This edition of March Madness 365 also features interviews with ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi, KPI rankings creator Kevin Pauga and Ohio State’s head coach Chris Holtmann.
10. Oklahoma State
The Cowboys are 13-6 overall, 6-6 in the Big 12 and are led by Cade Cunningham, one of the best freshmen in the nation. Although Oklahoma State isn’t ranked in the AP Top 25 this week, the Cowboys will have opportunities to prove themselves before the regular season ends. Four of their five remaining regular-season games are against ranked opponents.
Similar to Oklahoma State, Rutgers doesn’t have the best record but are in one of the toughest conferences in the country and have opportunities to compete for a top-four seed. The Scarlet Knights have five regular-season games left on their schedule including a date versus No. 3 Michigan on Feb.18.
Katz thinks that UCLA probably has a taller mountain to climb compared to the two previous programs listed to crack a top-four seed in the NCAA tournament. The Bruins’ only ranked opponent left on their schedule is No. 17 Southern Cal. If they can win out and claim the Pac-12 tournament title, Katz thinks they have a good shot at landing in the committee’s top 16.
7. Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech has a date with No. 16 Florida State on Feb. 20 — its last regular-season game against a ranked team. Other than that, the Hokies will have a chance to prove themselves in the ACC tournament. Take home that trophy by potentially knocking off No. 7 Virginia and Katz thinks they’ll be considered for a top-four seed.
The Boilermakers are 8-6 in the Big Ten and have five remaining games before the conference tournament tips off. They’ll have several opportunities to prove they are an elite force in the Big Ten but they will need to win some games. Outside of the conference tourney, Purdue’s biggest matchup is against No. 21 Wisconsin in West Lafayette on March 2.
Speaking of the Badgers and opportunities in the Big Ten, Wisconsin has three games against ranked opponents left on its schedule. Two against No. 11 Iowa and one in Madison versus No. 5 Illinois. Win all three of those games and go on a run in the Big Ten tourney, and the Badgers might be a force to be reckoned with come March Madness.
The Jayhawks are back in the AP top 25 and riding a three-game winning streak. Kansas has four games left to play in the regular season including dates against No. 15 Texas Tech, No. 12 Texas and No. 2 Baylor — three prime opportunities.
The Bluejays already beat No. 10 Villanova earlier in the season. They have a second date with the Wildcats on March 3 — one of four regular-season games left on their schedule. Creighton is No. 14 in the country — so if the Bluejays can win out, and win the Big East conference, expect them to be on the four-seed line, at least.
2. Florida State
Florida State is fresh off of a COVID-related pause, a very close game against Wake Forest and an 81-60 thrashing of Virginia. If the Seminoles can finish the regular season strong and find a way to win the ACC tournament, Katz thinks FSU is in prime position to grab a top-four seed.
1. Southern Cal
Katz thought the Trojans would be in the committee’s original top 16. USC has plenty of chances to prove Katz’s bullish case for Southern Cal — they have six games left in the regular season, including a chance to sweep cross-town rival UCLA. Not to mention the fact that they could be the No. 1 seed and the favorite heading into the Pac-12 tournament.