Friday, February 24, 2006

Weekend Preview

Selection Sunday is just over two weeks away. Conference tournaments begin next week. What does that mean? The NCAA Tournament is just around the corner, folks. This weekend is the last weekend of the college basketball season where every team is still in the regular season. With that in mind, there are several key games across the country that are going to have huge effects on their respective conference races. The top teams in a host of leagues face off against each other to decide the regular season champion. Whether it is mid-majors or major conferences that you are interested in, there is a plethora of games this weekend to choose from.

Top Games

Michigan at Ohio State (Saturday, 1:30 PM, CBS)- Battle in the Big Ten. Buckeyes are currently tied for first, while Michigan is 1.5 games out of the top spot. The Wolverines could use a road win to boost their resume and Ohio State needs to continue picking up victories to ensure themselves a #2 seed in the Big Dance. Prediction: Ohio State 73, Michigan 64

Boston College at North Carolina State (Saturday, 3:45 PM, CBS)- Two of the four locks from the ACC go at it. Seeding in both the ACC Tournament and the NCAA Tournament will be on the line, as the Wolfpack are aiming for the #2 seed in the ACC Tournament, while BC needs to improve its seeding for the Big Dance. Prediction: North Carolina State 68, Boston College 61

Iowa at Illinois (Saturday, 6:00 PM, ESPN)- Another big-time Big Ten matchup. Hawkeyes have not proven they can win on the road, while Illinois is struggling, having lost 3 of their last 5 games. Fighting Illini are one game back of Iowa for first place in the Big Ten. Both teams look like Top-4 seeds in the Big Dance. Prediction: Illinois 71, Iowa 62

Kansas at Texas (Saturday, 9:00 PM, ESPN)- The Big 12 regular season champion will be decided in this game. Kansas is one of the hottest teams in the country, having won 10 in a row. On the other hand, Texas is struggling, losing to Oklahoma State last week and barely escaping against Kansas State. Could be a preview of the conference tournament championship, as well. Prediction: Texas 73, Kansas 68

Villanova at Connecticut (Sunday, 2:00 PM, CBS)
- Rematch of last week's classic battle between two of the top three teams in the country. Both are pretty much guaranteed #1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament, while UConn is one game back of 'Nova in the Big East standings. Villanova's guards vs. UConn's big men. By far, the game of the week. Prediction: Connecticut 70, Villanova 66

Fighting for Bids

Syracuse at Georgetown (Saturday, 12:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt)- Syracuse would clinch an NCAA berth with a win here, while Georgetown wants to try and get a Top-5 or 6 seed in the Tournament. Prediction: Georgetown 69, Syracuse 64

Arkansas at Tennessee (Saturday, 1:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt)- Arkansas is coming off of two big-time home wins, but would guarantee themselves a bid with a win against the Vols. Tennessee trying to win the SEC regular season title. Prediction: Tennessee 75, Arkansas 65

Northern Iowa at Southern Illinois (Saturday, 2:00 PM, ESPN2)- Two teams struggling mightily in the Missouri Valley. Northern Iowa's seed is slipping, but they should be safe in the tourney, while SIU needs a win to get back on the bubble. Prediction: Northern Iowa 68, Southern Illinois 65

Duke at Temple (Saturday, 2:30 PM, ESPN)- Temple's at-large chances are pretty much finished unless they win here. J.J. Redick looking to break ACC scoring record against the Owls. Prediction: Duke 70, Temple 60

Kentucky at LSU (Saturday, 3:45 PM, CBS)- Kentucky, like so many other teams this weekend, could clinch a berth with a win on the road. LSU, having clinched the SEC West, is aiming for an SEC title. Prediction: LSU 76, Kentucky 65

Nebraska at Texas A&M (Saturday, 4:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt)- Essentially an elimination game in the Big 12. Both teams are on the weaker side of the bubble due to weak RPIs, but the winner would move to 8-6 in the conference. Prediction: Texas A&M 72, Nebraska 66

Marquette at Notre Dame (Saturday, 6:00 PM, ESPNU)- Marquette needs to show they can win on the road, while Notre Dame needs to win out and then get a couple victories in the Big East Tournament to get at-large consideration. Prediction: Notre Dame 73, Marquette 67

Creighton at Missouri State (Saturday, 8:35 PM, Regional TV)- Creighton is pretty much a lock for the NCAA Tournament, while Missouri State needs a win here and another victory in the MVC Tourney to wrap up a bid. Prediction: Missouri State 71, Creighton 67

Houston at UTEP (Saturday, 9:00 PM, CSTV)- Yet another elimination game, this time in Conference-USA. Both teams have weak resumes and could really use a win here. The loser will have no shot at an at-large berth. Prediction: UTEP 68, Houston 60

Nevada at Utah State (Saturday, 9:05 PM, Regional TV)- Utah State won the first meeting between the two, and would really boost their profile if they could pull off a sweep of the Wolfpack. Nevada definitely a lock for the Big Dance. Prediction: Nevada 70, Utah State 68

Michigan State at Indiana (Sunday, 12:00 PM, CBS)- Indiana is falling rapidly in the race for an at-large berth. A win here would get them back on the right track, while Michigan State doesn't want to drop to .500 in the Big Ten. Prediction: Michigan State 75, Indiana 68

Minnesota at Wisconsin (Sunday, 2:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt)- Minnesota is making a late charge at the bubble, and need to win here to get serious consideration. Wisconsin is one game out of first in the Big Ten. Prediction: Wisconsin 65, Minnesota 57

Florida at Alabama (Sunday, 4:00 PM, CBS)- Alabama made a statement by blowing out Tennessee last weekend at home, and could really use another quality home win. Florida needs to get back on the right track after back-to-back losses. Prediction: Alabama 79, Florida 75

Maryland at North Carolina (Sunday, 5:30 PM, FSN)- North Carolina is obviously the ACC's second-best team and are aiming for the #2 seed in the conference tournament. Maryland needs a win to stay in the hunt for a bid. Prediction: North Carolina 76, Maryland 64

California at Washington (Sunday, 8:00 PM, FSN)- Both teams should be in the NCAA Tournament, although Cal's profile is fairly weak. A win here would clinch a bid. Washington is on a hot streak, and could be a tough team in the Tournament. Prediction: Washington 77, California 70

Race for a Championship

Charleston at Davidson (Saturday, 12:00 PM, ESPN2)- Both teams tied for second in the South Division of the Southern Conference heading into the finale. Winner would tie for the league title if Georgia Southern loses at Furman. Prediction: Davidson 79, Charleston 71

Miami (Ohio) at Kent State (Saturday, 2:00 PM)- Kent State has a one-game lead on the Redhawks in the MAC with three games left. Miami is on a 7-game winning streak. Golden Flashes won the first meeting between the two. Prediction: Kent State 61, Miami (Ohio) 56

Winthrop at Birmingham Southern (Saturday, 8:00 PM)- Final day of the Big South season. Both teams are 12-3 and are tied for first. Winner gets the regular season title, while the loser might not even get the #2 seed in the conference tournament. It's exactly how the season should end. Prediction: Birmingham Southern 73, Winthrop 71

Iona at Manhattan (Sunday, 6:15 PM, ESPN FullCourt)- It doesn't get better than this. Both teams are tied atop the MAAC at 13-4 heading into the final game of the season. Manhattan won the first meeting between the two. Winner gets the regular season title. Prediction: Manhattan 80, Iona 77

Must-Wins for Bubble Teams

Missouri at Colorado (Saturday, 1:30 PM, Regional TV)- Colorado is coming off of two road losses and need to get back on the right track. Missouri is a mess, plain and simple. Prediction: Colorado 79, Missouri 61

Virginia at Clemson (Saturday, 2:00 PM)- Virginia has been horrendous on the road this season, but a victory here would guarantee them a .500 finish in the ACC. Clemson is tough at home. Prediction: Clemson 73, Virginia 65

Seton Hall at DePaul (Saturday, 3:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt)- Seton Hall has lost two in a row after seeming like a lock last week. Need a road win against the Blue Demons. DePaul trying to make the Big East Tournament. Prediction: Seton Hall 65, DePaul 61

Arizona State at Arizona (Saturday, 4:00 PM, FSN)- Arizona is looking more and more like a lock for the Tournament. ASU upset Cal on the Golden Bears' homecourt last weekend. Could they pull off another road win? Prediction: Arizona 71, Arizona State 58

UNLV at Air Force (Saturday, 6:00 PM)- Air Force can't afford any slip-ups the rest of the way if they want an at-large bid to the Tournament. UNLV is one game back of AFA and two games out of first. Prediction: Air Force 63, UNLV 55

Florida State at Virginia Tech (Saturday, 7:00 PM, ESPNU)- Florida State is trying to be the 5th team out of the ACC, but they need a road win here if they want a bid. Virginia Tech is talented but it doesn't translate to wins. Prediction: Florida State 76, Virginia Tech 69

Saint Louis at Charlotte (Saturday, 7:00 PM, Regional TV)- Charlotte needs to win out to get an at-large bid, and it starts here. Saint Louis could make a late surge for the Atlantic-10's #2 spot with a win over the 49ers. Prediction: Charlotte 69, Saint Louis 63

BYU at TCU (Saturday, 8:00 PM)- BYU needs all the help they can get if they want an at-large bid. However, if they don't win out, it won't matter what everyone else does. TCU has been awful this season. Prediction: BYU 82, TCU 68

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