Three Philadelphia squads will need decent performances in their respective conference tournaments -- not to mention an absence of bid thieves from smaller conferences -- in order to hang on to the NCAA bubble, as Temple, La Salle, and Villanova all find themselves getting 11 or 12 seeds in various bracket projections.
Temple Owls (23-8, 11-5)
Conference tourney: No. 3 seed in A-10, plays Friday at 9 p.m. vs. winner of No. 6 UMass / No. 11 George Washington
Current projections: Lunardi: 12 seed, vs. No. 5 Pittsburgh. Palm: 10 seed, vs. No. 7 Notre Dame. Dobbertean: 10 seed vs. UCLA
Temple is relatively safe after closing their season with seven straight wins, including one over No. 21 VCU. Khalif Wyatt and the Owls should hear their name on Selection Sunday with one win in Brooklyn to ensure a spot in the A-10 Semifinals -- nobody's going to fault them if they fall in the semis vs. a team that will most likely be VCU. Lose in the first round, there could be problems.
Villanova Wildcats (19-12, 10-8)
Conference tourney: No. 7 seed in Big East, plays No. 10 St. John's Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Current projections: Lunardi: 11 seed, vs. No. 6 VCU. Palm: 11 seed, vs. No. 6 Creighton. Dobbertean: 9 seed, vs. No. 8 North Carolina
If anybody in the country is going to get into the NCAA Tournament with 12 losses, it's going to be Nova. They've beaten Louisville, Georgetown, and Marquette, the three teams that tied for a Big East title, and knocked off Syracuse for good measure. That reputation as a giant killer will make up for some ugly losses -- Columbia finished in last place in the Ivy League -- and should get them into the NCAA Tournament if they can beat St. John's in their first round game.
La Salle Explorers (11-5, 21-8)
Conference tourney: No. 4 seed in A-10, plays Friday at 2:30 p.m. vs. winner of No. 5 Butler vs. No. 12 Dayton
Current projections: Lunardi: 11 seed, First Four vs. No. 11 Kentucky. Palm: No. 12 seed, First Four vs. No. 12 Kentucky. Dobbertean: 11 seed, First Four vs. No. 11 Kentucky.
All three bracketologists project them to be in the First Four games in Dayton -- and yes, all four pit them against Kentucky -- which isn't great news for La Salle's hopes. That means they're right on the borderline for an NCAA Tournament bid, and if a few lower-seeded teams in stronger conferences steal bids from likely at-large teams, the Explorers will suffer. It's not fun being pitted against Butler -- a likely top-half seed in the NCAA Tournament due to a tremendous non-conference schedule that featured wins over Indiana, Gonzaga, and Marquette -- in the second round. But considering their predicament, its somewhat of a must-win game for La Salle.