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Mar 15, 2015 3:44 PM

UConn needs 1 more win for a chance at a repeat

The Associated Press

Everyone knows where Kentucky will be when the brackets come out later Sunday.

For some real drama, keep an eye on UConn.

The Huskies (20-13) almost certainly have to win the American Athletic Conference final against SMU to get into the NCAA Tournament and earn a chance to defend their national title. If they do, they'll steal a spot that will otherwise go to an at-large bubble team.

"It's a scenario where we lose and we don't get a bid," coach Kevin Ollie said. "We feel not the pressure, but we feel the opportunity."

Kentucky, meanwhile, had long ago set itself up as the team to beat when the tournament opens Tuesday. The Wildcats (34-0) stayed undefeated by beating Arkansas 78-63 in the final of the Southeastern Conference tournament. Not that it would've mattered. They were slotted for the top seed in the tournament, win or lose. Coach John Calipari knows the seed is only a number.

"We're not going to get a pass," he said after the win over Arkansas. "I just tell them, 'Let's be at our best, and if that's not good enough, it's not best-of-five.' You're in or you're out.'"

A look at who has the most to gain, and lose, on Sunday.

CONNECTICUT: This may sound familiar "UConn wins it all after going on late-season roll." It happened in 2011, when the Huskies needed to win their conference tournament simply to make the NCAAs. They won five straight to do that, then tacked on six more once the real tournament began to take the national title. UConn is in the same position going into the AAC final. A win Sunday will likely knock one of these teams off the bubble and into the NIT: Oklahoma State, Indiana, UCLA, Mississippi, Miami.

WISCONSIN: The Badgers (30-3) have dominated the Big Ten all season. They play Michigan State for the title Sunday, and could sew up a No. 1 seed with a victory. Arizona and Duke will be watching with the most interest, because if Wisconsin falls, they could grab that No. 1 spot.

ATLANTIC 10: VCU's 71-65 win over Dayton in the A-10 title game was only for a trophy and seeding; both these teams were going to make the field regardless of the result. Also, Georgia State beat Georgia Southern 38-36 for the Sun Belt title. The Panthers are in for the first time since 2001.

EXTRA GAMES: There's another bubble to watch. It's that group of 11 seeds that could have to play an extra game in the First Four. In addition to the bubble teams mentioned above, LSU, Temple, Old Dominion and Texas are among the teams that could get in but might have to play that extra game. Also, look for Hampton to be in a play-in game involving No. 16 seeds. The Pirates won the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament to make the dance with a 16-17 record.

STOCK RISING, FALLING: There was a time when Kansas was viewed as a possible No. 1 seed. After collapsing at the end of the Big 12 title game and losing to Iowa State, the Jayhawks should be more than content with a No. 2. Also falling off the radar: Virginia, a top-seed candidate that lost early in the ACC tournament. Notre Dame has moved up a few notches thanks to its victory in the ACC the first conference title for the Irish. And, of course, there's Michigan State, projected as a 6 or 7 with a chance to rise further Sunday.


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