College Hoops Top 25 Stock Watch: Surging Wisconsin Looks Ready to Dance

Wisconsin's interim head coach Greg Gard inherited what looked to be an NIT team at best, but seven straight wins have gotten the Badgers right back in the thick of the NCAA Tournament discussion.

After 18 of the Associated Press' Top 25 teams lost last week, it's becoming increasingly difficult to find the "bull market" in college basketball.

But as all these high-profile teams keep losing, someone must be gaining ground somewhere, right?

Less than a month away from Selection Sunday, any of the teams not in the Top 25 especially love the volatility and turbulence that have been hallmarks of this season. Opportunity could seemingly knock at any time. As the losses by top-ranked teams continue to pile up, each of the bubble teams and long-shots in the field can look to grab the resume booster or signature win that could put them over the top and into the NCAA Tournament.

This week, we'll take a look at three teams who, though all unranked at the beginning of last week, have seized opportunities created by a frantic February.

Bull Market

Current Rank: NR
Last Week: NR
Change: 0

When Bo Ryan opted for retirement in December, just eight months removed from an appearance in the National Championship game, Wisconsin sat at 6-5, having suffered home losses to Western Illinois and Milwaukee. Soon after, the Badgers started 1-4 in Big Ten play, making up the mind of many that Wisconsin was in the midst of a rebuilding year, and we wouldn't be seeing them under the bright lights in March. 

One month later, the Badgers have rolled off seven victories in a row, including wins over Michigan State and Indiana, and Saturday's impressive 13-point win at Maryland (ranked second in the country at the time). Add to that earlier wins over Syracuse, VCU, and Temple in non-conference play, and it's getting increasingly difficult to build a bracket without the Badgers. Wisconsin is a 10 seed in our latest bracketology and has cracked the top 50 of our power rankings. Their four top-100 losses will put a ceiling on their seeding potential, but as long as the Badgers get to 20 wins, interim head coach Greg Gard should find himself in the tournament field.

Notre Dame
Current Rank: 19th
Last Week: NR
Change: +7

Mike Brey's Fighting Irish have proven time and again that South Bend is not a welcoming environment for visiting teams. One week after taking out North Carolina in ESPN's College Gameday matchup, Notre Dame overcame Rick Pitino's stingy Louisville defense to pick up their fourth top-50 win of the season. All of Notre Dame's seven losses have come against top-50 opponents, creating a nice floor for their resume. Notre Dame may be no better than the fifth-best team in the top-heavy ACC, but they're up to a 6 seed in our bracketology and could climb higher with a win over Miami in the final week of the regular season.

Current Rank: NR
Last Week: NR
Change: 0

Hall of Famer Jim Boeheim has come back to the sidelines at Syracuse with a vengeance. Boeheim returned from a nine-game suspension for NCAA violations on January 9, in a home loss to North Carolina. Without Boeheim, the Orange went 4-5, and after the loss to UNC, fell to 0-4 in the ACC and 10-7 overall. Since that time, 'Cuse is 8-1 with a win at Duke and home wins over Notre Dame and Florida State. Syracuse still has some work to do to solidify their spot in the NCAA Tournament, but as a 9 seed in our latest bracketology, and with games remaining against Louisville, Pittsburgh, North Carolina, and Florida State before the ACC Tournament, Boeheim's team more than controls its own destiny.

Bear Market

Wichita State
Current Rank: NR
Last Week: 25th
Change: -1

Maybe seniors Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker have set the bar too high with the dominance the Shockers have had over the rest of the Missouri Valley Conference during their time at Wichita State. While the Shockers' wins inside the MVC have mostly been "check the box" type games over the past few seasons, their losses in conference play during that span always get the college basketball world buzzing. Losses to Illinois State and Northern Iowa in each of the last two weekends have started to open up the possibility that any mid-major fears: could Wichita State need to win the MVC Tournament to make the field of 68?

Prior to the two MVC defeats, the Shockers lost five games, all inside the top 50, three of which came without VanVleet. Now, the Shockers carry two "bad losses" on a resume that only boasts one win over a team inside the top 90 of RPI (a home win over Utah). The Shockers are 49th in RPI, with a strength of schedule that ranks 97th. As it stands now, the Shockers' resume would put them at serious risk of missing out on an at-large bid.

Texas A&M
Current Rank: NR
Last Week: 15th
Change: -11

Three weeks ago, the Aggies were ranked fifth in the AP poll and now find themselves unranked after losing five of their last six. Four of those five were on the road, and the one win in that span was against a top-25 opponent, Iowa State. Most teams will experience at least one slide during a full season of college basketball, but Texas A&M's five-game skid in conference play has likely cost them the opportunity to play for a regular season championship. The Aggies have a good chance to find their footing before the SEC Tournament, as only one of their remaining regular season opponents, Kentucky, is a lock for NCAA Tournament.

Current Rank: 16th
Last Week: 11th
Change: -5

The Ducks dropped their two games last week, at Cal and at Stanford, to make the Pac 12 race suddenly much more interesting. Coming into last week, Dana Altman's team was riding high at 20-4 and 9-2 in conference play. But the two losses, paired with a five-game winning streak by Arizona, have forced the Ducks and Wildcats into a tie atop the conference. Both teams have five games remaining (each with three at home), and Oregon's got a slight edge in remaining ease of schedule, according to KenPom. But Oregon will first have to overcome in-state rival, Oregon State, and avenge their loss in Corvallis earlier this season, if they wish to get back on track toward a regular season title.