College basketball bubble tracker: Several Big East teams hanging in limbo for men's tournament

Villanova Wildcats forward Eric Dixon (43) controls the ball against Butler Bulldogs guard Jahmyl Telfort (11) and forward Jalen Thomas (1) during the second half at William B. Finneran Pavilion. Both teams are on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament.
Villanova Wildcats forward Eric Dixon (43) controls the ball against Butler Bulldogs guard Jahmyl Telfort (11) and forward Jalen Thomas (1) during the second half at William B. Finneran Pavilion. Both teams are on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament.

It's not out of this world to say the Big East has some serious national title contenders in defending champion Connecticut, Marquette and surging Creighton.

But when it comes to having several NCAA men's tournament teams, that's a different story.

Four teams from the conference − Butler, Seton Hall, Villanova and Providence − have their tournament hopes hanging in the balance, with Butler being the only one of the quartet projected to make the field in the latest USA TODAY Sports Bracketology prediction. The other three teams are among the first or next four teams projected to miss the tournament.

All bubble teams in the Big East can say they have solid Quad 1 wins, including against the national championship contenders in the conference. But offsetting those major victories are some questionable losses (looking at you, Villanova) that will be something the tournament selection committee will be weighing when it comes to who is in and who is out.

The Big East isn't alone when it comes to having several squads hanging on the fringes of a tournament spot; the Mountain West is loaded, the SEC crowded and the Pac-12 is in danger of sending just two teams. Safe to say, there aren't many teams safe.

Here is a look at what teams sit on the bubble of the tournament, and what could result in them making − or missing − the tournament on Selection Sunday:

American Athletic

Southern Methodist

Record: 19-8 (10-4). NET: 40. Quad 1 record: 0-3.

SMU had won six consecutive games before Thursday's loss to Florida Atlantic, but has no Quad 1 wins with Quad 3 losses to Arizona State and Wichita State. By missing an opportunity to beat the Owls, a run deep into the conference tournament likely is the only shot for the Mustangs to get in at-large..

Projection: Outside the next four out.


Wake Forest

Record: 17-9 (9-6). NET: 27. Quad 1 record: 1-5.

After starting off conference play 3-0, the Demon Deacons have been up-and-down while being unable to secure a victory against a Quad 1 team. However, the recent success of Florida has benefited Wake Forest, who they beat in November and is the lone Quad 1 victory for the team. A chance to add to that total comes Saturday against Duke.

Projection: First four out.


Record: 17-9 (8-7). NET: 57. Quad 1 record: 3-5.

Pittsburgh got itself into the tournament conversation when it won seven out of eight while notching three Quad 1 wins against Duke, Virginia and Wake Forest in the process. Adding to the profile is that the first two were on the road. However, the recent blowout loss to Wake Forest stops the momentum the Panthers have been building.

Projection: Next four out.

Big East


Record: 16-11 (7-9). NET: 62. Quad 1 record: 4-10.

Four Quad 1 wins and no bad losses is why Butler is in the field for now, but the 10 losses in the category is very telling of a team that hasn’t been able to fully capitalize on several opportunities. The Bulldogs have lost three in a row and a win Saturday at Seton Hall could keep them in the field over the Pirates.

Projection: No. 11 seed.

Seton Hall

Record: 17-9 (10-5). NET: 65. Quad 1 record: 5-5.

The five-game win streak to start January that included Quad 1 wins over Providence, Marquette and Butler was massive in getting Seton Hall in tournament consideration that is also boosted by one of the best wins in the country against Connecticut. But the 2-2 record against Quad 3 opponents, with losses to Southern California and Rutgers, remains a thorn in the side of the Pirates.

Projection: No. 11 seed (last four in).


Record: 15-11 (8-7). NET: 34. Quad 1 record: 3-6.

The Wildcats have a high NET ranking and have won three-in-a-row, but they’ve lost six consecutive games to Quad 1 opponents. It’ll only get tougher with four of their last five regular season games falling into the Q1 category. Plus, the three Quad 3 losses to Philadelphia Big 5 teams are looming large.

Projection: First four out.


Record: 18-9 (9-7). NET: 56. Quad 1 record: 5-6.

Kim English has his team going in the right direction with its recent win at Xavier giving the Friars their fifth Quad 1 win and moving up five spots in the NET rankings. Two of the Friar’s last four regular-season games are against Quad 1 teams, which could move Providence toward a tournament spot.

Projection: Next four out.

Big Ten


Record: 19-8 (10-6). NET: 55. Quad 1 record: 4-6.

The win against Purdue is an impressive mark on its resume, but the Quad 4 loss to Chicago State less than two weeks later nearly offsets it. Regardless, a 9-7 record against Quad 1 and 2 opponents is strong enough to give the Wildcats a spot despite a high NET ranking.

Projection: No. 10 seed.


Record: 19-8 (9-7). NET: 43. Quad 1 record: 3-7.

Like Northwestern, Nebraska can hang its hat on beating Purdue being its best win, the only difference is Nebraska has no bad losses. The Quad 1 record isn’t ideal and the Cornhuskers only have the road contest at Ohio State left to add to it, but a favorable end of the regular season schedule spells good things for Nebraska, as long as it results in wins.

Projection: No. 11 seed (last four in).

Big 12


Record: 16-10 (5-8). NET: 45. Quad 1 record: 3-6.

Cincinnati doesn’t have the record of a typical tournament team, but that’s a product of just how deep the Big 12 is. However, the disappointing performances in Quad 3 games, which the Bearcats are now 3-2 in, losing to West Virginia and Oklahoma State, who are at the bottom of the conference.

Projection: First four out.

Mountain West

Colorado State

Record: 20-7 (8-6). NET: 26. Quad 1 record: 3-6.

The Rams have the third best NET ranking in the Mountain West behind San Diego State and New Mexico, both of which are teams Colorado State beat. They also have a neutral win over Creighton in their back pocket. But what’s hurting Colorado State is it's currently in the bottom half of the Mountain West and has a Quad 3 loss to Wyoming.

Projection: No. 9 seed.

Boise State

Record: 18-8 (9-4). NET: 35. Quad 1 record: 5-4.

The Broncos are one of three teams with at least five Quad 1 wins in the Mountain West, alongside San Diego State and Nevada. The early season win over Saint Mary’s is certainly a strength on the resume, while the worst loss is a Quad 3 home defeat to UNLV. Still, the Broncos remain in the hunt for a regular season conference title, which should be a big boost to tournament hopes.

Projection: No. 10 seed.


Record: 21-6 (8-5). NET: 42. Quad 1 record: 5-4.

Steve Alford’s team had such a hot start to the season with Quad 1 wins over Washington and TCU in the 15-1 start. Nevada does have the worst NET ranking of any Mountain West contender, and like Colorado State, also have a Quad 3 loss to Wyoming, but Nevada has a chance to end the regular season with the most Quad 1 wins in the conference.

Projection: No. 11 seed (last four in).



Record: 16-10 (7-8). NET: 46. Quad 1 record: 4-6.

Since starting the season 11-2, Utah has struggled to add more Quad 1 victories while going 5-8 after its impressive beginning. The Utes have fallen out of the field in that time as a sweep by Arizona State has given them two Quad 3 losses, but they can get in with two more Quad 1 opportunities left this season.

Projection: Next four out.


Record: 17-9 (8-7). NET: 41. Quad 1 record: 2-5.

Colorado has been up-and-down all season with winning streaks and losing skids, but the 2-7 road record is certainly a concern. There aren’t many opportunities for another Quad 1 win either, with the only chance to add a second one being against Oregon in the final week of the regular season.

Projection: Next four out.



Record: 18-8 (8-5). NET: 30. Quad 1 record: 2-8.

Winning seven out of eight recently, including against Kentucky and Auburn, has put Florida well into the tournament. But it missed a good chance to strengthen its Quad 1 record by dropping an overtime game against Alabama on Wednesday. There are two more Quad 1 opportunities left for the Gators to improve their stock.

Projection: No. 8 seed.

Texas A&M

Record: 15-11 (6-7). NET: 49. Quad 1 record: 6-5.

You never know what team you’re going to get when the Aggies take the court. The winning Quad 1 record should mean Texas A&M is a lock for the tournament, but having a 2-4 record against Quad 3 teams while being on a three-game losing skid is hurting its positioning.

Projection: No. 10 seed.

Mississippi State

Record: 18-8 (7-6). NET: 36. Quad 1 record: 3-6.

The Bulldogs are rolling right now with four consecutive wins, but the selection committee cannot forget that Quad 4 loss to Southern early in the season. Mississippi State will have a tough stretch in a couple of weeks with three Quad 1 games in a row against Kentucky, Auburn and Texas A&M.

Projection: No. 9 seed.


Record: 19-7 (6-7). NET: 68. Quad 1 record: 3-6.

Despite starting the season 13-0, Mississippi has the lowest NET ranking of any bubble team thanks to how relatively easy its non-conference slate was. The Rebels have lost three of their last four and need to turn it around quickly if they want to get on the right side of the tournament bubble.

Projection: First four out.

West Coast


Record: 21-6 (11-2). NET: 22. Quad 1 record: 1-5.

A tournament mainstay for the entire 21st century, Gonzaga isn’t a lock for the tournament this year because of the lack of Quad 1 wins. The win at Kentucky was huge, and even if they don’t win the West Coast Conference regular-season title, have a chance to solidify another tournament berth with Quad 1 games against San Francisco and Saint Mary’s to end the regular season.

Projection: No. 11 seed (last four in).

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: March Madness bubble tracker: Big East men's teams hanging in limbo