The college basketball landscape heading into February is all over the place. It’s one of those seasons where we don’t have many elite teams and most of the NCAA Tournament field is going to be very even when looking at seeds 3-12. Here we’re going to look at Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology as of his updated tournament field on Jan. 31 and how Wednesday night’s games could impact seeding.
Penn State at No. 1 Purdue
The Boilermakers are one of maybe two or three teams who you’d consider “elite” in college basketball this season. Purdue’s only loss this season was at home to Rutgers 65-64. The Boilermakers have had plenty of close games since that loss in Big Ten play. Penn State is 5-5 in Big Ten play and lost at home to Purdue earlier in the season by a wide margin. While the books don’t give the Nittany Lions much of a chance to pull off an upset at +10, it’s not out of the question in this conference. Chances are Purdue rolls and this doesn’t impact their standing as the No. 1 overall seed.
No. 2 Tennessee at Florida
Same deal as Purdue with the Vols going up against the Gators. Tennessee enters this matchup ranked second and as a consensus No. 1 seed in bracketology for most experts. The Gators are likely going to be a bubble team, so getting a win at home against the Vols is huge for their tournament chances. That could motivate an upset and the spread is only -5.5 in favor of UT, so the books think the game will be pretty tight for a No. 2 vs. unranked matchup. A loss for Tennessee could mean dropping out of the top-5 in the AP rankings.
No. 17 Providence at No. 16 Xavier
In a big Big East matchup on Wednesday, the Friars take on the Musketeers on the road. Seeding shouldn’t be much of a concern for either program, both ranked and looking like tournament locks. This has greater implications for the Big East tournament than the NCAA Tournament. Both Providence and Xavier are tied 9-2 in conference play. Whoever wins on Wednesday will take over first place in the Big East temporarily. These two teams will see each other later in the season. But Xavier still has to face Marquette, which is also 9-2. Providence has already played the Golden Eagles. If the Musketeers can get a win, they’d have an easier time controlling their destiny in terms of getting the top seed in the Big East.