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NCAA Resume Change Opportunities 1/23

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 
Houston (vs Cincinnati)
Toledo (vs Kent State)
Richmond (vs La Salle)
West Virginia (@ Kansas State)
Belmont (vs SIU Edwardsville)
Marquette (vs DePaul)
Oregon (vs Oregon State)
BYU (vs Pepperdine)
Gonzaga (vs Pacific)

Teams that Need a Win but Could Lose 
LSU (@ Kentucky)
Florida (@ Georgia)
Louisville (vs Duke)
Pittsburgh (@ Wake Forest)

These teams are all in projected close matchups. The basis for this tetrad of matchups is a lack of belief in the “underdogs.” Two perennial postseason powerhouses, Kentucky and Duke, continue to trend away from a punched ticket. LSU is 10-3 with no bad losses and Louisville is 26th in the AP polls. For Florida and Pitt, they are further away from secure status. Both teams travel to face conference opponents who have no quality wins on the season.

Alabama (vs Mississippi State)
Villanova (vs Providence)
USC (@ California)
Colorado (@ Washington State)

Teams in this group are all fairly heavy favorites to win their respective games. Crimson Tide basketball has become must-watch after dropping 105 on LSU in Baton Rouge. Villanova survived a scare from Seton Hall and gets a streaky Providence foe but should prove their elite status. USC just lost to Oregon State but should bounce back with lottery pick forward Evan Mobley leading them. Even after a tough loss to Washington, the Buffaloes have a case for best team to not have been Top 25 this season.

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.

For High Tournament Seeding 
Matchups between Top 25 teams won’t typically help resolve the bubble. For viewing interest, these matchups are more marquee while the others are for teams with high hopes and less security.

Kansas @ Oklahoma
UConn @ Creighton
Baylor @ Oklahoma State
Clemson @ Florida State
Ohio State @ Wisconsin
Mizzou @ Tennessee

For Low Tournament Seeding and Tournament Qualification 
Unlike the “Teams that Need a Win but Could Lose” above, a loss here isn’t quite as damning. These results will most fall into NET rankings Q1 or Q2 wins and losses benefitting the winner in a meaningful way.

UCLA @ Stanford

Dayton Basketball Jalen Crutcher (daytonflyers.com)

Dayton @ VCU
This game has meaning, but when these teams meet in their regular season finale on March 3rd, the stakes could be high. Both Dayton and VCU are middle-of-the-pack in the Atlantic 10 standings based on conference record. Their overall records (8-3 and 10-4 respectively) suggest strength where there isn’t much. The Flyers best win is over Ole Miss and the Rams is Utah State. Of teams rated in the Top 100 on kenpom.com’s adjusted efficiency margin, Dayton has the 9th slowest tempo. They are the 4th lowest scoring team in their conference and haven’t eclipsed 80 points in regulation this season. VCU can rest on a strong defense, but this is the kind of game they need to win to hopefully convince the committee to consider them.

Saint Mary’s @ San Francisco 
Loser goes home may be an apt descriptor for this game. Both teams rightfully would be excluded from a bracket made today. Neither team has done much to scare off other bubble teams. However, their status has fallen because of a rise in mid-level power conference teams. If those other middling teams slip, the winner of this game is back in the picture. The Gaels are the better shot to win and have better long term prospects and a road loss to a fine Dons team wouldn’t end their season but cause serious damage.

UPSET ALERT

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.

Virginia Tech @ Syracuse 
The Hokies ranking is a little hokey at this point. Wins over Villanova, Clemson, and Duke should be huge but losses to Penn State and Louisville hold them at 16th in the AP Poll. Syracuse has some pretty clear surface level stats that matter for this matchup. They are 7-1 at home this season with their one loss to Pittsburgh. The Orange also lead the ACC in assists which is fine if they weren’t one of the lower 3-point shooting teams. Las Vegas puts Syracuse as a slight favorite for this tilt and a win here puts them in everyone’s mock brackets come Sunday morning.

Minnesota Basketball Marcus Carr (gophersports.com)

Maryland @ Minnesota 
Big Ten teams have it easy this year. The conference is so deep with good teams that every team floating around .500 has crazy strength of schedule and a ranked win or two. The Terrapins are 8-7 but firmly on the bubble with road wins over Illinois and Wisconsin. Minnesota is actually good with an 11-4 record and no losses to unranked opponents. Maryland is one of the lower scoring and lower rebounding teams in the Big Ten. This conference has given plenty of classic games and surprising results, but Minnesota has been too well-rounded to drop a game like this halfway through the season.

Featured Image courtesy of hokiesports.com

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