NCAA Tournament Bracket Scouting Daily: Virginia, UT, Marquette & More

Nine ranked teams are in action Wednesday night, including four teams in the top 10 of the latest AP poll.

Five teams in the AP Top 25 will play on the road against an unranked opponent, including the premier game of the night that features No. 10 Marquette at Villanova, so it’s unlikely they all finish the day unscathed.

Here’s a look at Wednesday’s biggest games and how the outcomes could affect the NCAA Tournament resumes of the programs involved.

The projected tourney seeds listed below come from Stadium’s latest NCAA Tournament projections.

No. 17 Maryland at Penn State, 6:30 p.m. ET

Maryland (21-7) | No. 23 NET | 6-5 Quadrant 1, 6-2 Quadrant 2, 3-0 Quadrant 3, 6-0 Quadrant 4

Stadium’s Latest NCAA Tournament Seed Projection: No. 5 seed

Thanks to Penn State’s slight rise in February, a month where it’s 4-2 after going 0-8 in January, this is a Quadrant 1 game for Maryland. The Nittany Lions have climbed to No. 59 in the NET rankings, so this is one of the more winnable Quadrant 1 games the Terrapins will play all season.

A road win on Wednesday would guarantee that Maryland would finish no worse than .500 in Quadrant 1. The Terps finish the regular season with a home game against Michigan (Quadrant 1), followed by a home game against Minnesota (Quadrant 2). That’s a favorable closing schedule that could allow Maryland to climb to a top-four seed.

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Georgia Tech at No. 2 Virginia, 7 p.m. ET

Virginia (24-2) | No. 2 NET | 9-2 Quadrant 1, 5-0 Quadrant 2, 2-0 Quadrant 3, 8-0 Quadrant 4

Stadium’s Latest NCAA Tournament Seed Projection: No. 1 seed

Virginia’s four remaining regular season games provide chances for two more good wins and, potentially, two bad losses. The Cavaliers host Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh – a pair of Quadrant 3 games – that would do little for their resume. However, a loss in either game would be Virginia’s worst loss of the season.

The next week, it plays a pair of Quadrant 1 games against Syracuse and Louisville.

The ‘Hoos are a half-game behind North Carolina in the ACC standings and they’re a half-game ahead of Duke, so they might need to win out in order to guarantee at least a share of the regular season title.

As good as Virginia (and its resume) is, there could be some serious competition for the No. 1 seeds, especially within the ACC, as Duke, Virginia and North Carolina can contend for a top seed.

No. 7 Tennessee at Ole Miss, 7 p.m. ET

Tennessee (24-3) | No. 7 NET | 5-3 Quadrant 1, 6-0 Quadrant 2, 7-0 Quadrant 3, 5-0 Quadrant 4

Stadium’s Latest NCAA Tournament Seed Projection: No. 2 seed

Ole Miss (19-8) | No. 38 NET | 4-7 Quadrant 1, 4-1 Quadrant 2, 5-0 Quadrant 3, 6-0 Quadrant 4

Stadium’s Latest NCAA Tournament Seed Projection: No. 8 seed

Tennessee is at a bit of a crossroads. Roughly a week and a half ago, the Volunteers were ranked No. 1 and their only loss of the season had come three months prior, in overtime on a neutral floor to a full-strength Kansas team. Now they’ve lost two of their last three games, admittedly against good competition on the road in Kentucky and LSU (in overtime).

But that’s why it’s hard to get a solid read on the Vols.

Tennessee has played like a national title contender for most of the season, but its schedule didn’t provide too many challenges against similar-caliber teams between UT’s win over Gonzaga on Dec. 9 and their trip to Kentucky on Feb. 16.

Now, Tennessee is playing two NCAA Tournament teams per week to close the regular season.

Wednesday’s game at Ole Miss – a projected No. 8 seed – is on the road, making it a Quadrant 1 game, just like each of the Volunteers’ remaining four games. An SEC regular season title and a No. 1 seed are still within reach, but there are no easy games left against Ole Miss, Kentucky, Mississippi State and Auburn.

Ole Miss has the chance to begin its climb off of the No. 8 seed line with a win over Tennessee. It would be the Rebels’ best win of the season, potentially bringing them close to .500 in Quadrant 1 with three remaining Quadrant 1 games left in the regular season, including Wednesday’s game.

The Rebels also host Kentucky next Tuesday, so they have the chance to beat two of the SEC’s best teams on their home floor in consecutive weeks.

No. 8 Houston at East Carolina, 7 p.m. ET

Houston (26-1) | No. 4 NET | 4-1 Quadrant 1, 9-0 Quadrant 2, 4-0 Quadrant 3, 9-0 Quadrant 4

Stadium’s Latest NCAA Tournament Seed Projection: No. 3 seed

East Carolina beat Cincinnati at home back on Jan. 5, which provided a glaring loss on the Bearcats’ resume. Houston can’t afford such a loss as it holds a one-game lead over Cincinnati in the AAC standings and could potentially make a run at a No. 2 seed.

The Cougars have one more Quadrant 1 game (at Cincinnati on March 10) and one more Quadrant 2 game (home against UCF on Saturday) that can add more heft to their resume, but they can’t afford to look past the Pirates on the road.

Oklahoma State at No. 11 Texas Tech, 7 p.m. ET

Texas Tech (22-5) | No. 10 NET | 5-5 Quadrant 1, 8-0 Quadrant 2, 1-0 Quadrant 3, 8-0 Quadrant 4

Stadium’s Latest NCAA Tournament Seed Projection: No. 4 seed

The Red Raiders are just a half-game behind Kansas State (and a half-game ahead of Kansas) in the Big 12 standings so they can still win a share of the Big 12 regular season title and, potentially, be the team that ends the Jayhawks’ lengthy streak of winning at least a share of the regular season championship.

For both their Big 12 title hopes and their NCAA Tournament hopes, they can’t afford to lose Wednesday. Oklahoma State represents a Quadrant 3 opponent, so a loss would give Texas Tech by far its worst loss of the season and it would drop the Red Raiders a full game behind the Wildcats.

Illinois at No. 14 Purdue, 8:30 p.m. ET

Purdue (20-7) | No. 12 NET | 7-6 Quadrant 1, 7-0 Quadrant 2, 2-1 Quadrant 3, 4-0 Quadrant 4

Stadium’s Latest NCAA Tournament Seed Projection: No. 3 seed

While Illinois has dropped two in a row after winning four straight, the Fighting Illini have been frisky during the last six weeks. But despite their improvement in the last month and a half, they’re ranked just No. 90 in the NET, so this is a Quadrant 3 game for Purdue. A loss would drop the Boilermakers to .500 in Quadrant 3 and could cause them to drop a seed line on Selection Sunday.

Purdue is also in the hunt for the Big Ten regular season championship as it’s tied in the loss column with Michigan State and just a half-game back from the Spartans.

No. 10 Marquette at Villanova, 9 p.m. ET

Marquette (23-4) | No. 18 NET | 8-3 Quadrant 1, 5-1 Quadrant 2, 3-0 Quadrant 3, 7-0 Quadrant 4

Stadium’s Latest NCAA Tournament Seed Projection: No. 3 seed

Villanova (20-8) | No. 28 NET | 3-5 Quadrant 1, 9-3 Quadrant 2, 4-0 Quadrant 3, 4-0 Quadrant 4

Stadium’s Latest NCAA Tournament Seed Projection: No. 6 seed

It’s probably unfair to classify Wednesday’s game between Marquette and Villanova as a “must-win” for the Wildcats, but they’ve lost three in a row and four of five. They have to beat the Golden Eagles to have any chance of at least sharing the Big East regular season title. A fifth conference loss would also be the program’s most since 2013, when Villanova competed in the stronger “old” Big East.

A loss could seal the Wildcats’ fate of getting a seed within the No. 5 to No. 7 range, while a victory would be Villanova’s best win of the season — which couldn’t come at a better time, given the team’s recent slide.

Marquette could all but clinch its first regular season conference championship since 2013 and just its fourth ever with a win at Villanova. It would also improve the Golden Eagles’ Quadrant 1 record to an impressive 9-3.

For most of the season, Marquette has been ranked lower on and in the NET rankings than it was in the AP poll, but with the resume the Golden Eagles are assembling, there’s no doubt that they’re on a trajectory for a top-four seed, potentially as high as a No. 2 spot if they were to win out.

No. 23 Cincinnati at SMU, 9 p.m. ET

Cincinnati (23-4) | No. 25 NET | 3-2 Quadrant 1, 5-1 Quadrant 2, 9-0 Quadrant 3, 6-1 Quadrant 4

Stadium’s Latest NCAA Tournament Seed Projection: No. 7 seed

Despite a 23-4 record, Cincinnati is only projected to earn a No. 7 seed in Stadium’s latest NCAA Tournament projections. The Bearcats can significantly improve their resume in the next two weeks, however, as they have two Quadrant 1 and two Quadrant 2 games before the end of the regular season.

They’re only a game behind Houston in the AAC standings, which makes Cincinnati’s regular season finale a huge opportunity for the Bearcats. The key is not taking any conference losses before then.

UNLV at No. 12 Nevada, 11 p.m. ET

Nevada (25-2) | No. 19 NET | 0-0 Quadrant 1, 8-1 Quadrant 2, 8-1 Quadrant 3, 9-0 Quadrant 4

Stadium’s Latest NCAA Tournament Seed Projection: No. 4 seed

As weird as it sounds, it’s Feb. 27 and Nevada hasn’t played a Quadrant 1 game so far this season.

Unfortunately for the Wolf Pack, three of their four remaining regular season games fall under Quadrant 3, including Wednesday’s game against UNLV. Nevada has the chance to continue piling up Quadrant 3 and Quadrant 4 victories, which will do little to improve its seeding.

But just one loss in one of those matchups can do tremendous damage to the Wolf Pack’s resume.

If Nevada can win those Quadrant 3 games and win at Utah State on Saturday (Nevada’s first Quadrant 1 game of the season), it’ll take a 29-2 record into the Mountain West Tournament, where it could climb off the No. 4 seed line.

MORE: 2019 NCAA Tournament Schedule, Dates, Locations