A little less than one month from now will be “Selection Sunday” and now is the desperation point of the season with teams fighting for their postseason lives.
Ole Miss has an exciting player in Marshall Henderson and will have north of 20 wins prior to selection Sunday. But will a weak SEC keep the Rebels out of the Big Dance? The Alabama game March 5 is key.
In the next four weeks, we will profile a few of the teams that are “on the bubble” with our very own “Bubble Tracker.”
Bubbling Up – They’ve Made Their Case
Oklahoma 16-8 (7-5 Big 12)- Lon Kruger has positioned Oklahoma for an at-large tournament bid. The Big 12 has six or seven teams in the conversation but Oklahoma lies right behind Kansas, Kansas State and Oklahoma State.
Road wins at Kansas and Baylor plus a home victory against Oklahoma State combined with a current RPI at No. 19 makes the Sooners a virtual NCAA lock without a late-season collapse, despite an overtime loss to the Cowboys on Saturday.
Bubblicious – The Bubble Could Burst Here
Ole Miss 19-6 (8-4 SEC)- The Rebels started the season in historic fashion with their best 20 game start to the season since 1936-37. Head coach Andy Kennedy and company had the team ranked as high as No. 16 in the nation at the end of January.
Then they lost four of their last six games and is without a signature win over an at-large lock team. Best win is at home against Missouri, which has an RPI of 30. Ole Miss is in position to compile wins with a soft remaining SEC schedule. The question down the stretch is how much credit will the Rebels get for beating teams that are all outside the RPI Top 60? What happens if they falter? The game against Alabama on Mar. 5 will go a long way in determining the SEC’s final at-large bid.
Pop City – The Bubble That Might Burst
UNLV 19-7 (6-5 Mountain West)- With 11 wins coming before Dec. 29, it looked like the Rebels were set to run into the tournament. Not so fast, says conference play.
They started the season ranked No. 18 and they have the leading candidate for freshman of the year in Anthony Bennett. Their best wins are against San Diego State (twice) and home against New Mexico, not too bad. But the tournament committee is not going to be impressed with UNLV’s recent road woes, having lost six of their last seven.
Future follow- Five Star on the road
No place in the nation, has more basketball talent than Chicago. We caught up with head coach Gary DeCesare of the St. Rita’s Mustangs. DeCesare has taken the blueprint of his five New York City Championships at St. Raymond’s High School and has built St. Rita’s into a parochial power. There is legendary coaching going on and great players.
Here are two names to remember.
Victor Law 6’7 Forward Junior St. Rita
The multi-dimensional Mississippi transplant is capable of doing it all with the ability to play every position. He has great court vision and makes winning plays. He has a great feel for the game. In short, he’s pretty great.
The Mustangs season rides on his shoulders as he’s the go-to-guy and that’s evidenced by offers from, Harvard, DePaul, Loyola Chicago, Virginia Tech and Providence.
He credits Coach DeCesare for his well-rounded game and changing his outlook from one of an individual player to anything in “helping the team to win”. In his decision he is factoring in the environment as he really is looking for a supportive college town. The most important recruiting item to him is finding a coach and program that “is going to push him as both a man and an player”.
Charles Matthews 6’5 Guard Sophmore St Rita
This combo guard uses his size as an advantage excelling in dribble-drive. A terrific penetrator and passer with consistency from the perimeter can stack up with the finest guards in the 2015 class. He compares himself to a Penny Hardaway or Tracy McGrady and others agree with offers from Arizona, Illinois, SMU, DePaul , Wisconsin, Michigan State and Providence.
He is looking for a family-oriented atmosphere with a winning pedigree that will give him the experience he needs for the next level.
Leigh Klein was formerly on staff at Texas and Rhode Island and now owns Five-Star Basketball Camps, the nation’s top basketball camp. He contributes to 247Sports.com’s coverage of college basketball. Klein can be followed at @LeighAlanKlein