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
Maryland (vs Nebraska)*
North Carolina (vs Northeastern)
USC (vs Arizona State)
Loyola Chicago (vs Valparaiso)
Kansas (vs Kansas State)
Drake (@ Northern Iowa)
Seton Hall (vs DePaul)
Tennessee (vs South Carolina)
Teams that Need a Win but Could Lose
No Games to Report.
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.
No Games to Report.
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.
Syracuse @ Louisville
Even though they’ve only played one game in the last three weeks, Louisville seems poised to get an at-large bid. They possess strong wins over Seton Hall, Western Kentucky, and Virginia Tech, but none of those qualify as Q1. However, the Cardinals have strong rating metrics across the board with a perfectly rigorous remaining schedule. The Orange come in to town needing good wins. Over their last five games, Syracuse has beat each team with a worse record and lost to teams with better records. They’ll need to break that pattern through high offense, akin to what Florida State recently did to Virginia.
VCU @ Richmond
There’s still a fighting chance that the Atlantic 10 Conference sends four teams to the Big Dance. As owners of the best overall and conference record, VCU is projected to have the best chance to go dancing. With no Q1 wins, the easiest path for the Rams to earn a bid is wins over Richmond and Saint Louis in the regular season. Richmond has experienced both sides of the transitive property with their early-season win over Kentucky looking less impressive but a road win over Loyola Chicago shining through. The Spiders haven’t played a conference game since January 26th. They more urgently need to win against VCU and/or Saint Louis to stay in the bubble picture.
Minnesota @ Indiana
The bloated Big Ten has a handful of teams that are impressive mostly for being in the conference. Neither Minnesota nor Indiana would scare too many elite teams but both have high chances of making March Madness. The two teams are a combined 6-15 against Q1 opponents and 12-1 against Q3 and Q4 opponents. This makes matchup against each other and similar opponents more valuable. The Hoosiers have a major edge against a Golden Gophers squad that is 0-7 in road games. This game may not determine whether a team makes or misses the tournament, but should help to boost seed lines for either team.
Utah State @ Boise State
Mountain West Conference: See Atlantic 10. Another mid-major can realistically send four teams into the postseason. The upcoming two-game series between these two teams has giant implications. If either teams gets swept, it could all but dash their at-large hopes. The Broncos still have two matchups against San Diego State that could also make a difference. Rebounding should be the difference in the series at hand, though. Utah State has the second best rebounding margin in the country and a starting center who almost averages a double double in Neemias Queta. Both games will be nationally televised and deserve high spectatorship.
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 utahstateaggies.com
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