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If you’re Duke, Syracuse, or North Carolina you can probably rest your starters, coast the rest of the way, and still find yourself with a relatively high NCAA tournament seed.But for many other teams, making the field of 68 won’t come as easy.
February’s in-conference schedule can be make or break for these schools, with one quality win being the difference between the NCAAs or the NIT.
Having a crazy run through your conference tournament like UConn did last season en route to the national championship certainly helps as well.
Xavier was considered a top mid-major school coming into the year, but it hasn't quite worked out that way for the Muskies. There are no locks out of the Atlantic-10 this year, so Xavier will probably have to win its conference tournament to get in.
Losing five of their last six games does not bode well for West Virginia. The Mountaineers will have a chance at redemption, though, as they face Notre Dame and Marquette before the end of the season.
UConn is probably going to need another deep run in the Big East Tournament to qualify for the NCAAs. Having the nation's toughest schedule looks great on paper, but not when you've already racked up nine losses and are only 5-7 in conference.
Illinois started off the year on a tear, but they've since lost six of their last seven games. The Fighting Illini may end up in the tournament even if they only play so-so the rest of the way because the Big 10 is widely considered the best conference. Even so, wins over Michigan and Wisconsin to end the year would be huge boosts.
For Colorado State, their entire season is held up by a big win over highly-ranked San Diego State. They have no other quality wins, though. But that high RPI (28) means they could slip in if they win a few Mountain West conference tourney games.
Having almost 10 losses with one of them coming at the hands of woeful Oregon State do an NCAA tourney bid not make. That's where Texas is sitting at right now. An upset win against #10 Baylor would be good way to get off the bubble.
Like Colorado, Arizona probably has to win the Pac-12 tournament, or at least get to the final, in order to make it to the NCAAs.
Like many of their other conference mates, Cincinnati finds itself lost in the vast middle class of the Big East. The biggest hindrance to a Bearcats tournament invitation is their awfully easy non-conference schedule. However, a win over Louisville or Marquette before the season ends and it may not matter.
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