by Patrick Stevens, Special for USA TODAY Sports
Days until Selection Sunday: 18.
The teams on the NCAA tournament bubble aren’t always the little guys. Let’s take a look at BCS-level schools in need of some serious rèsumè-boosting.
Arizona State: There is no fixing the nonconference strength of schedule. There is no erasing the losses to DePaul and Utah. All the Sun Devils can do now is collect victories — and do it on the road, no less. Arizona State starts a swing to the Pac-12′s Los Angeles schools, visiting UCLA and Southern California in two games that could go a long way in keeping Herb Sendek’s team a viable at-large possibility entering the Pac-12 tournament (next week’s regular-season finale could help, too). Realistically, Arizona State needs two of those three to have any realistic at-large hopes, and even then would be wise to tack on at least another victory in the Pac-12 tournament (at minimum).
Arkansas: The Razorbacks’ biggest problem is plain to see: They have done nothing of consequence outside the 479 area code, and that means there’s a great onus on Wednesday’s trip to Louisiana State. Yes, the same Louisiana State fresh off dealing a damaging loss to Alabama’s tournament hopes over the weekend. Arkansas’ profile is so polarized, with victories at home over Florida, Missouri and Oklahoma, and just a 1-9 mark in road/neutral games. The Razorbacks are on the fringe of the tournament discussion anyway, and they’re unlikely to earn an at-large slot without reaching the weekend of the SEC tournament. That task becomes far more difficult with a setback Wednesday.
Baylor: The more scrutiny placed on the Bears’ accomplishments to date, the less appealing their resume becomes. A team with a 2-9 mark against the top 50 doesn’t provide much reason to believe they’ll win an NCAA tournament game. Baylor can’t improve its plight in that regard Wednesday, but it still faces a critical (and long) trip to West Virginia. The Bears have lost six of eight, and can ill afford setbacks against second-division Big 12 teams in their final two road games (Baylor also visits Texas next week). There’s still more work to do, … [For more on Bubble Watch: Sizing up power conference teams Arizona State, Baylor, click here.]