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
Ohio State (@ Penn State)
Belmont (vs Jacksonville State)
Gonzaga (vs Saint Mary’s)
Winthrop (@ High Point)
San Diego State (@ Fresno State)
Stanford (@ Washington)
Teams that Need a Win but Could Lose
BYU (vs Pacific)
At this point in the season, BYU just needs to dodge pitfall opponents. They can play through the WCC tournament and pick up no more quality wins and earn an at-large bid. The only reason this game isn’t in the “Should Win” category is because of their previous matchup. The Cougars are better in almost every phase of the game but weren’t able to put away the Tigers when given the chance. Caleb Lohner missed two free throws to ice the game in regulation and Richard Harward missed two free throws to go ahead in the first of two overtime periods. After a scare in round one, expect BYU to complete the sweep.
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.
Iowa @ 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.
Arizona @ UCLA
Colorado @ Oregon
Disclaimer: Arizona is ineligible for postseason tournaments this season.
After USC, these three are clearly the second, third, and fourth best teams in the Pac-12. UCLA has the easiest matchup against a team that beat in Tucson 81-76 over a month ago. The Bruins have yet to lose a home game but haven’t been playing their best basketball lately. They have dropped two of their three games in February with their only win a squeaker at Washington. UCLA’s recent form make this look like a tight matchup but a win could reignite the momentum they had in January.
When Colorado and Oregon first played, the Ducks were served their second loss of the season 79-72. Both teams have accumulated a couple of Q3 losses that probably prevent them from getting a high seed. Oregon seems to have a clean slate of health for the first time in a while. They will likely ride their current three-game winning streak to a noteworthy win against a strong opponent.
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.
Houston @ Wichita State
The Cougars are in March Madness solidly and only a loss to South Florida would look really bad on their resume. This game might be the Shockers last chance to boost their resume more firmly on the bubble. Three of Wichita State’s four losses on the season have been to tournament contenders (Mizzou, Oklahoma State, Houston). They’ve also won their last four games, all of which have been decided by eight or fewer points. Houston, meanwhile is coming back from over a week of COVID-related postponements. It’s unlikely that Wichita State pulls all off the upset, but a win would go a long way for an at-large bid.
Rutgers @ Michigan
Unlike the American conference matchup above, Rutgers is a safe shot to go dancing. The Scarlet Knights don’t have any road wins against ranked teams and haven’t played Michigan yet this season. The Wolverines have a major home edge boasting a 10-0 record at the Crisler Center. Michigan has to play high intensity in each of their remaining games to retain a projected 1 seed in March Madness. For Rutgers to achieve an upset, they need to capitalize on turnovers. The Wolverines are the third-worst Big Ten team in turnover margin and the Scarlet Knights generate the most steals in the conference. This game will provide insight to future brackets as to what Rutgers ceiling is against elite opponents.
Featured Image courtesy of goshockers.com
“From Our Haus to Yours“