Michigan and Illinois are among the NCAA basketball teams on upset alert this week.
The final week of February has arrived and it is officially crunch time in college basketball. Cases are being made for teams on the bubble to reach the NCAA Tournament and scoring a major upset over a top dog can be the difference between making the field or planning to host a home game in the NIT.
Sometimes one massive win can get a team with a decent resume right into the bubble mix, as it did for Wichita State last week after their upset of Houston. Let’s look at five teams in danger of getting upset this week, starting with Illinois.
Illinois needs to be on upset alert at Michigan State
The Fighting Illini heeded our upset alert warning last week by blowing out at Minnesota, which had gone 13-1 at Williams Arena so far this season. Another tricky road foe awaits Illinois this week as they head to East Lansing to take on a desperate Michigan State.
The Spartans are fighting for their tournament lives and put together an impressive road win against Indiana over the weekend. Adding a victory over Illinois would jolt some serious juice into Michigan State’s resume so the Illini have to be very careful not to take their foot off the gas against the Spartans.
Alabama needs to be careful at Arkansas
The team with the best chance to break the Big Ten’s stranglehold on two No. 1 seeds is Alabama, which has put together an impressive 18-5 record that includes a dominant 13-1 showing in the SEC. The Crimson Tide have won three straight entering the week but face a difficult road trip against Arkansas, which just entered the polls last week.
The Razorbacks have won four straight games, including a pair over potential tournament teams in Missouri and Florida, and will be well-rested after their weekend matchup against Texas A&M was postponed due to COVID-19 issues within the Aggies’ program. Taking down the Crimson Tide could push Arkansas’ resume into a new height so Alabama will need to be prepared for a massive shot from the Razorbacks in this game.
USC is staring at a dangerous road game against Colorado
The momentum that USC had built for a top-16 seed came crashing down over the weekend with a loss at Arizona. Falling to the Wildcats isn’t the worst thing in the world since they are a talented team that would be going to the tournament if not for a self-imposed postseason ban but the danger here is that the loss sets up a spiral of negative momentum for the Trojans.
Thursday’s trip to Colorado is fraught with peril for USC since the Buffaloes have clearly been the Pac-12’s second-best team all season long. A loss to Colorado wouldn’t kill the Trojans but it could push them down the S-curve and into the mix for a more dangerous first-round matchup in the NCAA Tournament.
Michigan should be on upset alert at Indiana
It has become clear over the past several weeks that Michigan is the most dangerous team in the country outside of the Gonzaga/Baylor heavyweight class. The Wolverines have only lost once all season and have taken care of business since returning from a lengthy COVID pause with impressive road victories against Wisconsin and Ohio State.
Huge home games against Iowa on Thursday and Illinois on March 2 sandwich a tough road trip on Saturday to Assembly Hall to take on a desperate Indiana team. The Hoosiers have a few rough losses on their resume and need to make a statement to bolster their bubble positioning, making this game a potential trap for the Wolverines if they aren’t careful.
Florida State is on upset alert at North Carolina
The hottest team in the ACC is Florida State, which has won eight of its past nine games, including a statement win over Virginia last Monday. The Seminoles have now become a big-game target for teams in need of marquee victories for their NCAA Tournament resume, something that makes Saturday’s trip to Chapel Hill extremely dangerous.
North Carolina is looking to get off the bubble and got off to a good start last Saturday by demolishing a Louisville team coming off a COVID pause. A win over the Seminoles would be a massive one for the Tar Heels, who should give Florida State everything they can handle in a game they really need to win.
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