The college basketball season is hitting the home stretch. As February comes to a close, we are just about at conference tournament time. And with the conclusion of conference tournaments, comes the NCAA Tournament! So needless to say, every remaining regular season game is critical for many teams.
One of those games happens to be going on later today at 1:00 EST over on CBS. The game will see the number 11 Wisconsin Badgers host the number 23 Maryland Terrapins. Both teams are currently in a position to make it to the Big Dance, but this game is certainly a critical one.
As things stand now, these teams are sitting second and third in the Big 10 Conference with identical conference records. So a win here will not only place them in a better spot within the conference, but will certainly have March implications as well.[Kenny]
In Joe Lunardi’s latest version of Bracketology, Wisconsin was sitting at a five seed while Maryland was a six. Now that bracket was released on November 16th, which also happens to be the same day Wisconsin dropped their second straight game. That loss, which came at Michigan, was not factored into that latest bracket.
In other words, both clubs are likely sitting very close to one another in the committee’s rankings right now. Last week, Wisconsin was ranked seventh in the nation. That would be good for either a two or three seed. But then they lost to Northwestern, at home. As a result, they dropped down to 11.
And obviously, in Lunardi’s mind that also dropped them down to a five seed, which does seem to be a bit harsh. But then the Michigan game happened, making the five seed slot a little more understandable. Wisconsin played that game without senior guard Bronson Koening thanks to a strained calf, which should limit the damage.
Now the team is set to face Maryland and Koening is questionable to play. If the team is without him once again, they will need to prove they are capable of taking down a tournament quality opponent without him. If he does play, they will need to prove they are more deserving of a five seed.
Statistically, I see the game favoring Wisconsin, with my projection putting them as eight-point favorites. VegasInsider has them listed as six-point favorites, without knowing the status of Koening. So it is clear they are seen as the superior team, especially with home court advantage.
With that said, what type of damage would a loss do here? Given their loss earlier in the week, they are certainly going to drop a bit from their 11 spot. A second loss this week, which would mark their third in a row, will certainly send the Badgers somewhere around the 20’s. As a result, Maryland would not only leap them in the rankings, but in the standings as well. Even more importantly, the Terrapins would also likely jump them in the NCAA Tournament seeding list.
Most likely, Wisconsin would be staring at a six seed with a loss to Maryland. Maryland would probably not be impacted as much as Wisconsin if they were to fall here, as they are the road team and considered the underdog. If they are currently holding a six seed, I think they hold strong right there even with an L.
With a battle of two Big 10 heavyweights, this one is sure to be a fun one. The Badgers cannot afford another to let their current slide continue, or they risk dropping once more in terms of seeding.
So will Wisconsin be able to turn things around today? Where do they move, in terms of seeding, with a win? What about with a loss? Tell us what you think in the comments!