March Madness 2020: Locks, Near-Locks, and Bubble Teams

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Key Dates

Selection SundayMarch 15th at 6 pm EST; broadcast on TBS and CBS
Start of TournamentMarch 17th and 18th (First Four); March 19th (Round of 64); broadcast on TBS, CBS, TNT, and TruTV
Final FourApril 4th and 6th at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA


The regular season is coming to a close, with most schools having just two games remaining on their schedules before starting their conference tournaments next week. Traditional powerhouses like Kansas and Duke have nothing to worry about when it comes to qualifying for March Madness at this point.

Others like Providence and Stanford still have their work cut out for them, as they must ensure they finish strong in these final games and put forth a respectable effort in their conference tournaments.

In this article, we will take a look at each of the major conferences and determine who is in, who is close to making it, and who is on the outside looking in.

Note: there are bubble teams that have been omitted due to them having to practically win out in the regular season, and make a deep run in their conference tournaments.

For simplicity purposes, we will focus on teams that have a bit more wiggle room.

Go check out the best prop bets for March Madness in our new video!

ACC

Locks: Duke, Louisville, Florida State

Near-Locks: Virginia

On The Bubble: NC State

The Cavaliers gave themselves a huge boost by beating Duke last Saturday behind Jay Huff’s ten-block performance.

With games remaining against Miami and Louisville, a 2-0 finish to Virginia’s season is very plausible. Meanwhile, NC State remains in the hunt with ample opportunity to improve their odds at a tournament bid.

With a visit to Duke as well as the ACC tournament on the horizon, the Wolfpack will control their own destiny.

Big East

Locks: Creighton, Seton Hall, Villanova, Butler, Marquette

Near-Locks: None

On The Bubble: Xavier, Providence

The Musketeers did themselves a favor by edging the battered Georgetown Hoyas on Sunday behind a game-winning three from Naji Marshall.

They will face a pair of tough tests to close out the season, as they must host Butler and visit fellow bubble squad Providence, with an 0-2 finish potentially crippling their March Madness hopes.

Speaking of the Friars, their upset of 12th ranked Villanova over the weekend moves them closer to making the tournament field, although Ed Cooley’s team will be hungry for more to ensure they can escape the First Four portion of the tournament.

Big Ten

Locks: Maryland, Michigan State, Penn State, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio State

Near-Locks: Rutgers

On The Bubble: Indiana

Thanks to their painful loss to Penn State last week, Rutgers are not locks quite yet despite their solid resume. The Scarlet Knights get to take on league-leading Maryland at the friendly confines of the RAC, however, they must close out the season against a Purdue team that is in must-win mode at Mackey Arena.

Like Rutgers, Indiana has no real reason to panic as they have secured wins against some of college basketball’s best squads, including Florida State and Michigan State. With that being said, a winless stretch against Minnesota and Wisconsin, as well as an early exit in the Big Ten tournament could turn Bloomington into a sad place.

Big 12

Locks: Baylor, Kansas, West Virginia

Near-Locks: Texas Tech

On The Bubble: Oklahoma

Although the Red Raiders currently sit in third in the Big 12, their last two games are against Kansas and Baylor, teams whom they can easily lose both games to.

If that is the case, the pressure will be on Chris Beard’s team to not fall apart in the Big 12 tournament. Conversely, the Sooners have helped their cause by beating both Texas Tech and West Virginia last week, with winnable games against Texas and TCU.

Pac-12

Locks: Oregon, Colorado, Arizona State, Arizona

Near-Locks: USC

On The Bubble: UCLA, Stanford

After sweeping the Arizona schools last week, the Trojans are about as close to a lock as it gets, with just one game remaining on their schedule.

That last game will be against current conference leader UCLA, who is slowly making up for their forgettable performance in their non-conference schedule.

Stanford meanwhile, as the Oregon schools left on their schedule and will need to win at least one to keep themselves in the conversation.

SEC

Locks: Auburn, Kentucky, LSU

Near-Locks: Florida

On The Bubble: Arkansas, South Carolina, Mississippi State, Alabama

The Gators are in a good position to make a return to the tournament, with a home date against Kentucky in the finale serving as a possible seed booster. As for the SEC’s bubble schools, 2-0 finishes will probably not be enough to guarantee a ticket to the big dance, as they will likely have to tally a pair of wins in the SEC tournament to gain more confidence from the selection committee.

AAC

Locks: Houston

Near-Locks: Wichita State

On The Bubble: Cincinnati, Memphis

The Shockers saved their season by completing a 24 point comeback against SMU on Sunday, however, they will have a battle on their hands when they visit Memphis on Thursday.

The Tigers currently sit 62nd in NET ranking, which is a position that an AAC school should never feel comfortable in. Having to play at Houston can also serve as a springboard for Memphis as they head into the conference tournament.

March Madness 2020 FAQ

Where will March Madness take place in 2020?

The Final Four takes place at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia.

How long does March Madness last?

The March Madness games are played over the course of 21 days.

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