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 taking a bad loss on their resume or are a bad loss from falling out of at-large contention.
Teams that Should Win
Indiana (vs Michigan State)
Alabama (vs Vanderbilt)
Tennessee (vs Kentucky)
VCU (vs George Mason)
BYU (@ Loyola Marymount)
Florida State (@ Pittsburgh)
Richmond (vs Duquesne)
Belmont (vs Tennessee Tech)
Seton Hall (@ Georgetown)
Purdue (@ Nebraska)
Oklahoma (@ Iowa State)
USC (vs Arizona)
St. John’s (vs DePaul)
Gonzaga (vs San Diego)
Virginia (@ Duke)
Colorado (@ Oregon State)
Oregon (vs Utah)
UCLA (vs Arizona State)
Teams that Need a Win but Could Lose
Mizzou (@ South Carolina)
Florida (vs Georgia)
LSU (vs Auburn)
This trio of SEC teams feel good about their at-large appeal. Each team also has reasons to need wins in the next week or so. Mizzou has lost their last three after hitting tenth in the AP Poll. Florida has lost their last two games. LSU is extra safe but still can aim for a higher seed. It wouldn’t be wrong to consider these games “should win,” but none of their opponents are particularly weak.
Syracuse (vs Notre Dame)
Stanford (@ Washington State)
Ole Miss (vs Mississippi State)
Welcome to the bubble. Here are three teams with opponents pretty much out of the bubble scene. Syracuse, Stanford, and Ole Miss are all ranked between 40 and 60 on KenPom, between 50 and 60 in NET, and between 35 and 65 in BPI. The Orange have the fewest quality wins and won’t pick any more up in the regular season. The Cardinal have two more valuable matchups but the Pac-12 doesn’t have a reputation to match other power conferences. Ole Miss has momentum with four straight wins (including two ranked opponents) with one more ranked opponent on the schedule. With scarce time, if any of those three teams lose they are out of the at-large picture.
San Diego State (@ Fresno State)*
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.
Texas Tech @ Kansas
West Virginia @ Texas
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.
Louisville @ North Carolina
Teams coming off extended COVID-related breaks have struggled in their return to play. Louisville enters this matchup having not played since the first of the month. North Carolina has also had an on-and-off schedule due to COVID but did sneak a game in against Northeastern on Wednesday which they won 82-62. The Tar Heels have also won four of their last six games and are undefeated at home. The Cardinals thrive on defense and can hang around mid-seed level if they can limit the UNC offense. For North Carolina, time is running out to peel away from the bubble.
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.
UConn @ Villanova
The Huskies are firmly on the bubble with destiny at least somewhat in their control. Aside from winning the Big East Tournament, a win over Villanova would go a long way towards tournament candidacy. After two postponements, this matchup comes at arguably one of UConn’s lowest points over the last couple months. They benefit from a recent return of James Bouknight and a Wildcats squad that just lost to Creighton 86-70. Villanova has nothing to lose but UConn would love postseason security prior to their conference tournament.
Featured Image courtesy of uconnhuskies.com
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