5 teams that need a late push to boost NCAA tournament seeding

The NCAA tournament is right around the corner and there are a few teams that need to close out the season with some wins to improve their seeding for Selection Sunday. Let’s take a look at five teams that could move up or down the seed lines depending on how things shake out the last week of the regular season. 

Marquette Golden Eagles

The Golden Eagles were knocked out last year by Ja Morant and Murray State. Marquette cracked the Top 25 this year in early February, landing at No. 18, but it quickly fell out after three straight losses. Point guard Markus Howard is leading the nation in scoring with 27.2 points per game and Marquette’s final games of the season are all on the road, playing at Seton Hall, DePaul and St. John’s. Right now, Marquette is sitting at a No. 6, 7 or 8 seed.

Virginia Cavaliers

The Cavaliers barely squeaked by Virginia Tech earlier this week thanks to a last-second shot by Kihei Clark. The defending national champions have one of the toughest schedules to close out the season with a home game against Duke, a road game at Miami and then hosting Louisville at home. Right now it looks like Virginia will be a No. 8, 9 or 10 seed for the tournament. Seniors Mamadi Diakite and Braxton Key need to step things up and lead this team. Both players know what it takes to be there in the end and right now is the time to lock in and make a big push to close out the season.

Mamadi Diakite (L) jokes with teammate Jay Huff of the Virginia Cavaliers during the second half of their game against the North Carolina Tar Heels on Feb. 15. (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Florida Gators

Florida has all the talent in the world but has struggled to close out games during the season. Mike White brought in one of the top recruiting classes with McDonald’s All-Americans Scottie Lewis and Tre Mann but both have been relatively unproductive this season. Sophomore forward Keyontae Johnson has been the dark horse for this team, leading the Gators in scoring with 14.2 points per game. As things stand now, Florida is a No. 9 or 10 seed and can make up some ground in the final games at Tennessee, at Georgia and a rematch at home against a tough Kentucky team.

USC Trojans

The Trojans have lost five out of the last seven games and have a tough couple matchups at home before the Pac-12 tournament, facing the No. 1 team in the conference in Arizona State and crosstown rival UCLA. USC’s defense in the lane is one of the best in the country with freshman lottery pick Onyeka Okongwu averaging almost three blocks per game. The Trojans are a potential 12 seed right now but could fall if they lose these last couple games and have a poor showing in the Pac-12 tournament. 

Rutgers Scarlet Knights

This team is in a slump and the timing could not be any worse. Rutgers has lost six out of the last eight games and is 1-9 on the road. The Scarlet Knights cracked the Top 25 in late January but only lasted two weeks in the rankings before dropping. The final two games for Rutgers aren’t easy ones either as it faces No. 9 Maryland at home and travels to Purdue to close out the season. Rutgers is a projected 10 seed right now but could fall even further if the team doesn’t turn things around. 

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