NCAA Bubble Watch 2023: 10 teams that need a strong finish to ensure bids


Win and get in.

Lose and sweat. 

There were plenty of teams this past week that had golden opportunities but now are faced with some upcoming tense moments. 

Here are my top 10:


1. Rutgers: I still believe the Scarlet Knights are going to get into the field. But the loss Sunday night at home to Northwestern may have pushed them to the First Four in Dayton. Rutgers is now 2-6 without Mawot Mag. He was the ultimate glue guy. Losing both games this week — at Minnesota and to the Wildcats — has put them in a perilous situation heading into the Big Ten tournament game against Michigan.

2. Arizona State: The Sun Devils got the massive win at Arizona but then were swept by UCLA and USC. ASU has enough good wins to get in, but winning one to two Pac-12 tournament games would help the case.

3. Michigan: The Wolverines look the part of an NCAA Tournament team. But that’s not enough. They need to win games, yet let two golden chances slip through this past week on the road at Illinois and Indiana. Michigan plays Rutgers in the Big Ten tournament. The loser could be out.

4. Wisconsin: The Badgers had a chance to beat Purdue, but blew that game. They are squarely on the bubble, and beating Minnesota didn’t move the needle. They must beat Ohio State in the Big Ten tournament and win at least one more — maybe two.

Wisconsin holds off Minnesota

Wisconsin’s Steven Crowl brought the heat on Sunday night win with 21 points and seven rebounds.

5. North Carolina: The Tar Heels finally got a Quad 1 win over Virginia, but then promptly lost at home to Duke. The Tar Heels must do well in the ACC tournament to have a chance. 

6. Mississippi State: The Bulldogs got a big win over Texas A&M, beat South Carolina … and then lost at Vanderbilt. The Bulldogs are going to be right on the edge, possibly heading to Dayton. 

7. Nevada: The Wolf Pack had to be feeling good about themselves after sweeping New Mexico, but since has lost to Utah State, Wyoming and UNLV. Steve Alford had Nevada in position to get a bid. Now it has work to do in the conference tournament.

8. Clemson: The Tigers should be fine, but may end up in Dayton due to their inconsistencies of late. 

9. Providence: The Friars are on the bubble watch list after they lost their final two home games — to Xavier and Seton Hall. They drew UConn at the Big East tournament. This is going to be a massive game with plenty of NCAA implications.

Seton Hall blows out Providence

Dre Davis’ 24 point game carried the Seton Hall Pirates to a victory over the Friars.

10. Oklahoma State: The Cowboys beat Texas Tech to end the regular season, but had lost three in a row to Kansas, TCU and West Virginia to make their supporters feel a bit queasy.

Andy Katz is a longtime college basketball writer, analyst and host. He can be seen on the Big Ten Network, as well as March Madness and, and he hosts the podcast “March Madness 365.” Katz worked at ESPN for nearly two decades and, prior to that, in newspapers for nine years.

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