The Big Dance will kick off this weekend, as the NCAA Selection Committee chooses which teams will make it into the hallowed ranks of college basketball's elite -- and which school's bubble will burst, landing it quietly in the NIT.
As conference championships continue and the day of reckoning nears, here's who basketball's big shots say are the clubs to watch -- and the Cinderellas who could spoil the fun for the big dogs:
The Georgetown Hoyas are riding a "meteoric" wave of momentum that could carry them through the NCAA tourney, a push that has made them the "hottest team in college basketball," Jason King blogs for Yahoo! Sports. Sure, the Big East tourney finalists have been inconsistent, dropping games to unranked opponents, but have also picked up "impressive" wins against projected No. 1 seeds Duke and Syracuse, King writes, a combo that could make Georgetown this year's Cinderella story. "The Hoyas are downright scary," King writes, "even if they're too caught up in the moment to realize it."
It's not just one, but four teams, in the usually under-represented Mountain West Conferencewho are riding high as the tournament nears, Diamond Leung writes for ESPN's College Sports Nation blog. The MWC could get four bids on Selection Sunday, Leung writes, a surprise for the clubs -- New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV and BYU -- who could see themselves waltzing into the Big Dance. "We think it's going to happen. The first sellout Mountain West Conference tournament crowd of 18,500 saw it for themselves," Leung writes.
Top-ranked Kansas will get the opportunity this Saturday night to show the selection committee why it deserves its No. 1 seed in a showdown that could forecast another Final Four matchup, Andy Katz blogs for ESPN. The Kansas-Kansas State Big 12 final matchup will showcase not just a long-standing local rivalry but could also be a setup for the NCAA tourney's main event, Katz writes: "No other tournament title game can touch it this season."
Bubble teams Illinois, Georgia Tech and Minnesotaall helped their cases in their conference tourneys, Andy Glockner writes for Sports Illustrated. Illinois' "huge win" over Wisconsin in the Big Ten quarterfinal gave it a "better-than-average chance" of making the NCAAs, Glockner writes, while Georgia Tech gave itself a "terrific opportunity" and Minnesota proved it wasn't "dead yet" to the selection committee as each team inched closer to getting a bid.
No matter which teams win, which teams lose, and which teams don't even get a ticket into the stadium, March is upon us -- and it's bound to be exciting, Kalani Simpson writes for Fox Sports. "Now come the big schools, the old powers, the titans. The rides continue; they've only just begun. This is why we love it. The Rides of March," Simpson writes. "This month comes in like a lion -- and then it roars."