Teams can now start planning for March

Boh Suh, Staff Writer

Late January and early February is when college basketball teams need to really consider where they will be in the tournament bracket at the end of the year.

If a team that has been struggling, does well, especially against ranked teams, it will make a difference.

I remember last year, Wisconsin was struggling around this time, but then they beat a few ranked teams in a row and made it to March Madness.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, it is uncertain whether March Madness will occur again, or if it will have a fewer teams instead of the usual 68 teams.

According to Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology on ESPN, the Big Ten is expected to send the most teams to the tournament with 10, by followed by the Big 12 conference with seven.

Interestingly, his prediction does not include an usual suspect, the Michigan State Spartans. They started with a 6-0 record and were ranked No. 4 in the nation at one point, but now they are sitting at 8-6 with a 2-6 Big Ten record.

Michigan State still has a few quality teams left on it schedule, including some ranked games. I believe that they will make it if they can show a spark at the end. I always root for Big Ten teams as long as they’re not playing Wisconsin.

Teams that will be in Top 5: Gonzaga, Baylor, Villanova, Michigan, and Houston.

This week features a Top 5 matchup between Baylor and Texas. Baylor is still undefeated, and Texas just had a one point loss against Oklahoma. Will they be able to recover from that close loss? My prediction based on what I have seen in college basketball in the past many years is that Texas will not be able to recover from that loss. However, it is a home game for Texas, so there is a home court advantage. With Texas losing, Houston takes advantage of the situation to be in the Top 5.

Teams that will be in Top 10: Texas, Iowa, Missouri, West Virginia, and Texas Tech.

There will be some changes in the Top 10 because of some tough matchups that some teams are facing this week. Alabama will have a road game in Missouri, and Virginia has two games this week, including a game against No. 25 Louisville and an away game against North Carolina State plays well at home.

Teams that will be in Top 15: Virginia, Alabama, Ohio State, Illinois, and Creighton.

There will be some ranking shifts in top 15 as well. Wisconsin has a tough road test against Illinois this week. Currently, Wisconsin is No. 14 and Illinois is No. 19, but Illinois is much better than its ranking. Big Ten teams have been strong performers at home games, so any away games would be a challenge. If Wisconsin beats Illinois, I will move into the Top 10.

Teams that will be in Top 25: Wisconsin, Ohio State, Kansas, Florida State, Tennessee, Minnesota, Saint Louis, Louisville, Drake, and Colorado

Many of the games are currently to be determined, so some teams will not get many game actions, which will make them stay where they are. However, Boise State, Drake, and Colorado have favorable matchups this week while Virginia Tech, University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA), and Oklahoma all have tough tests this week.