Bracket Scouting Daily: Louisville at Virginia Tech & Iowa State at Oklahoma Headline Monday’s Slate
Welcome to Bracket Scouting Daily, a series where we’ll examine the biggest college basketball games of the day and how they can impact the NCAA Tournament resumes of the teams involved. It’s more of a micro-look compared to our weekly, big-picture Bracket Scouting, which debuted Sunday.
Here are Monday’s games involving projected or potential NCAA Tournament teams.
No. 16 Louisville at No. 11 Virginia Tech, 7 p.m. ET
Louisville (16-6): No. 15 NET; 3-5 Quadrant 1, 4-1 Quadrant 2, 5-0 Quadrant 3, 4-0 Quadrant 4
Stadium’s Latest Seed Projection: No. 4 seed
Virginia Tech (18-3): No. 9 NET; 3-2 Quadrant 1, 4-1 Quadrant 2, 3-0 Quadrant 3, 8-0 Quadrant 4
Stadium’s Latest Seed Projection: No. 5 seed
This is a Quadrant 1 game for both schools and they have similar resumes, so it’s hard to say one team needs the win more than the other. They’re both projected as No. 4 seeds, according to Bracket Matrix, and they’re tied for fourth in the ACC with Syracuse with a 7-2 conference record.
This would arguably be Virginia Tech’s second-best win of the season, behind a neutral-court win over Purdue (No. 11 NET). A victory for Louisville would give the Cardinals three premier wins of relatively equal stature – at home against Michigan State, at North Carolina and at Virginia Tech.
Including Monday’s game, Louisville has six remaining Quadrant 1 games in the regular season, including four on the road, while Virginia Tech has five Quadrant 1 opportunities with three at home. Those three games for the Hokies are against Louisville, Virginia and Duke, so if Virginia Tech wants to prove its top-10 ranking in the NET, BPI and on kenpom.com, it needs to win at least one of those three games and ideally two of them.
It’s unfair to label any of Louisville’s next three matchups as a “must-win” game, but the Cardinals play at Virginia Tech and Florida State before hosting Duke. The Cards lost at home to North Carolina Saturday so they could look up and reasonably find themselves on a four-game losing streak after winning six in a row.
Louisville would safely be in the NCAA Tournament field if the season ended today, but if it wants to maintain its status as a projected top-four seed, it can ill-afford a long losing streak late in the season.
[RELATED: Stadium’s Latest NCAA Tournament Projections]
West Virginia at No. 18 Texas Tech, 9 p.m. ET
West Virginia (10-12): No. 90 NET; 1-9 Quadrant 1, 1-0 Quadrant 2, 4-3 Quadrant 3, 4-0 Quadrant 4
Stadium’s Latest Seed Projection: N/A
Texas Tech (17-5): No. 16 NET; 3-5 Quadrant 1, 6-0 Quadrant 2, 0-0 Quadrant 3, 8-0 Quadrant 4
Stadium’s Latest Seed Projection: No. 5 seed
Texas Tech will add its first Quadrant 3 game to its resume tonight, which goes to say a win offers little value for the Red Raiders, but a loss could be damaging. Home games against Oklahoma State and West Virginia are the only Quadrant 3 games available in the Big 12 regular season so while almost anything is possible on a night-to-night basis in the conference, home dates with the Cowboys and Mountaineers are must-wins, if only because a loss would weigh down a resume.
West Virginia is 0-5 on the road and home teams in Big 12 play have won 67.4 percent of the time – the third-highest home winning percentage of college basketball’s 32 conferences – so all signs point to a likely Texas Tech win. The Red Raiders have lost four of their last five games in conference play so this could be their “get right” game before they travel to the Oklahoma schools in their next two games.
No. 17 Iowa State at Oklahoma, 9 p.m. ET
Iowa State (17-5): No. 13 NET; 3-4 Quadrant 1, 3-1 Quadrant 2, 5-0 Quadrant 3, 6-0 Quadrant 4
Stadium’s Latest Seed Projection: No. 6 seed
Oklahoma (15-7): No. 37 NET; 3-6 Quadrant 1, 5-1 Quadrant 2, 7-0 Quadrant 3, 0-0 Quadrant 4
Stadium’s Latest Seed Projection: No. 9 seed
There’s a pretty significant gap between Iowa State and Oklahoma in advanced metrics despite the two schools having a fairly similar overall body of work. Here’s the Sooners’ chance to close that gap with a home game against potentially the best team in the Big 12.
After Sunday, kenpom.com projects Kansas and Iowa State to share the regular season title with a 12-6 conference record. This is a Quadrant 1 game for both teams and they could both really use the win.
Despite Iowa State’s No. 12 ranking on kenpom.com and No. 13 ranking in the NET, which might suggest the Cyclones are in contention for a No. 3 seed, they’re currently projected to be a No. 6 seed, according to Stadium’s latest NCAA Tournament projections. A win would level their Quadrant 1 record to 4-4 and it would give them their third road victory over a top-40 team.
Iowa State has six remaining Quadrant 1 games in the regular season with two at home and four on the road. The Cyclones should hope to split those games, at the very least.
Oklahoma is a No. 9 seed in Stadium’s latest NCAA Tournament projections, but the Sooners are underdogs in seven of their nine remaining regular season games, which puts them on a trajectory to be on the bubble on Selection Sunday. Seven of their nine remaining regular season games will fall under Quadrant 1 and three of those games are at home. Even if Oklahoma won its three remaining Quadrant 1 home games and lost the four on the road, that would leave the Sooners with a 6-10 Quadrant 1 record.
At risk of extending its losing streak to three games and falling to 3-7 in the Big 12 and in Quadrant 1 games, Oklahoma could really use a win.
Penn State at Northwestern, 8 p.m. ET
Northwestern (12-9): No. 58 NET; 0-7 Quadrant 1, 2-2 Quadrant 2, 4-0 Quadrant 3, 6-0 Quadrant 4
Northwestern is currently nowhere near the NCAA Tournament picture, but the Wildcats haven’t been eliminated from the discussion, either. Seven of their nine losses are in Quadrant 1, but they also haven’t won any Quadrant 1 games.
A loss at home Monday night against winless-in-the-Big-Ten Penn State would represent Northwestern’s first Quadrant 3 loss and could effectively represent the knockout punch to the Wildcats’ already minuscule hopes for an at-large bid.
Northwestern has five Quadrant 1 games left in the regular season, including two at home and road games against Ohio State and Nebraska, which are also in the bottom half of the Big Ten, so a late-season run could at least propel the Wildcats to the fringes of the bubble.
Colgate at Lehigh, 7 p.m. ET
Lehigh (15-6): No. 144 NET; No. 16 seed in Stadium’s latest NCAA Tournament projections
Lehigh enters Monday tied for first in the Patriot League with Bucknell, while Colgate is in fifth place in the conference. Without a single Quadrant 1 or Quadrant 2 win or opportunity remaining, Lehigh’s ceiling is likely a No. 16 seed if the Mountain Hawks win the Patriot League Tournament.
Marist at Canisius, 7 p.m. ET
Canisius (9-12): No. 255 NET
Canisius is in second place in the MAAC, one game behind Rider, which is a projected No. 16 seed in Stadium’s latest NCAA Tournament projections. The Golden Griffins are another team that might end up on the No. 16 seed line on Selection Sunday.
Alabama State at Prairie View A&M, 8:30 p.m. ET
Prairie View A&M (10-11): No. 229 NET; No. 16 seed in Stadium’s latest NCAA Tournament projections
Prairie View A&M has a two-game lead over Alabama State in the SWAC and the Panthers have won nine in a row after losing 11 in a row during non-conference play. They have the No. 2 offense and No. 2 defense in SWAC play, which currently makes them the favorite to win the conference’s auto-bid.
Stadium’s latest NCAA Tournament projections have Prairie View A&M playing No. 1 seed Virginia in the first round.