With fewer than seven weeks to go until Selection Sunday for the 2023 NCAA Tournament, the midpoint of college basketball's regular season has flown by. Résumés are being cemented, but there is still time for some teams outside the NCAA Tournament picture to turn things around and reach the Big Dance.
Every team that qualifies for its conference tournament will have a chance to secure an automatic bid, and those with a strong regular-season finish can play their way in to at-large candidacy. This time last year, Virginia Tech was just 10-10 (2-7 ACC) and clearly on the wrong side of the bubble. But the Hokies won nine of their last 11 regular-season games, and then won four games in four days at the ACC Tournament to reach the NCAA Tournament as a No. 11 seed.
As it so happens, the Hokies find themselves in a similar situation this season by needing a big finish to make the 68-team field. Plenty of other teams with lofty preseason aspirations also find themselves firmly on the wrong side of the bubble as February inches closer.
For this week's edition of the Dribble Handoff, our writers are picking the teams currently outside of CBS Sports Bracketology Expert Jerry Palm's projected NCAA Tournament field who they believe will wind playing in the Big Dance.
Texas A&M isn't even one of Jerry Palm's First Four Out, which is totally understandable. I didn't write that to highlight a perceived error as much as I wrote it to illustrate just how much work the Aggies need to do.
They're clearly headed in the right direction, though. After a 6-5 start featuring multiple troubling losses, Texas A&M has gone 7-1 in its past eight games with the lone loss coming at Kentucky. The Aggies performed like a top-10 team in that eight-game stretch, according to BartTorvik.com. So they're now 3-4 in the first two quadrants, with one additional loss falling in Quadrant 3 (Murray State) and another falling in Quadrant 4 (Wofford).
That's not great; however, eight of Texas A&M's final 12 regular-season games will be Quadrant 1 contests based on the current NET rankings. If the Aggies continue their high-level play from recent weeks, they should win enough of those Quad-1 games to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time under Buzz Williams.