March Madness is just around the corner. And while some teams are all but assured they’ll get an invite to the Big Dance, other squads already have fans sweating until the final moments on Selection Sunday to see who qualifies for the NCAA Tournament, one of the biggest betting events of the year.
Every analyst and pundit has a different list of the teams that will be fighting for the last few at-large bids into the tournament, but a few schools seem to appear on just about everyone’s bubble watch. One of the teams that has seemed to be right on the border for selection each of the last few years is Syracuse, and they’ve put themselves in that same position yet again.
Perennial Bubble Team
Two years ago, Syracuse just snuck into the NCAA tournament as a No. 10 seed, while last year, they were one of the top teams not to make the field. Depending on who you ask, the Orangemen could find themselves on either side of that divide this season.
Right now, Syracuse has an 18-11 record on the season, including a 7-9 mark in ACC play. Recent losses to North Carolina and Duke are hardly embarrassing, but they continued a trend that has seen the Orange fail to pick up a signature victory that they could point to in order to make their case for inclusion.
William Hill currently has Syracuse as a 300/1 longshot to win the NCAA tournament this year, but that’s still better than the 500/1 odds facing St. Bonaventure. The Bonnies are 22-6, and have defeated Syracuse this year, but playing in the somewhat weaker Atlantic 10 conference has given them less of a safety net. They’ll finish up the season against Davidson and Saint Louis, and likely have to win both games – and a couple more in the conference tournament – to find their way into the field.
Baylor on the Brink
The Baylor Bears (200/1) feel like a team that has the potential to beat almost anyone, having already scored a big victory over Kansas this year. A win over Oklahoma on Tuesday did a lot to solidify their standing in the eyes of many observers, though an 18-12 record means they will likely want to beat Kansas State or win at least a game or two in the Big 12 tournament to feel secure.
Out west, USC (200/1) is one of the more compelling bubble teams. Big wins over Colorado and Utah have moved them to 21-9, probably putting them on the right side of the borderline for now. That puts them in better position than their rivals over at UCLA (200/1), who lost to both Utah and Colorado on a similar road trip. The Bruins now sit at 19-10 and look to be on the outside looking in for the moment. But they do have a game at USC to finish up the regular season, and a win there could flip the position of these two teams.
While these bubble teams will enjoy most of the attention for the next couple of weeks, they stand far behind the real favorites when it comes to their title chances. Villanova (9/2) is currently the favorite to win the NCAA tournament, just ahead of Michigan State (6/1), Duke (6/1), and Virginia (6/1).