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
BYU (@ Pepperdine)
Florida State (vs Miami FL)
Florida (vs Vanderbilt)
Baylor (@ Kansas State)
Colorado (vs Washington State)
Teams that Need a Win but Could Lose
Virginia Tech (@ Notre Dame)
Marquette @ Providence
Drake (@ Missouri State)*
Boise State (@ Colorado State)
Utah State (@UNLV)
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.
Creighton @ Seton Hall
The first time these two teams met, Creighton had their way with the visiting Pirates winning 89-53. Since then, The Blue Jays suffered surprise losses to Butler and Providence and a victory against UConn. Seton Hall has had two games where they beat DePaul and just narrowly lost to juggernaut Villanova. These teams are comparable in most major per-game stat categories. Creighton has more to gain as this level of win would help lock them in to an at-large minimum. Seton Hall needs this win to enter more secure at-large status and separate from the bubble.
Wisconsin @ Maryland
The Terrapins won in Madison last time this matchup happened. The lead changed for a final time with five minutes left in the second half before Maryland closed out their first of three road victories against ranked opponents. Wisconsin has the best scoring defense in the Big Ten allowing just 62.2 points per game. Maryland hasn’t scored 70+ points in five conference games this month. If the game is slow, Wisconsin should come away with a win to move themselves to a three seed or so. Maryland, like Seton Hall, can use this win to vault away from the bubble pack.
Louisville @ Clemson
Clemson has fallen hard and fast. After opening the month with close wins against Miami and North Carolina State, the Tigers have lost in blowouts to Virginia, Georgia Tech, and Florida State. Behind a stout Cavaliers defense, Louisville and Clemson rank second and third in fewest points per game among ACC teams. The Cardinals have an edge offensively especially with Carlik Jones who has scored 15+ points in all but one game this season. Both teams should feel good about tournament prospects but Clemson is sliding and needs to halt that trend soon.
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.
Penn State @ Ohio State
Penn State’s season continues to hang by the thread of conference strength. They are one of a handful of power conference teams who benefit more from what could happen than what has happened. The Nittany Lions are 5-6 with only a single Q1 win per the most recent NET rankings. After this game, Penn State has about six more impact games to try and make up ground on other bubble teams. Fortunately, for the Buckeyes, Penn State is a good enough team that an upset shouldn’t drop them out of the AP Polls or more than a couple of projected seed lines.
Ole Miss @ Arkansas
The Rebels are out of the postseason picture but still have some ranked games to come that could put them in the bubble conversation. At 8-6, Ole Miss needs wins now and will be an unstoppable force and immovable object type of game. Arkansas averages 85 points per game, good for 9th in all of D-1. Conversely, Ole Miss allows the 17th fewest points per game with 61.6. The Razorbacks get a slight boost for a win that could end up being Q2 at season’s end, but the Rebels pulling an upset would them in position to be vying for position.
Featured Image courtesy of gocards.com
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