Ncaa tourney wins



Keywords: daily word, men's college basketball, wisconsin badgers
Description: Under the direction of interim coach Greg Gard, the Badgers sit squarely on the bubble. What kind of wins do they need to get into the field of 68?

Each weekday, our college hoops experts discuss the biggest issues, trends and themes in college basketball.

1. Wisconsin still has tournament hopes. Bracketology and Bubble Watch both have it in the conversation. What will it take for the Badgers, and interim coach Greg Gard, to hear their name called on Selection Sunday?

Andy Katz. Wisconsin can't lose to teams below it in the standings. The Badgers need a quality road win, and they will have opportunities playing at Iowa, Michigan State and Maryland. Win one, and it would do wonders for the rйsumй. Win two, and it's done.

Dana O'Neil. It's more what the Badgers can't do. With losses to Western Illinois, Georgetown and Milwaukee already, Wisconsin is in no position to suffer any more bad losses. In the Badgers' case, that means games against Nebraska and Illinois are especially must-wins. While Wisconsin has two quality wins against Michigan State and Indiana, winning on the road against a good team (Michigan State, Iowa or Maryland) would go a long way as well.

Myron Medcalf. As Andy and Dana said, Wisconsin still has a lot of work to do to boost its rйsumй. Right now, it's about wins against the best in the league. These are the five games to watch: Maryland, Michigan State, Iowa, Michigan and Purdue. The Badgers might not be a tourney team if they fail to secure two or three wins in that stretch. And then they have to avoid bad losses. But they have looked like a different team in recent weeks. They held Indiana to a reasonable 1.05 points per possession. That combined with Ethan Happ's growth will keep the dream alive for a squad that's blossoming at the right time.

2. Texas A&M is the unlikely leader in the SEC. Oregon is the unlikely leader in the Pac-12. Who do you believe in more?

Katz. The Aggies. I was sold watching them in the Bahamas. This team has the experience, versatility and depth to make a run to Houston, where it could be the de facto home team.

O'Neil. Texas A&M. While the SEC and the Pac-12 are equally hard to decipher, the Aggies' wins against Iowa State and Gonzaga are legit eye-openers. Oregon, no doubt, deserves props for playing as well as it has, but with Danuel House, A&M is the safer bet.

Medcalf. Any team that holds Iowa State to 62 points (0.86 ppp) deserves our trust. The Aggies aren't flashy, but they're a physical bunch with strong wings and bigs. Jalen Jones is a matchup problem for most. Tyler Davis looks like one of the best young bigs in America. And they're No. 2 nationally in defensive efficiency. I'd take Texas A&M over Oregon.

3. The American Athletic Conference, like most, is wide-open. Where does UConn fit in this hierarchy?

Katz. The Huskies have the talent to win the league. But losing games they shouldn't at home (see Temple) has derailed them. Splitting with SMU is a must; winning out at home and picking up one or two more road games could be the difference.

O'Neil. With the talent that they have, the Huskies should be in a better position in the league than they are, but they've played themselves into a precarious position with inconsistent results. If UConn can live up to its potential, it has a chance to finish at or near the top of the standings, especially because SMU has the postseason-ineligible asterisk. But that's an "if" that UConn has yet to realize.

Medcalf. The Huskies are in the mix, and the return of Amida Brimah should help their interior defense. But their offense is suspect. Daniel Hamilton, Rodney Purvis, Shonn Miller & Co. scored 57 points against Cincinnati and 51 against Tulsa. When you have a top-five defense, you can beat a lot of teams without big offensive numbers. I'm not sure how they'll handle the team that everyone is chasing, SMU, unless they improve on that end of the floor. It's hard to trust a squad that's scored 70 or more points just once in the past eight games.




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