March Madness 2013: Teams with Most to Prove Before Conference Tournaments

Justin HussongContributor IIIMarch 8, 2013

ANN ARBOR, MI - MARCH 03:  Trey Burke #3 of the Michigan Wolverines celebrates a 58-57 win over the Michigan State Spartans with Mitch McGary #4 at Crisler Center on March 3, 2013 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

This whole season has been about as predictable as a roulette wheel. Nevertheless, here we are in the final week of the regular season and much has yet to be decided.

Conference tourneys are right around the corner, and the last thing a team wants to do is head into the postseason coming off a loss. There is a bevy of teams that are in dire need of a win this weekend for various reasons. Here are the clubs that cannot afford to enter conference tourney time on another loss.



The Terps are currently firmly perched upon the NCAA tournament bubble. A loss to Virginia on Sunday could pop all of their hopes and dreams after a promising 13-1 start to the season.

Aside from toppling Duke, Maryland has not pulled off any truly impressive wins. Winning at Virginia would be huge for their postseason hopes, as it would get them back to .500 in conference play and give them some momentum to win a game or two in the ACC tourney.

Regardless of how they fare in the conference tournament, right now they must simply focus on beating the Cavaliers. Needing to step up now more than ever is 7'1" center Alex Len. He poses a matchup problem for almost any team in the country and has not been playing well at all lately.

Maryland has alternated wins and losses over the last eight games. Last time out against North Carolina, the Terps were defeated handily. Foreshadowing? Take that as you will.



The Orange once again find themselves in an unenviable position.

Jim Boeheim's crew has lost six of 11 games and is plummeting down the Big East standings quickly.

Syracuse has a huge matchup at No. 5 Georgetown on Saturday. They are likely still recovering from what Otto Porter did to them two weeks ago. If the 'Cuse is to have any hope in the conference tournament and beyond, they will need a monumentally better performance on the road.

This team cannot afford to come up small once again. They need to put their late season struggles behind them and salvage anything they can from a big win against the Hoyas.


North Carolina

UNC versus Duke in Chapel Hill on ESPN this Saturday night. Oh boy.

The resurgent Tar Heels have locked up a tournament bid, but what they need this weekend is a powerful performance against arguably the best team in the country. Ryan Kelly has returned with a vengeance for the Blue Devils, and they have looked markedly better with his outside shooting and senior leadership back in the lineup.

UNC also sports a 1-4 record against ranked opponents. They could use this game to prove to not only the nation, but themselves that they are for real and are poised for big things in the postseason. 



If the Wolverines truly have their sights set on a national title, they will need a big performance against No. 2 Indiana on Sunday.

With a win, they can earn themselves a tie for the Big Ten regular season title. Trey Burke and company fell short to the Hoosiers in Bloomington in early February. Now will be their shot at revenge on their home floor.

Michigan will not be able to win a national title unless they prove they can shut down Cody Zeller. He destroyed them last time and exposed the Wolverines' weakness down low.

We know Michigan's guards can compete with anyone in the nation, but it is their play down in the paint that will dictate how far they can go. If Zeller goes off once again it will deter a lot of promise from a superb season in Ann Arbor.