6. Texas Longhorns
It hasn’t been all fairy tales and roses in Rodney Terry’s first official year leading the Longhorns as Texas stands at 14-7 (3-5) on the year with a recent 76-72 home loss to Houston in overtime on Monday night.
Texas is a team -- even if it may still be early -- that has a resume that would land squarely on the bubble if the NCAA Tournament started today. Recent wins over Baylor and Oklahoma have given the Horns a major boost but more work needs to be done in February to give themselves breathing room come March.
In the gauntlet of the Big 12, getting any sort of breathing room seems like an impossible task.
5. Florida Gators
After finding themselves firmly out of the at-large picture mid-January following an 85-66 drubbing at Tennessee, Todd Golden’s squad has quietly rattled off three straight wins.
Although their collection of three wins -- at Missouri, versus Mississippi State, versus Georgia -- doesn’t necessarily scream elite, the Gators have moved their NET ranking from 55 to 39 in that span despite not owning a single Q1 win yet this season.
That can change come February as Florida is presented with three straight Q1 games. It’s a massive opportunity for one of the best offensive-rebounding teams in the country.
If they find a way to grab a couple of wins in that stretch, the good fortunes just might be on the Gator’s side. If not, the Gators may find themselves back to the NIT for the second straight year.