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NCAA Resume Change Opportunities 2/13

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 
Florida State (vs Wake Forest)
Oklahoma State (vs Kansas State)
Texas (vs TCU)
Syracuse (vs Boston College)
Toledo (vs Bowling Green)
Kansas (@ Iowa State)
Alabama (vs Georgia)
Saint Louis (@ Fordham)
Rutgers (vs Northwestern)
Belmont (vs Morehead State)
Gonzaga (@ San Francisco)
Western Kentucky (vs Rice)*
UCLA (@ Washington)
USC (@ Washington State)
Colorado (@ California)
Boise State (vs UNLV)*

Teams that Need a Win but Could Lose 
Oregon (@ Arizona)
The Wildcats aren’t eligible for postseason play but still present a tough opponent to Oregon. The Ducks were once ranked inside the Top 20 and now find themselves at the bottom of a vast bubble. Two Q3 losses are bringing them down but a four-game stretch of Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and Stanford offers plenty of opportunity. If they lose to Arizona and Colorado, their destiny depends even more on things outside their control.

Oregon Basketball LJ Figueroa (goducks.com)

UAB (@ Louisiana Tech)*
Providence (@ DePaul)
Saint Mary’s (@ Pepperdine)
Both the Friars and Gaels need wins because they are on the outside looking in. Throw the Blazers in and their cumulative at-large chances are minute. Pepperdine and DePaul are both worse teams with home-court advantage. If any of these three teams lose they are all but eliminated from at-large contention.

Ole Miss @ South Carolina
Utah @ Stanford
All four teams are in must-win mode because only Stanford is even in the picture right now. Utah, Ole Miss, and South Carolina have the benefit of potential key wins on the horizon and need to fight to stay relevant. The Cardinal already have an adequate resume but can’t afford to lose to teams who could drop to low Q2 maybe Q3 teams. The Gamecocks may have a slight advantage having played so few games AND having two ranked opponents still on the docket.

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.

Oklahoma @ West Virginia
Villanova @ Creighton

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.

Loyola Chicago Basketball Tate Hall (loyolaramblers.com)

Loyola Chicago @ Drake 
Is there a world where both Missouri Valley teams make the Big Dance? Yes but it is tough to conjure. There are two situations that mutually help both teams. The first is splitting the games with close results where neither team moves up or down much. In that world, other bubble teams from power conferences need to start falling off. The other situation is Drake winning both games close because Loyola Chicago is already perceived to be the stronger team. Fans of small conferences need to root for one of those two outcomes if the Bulldogs are going to get an at-large bid.

UConn @ Xavier 
The case for a UConn at-large bid is very weak. They have a single Q1 win and haven’t defeated any strong conference opponents. They still have a few shots to win good conference matchups and it starts in Cincinnati. On the other hand, the Musketeers have three or four wins over tournament teams and two of the top scorers in the conference in Zach Freemantle and Paul Scruggs. The Huskies will again be without starting guard James Bouknight and must rely on sturdy defense to survive this bout. Neither team is knocked out of the picture with a loss but UConn is more desperate for the win.

Arkansas @ Mizzou

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.

Michigan State Basketball Joey Hauser (msuspartans.com)

Indiana @ Ohio State
Tennessee @ LSU
Iowa @ Michigan State
North Carolina @ Virginia
The situation is very similar in all of these matchups: a team on the bubble faces a Top 16 team. It isn’t worth parsing through the ins and outs of each individual matchup, but any executed upset helps to firmly plant that team inside the March Madness scene. The only team truly on the outs right now is Michigan State who still have five games against Top 25 teams. A 14-10 record with marquee wins will bolster their case on Selection Sunday.

Featured Image courtesy of goxavier.com

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