March 1 is right around the corner and plenty of college basketball teams are starting to feel the heat. Despite the strangest season we’ve ever see, with games moved, canceled, and heavily affected by COVID-19, the selection committee will still need to sort through varied resumés to build a 68-team bracket.
This will surely be the most difficult season for the committee to sort out, given the varying number of games played and players available for many teams. It could make the stretch run of the regular season, with recency bias in full affect, the most crucial piece of the season.
With that in mind, here are five teams in need of big wins over the next few weeks before conference tournaments begin.
As crazy as it may sound to casual basketball fans, the Blue Devils are squarely on the bubble. Former highly-ranked recruit Jalen Johnson has left the program to prepare for the NBA Draft.
Coach K’s team has responded to Johnson’s departure by winning its last four games. The Blue Devil offense has turned a corner, peaking with a dominant 1.36 points per possession performance at Wake Forest. Sophomore Matthew Hurt has risen to the challenge, posting 20.8 points per game and 66.7 percent 3-point shooting over that four-game stretch.
Duke’s schedule gives them a real chance to climb into the bracket. The Blue Devils have three more games scheduled, all against teams perched on the bubble: Louisville, Georgia Tech, and North Carolina. Duke will control its own destiny, in what could be one of the most memorable, pressure-packed stretches of Coach K’s time on the sidelines in Durham.