Slipping and sliding into bubble season

Along with dropping in the Big 12 standings, Monday's 67-66 loss to Missouri caused Texas to slide off another slippery surface.

The NCAA tournament bubble.

Yes, it's that time of the year again. Even with more than a month remaining in the regular season, folks are beginning to discuss which teams would receive bids -- and which ones wouldn't -- if the season ended today.

While some schools have all but locked up their spot in the 68-team field, there are plenty of others who are on the bubble, which means they still have enough time to either play their way in or out of the bracket.

Texas was one of those teams before Monday, when a victory over the No. 4 Tigers would've done wonders for the Longhorns' NCAA tournament hopes. But now, with a 13-9 overall record and a 3-6 mark in the Big 12, Rick Barnes' squad seems like a long shot at best to make the field.

Here are some other teams who control their own postseason destiny:

In for now, but could be in trouble

Connecticut: The Huskies are 14-6 but have lost three straight games.

Kansas State: Frank Martin's team has lost twice to Oklahoma and still must face Baylor, Missouri and Texas on the road.

Seton Hall: The Pirates beat West Virginia and Connecticut but are in the midst of a four-game losing streak, and the schedule is about to get tougher.

Illinois: The Illini have lost three in a row and three of their next four games are against Michigan State, Indiana and Michigan.

Cal: The Golden Bears appear to be the best team in the Pac-12, but they lack quality nonconference wins and could easily get left behind if they slip up in league play.

Others: Xavier, Dayton, Minnesota, Purdue

Still have work to do

BYU: The Cougars lack quality nonconference wins and they've already lost to Saint Mary's twice. Two games remain against Gonzaga.

North Carolina State: The Wolfpack need to upset someone to enhance their résumé.

Stanford: The Pac-12 can't count on multiple at-large bids.

Marshall: The Thundering Herd trail Conference USA co-leaders Memphis and Southern Miss by two games.

Texas: The Longhorns have never missed the NCAA tournament under Barnes.

Others: Ole Miss, Wyoming, Central Florida

Hey … crazier things have happened

Pittsburgh: The Panthers lost their first seven Big East games but have won their past three.

Villanova: It's not always showing up on the scoreboard, but the Wildcats are improving. A strong regular-season finish and a significant Big East tournament run could make things interesting.

Texas A&M: The Aggies were the preseason pick to share the Big 12 title with Kansas, but injuries and off-court situations derailed those plans. Still, they're playing better and better these days.

Oregon: At 6-3, the Ducks are just one game behind Pac-12 co-leaders Washington and Cal.

Others: Maryland, Oklahoma, Arkansas

Better win their conference tournament

Butler: It was a nice run, but the Bulldogs appear destined for the NIT.

VCU: See above.

Missouri State: The Bears opened Missouri Valley Conference play with a victory at league-favorite Creighton but have gone 5-5 since.

Others: Colorado, Tulsa

And now … the rest of King's Court.

In a zone

The Border Showdown: There may not be a game all season that will involve as much tension and angst as Saturday's tilt between No. 4 Missouri and eighth-ranked Kansas at Mizzou Arena. The hatred between both teams and fan bases is at an all-time high. Kansas is irate with Missouri for its decision to abandon the Big 12 conference for the SEC, and the Tigers are peeved that the Jayhawks have refused an offer to continue the series once Missouri leaves the conference. KU has won 10 of its past 11 games against Mizzou, including four of the past five in Columbia. None of that, though, will matter Saturday in what could be the last Border Showdown ever in Columbia. Check out the video this group of Missouri students put together in anticipation of the game. Fun stuff.

Indiana snipers: Three of the Big Ten's four most efficient 3-point shooters play for the Hoosiers. Matt Roth is making a league-best 57.4 percent of his shots from beyond the arc. Jordan Hulls (48.4) and Christian Watford (46.7) rank third and fourth, respectively.

Buzz Williams: The man can flat-out coach. Marquette has won six straight games and is second in the Big East with a 7-2 league record. And the Golden Eagles are doing it with roster filled with junior college transfers (Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder) and mid-tier high school recruits (Todd Mayo and Davante Gardner). Not many coaches get as much out of their players as Williams.

Perry Jones III: Often criticized for his lack of assertiveness, the Baylor forward has looked like a different player in the Bears' past two games. Jones averaged 21.5 points and 13.5 rebounds in victories over Oklahoma and Texas. Instead of settling for outside jumpers, the 6-foot-11 Jones muscled up and fought for position in the paint, which led to some easy buckets.

Colorado State: The Rams notched one of the more attention-grabbing victories of the weekend when they whipped then-No. 12 San Diego State at home Saturday. The win came on the heels of consecutive blowout losses against Wyoming and New Mexico. It also made the race for the Mountain West Conference title much more interesting. UNLV and San Diego State are 4-1, while three teams (Colorado State, Wyoming and New Mexico) are all 3-2.

Mason Plumlee: Duke is a different team when Plumlee is performing at his best. He bounced back from six- and eight-point performances against Florida State and Wake Forest, respectively, with monster showings against Maryland (23 points, 12 rebounds) and St. John's (15 points, 17 rebounds). Duke's chances of an ACC title and a significant NCAA tournament run rest with Plumlee.

In a funk

Kevin Parrom's misfortunes: It's tough not to feel bad for Arizona's small forward. His grandmother died last summer, and in September he was shot in the leg and hand while visiting a friend in New York. The following month his mother lost her battle with breast cancer. On Saturday, Parrom suffered a broken right foot in the first half of the Wildcats' 69-67 loss to Washington. The injury will require surgery, which means Parrom is lost for the season.

Dayton: First-year Flyers coach Archie Miller has received plenty of praise this season -- and rightfully so. Dayton is 14-7 overall with victories over Alabama, Minnesota, Temple and Xavier. Still, what happened Saturday was inexcusable. Somehow, some way, the Flyers lost 86-81 -- at home -- to a Rhode Island squad that entered the game with a 3-18 record and an 0-6 mark in the Atlantic 10.

BYU and Duke student sections: Both have sterling reputations, but lately they've been acting out of character. BYU was whistled for a technical foul after students threw debris on the court to protest a series of questionable calls in Saturday's 80-66 loss to Saint Mary's. Then, as the final minutes ticked away, students began a "worst refs ev-er!" chant. Stay classy, Cougars. Meanwhile, at Duke, the school's school paper, The Chronicle, reports that students are using only about 650 of the 1,200 tickets they're allotted for each game. What happened to the Cameron Crazies?

Syracuse without Fab Melo: Although still a great team, the Orange don't look quite as elite without their sophomore shot-swatter. Syracuse lost at Notre Dame without Melo before beating unranked Cincinnati by only seven points. And Jim Boeheim's squad was the beneficiary of a no-call on a blatant goaltending violation that likely would've sent Saturday's game against West Virginia into overtime. Instead, the Orange prevailed, 63-61.

Point guards: Overall this is a weak season for college point guards. Only two of them (North Carolina's Kendall Marshall and Weber State's Damian Lillard) are projected as first-round picks in this summer's NBA draft. Others such as Iona's Scott Machado, Kansas' Tyshawn Taylor, Villanova's Maalik Wayns, Baylor's Pierre Jackson, Ohio State's Aaron Craft, Saint Mary's Matthew Dellavedova, Murray State's Isaiah Canaan and Missouri's Phil Pressey are having solid seasons, but the talent pool isn't nearly as deep as it's been in the past.

Questions for the King

Who has the best defensive team in the country?

It depends on how you judge team defense. Wisconsin, for example, is allowing a national-low 49.6 points per game, and Virginia (50.6) isn't far behind. Still, a lot of that is dictated by style of play, as both teams like to slow the game down. I use defensive field goal percentage to determine how good a team is defensively. Wisconsin leads in that category, too. Opponents are shooting just 36.3 percent against the Badgers. Kentucky (36.4), Florida State (36.8) and Louisville (36.8) round out the top four.

Who leads each of the Big Six conferences in scoring?

Terrell Stoglin (Maryland) averages an ACC-best 21.3 points per game; West Virginia's Kevin Jones is tops in the Big East with a 20.9-point average; The SEC's top scorer, Vanderbilt's John Jenkins, averages 20 points; J'Covan Brown leads Texas and the Big 12 with a 19.7-point scoring average; The Pac-12 leader is Jared Cunningham of Oregon State. He averages 18.2 points; Northwestern's John Shurna sits atop the Big Ten scoring charts with a 19-point average.

Everyone acts like it's a foregone conclusion that KU's Thomas Robinson will win national player of the year. Is that the case?

Gosh, no. Robinson may still be the favorite -- but only slightly. He had only 13 points and seven rebounds in Saturday's loss at Iowa State. And he was lambasted by Bill Self on national television following a poor first-half performance against Texas A&M on Jan. 23. Meanwhile, players such as West Virginia's Kevin Jones, Kentucky's Anthony Davis and Creighton's Doug McDermott continue to put up gaudy numbers. Right now I'd list them in this order: Robinson, Jones, Davis, McDermott and Ohio State's Jared Sullinger.

Good things come in threes

Three guys who might not win national coach of the year but are doing a heck of a job

1. Mike Brey, Notre Dame: Everyone assumed this would be a transition year for the Fighting Irish, who lost Ben Hansbrough, Tyrone Nash and Carleton Scott from last year's team and this year's leading scorer, Tim Abromaitis, to a knee injury. But here the Irish are, 6-3 in the Big East with victories over Syracuse and Connecticut.

2. Bill Self, Kansas: The Jayhawks lost all but one starter (Tyshawn Taylor) off of last year's 35-3 Big 12 championship squad. Kansas, though, is 17-4 and leads one of the nation's best leagues with a 7-1 record. The Jayhawks are tied with Baylor for the most wins in the country (seven) against teams in the Sagarin top 50.

3. Steve Fisher, San Diego State: Much like Kansas, the Aztecs returned just one starter from a squad that went 34-3 and lost to eventual national champion Connecticut in the Sweet 16. San Diego State is currently 18-3 and tied with UNLV for the lead in the Mountain West conference. Both teams are 4-1 in conference play.

Three teams making a surge

1. Florida: Things weren't looking too good for the Gators following a Jan. 7 loss at Tennessee, especially considering they'd fallen to Rutgers two weeks earlier. Florida, though, has bounced back with five straight wins, and three of the Gators' next four games are at home. For now, at least, Billy Donovan has the second-best team in the SEC.

2. Wisconsin: Losing three straight conference games is painful enough, but it's even worse when two of them happen at home. The Badgers didn't stay down for long. They've won five straight heading into Tuesday's game at Penn State. A victory in that game -- coupled with a home win against Ohio State on Saturday -- would give Wisconsin a share of the conference lead.

3. Vanderbilt: The team that lost at home to Cleveland State and Indiana State is history. The Commodores have won 10 of their past 11 games, with the only setback coming in overtime against Mississippi State. The return of Festus Ezeli has clearly sparked Vanderbilt.

Three best BracketBusters games

1. Saint Mary's at Murray State, Feb. 18: Could the Gaels be the only thing that stands between the Racers and an undefeated season?

2.Long Beach State at Creighton, Feb. 18: A sold-out crowd in Omaha won't overwhelm the 49ers, who have played at Kansas, North Carolina, Louisville and Pittsburgh.

3. Nevada at Iona, Feb. 18: The Wolfpack have won 15 straight, and it could be 20 by the time it travels to face Scott Machado and high-scoring Iona.

Three things for fans to debate

1. Worst "bottom five" teams of a conference: ACC (Clemson, Wake Forest, Boston College, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech) or SEC (Tennessee, LSU, Auburn, Georgia, South Carolina)?

2. More heated rivalry: Duke-North Carolina, Missouri-Kansas or Louisville-Kentucky?

3. Best college basketball state (current): Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio or North Carolina?

Report card

A: Tennessee fans: A crowd of 19,024 was on hand at Thompson-Boling Arena for Saturday's 64-49 victory over Auburn, an amazing turnout for a team with a 10-11 record. For the season, the Vols rank fifth nationally (trailing only Kentucky, Syracuse, Louisville and North Carolina) with an average attendance of 17,211. Say what you want about Bruce Pearl, but the former coach made people in Knoxville care about men's basketball. The enthusiasm hasn't died in his absence.

B: Billy Kennedy: Kudos to the first-year Texas A&M coach for holding his team together amid an onslaught of adversity. Kennedy missed about a month during the preseason after being diagnosed with early stages of Parkinson's disease. Shortly after his return, standout Khris Middleton went down with a knee injury and missed seven games. Middleton reinjured the knee against Oklahoma on Jan. 21, but the Aggies won anyway. And Saturday they beat Oklahoma State without Middleton and Dash Harris.

C: Kentucky's schedule: The Wildcats have just two wins against teams ranked in the current top 25 (Kansas and North Carolina). They haven't played a ranked opponent since beating then-No. 4 Louisville on Dec. 31, and the Cardinals are no longer in the poll. The situation is more of an indictment on the SEC than the Wildcats. Still, it makes it tough to judge exactly where this team is.

D: Officiating: Saturday's snafu in the West Virginia-Syracuse game only highlighted what's been a down year for college basketball officials. I can't remember a season when I've seen so many blown calls -- or no-calls. And the crazy thing is that none of them have involved Jim Burr. I'm not sure what the problem is, but these guys need to get better.

F: Connecticut: Not many teams in college basketball have been as disappointing as the Huskies, who returned every key piece of last year's NCAA championship squad other than Kemba Walker. Look, teams lose games. I get that. But losing to unranked teams such as Rutgers, Notre Dame, Tennessee and Seton Hall is inexcusable with this kind of talent.

Thoughts from press row

1. I normally can't stand watching players who shoot 20 to 25 times a game, but with Texas' J'Covan Brown, I don't mind. The guy is one of the better players I've ever seen at creating open looks for himself. And I can't remember the last time I covered a player who can go into a zone quite like Brown. There are times when it feels as if he could make behind-the-back shots from half court with his eyes closed. Brown averaged 27.5 points in four games against the Big 12's top three teams: Kansas, Baylor and Missouri. Texas has played Missouri twice.

2. If Southern Miss coach Larry Eustachy is ever going to get another job, you've got to think it would happen after this season. The Golden Eagles are 19-3 overall and tied with Memphis for first place in the Conference USA standings. Southern Miss hosts Memphis on Wednesday. The Tigers won the first meeting, 60-58.

3. USC notched its first Pac-12 win Saturday by defeating Utah, 62-45. Even a win against a terrible Utah team is impressive for a Trojans squad that has now lost three of its four best players (Jio Fontan, Aaron Fuller and Dewayne Dedmon) to injuries.

4. I was a bit surprised that Mississippi State didn't give Florida a better game in Saturday's 69-57 loss to the Gators in Gainesville. The Bulldogs have become the Jekyll-and-Hyde team of college basketball.

5. Sending a heartfelt "get well soon" along to College of Charleston coach Bobby Cremins, who will miss the remainder of the season with an undisclosed medical condition.

6. Miami center Kenny Kadji, who is playing his first season since transferring from Florida, is finally beginning to find his groove. The 6-foot-11, 251-pounder is averaging 18.4 points and two blocks in his past seven games.

7. Cal's 69-59 victory over Stanford was huge for the Golden Bears in their quest for the conference title, mainly because Stanford was among the handful of teams that seemed capable of challenging for the league crown. Cal is now 7-2 in Pac-12 play while Stanford is 5-4. Cal is tied with Washington for the conference lead, but Mike Montgomery's squad beat the Huskies head to head in what will be the only regular-season meeting between the two schools.

8. More than two decades after leaving Kansas State for Florida, Lon Kruger is sticking it to the Wildcats again. Two of Kansas State's four Big 12 losses are to Oklahoma, where Kruger is in his first season as head coach. The latest setback came in Saturday's 63-60 debacle in Manhattan. At 15-5, the Wildcats appear fine in terms of earning an NCAA tournament bid -- for now. But they'd better be careful. Plenty of games remain against teams a lot better than Oklahoma.

Pit stops

Mac's Sports Pub, Overland Park, Kan.: This is my favorite bar in the Kansas City area, and if you think it's because of the 30-plus flat screens, the 75-cent draws on Thursday and the DJs who help pack the place Thursday through Saturday, well … you're right. Kind of. The main thing that keeps me coming back to Mac's are the wings. Owners Heather and Courtney McReynolds have gone out of their way to set themselves apart from the restaurateurs that serve the standard, boring bar bird. Everything from the size to the way they're prepared (slightly crispy skin, but hardly overcooked) to the variations in flavor makes Mac's wings the best in Kansas City. I know that may sound like a bold statement to lovers of the Peanut. Trust me, I'm one, too. But once Mac's began serving Peanut-sized wings (same sauce, by the way) along with the regular-sized drummies and flats, a new wing king was crowned in Kansas City. PS -- Mac's offers regular-sized wings for 50 cents on Wednesday, and the big, jumbo-sized wings are 75 cents on Sunday. And there's no better place in town to watch a game.

Bad Daddy's, Charlotte, N.C: If I looked a bit bloated in last week's edition of "The Experts" on ESPNU, it's because I ate at Bad Daddy's the night before the show. Known for its thick, six-ounce burgers with deep bowls of fries and tater tots, Bad Daddy's even has a location at the Charlotte airport, a true sign of a restaurant's popularity. I went with the "Sam I Am Burger," which was topped with American cheese, ham and an over-easy fried egg. I was definitely pleased with my selection, although next time I may go with the "Classic Southern Burger," which has chili, cheese, relish, mustard and slaw. Bad Daddy's signature burger features a 10-ounce ground beef and bacon patty with lettuce, tomato, fried bacon, horseradish mayonnaise and white cheddar cheese. I would've ordered one, but I'm on a diet.

Hinkle's Hamburgers, Bloomington, Ind: I've been to Bloomington about six times in the past four years, but don't ask me for any restaurant reviews -- unless you want to know about Hinkle's. Other than the potato chip aisle at the local gas station, it's the only place in town where I've purchased food. Hinkle's burgers are one of a kind. They're not huge -- probably about twice the size of a slider from White Castle -- which is why you need to make sure you purchase two. The cook mixes onions into the meat as he prepares each patty, and the burgers are all served piping hot, with cheese dripping off the sides and a slight dash of mustard to provide some extra flavor along with a few pickles. "Are you driving?" the woman behind the counter asked when I ordered a third burger to go. Luckily I made it back to my hotel before slipping into a two-hour food coma.

Jason King covers college basketball for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @JasonKingESPN.