With over 300 NCAA Division I men’s basketball programs, there are games on every day. Top 25 rankings help determine marquee matchups and nationally televised matchups. Postseason play is so inclusive that every game counts and every team is chasing success in March. This article will discuss the opportunities for teams to boost or hurt their resumes as March Madness nears.
MUST WIN GAMES
These teams already have a fine resume and risk tacking a bad loss on their resume or are a bad loss from falling out of at-large contention.
Teams that Should Win
Colorado (vs California)
Winthrop (vs Longwood)
Houston (@ South Florida)
Bryant (@ St. Francis PA)
USC (vs Washington)
Gonzaga (vs Pepperdine)
Colorado St (@ San Jose State)
Belmont (@ Tennessee Tech)
Teams that Need a Win but Could Lose
San Francisco (@ Portland)
The Dons aren’t currently in a position to make the tournament but being in the WCC provides opportunity. They have a couple of bad losses already (UMass Lowell, Loyola Marymount) but a key victory over Virginia. With five games still to play against perennial tournament contenders (Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s, BYU), San Francisco can’t lose any more bad games to stay afloat.
WINNER GETS A BOOST
These matchups have two mid-level contenders facing off for bubble separation. Games with two fringe teams are crucial in determining who gets a higher seed or qualifies for the NCAA tournament.
San Diego State @ Utah State
Along with Boise State, the Aztecs and Aggies are battling for position at the top of the conference. Utah State arguably needs the win more after losing to VCU and South Dakota State to open the season. Fortunately they are armed with MWC Player of the Year candidate Neemias Queta who leads the conference in rebounds and field goal percentage. San Diego State already notched some good wins over Arizona State and UCLA but need to keep racking up victories for better seed position.
BYU @ Saint Mary’s
It is rare but not unheard of for the West Coast Conference to send multiple teams to the big dance. Gonzaga has dominated every challenger in their way leaving a tight space for a second candidate to squeeze through. This game might as well be the runner up match. BYU is coming off a shellacking at the hands of Gonzaga while the Gaels need to bounce back after a home loss to Santa Clara. The Cougars look better to this point and a decent road win would surely vault them away from Saint Mary’s in the committee’s eyes.
Games in this section are expected to go the favorite’s way but realistically could be very competitive. If the underdog pulls off a win it is a huge boost for their resume. Whoever loses doesn’t add a bad loss to their resume.
Michigan State @ Iowa
Luka Garza is a clear frontrunner for the Wooden Award and Iowa has been a force all season. The Hawkeyes haven’t been impenetrable, however, losing to Minnesota and narrowly escaping Rutgers. The Spartans need a marquee win with Duke panning out to be worse than expected. After dropping a game to Purdue at home, they need to come out aggressive after almost a full week’s rest.
Washington State @ UCLA
The Cougars haven’t qualified for March Madness since Aron Baynes was there in 2008. They aren’t primed to make their return this year but a win over UCLA would go a long way. Washington State sits at 9-2 having won every game they were expected to and losing when expected. The Bruins are 5-0 in Pac-12 play with four of those victories by a margin of six or fewer. This is the first of only a few chances to make a statement for Wazzu.
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