance.
“We are disappointed, and it was a great opportunity, but we have a lot to play for,” Jankovich told the Associated Press via Chron.com. “We’re trying to finish as high as we can. We are trying to hold our home court streak (14-0 at home this season). We are trying to get a bid if the tournament doesn’t work out. … It’s not like this was an all or nothing game. There’s a lot of important basketball ahead.”
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Clinching a top-4 seed in the ACC tournament is always a good sign for a team on the bubble.
That’s where Notre Dame (21-8, 14-4 ACC) finds itself after blowing out Georgia Tech 90-56 on Saturday.
With the Fighting Irish winning seven of their last eight games, they are the definition of a team on a roll.
Led by breakout freshman Blake Wesley and Dane Goodwin, Notre Dame just needs to finish out the regular season strong and make a deep run in the ACC tourney and they’ll most likely get that invite to the NCAA.
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Creighton’s six-game winning streak came to a screeching halt with a 72-51 loss to Providence on Saturday.
But that doesn’t mean the Bluejays (19-9, 11-6) aren’t headed to the tourney.
“We played an NCAA Tournament team and they caught us on a good day,” Providence coach Ed Cooley told ESPN. “There’s a lot of emotion, but I don’t know if there’s a better college basketball environment in the country.”
Freshman guard Ryan Nembhard is out for the rest of the season recovering from surgery on his right wrist, so they’ll have to rely on fellow freshman Trey Alexander to handle the ball and run the offense.
Considering the fact that Creighton’s six-game winning streak came against top-25 teams, they just need to finish the regular season strong to get a berth.
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Belmont won 10 straight before falling to Murray State 76-43 last week.
But the Bruins (25-6, 15-3 OVC) did rebound against Tennessee State on Saturday with a 87-67 win. And while they’ll most likely miss out on an automatic bid because of the Racers’ hold on the Ohio Valley Conference race, they should still find their way in.
Junior Ben Shepard and senior Nick Muszynski lead the team with marksmen-like accuracy, shooting 50.3 and 57.2 percent from the field, respectively.
Obviously, this team can shoot, so if they get in, watch out.
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VCU has won seven games in a row and 10 of their last 11.
The Rams (20-7, 13-3 Atlantic 10) are still behind Davidson in the conference, but they could still improve their resume with a strong showing in the A-10 tournament.
They earned a double-bye, so there’s a good chance that they could win it outright.
If they do get an invite, this is a team that could shock some power conference stalwarts.