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 (@ South Florida)
Drake (vs Northern Iowa)
Tennessee (vs Georgia)
Villanova (vs Marquette)
Wisconsin (@ Nebraska)
San Diego State (vs San Jose State)
Teams that Need a Win but Could Lose
UConn (@ Providence)
Indiana (@ Northwestern)
Mizzou (@ Ole Miss)
Saint Louis (vs Rhode Island)
LSU (@ Mississippi State)
In this group, four teams are very much on the bubble with one exception, Mizzou, ranked in the Top 10. Indiana is the only team with a rematch having lost to Northwestern 74-67 back in December. This time around, they travel to Evanston to face a Wildcats team that hasn’t won since the day after Christmas. UConn has a premier scoring defense and draws a Friars team that has gone 2-7 in 2021. The Huskies need a win to get out of a dense bubble. Saint Louis and LSU boast potent offenses and matchup against teams more known for defense. A loss for either team puts intense pressure on the final stretch of the season to hang with other bubble teams.
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.
Rutgers @ Iowa
Even great teams run into a wall sometimes. For Iowa, four losses in their last five games has demoted them 11 spots in the rankings. Conversely, Rutgers has joined the Top 25 on the back of four straight victories. These teams met back in January where Iowa captured victory 77-75. The Scarlet Knights were up 75-74 with 17 seconds left and allowed three free throws without even putting up a potential game-tying or game-winning shot. Heading into the rematch, Rutgers defensive efficiency has shown allowing fewer than 60 points per game on their current win streak. Both the winner and the loser will see little movement after the result with each team hanging between seeds four and seven at the moment.
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.
No Games to Report.
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 @ Georgia Tech
The Yellow Jackets haven’t been in the running for tournament candidacy at all this season but are starting to sneak in with consistent play against strong teams. Since the start of the calendar year, Georgia Tech is 4-3 with wins against ranked Clemson and Florida State. They also hung close with Virginia losing in Charlottesville 64-62. Now that round two has come about, an upset victory should vault Georgia Tech into projected brackets. The Cavaliers are a tough nut to crack with their usual emphasis on slow pace and sturdy defense. Of their three losses, only one was to an unranked opponent against San Francisco back in November. If the upset is complete, Virginia isn’t harmed much and the ACC picks up another at-large contender.
Featured Image courtesy of ramblinwreck.com
“From Our Haus to Yours“