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
Illinois (vs Nebraska)
Belmont (@ Eastern Kentucky)
BYU (vs San Francisco)
Minnesota (vs Northwestern)
Teams that Need a Win but Could Lose
UCLA (@ Utah)
This matchup feels like a gimmie for UCLA but isn’t exactly as it seems. Utah is 9-10 and on an active three-game losing streak. However, when these teams first met, UCLA clung to a small lead winning 72-70. Since that game the Bruins are 10-3 but with only one win by 10+ points. With matchup two in Salt Lake City, UCLA needs to dodge a misstep against a Utah team that plays close against good teams.
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 @ Michigan
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.
USC @ Colorado
Boise State @ San Diego State
Oregon @ Stanford
USC, Colorado, and Oregon are almost certainly in. San Diego State should be in if they can win one of two games against Boise State. Likewise, avoiding a sweep keeps the Broncos on the bubble at minimum. Stanford is the team in this group with the most to lose. Losing to Oregon at home would knock them down with their last hope being a March 3rd date with USC to bolster their regular season performance. The Trojans arguably have the most to gain with four games remaining and a high seed still in play.
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.
Western Kentucky @ Houston
Ohio State @ Michigan State
At-large hopes are slim for both the Spartans and the Hilltoppers. Michigan State is coming off a great win over Illinois and Western Kentucky has a good overall record with a win over Alabama on their resume. Of the two, Michigan State has a much more realistic chance of pulling an upset given that they are at home and are a stronger team than Western Kentucky. A loss from the Hilltoppers just about eliminates them from at-large contention. A loss for Michigan State does not end their at-large prospects with two matchups against Michigan and potential added strong matchups in the Big Ten tournament.
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