College basketball: These 7 teams seek a resume booster this weekend
Roughly four weeks remain until Selection Sunday, so time is running out on teams who are still trying to impress the committee.
Teams are entering the back half of their conference schedule. There aren’t any secrets among rivals and a team’s identity is forged clear by this point in the season.
Entering another busy weekend, here are seven teams, in alphabetical order, who have a matchup that could enhance their postseason resume.
(While the committee uses five or six ratings systems to evaluate teams, we’ve used KenPom alone here for simplicity purposes).
Alabama (14-9, 5-6 SEC)
at Florida (16-8, 7-4)
5:30 p.m. ET Saturday, SEC Network
Bama’s best wins: Wichita St. (11), Texas A&M (19), Notre Dame (28), South Carolina (43), Clemson (56).
Worst losses: Ole Miss (94), Auburn (190).
The Crimson Tide has proven that it can defeat quality NCAA tournament caliber opponents away from home. First-year coach Avery Johnson has navigated the nation’s 18th most difficult schedule despite losing his starting point guard to injury two months ago. Belgian senior Retin Obasohan has been terrific in the Tide’s three-game winning streak (19.0 ppg, 5.7 apg, 4.3 rpg).
Expect a stout defensive battle against the Gators. Alabama needs to limit turnovers (20.6 percent of possessions in SEC play) and make free throws (64.4 pct.)
Butler (17-7, 6-6 Big East)
vs. Xavier (21-3, 9-3)
2:30 p.m. ET Saturday, FOX
Butler’s best wins: Purdue (16), Cincinnati (31), Creighton (42), Providence (54).
Worst loss: Marquette (105)
The Bulldogs pair an elite offense with an average defense and that inconsistency leaves them sixth in the Big East standings. They’ve scored easily during their three-game winning streak, producing 1.29, 1.12 and 1.19 points per possession.
In their first meeting with Xavier, however, the offense sputtered. The game was decided inside-the-arc, where the Bulldogs misfired -- 17 of 47 (36.2 pct.) while the Musketeers flourished -- 21 of 34 (61.8 pct.)
Florida State (16-8, 6-6 ACC)|
vs. Miami (19-4, 8-3)
6:30 p.m. ET Sunday, ESPNU
FSU’s best wins: Virginia (2), Florida (29), VCU (40).
Worst loss: Hofstra (79)
Seminoles freshman Malik Beasley has played well in ACC play, giving coach Leonard Hamilton 18.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg, making 59 percent of 2s and 44 percent of 3s.
His classmate Dwayne Bacon has been productive, but inefficient. He has 16 consecutive games in double figures due to volume shooting and an offensive rating of 90.9.
Miami crushed its in-state rival 72-59 in January as FSU suffered its worst 3-point shooting effort of the season (2 of 19) and mustered a season-low 0.82 points per possession.
George Washington (18-6, 7-4 A10)
at St. Bonaventure (16-6, 8-3)
4 p.m. ET Saturday
GW’s best wins: Virginia (2), Seton Hall (36), VCU (40)
Worst losses: Saint Louis (251), DePaul (165), Richmond (97)
The Colonials have not been a good defensive team this season (170th in adjusted efficiency). Still, it’s not every day that a coach apologizes like Mike Lonergan did earlier this week after watching St. Joseph’s slice his squad for 1.38 points per possession.
“I apologize for our performance last night,” Lonergan wrote on his Facebook page. “Our defense was atrocious. We have a great group of young men but they are very inconsistent and that has been frustrating. Too many highs and lows this season. I value consistent effort and we have not gotten that. I have struggled with this team more than any team I have been around in 28 seasons as a college coach with getting them to value individual and team defense. We will keep working hard and emphasizing the need to play with energy and enthusiasm at the defensive end. Hopefully it is not too late to get them to value DEFENSE! Keep the faith!!”
GW could stand a seven game winning streak to close the regular season and the Bonnies are one of four teams they trail in the A10 standings.
Texas Tech (14-9, 4-7)
at Baylor (18-6, 7-4)
8 p.m. ET Saturday, ESPNU
Red Raiders’ best wins: Iowa State (17), Texas (25), UALR (46), Hawaii (53)
Worst losses: Arkansas (67)
Eight of Texas Tech’s nine losses have come against teams in the top 50 of KenPom and it’s added up to the nation’s eighth most difficult schedule per KenPom and RPI.
Also, the Red Raiders desperately need a quality win away from home.
Making 3-point shots is the key to Texas Tech’s success. They’ve averaged nine per game in their last three Big 12 victories, but they’ve connected on just 32.1 percent for the season.
UNCW (19-5, 11-2)
vs. James Madison (19-7, 9-4)
3 p.m. ET Saturday, NBCSN
UNCW’s Best wins: James Madison (70), Hofstra (79), William & Mary (80)
Worst losses: Radford (195), East Carolina (187), Towson (157)
The Seahawks don’t have a conventional profile, and ultimately a weak nonconference schedule (273rd) could crush any at-large chances. But you can’t discount a 10-game winning streak that’s created a two-game lead in the Colonial Athletic Association, which is a proven Cinderella producer and the nation’s ninth-best conference per KenPom and RPI.
Remember this name: C.J. Bryce. The 6-5 freshman from Charlotte is the likely Rookie of the Year. In a couple years, fans of local ACC schools might wonder how he got away.
Wisconsin (15-9, 7-4)
at Maryland (22-3, 10-2)
6:30 p.m., ESPN
Best Wins: Syracuse (32), VCU (40)
Worst Losses: Western Illinois (221), Milwaukee (118), Marquette (104), Northwestern (93).
After a forgettable nonconference run and the subsequent retirement of legendary coach Bo Ryan, the Badgers 17-year streak of NCAA tournament appearances seemed doomed.
But interim coach Greg Gard has steered the Badgers to six consecutive victories. Sharp 3-point shooting (24 of 45) pushed Wisconsin past Ohio State and Nebraska last week and junior forward Vitto Brown has been solid in Big Ten action, with an offensive rating of 116.0
Handling the Terps frontcourt will be important. Maryland makes 57.7 percent of its 2-pointers, which is 2nd in the nation.