Losses for men's college basketball teams in February are bad for multiple reasons. For starters, the losses in conference play only hinder NCAA Tournament résumés — whether for seeding or inclusion.
Most notably, they can signal a lack of momentum for the sport's most pivotal month just around the corner. Sure, a team playing poorly in early February can start to peak later in the month, so no forecast is surefire. But the more losses that pile up, the harder it is for a team to secure solid March Madness seeding, or, in some cases, solidify its inclusion in the field of 68.
The Spartans (8-7) are reeling and have now fallen to the basement of the Big Ten at 2-7. Tuesday's loss to a title contending Iowa team made sense, but coach Tom Izzo has to find a way to stop the bleeding fast because this team is nowhere near the NCAA Tournament conversation thanks to four consecutive losses. It didn't help that three games being postponed offset any rhythm Michigan State was trying to build. The schedule gets easier with Nebraska and Penn State next, at least.
The Hoosiers (9-8, 4-6) lost back-to-back winnable games against Rutgers and Illinois over the last week. While neither of those outcomes serve as bad losses on their tournament profile, the inability to capitalize in late-game situations means that Indiana is hanging near the wrong side of the NCAA Tournament bubble — currently as a projected No. 11 or No. 12 seed. Coach Archie Miller has to get this team back in the win column, which isn't the easiest task considering the Big Ten is arguably the country's toughest conference.
Right as it seemed the Blue Devils (7-6, 5-4) were turning the corner following back-to-back wins, they dropped an ugly loss to Miami (Fla.). Two areas are big concerns for coach Mike Krzyzewski with this group: Poor shooting (5-for-18 from three-point land vs. Miami) and bad defense (ranking 263rd nationally in field goal percentage defense). Next up: Duke faces North Carolina on Saturday in a matchup that sees both unranked for the first time since the 1959-60 season.
After a dazzling start, the Longhorns (11-4, 5-3) have lost back-to-back games amid three games being postponed or canceled due to the coronavirus. Coach Shaka Smart returned from a positive test in Tuesday's loss to No. 2 Baylor — the leader of the Big 12 by four games. Losing two games in the Big 12 by no means sinks this team, but Texas is drifting further from a No. 1 seed — where it started in projections at the beginning of the month — and closer to a No. 3 seed in the NCAAs.
The Jayhawks (12-6, 6-4) nearly fell out of the Ferris Mowers Coaches Poll Top 25 this week following a 19-point beatdown by Tennessee in the Big 12/SEC Challenge last Saturday. But at least coach Bill Self's group took care of business against last-place Kansas State. KU is hovering around a No. 5 seed if the NCAA Tournament began tomorrow. A big challenge against West Virginia awaits the Jayhawks on Saturday.
Close losses to Arizona State and Southern California won't do this team's credentials any favors. The Cardinal (10-7, 6-5 Pac-12) don't make a lot of three-pointers (ranked 316th nationally), so any game in which opponents get hot from beyond the arc and second-chance points aren't plentiful often providesa losing mix.
Follow college basketball reporter Scott Gleeson on Twitter @ScottMGleeson .