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College Basketball

NCAA Resume Change Opportunities 2/27

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 
Tennessee (@ Auburn)
Clemson (vs Miami)
UConn (vs Marquette)
Ole Miss (@ Vanderbilt)
West Virginia (vs Kansas State)
Virginia Tech (vs Wake Forest)
Oregon (@ California)
Colorado State (vs Air Force)
Alabama (@ Mississippi State)
Loyola Chicago (vs Southern Illinois)*
Stanford (vs Oregon State)
Drake (@ Bradley)
USC (@ Utah)
Gonzaga (vs Loyola Marymount)

Teams that Need a Win but Could Lose 
Syracuse @ Georgia Tech
VCU (@ Davidson)
Florida (@ Kentucky)
Minnesota (@ Nebraska) 

How can a projected tournament team be considered at-risk against a team with a 1-14 conference record? It isn’t because Nebraska has show any strength. The Golden Gophers went from being ranked at the end of January to losing their last four games. The loss of starting guard Gabe Kalscheur to a broken finger has been the catalyst for failure recently. If Minnesota loses this game, their at-large hopes are dashed. A win means nothing but survival against such a weak opponent.

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 @ Texas Tech
Illinois @ Wisconsin
LSU @ Arkansas
Oklahoma State @ Oklahoma
Baylor @ Kansas
UCLA @ Colorado

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.

Boise State @ San Diego State*
Louisville @ Duke

Louisville Basketball Jae’Lyn Withers (gocards.com)

After some ominous midseason signs, Duke has fought back into the tournament picture. With a four-game active winning streak, including wins over Virginia and Syracuse, the Blue Devils could even rise up off of the bubble. Louisville, meanwhile, needs to get their act together. They fell flat against North Carolina after a multi-week COVID-related absence but bounced back with a home win over Notre Dame. The Cardinals now stare down the gauntlet of Duke, Virginia Tech, and Virginia to close out the regular season. There is no risk of bubbles being burst, but the winner buys more time for the remaining games.

UPSET ALERT

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.

Michigan @ Indiana
Florida State @ North Carolina
Creighton @ Xavier
BYU @ Saint Mary’s 

Saint Mary’s Basketball Matthias Tass (smcgaels.com)

Four home teams with their backs against the wall have tremendous opportunity on a stacked Saturday. Indiana and North Carolina are in deeper conferences so this isn’t their last shot to pick up a quality win. The Hoosiers dropped the ball against Michigan State but can gain a lot of cachet with a victory over the Wolverines. The Tar Heels smashed Louisville a week ago but then lost to Marquette in a last-minute game. They close the season out with games against Syracuse and Duke. If they win two of their last three games they should be penciled into the Big Dance. Xavier can also make their way onto projected brackets with an upset over Creighton. This is their last chance to pick up a quality win in the regular season. Saint Mary’s has a slim chance to grab an at-large spot and that evaporates with a loss to BYU.

Featured Image courtesy of gophersports.com

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