March is on the horizon, and the madness is already kicking in two weeks out from Selection Sunday. While NCAA tournament bubble teams are sweating whether they will hear their names called, college basketball’s best teams are focused on closing out their conference seasons strong and securing a favorable seed for the tournament.
Here’s a look at the biggest winners and losers in that regard from Saturday:
Kansas: The Jayhawks (26-3, 1 NET score) took command of the Big 12 last weekend with a résumé-building win over Baylor. They were in jeopardy of an upset in a back-and-forth game with Kansas State on the road before pulling it out for a 62-58 win behind Devon Dotson’s 25 points. KU is a lock at this point to notch an NCAA tournament No. 1 seed, and if it finishes strong, will be the tourney’s top overall seed. Baylor’s loss to TCU also means Kansas is positioned to win the Big 12 outright this year after a second-place finish last year for the first time in 15 years.
Iowa: The Hawkeyes (20-9, 29 NET score) entered the day as a projected No. 5 seed on USA TODAY Sports’ latest bracketology projection, and a 77-68 home win over Penn State gives Iowa a total of eight Quadrant 1 victories to inch closer to the No. 4 line. Meanwhile, Penn State entered the day as a No. 4 and could find itself drifting closer to No. 5. With top player Jordan Bohannon suffering a season-ending injury in December, Iowa coach Fran McCaffery has seen his team elevate its play in a crowded Big Ten, where its identity is starting to take full shape.
Seton Hall: The Pirates (21-7, 15 NET score) are in the mix for a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament, and Saturday’s 88-79 win over Marquette only bolsters that possibility. It also helps that projected No. 2 seed Florida State and No. 3 seed Villanova lost on Saturday — paving the way for Seton Hall to leapfrog ahead. This is a team that has 11 Quadrant 1 victories with no bad losses on its tourney résumé and has proven itself as the best team in the country’s toughest conference, the Big East.
Baylor: The Bears (25-3, 2 NET score) were upset 75-72 against TCU on the road in a Quadrant 2 loss that saw the Horned Frogs stage an 18-1 run to close out the win. Counting last Saturday’s loss to Kansas, that’s now two of the last three games Baylor has lost after winning 23 in a row. It moves the Bears out of first place in the Big 12 standings and could even affect their pursuit of an NCAA tournament No. 1 seed.
Just last week, Baylor was the front-runner to secure the top overall seed, but this late-game collapse opens the door for other top-seed candidates — Gonzaga, San Diego State and Maryland — to catch the Bears if they falter in the closing stretch of the regular season. While coach Scott Drew’s team has been fantastic all year, it isn’t exactly peaking heading into March. Still, Baylor’s overall profile will be hard to turn into a No. 2 seed unless it completely unravels.
Florida State: The Seminoles (24-5, 7 NET score) fell on the road to bubble team Clemson 70-69 to snap a four-game win streak and could drift closer to the No. 3 line, where Seton Hall is creeping up. FSU only has five Quadrant 1 wins and will need to add to that if it wants to keep its seeding line for Selection Sunday.
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders (18-11, 20 NET score) had played themselves off the bubble to enter Saturday as a possible No. 9 seed. But after a 68-58 home loss to Texas, coach Chris Beard’s team is less safe than it would like heading into March. It’s also the second consecutive loss this week, and Tech’s schedule closing out the Big 12 season is as hard as it gets: At Baylor on Monday and vs. Kansas next Saturday. Yikes.
Follow college basketball reporter Scott Gleeson on Twitter @ScottMGleeson.