In just three Mondays, most of you will be filling out tournament brackets. The updated Breitbart Sports Middle 20 lists the teams that should be the most nervous about seeing if they appear on a bracket on Selection Sunday rather than whether or not you add them to additional brackets as winners of first games. California (Robert Thurman pictured battling Oregon defenders) and Iowa State are surging, and in addition to a St. Mary's team does not have any impressive wins but is staying alive, right now those three deserve the last three invites to the field of 64.
Monday we covered the 16 conferences that will produce just one team, so that is 16 of the 68 spots. In another piece, we cover the 42 teams in the other 15 conferences that are a "lock" for bids whether or not they win their conference tournament, so that fills 58 of the 68 spots. That leaves 10 spots that the "Middle 20" teams below have a chance to grab. The problem is that any time a team that is not one of those 42 teams pulls an upset and wins one of those 15 conferences, it takes a spot away from the "Middle 20 teams."
The teams ranked third to seventh likely deserve the four "First Round" or "play-in" games, meaning they need to play each other to see if they make your bracket of 64. Baylor, Villanova and Mississippi "need help" because generally about three spots are lost to surprise winners in one of 15 conferenes that take bids away from the 8th to 10th spot - so these three teams want not tournament upsets. St. Louis and Notre Dame left this list and are surging toward higher seeds.
Tennessee has surged to 11th on the list, meaning they are still "out" as of today, but along with Valpo and Indiana State joing this charte means there is hope with a strong finish - unlike Alabama, Eastern Kentucky and Maryland who had bad losses since the last middle 20 to drop out of any consideration as of Monday.
||What happened since Wednesday; Upcoming Games
||Almost safe with road wins at both Oregon schools and now finish with 3 winnable at home - could close on 8-game winning streak.
||Huge win at Baylor during 3-game win streak - if they can upset No. 9 Kansas or at Oklahoma they should get bid.
||Notre Dame, St. Louis, Cal and Iowa State all shot past St. Mary's despite close home wins vs. BYU and slumping Creighton.
||Need to at least play Duke close at UVa Thursday to pass eye test.
||Suddenly shaky - lost to St. Mary's was 4th loss in 6 games and have not played a ranked team all season. (best Wisconsin, which is now ranked.)
||Huge road win at LaSalle and by 20 vs. Charlotte should get bid.
||Loss at Temple and narrow win vs. RI - easy game vs. Duquesne.
||Bad losses at home vs. Iowa St. and double digits at Okl, and now tough games at WVU and vs. No. 13 K-State
||Huge win vs. No. 17 Marquette just a week after first big road win at UConn should have them moving toward bid - but at Seton Hall and Pitt in next 7 days.
||1-pt loss at South Carolina makes them borderline, need home win vs. Texas A&M Wednesday.
||Five straight wins include by 30 over No. 25 Kentucky and at Texas A&M - fastest rising team should get real consideration out of nowhere if they can beat No. 5 Florida at home Tuesday.
||Barely winning at home against a terrible Vandy team and Missouri team that is 1-7 on the actually drops Kentucky - they need to win at Arkansas Saturday to deserve a bid.
||Replaced Eastern Kentucky for faint hope due to beating them 82-60. We have Detroit in as Horizon League champion, but the two are tied for first right now and if Valpo wins the conference, you can plug Detroit in here - either has a chance.
||We believe they deserve stronger consideration than they are getting, and if they can beat No. 22 Colorado State Saturday and win at UNLV and/or San Diego State they should get serious look based on winning at Michigan State and how tough conference is.
||Blown out at Memphis in only game against a ranked team - Georgia and Denver only notable wins of year even though they are good enough for a bid.
||Blown out on home court vs. Pitt to stay longshot, but have chance to prove themselves in final 3 at Providence and No. 25 Notre Dame and then home vs. No. 17 Marquette.
||After losing at St. Mary's, probably need to upset No. 3 Gonzaga at home Thursday - no wins against ranked teams yet.
||While we do not believe they deserve consideration, with their final three games being at UCLA, USC and No. 12 Arizona, we need to watch them for possible late surge.
||After losing four of their last six, albeit against tough competition, they may need to win at Cal to close season for shot.
||1-point win vs. Iona stopped 3-game skid and with Alabama losing homes games sneaks them back into Middle 20 - but it's a faint hope unless Larry Bird has a year left of eligibility.