Gonzaga and Ohio State are among the NCAA basketball teams on upset alert this week.
The crazy college basketball regular season is almost over and each game counts more than the last. Resumes can be made for teams on the bubble with marquee wins while a tough loss can cost teams a line or two on the bracket.
Road games in conference play in February are fraught with peril as teams like Texas, Virginia Tech and Minnesota learned last week. Let’s take a look at five teams that are in danger this week, beginning with Ohio State.
Ohio State is on upset alert at Maryland
The hot team of the week is Ohio State, which is now in play for a No. 1 overall seed thanks to a run of seven wins in their past eight games that includes road triumphs against four ranked teams, including a clutch victory at Iowa last Thursday. The Buckeyes currently have a ton of momentum but there are no easy games in the Big Ten, which is capable of producing an upset at any given moment.
There is a major danger for Ohio State as they hit the road on Monday for a game against Maryland. The Terrapins are just 4-8 in Big Ten play but all four of their wins have come against ranked foes, with three of them coming on the road. If the Buckeyes carry a bit of a hangover from the Iowa game to College Park with them they could become Maryland’s fifth victim.
Gonzaga could finally lose at BYU
One of the two exceptions to the chaos theory that is the 2020-21 season is Gonzaga, which has steamrolled to an 18-0 start on its way to the No. 1 overall seed. The quest for perfection is the name of the game for the Bulldogs, and that pursuit can get heavy, as evidenced by the slow start Gonzaga got off to against Pacific before rallying from a deficit in the second half.
Gonzaga is on the road again this week as they take on BYU, the only other team in the West Coast Conference with a legitimate shot at an at-large bid. The Cougars are a good team that lacks a true marquee victory with its best win coming against San Diego State in non-conference play. Knocking off the Bulldogs would make BYU’s season, making them the biggest threat to hand Gonzaga a loss in league play.
Virginia is on upset alert at Georgia Tech
It has been hard to make a ton of sense out of Virginia’s season. The Cavaliers have largely taken care of business in ACC play, going 9-1 in league games, but Virginia’s defensive style tends to lead to closer games that leave the door open for upsets.
Wednesday is a tricky spot for the Cavaliers as they hit the road to take on a Georgia Tech team they only beat by two in Charlottesville earlier this year. The Yellow Jackets have taken down their fair share of upper-level ACC teams this year, scoring wins over North Carolina and Florida State, and adding to that trio with an upset of Virginia could help propel Georgia Tech into the bubble conversation.
Tennessee is on upset alert at LSU
There is no question that Tennessee is one of the most talented teams in the ACC but they haven’t been truly consistent in the past couple of weeks. A below-average offense has contributed to a 3-3 stretch for the Volunteers that includes a two-point loss to Ole Miss and a win over Kentucky where Tennessee was sluggish in the first half.
The Volunteers hit the road Saturday against one of the SEC’s bubble teams in LSU that really needs a marquee win. The Tigers also have a potential game-wrecker in freshman Cameron Thomas, who enters the week third in scoring nationally at 22.3 points per game. A big effort from Thomas and backcourt mate Ja’Vonte Smart could propel LSU past Tennessee if the Volunteers are slow out of the gate again.
Iowa is in danger at Michigan State
One Big Ten team that is trending in the wrong direction is Iowa, which has dropped three of its past four games. The Hawkeyes’ one win in that stretch came against Michigan State, which pushed Iowa for the entire game before losing by six in Iowa City.
Those two teams are set to meet again on Saturday in East Lansing, a place where Iowa has won once in 13 tries since 2007. The Spartans are also desperate for wins after a rough slide in Big Ten play pushed them off the bubble so expect Tom Izzo’s team to give the Hawkeyes everything they can handle in this game.
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