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Bubble Watch: 5 college basketball teams that need a strong close to the regular season

The final week of the men's college basketball regular season is upon us.

As conference tournaments begin for many conferences across the country, Power Five conferences enter the final week of games before their postseason tournaments.

Here are five teams who need a strong close to the regular season — and maybe a win or two in their conference tournaments — to solidify their place in the field of 68.

(Games this week are listed in italics)

Colorado (20-9, 11-7 Pac-12)

(@ Oregon, @ Oregon State)

Colorado has won four straight after beating both Cal and Stanford by 10. Guard KJ Simpson is on a heater. He’s averaging nearly 20 points per game and scored 30 in a double-overtime win over USC, 28 in a victory over Utah and 27 with seven rebounds and eight assists against the Bears. The Buffs are 1-5 in Quad 1 games, but are No. 30 in the NET rankings. Given the selection committee’s reliance on that metric, Colorado could be in real good shape on Selection Sunday if it can stay in the top 30.

Providence (18-11, 9-9 Big East)

(@ Georgetown, vs. UConn)

Providence may be trending in the wrong direction at the wrong time. The Friars lost 71-60 at home to Villanova on Saturday after losing by 22 on the road at Marquette earlier in the week. A win at Georgetown is a must and an upset of UConn would go a long way to getting Providence on the right side of the bubble entering the Big East tournament. The Friars are 5-8 in Quad 1 games and just 3-3 in Quad 2 games. A win or two in the Big East tournament may be necessary, especially without an upset of the Huskies.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 28: St John's Red Storm head coach Rick Pitino on the sidelines during the men's college basketball game between the Butler Bulldogs and St. John's Red Storm on February 28, 2024, at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, IN. (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Rick Pitino's St. John's team has won three straight games entering the final week of the regular season. (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

St. John’s (17-12, 9-9 Big East)

(@ DePaul, vs. Georgetown)

How long of a win streak does the Red Storm have to put together to assure themselves a spot in the tournament? St. John’s has won its last three games after losing five of its previous six and should be on a five-game win streak entering the Big East tournament. Georgetown and DePaul are the two worst teams in the Big East by a wide margin and DePaul hasn’t won a conference game so far this season. A loss to either sinks St. John’s at-large hopes and there’s a very good chance that the Red Storm will draw either the Blue Demons or the Hoyas again in the first round of the Big East tournament.

Utah (18-11, 9-9 Pac-12)

(@ Oregon State, @ Oregon)

The Utes have won three of their past four games and have scored back-to-back home blowout wins over Stanford and California. Thursday night is shaping up to be massive for the Utes’ hopes as they face an Oregon team that lost to Arizona on Saturday. Branden Carlson had 30 points and 10 rebounds on Saturday night against the Bears.

The Utes are currently fifth in the Pac-12, but the conference could only be a three-bid league. Arizona and Washington State look like locks, while Colorado is the next-best bet. Oregon, meanwhile, is falling further and further from the fringes of the bubble. Utah may need to sweep the Oregon schools and win multiple Pac-12 tournament games.

Wake Forest (18-11, 10-8 ACC)

(vs. Georgia Tech, vs. Clemson)

The Demon Deacons haven’t been able to build off their upset of Duke. Wake lost at Notre Dame last week and then lost 87-76 at Virginia Tech on Saturday. On the bright side, Wake Forest is still No. 21 in KenPom’s rankings.

A win over Georgia Tech is a must, while a home win over Clemson to end the season could prove vital. There’s still a chance that Wake could sneak up all the way to the No. 4 seed in the ACC tournament if Clemson beats Syracuse and Pittsburgh loses a game. The top four seeds in the ACC get a double-bye.