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
Kansas (vs Iowa State)
Belmont (vs Eastern Kentucky)
USC (@ Washington)
Boise State (vs UNLV)
UCLA (@ Washington State)
Teams that Need a Win but Could Lose
Winthrop (@ Radford)
Oregon (@ Arizona State)
Winthrop seems like they should waltz their way into an auto-bid from the Big South. The next best team is Radford so this game represents their last stepping stone of the regular season. Should the Eagles win out, they might be able to make a case for as high as a 12 seed.
Oregon has a different case on their hands: an Arizona State team that failed to match preseason expectations. With the Ducks slipping on the bubble, they now need a potentially shorthanded win. Both Eric Williams and Chris Duarte are questionable to play taking away 30 points on average. The Sun Devils were on a miniature two-game winning streak prior to three COVID-related postponements to start February. Oregon doesn’t face any more ranked opponents this season making each game crucial for their case.
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.
Colorado @ Stanford
Time is running out for Stanford to grab more than the one or two quality wins that they have. Their resume is thin in that department but they don’t often lose to worse teams. The Cardinal 7-0 against Q3 and Q4 teams with their worst loss coming in Tempe to Arizona State. By no stretch of the imagination has Colorado been dominant, but they are secure in their postseason chances. When these teams met before, the Buffaloes won 77-64 in part to an Evan Battey double-double. If the Buffs win again, they’ll be a half-game out of first in the Pac-12. Stanford thrives on takeaways averaging over 10 combined steals and blocks. Colorado has the 3-point shooting firepower to pile on fast, so all defensive cylinders need to be firing for the Cardinal to win.
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.
Purdue @ Minnesota
In a complete role reversal from their previous matchup, Purdue is the ranked team on the road and Minnesota is the unranked host. A couple weeks ago, the Boilermakers had their way with the Golden Gophers. A 51-point second half set a season high for Purdue and turned the game around in an 81-62 win. Both teams are firmly in the mid-range seed projections and have similarly difficult schedules going forwards. Minnesota needs wins less for March Madness and more to prevent having to play extra games in a conference tournament. It has been about a month since the Gophers last had an impressive win but the opportunity is up again. With little at risk and two good teams, this should be the most compelling game on the day’s slate.
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.
No Games to Report.
Featured Image courtesy of gophersports.com
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