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.
* – indicates second game in back-to-back series already covered in previous day.
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
Winthrop (@ Presbyterian)*
Loyola Chicago (@ Valparaiso)
North Carolina (@ Wake Forest)
Furman (@ VMI)
Colorado (@ Washington)
Boise State (vs Fresno State)
Teams that Need a Win but Could Lose
Creighton (vs Providence)
Clemson (@ Georgia Tech)
Houston (vs Tulsa)
The Blue Jays facing the Friars is the best watch of this group. Across the three games, Providence is the best team that isn’t expected to win. Clemson and Houston have revenge games in different ways. The Tigers just got destroyed by Virginia losing 85-50 at home and need a big turnaround win against a weak conference foe. The Cougars look to avoid a series sweep against Tulsa dropping game one by a single point. The American conference matchup could be more of a slog with both teams in the Top 20 for fewest points per game allowed.
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.
Auburn @ Arkansas
When these teams first met back in December, Arkansas controlled the game trailing for a total of 18 seconds. Round two is in Fayettevile with the Razorbacks needs another conference win. They have lost four of five to some of the top teams in the conference. The Tigers rely heavily on Allen Flanigan who leads the team in total points and rebounds. Auburn has found some stride winning on the road against Georgia and hosting Kentucky. Arkansas is just hanging in bubble conversation and a loss put them on the outside looking but wouldn’t condemn them. Auburn likewise can afford to lose this game but needs to pick up some quality wins to enter the picture.
VCU @ St. Bonaventure
The Atlantic 10 conference typically provides some fun bubble contenders and surprising teams. This year, the Saint Louis Billikens are the legit team but they, like many other teams in the conference, haven’t played many games. Five teams in the A10 have played fewer than 10 games this season due to postponements and cancellations. St. Bonaventure is 6-1 and currently atop the standings with a win over Richmond as their only impressive mark. VCU beat Utah State for their quality win and a win over the Bonnies would give them a share of the conference lead. The winner of this matchup looks to be the third best A10 team behind Saint Louis and Richmond.
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.
Northwestern @ Wisconsin
Sometimes circumstances are just horrible for a team. The Northwestern Wildcats are set to play their seventh consecutive ranked opponent. They upset Ohio State in Evanston back on 12/26 and have lost six straight since then. The quality of opponent is all that has redeemed the Wildcats. Not many teams make the NCAA Tournament by losing to all of the good teams they play so this is a big spot for Northwestern. Considering they have played the toughest schedule in all of Division I, Wisconsin wouldn’t be too damaged with a loss. Expect the double digit favorites to win at home.
Featured Image courtesy of auburntigers.com
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