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
Penn State (vs Nebraska)
Teams that Need a Win but Could Lose
Seton Hall (vs Marquette)
If a team’s ceiling and ability were the sole determinants of at-large consideration, Seton Hall would feel like a near lock. They have hung with every strong opponent, have six Q1 or Q2 wins, and possess only a single Q3 loss. Marquette is just pesky enough that this could be a trap for the Pirates. When the teams first met, Seton Hall pulled away late to win 70-63 in Fiserv Forum. Though nothing is guaranteed in college basketball, Seton Hall has one of the easiest upcoming regular season schedules among bubble contenders
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.
Michigan @ Wisconsin
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.
Minnesota @ Maryland
Being in the Big Ten has helped keep some average teams afloat in resume appearance. Maryland is one such team that has light at the end of the tunnel despite a mediocre 10-10 record. Their Q1 record is 4-10 with no Q2 games played. With that being said, the Terrapins flashiest remaining opponent may just be Minnesota. Though the Golden Gophers have a cleaner resume, their glaring weakness comes on the road. Minnesota is yet to win a road game this season losing by an average of 17 points. Their 13-1 home record is only marred by a loss to Maryland in January. The Terps need to repeat that 63-49 upset to have cushion going into a overpowered Big Ten tournament.
Pittsburgh @ Georgia Tech
Some bracketologists will say these teams are both unrealistic shots to earn an at-large seat but the paths exist. Pittsburgh has a win over Virginia Tech and a handful of Q2 wins to combat their early season loss against St. Francis. Georgia Tech beat Florida State to go with a 4-1 Q2 record but is dragged down by early season losses to Georgia State and Mercer. Essentially if November games were omitted both teams are firmly on the bubble. This game approaches loser goes home territory with the Panthers having a weaker resume and the Yellow Jackets having the support of oddsmakers.
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.
Loyola Chicago @ Drake*
It has been a long time since a Missouri Valley Conference matchup was as important and nationally covered as these teams on Saturday. Drake, as noted in yesterday’s piece, needs to win at least one of the two matchups. They failed to show up in an 81-54 loss though it was their first game without leading scorer ShanQuan Hemphill. The team hopes that he will recover from his broken foot in time for postseason play, but there may not be a March Madness for the Bulldogs if they can’t take Game 2. The Ramblers have a phenomenal defense but if Drake can allow fewer than the 63% shooting they allowed yesterday, at-large consideration is still in play.
Featured Image courtesy of shupirates.com
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