4. Villanova Wildcats
Villanova, standing at just 11-9 (4-5) on the year, has had arguably the biggest up-and-down, roller coaster-like season of any team in college basketball.
On one hand, the Wildcats own wins over Texas Tech, North Carolina and Creighton on the road. On the other hand, the Wildcats have lost to Drexel, Penn and Saint Joe’s, falling to 0-3 against the Big Five and 2-3 in Q3 games.
In short, Villanova is inexplicably the most confusing team in college basketball.
Currently amidst a four-game losing streak, Villanova will need to get back on track despite its solid metrics if it hopes to earn an at-large bid. The Big East will provide a plethora of opportunities for the Wildcats to gain some traction but at some point too many losses add up -- and that can potentially be the case for Villanova.
3. Clemson Tigers
After narrowly missing the NCAA Tournament last year due to a poor collection of quality wins (Clemson had a NCSOS ranked 315 last year, according to KenPom), Brad Brownell made sure that didn’t happen again as the Clemson Tigers got off to a blistering 10-1 start, collecting wins over Alabama, TCU, Boise State and South Carolina in the non-conference portion of the season.
Unfortunately for Clemson, ACC play has not been so kind as the Tigers went just 2-5 in January including falling in a heartbreaker in Cameron Indoor just last Saturday.
Standing at 13-6 (3-5) on the year, the Tigers are still in solid shape to earn an at-large bid despite a not-so-strong record in a weaker ACC. They sport a 6-5 record in Q1/Q2 games with their lone “bad” loss coming to Georgia Tech at home in mid-January.
Given how their month of January went, Clemson can ill-afford another slide. It’s a big month ahead for the Tigers -- and Brad Brownell himself -- and games against Virginia, North Carolina, Syracuse and Miami (FL) are no easy walk in the park.