HomeSportsBubble Watch 2023: Is Northwestern comfortably in the NCAA Tournament field?

Bubble Watch 2023: Is Northwestern comfortably in the NCAA Tournament field?

One win isn’t going to get a team into the NCAA Tournament in mid-February. On the same note, one loss is not going to bump a team out.

However, there are some teams that really helped themselves and some who hurt themselves this past week.

Here is a look at some of the teams I believe are trending up right now, and others that are trending down.


Northwestern (18-7): The Wildcats won at Ohio State and pulled off one of the most impressive upsets of the season, knocking off No. 1 Purdue this past weekend. Northwestern still has a brutal slate to finish the season. But the Wildcats have done enough to comfortably be in the field. 

Oklahoma State (16-9): The Cowboys have won seven of eight. Mike Boynton has done a tremendous job with this squad. The remaining slate is brutal, just like it is for every Big 12 team. But if the Cowboys can win two of their last three home games — Kansas, Kansas State and Baylor — then they would have to be in the field. 

Texas A&M (18-7): The Aggies were one of the final teams that didn’t make the cut last season. But while a number of SEC teams have faltered lately, Texas A&M has held steady. The Aggies have won five of six and are alone in second place in the SEC. 

Nevada (20-6): Steve Alford got the sweep of his former employer, New Mexico. That victory put the Wolf Pack alone in second place in the Mountain West. The schedule is favorable after a road game at Utah State. Nevada should be back in the NCAA Tournament field. 

Kenan Blackshear hits a game-winner

Kenan Blackshear hit a game-winning buzzer-beater to give Nevada a 77-76 victory over New Mexico.

Utah (17-9): The Utes still have a lot of work to do, but they’ve won two in a row and are in third place in the Pac-12. This is a monster road trip this week at Arizona and at Arizona State. If Utah can get a split, they will still be in the discussion. 

Arizona State (18-8): The Sun Devils aren’t in the field at this juncture, but getting a sweep in the Bay Area at least keeps them in the hunt. Bobby Hurley’s team closes the regular season with three straight road games: at Arizona, at UCLA and at USC.

Memphis (19-6): The Tigers are one of the last teams in the field and the win over Temple helped. But they could solidify their résumé with at least one win over Houston. They get the Cougars twice in the final five games of the regular season.


North Carolina (16-10): The Tar Heels were trending in the wrong direction after losing to Wake Forest. So, the easy win over Clemson was a must. But an 80-72 setback Monday against Miami – a missed opportunity – knocked them down again.

Kentucky (16-9): The Wildcats lost at home to Arkansas and at Georgia. They are currently out of the NCAA Tournament field. This team has got to start to win some games. Playing at Mississippi State and against Tennessee in the next two don’t bode well for John Calipari and the Wildcats.

Wisconsin (14-10): The Badgers got a much-needed win at Penn State. However, Greg Gard’s team couldn’t build off that impressive win and lost a 17-point lead at Nebraska. Wisconsin appears to be on the outside looking in right now.

Chucky Hepburn scored 19 points while leading Wisconsin to a win

Wisconsin’s Chucky Hepburn made a statement after he scored 19 points in a 79-74 victory over Penn State.

Penn State (14-11): After starting the season 11-3, the Nittany Lions have dropped eight of their last 11 games, including an overtime loss to Wisconsin, followed by a road loss at Maryland. They are down and nearly out.

West Virginia (15-11): Yes, the Mountaineers got blitzed by Texas. A five-point win over Iowa State keeps the Mountaineers on the edge, but following up with a 79-67 loss to No. 9 Baylor hurts and puts them in a tenuous situation. 

Michigan (14-11): The Wolverines were on thin ice, but they managed to put together three straight wins to start the month of February. Juwan Howard’s club had momentum but couldn’t hold on to beat Indiana, losing by one at home. That was another missed opportunity.

New Mexico (19-6): The Lobos lost at the buzzer to Nevada. Fine. But then Richard Pitino’s team lost badly at Air Force. That is not good for New Mexico’s NCAA Tournament résumé. At 19-6 overall and 6-6 in Mountain West play, the Lobos are now out of the field.

Utah State (19-7): The Aggies had multiple chances this past week, but couldn’t capitalize. They lost at home to San Diego State by two and at San Jose State by five. 

USC (17-8): The Trojans are barely hanging on to an NCAA Tournament spot. Getting swept at the Oregon schools puts them on a razor-thin line for a bid. They cannot afford any more bad losses.

Seton Hall (15-11): The Pirates felt like they had a chance when they beat UConn and then won three of the next four. But losses to Creighton and at Villanova has them on the outs. 

Virginia Tech (15-10): Any momentum the Hokies earned from the home win over Virginia collapsed with a home loss to Boston College.

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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