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.
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
Oklahoma State (@ Iowa State)
Teams that Need a Win but Could Lose
Loyola Chicago (@ Bradley)*
Utah State (@ UNLV)
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.
Texas Tech @ West Virginia
This is an as-good-as-it-gets marquee matchup. Two Top 15 teams square off in Morgantown fighting for high seeding in March. For the Red Raiders, a win here would be substantial but not as big as their earlier win in Austin versus the Texas Longhorns. For West Virginia, however, this would be their top win of the season. Both teams are led by strong point guard play with Mac McClung leading Texas Tech into battle and scoring the most points per game in conference play of any Big 12 player. Miles McBride, like McClung, is Top 10 in the conference in scoring and field goal percentage but chips in more via assists and steals. If the bracket was made today, both teams should be seeded five or higher but have paths and aspirations for more.
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.
Syracuse @ Virginia
Watching Virginia basketball hasn’t historically been the most fun for casual basketball watchers. Tony Bennett has prided his program on their ability to execute suffocating defense and slow tempo while being efficient in offensive possessions. This season, the play is a bit more palatable with some exciting offensive players. Jay Huff and Kihei Clark, both rollovers from the 2019 title-winning Cavaliers, are joined by Marquette transfer Sam Hauser and Rice transfer Trey Murphy III as the Cavs to average 10+ points per game. Syracuse just had a big 18-point win over Virginia Tech that was preceded by a 26-point win over Miami. The Orange are 1-3 on the road this season which could act as an indicator for this matchup. Virginia is too solid to expect them to lose but Syracuse has surprised in January. A win for Syracuse would go a long way for at-large candidacy.
Featured Image courtesy of virginiasports.com
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