USA TODAY Sports’ Scott Gleeson breaks down the field heading toward selection Sunday.
The goal is to be peaking in March.
NCAA tournament bubble teams often follow that script by playing their way into the field before Selection Sunday. While the selection committee examines the full résumé from November to March for an at-large bid, teams that are winning big games or putting together win streaks in late February are making a strong case at just the right time. Sometimes, like Sweet 16 finisher Oregon last year, the momentum can lead to an automatic bid by winning the conference tournament.
Still, for these momentous fringe teams to become NCAA tournament sleepers, winning is essential.
Here’s a look at seven bubble teams with momentum poised to be sleepers in March Madness.
UCLA. The Bruins (17-11, NET score of 76) are hot and have played themselves onto the bubble with five consecutive wins, two of which included Quadrant 1 road victories against Arizona and Colorado. After a rough start in coach Mick Cronin’s first year, this group has found its identity at the right time and can still win the Pac-12 title. The last three…