Friday, March 7, 2008

Weekend Preview

Are you ready for the biggest weekend of the college basketball season? With several conference tournaments already underway, there are four automatic bids to hand out. Additionally, with one week until Selection Sunday, it is time for bubble teams to make a statement to the committee. Many of the teams on the fence go up against a top team with a chance to pick up a marquee win, while other bubble teams need to just continue winning and avoiding bad losses. On top of that, there are a handful of match-ups between championship contenders. Oh yeah, there's also the biggest rivalry in the game on Saturday night.

Top Games

Louisville at Georgetown (Saturday, 12:00 PM, CBS): The Big East regular-season is on the line tomorrow at high noon. Louisville is playing its best basketball of the season, while Georgetown continues to pull out late wins against quality teams.

UAB at Memphis (Saturday, 1:00 PM, CSTV):
The only thing we can hope for is another game similar to their first meeting, when Memphis went on a miraculous late run to get the one-point win. A win here would clinch an at-large bid for UAB.

Stanford at USC (Saturday, 2:00 PM, CBS): Stanford probably should have defeated UCLA on Thursday night, but the Cardinal didn’t execute down the stretch and lost. USC is flying below the radar, but the Trojans have the talent to make a run in the Dance.

Marquette at Syracuse (Saturday, 4:00 PM, ESPN): This is a must-win for Syracuse. The Orange are 8-9 in the Big East after their road win over Seton Hall this week. Marquette is making a case for a top-five seed come Selection Sunday; this would be a nice victory.

Kansas at Texas A&M (Saturday, 4:00 PM, CBS): A&M looked like it was on the wrong side of the bubble heading into this week, but its road win over Baylor leaves them in decent shape. A win here would be huge. KU needs to keep pace with Texas in the standings.

North Carolina at Duke (Saturday, 9:00 PM, ESPN): There’s more on the line here than just bragging rights. The winner will get the top-seed in the ACC Tournament, and likely the No. 1 seed in the Charlotte region come Selection Sunday.

Arizona at Oregon (Saturday, 10:30 PM, FSN): Oregon’s at-large hopes seemed to be gone a couple of weeks ago, but the Ducks are making a late run. Arizona likely solidified its bid with a dominant win over Oregon State in Nic Wise’s first game back.

Michigan State at Ohio State (Sunday, 12:00 PM, Big Ten Network):
The Buckeyes took the first step towards getting an at-large when they beat Purdue this week. This would be another huge win. Michigan State is only fourth in the Big Ten, but is playing better lately.

Virginia Tech at Clemson (Sunday, 1:30 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV):
Can Virginia Tech really get an at-large bid? The Hokies are attempting to play their way into the NCAA Tournament; a win here would be huge. Clemson is coming off a road loss to Georgia Tech.

Automatic Bids on the Line

Winthrop at UNC-Asheville (Saturday, 11:30 AM, ESPN2):
The third match-up between the top two teams in the Big South this season. Asheville won the first two meetings, and will get to play the conference title game at home. Will Winthrop’s reign atop the league end?

Austin Peay vs. Tennessee State (Saturday, 5:00 PM, ESPN2)

Belmont vs. Jacksonville (Saturday, 7:00 PM, ESPN2)

Missouri Valley Championship (Sunday, 2:00 PM, CBS)

Fighting for Bids

Miami (Fl.) at Florida State (Saturday, 12:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): The Hurricanes are looking more and more like the fourth team out of the ACC, but a slip-up here would drop them a few notches. FSU needs to win the ACC Tournament to get a bid.

West Virginia at St. John’s (Saturday, 12:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV):
The Mountaineers moved off the bubble into the “Keep Winning” category; in other words, this is a must-win. St. John’s has nothing to play for since it will not be in the Big East tourney.

Towson at VCU (Saturday, 12:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): There are still questions as to whether the Rams will get an at-large bid should they lose in the CAA Tourney. A loss here would be trouble; Selection Sunday is still nine days away.

Baylor at Texas Tech (Saturday, 1:30 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): Baylor could have given itself some breathing room with a win over Texas A&M this week, but they lost. Now the Bears have to get a win on the road, or risk falling to 8-8 in the Big 12.

Wofford vs. Davidson (Saturday, 2:00 PM): Like VCU, Davidson is a question mark if it loses in the conference tournament. Unlike the Rams, though, the Wildcats are head-and-shoulders above everyone else in the Southern. A loss would be costly.

Saint Joseph’s at Dayton (Saturday, 2:00 PM, Regional TV): Two of the many bubble teams in the Atlantic-10. St. Joe’s kept its hopes alive with a huge win over Xavier on Thursday, while Dayton has won back-to-back road games to get to 7-8 in the A-10.

Creighton vs. Drake (Saturday, 2:35 PM, Regional TV):
One of the two excellent semi-final games in the MVC Tournament. Creighton is still working towards an at-large bid, while Drake needs to win the tournament in order to potentially get a protected seed.

Missouri at Oklahoma (Saturday, 3:30 PM, ABC):
The Sooners took a huge step in the right direction when they beat Oklahoma State on the road without Blake Griffin. A home win could potentially clinch an at-large bid; eight top-50 wins is hard to ignore.

Mississippi at Georgia (Saturday, 4:00 PM): The Rebels have risen from the dead the past couple of weeks, as they have now won two in a row and three of their last five. A win here would get them to 7-9 in the SEC; a loss here and their hopes are dashed.

Utah at UNLV (Saturday, 4:00 PM, Versus): Despite UNLV’s loss to New Mexico this week, it is still the No. 2 team in the Mountain West. A home win here could potentially clinch an at-large bid, as it would lock-up the second seed in the conference tournament, which they host.

Kansas State at Iowa State (Saturday, 4:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): The Wildcats temporarily halted their losing ways with a win over Colorado this week. A win here would get them to 10 wins in the Big 12, which would likely get them a bid.

Illinois State vs. Northern Iowa (Saturday, 5:05 PM, Regional TV): Illinois State looks very solid right now. Still, without any top-50 wins, the Redbirds would be best to win this game. This was supposed to be a bubble elimination game against SIU, but the Salukis fell to UNI last night.

New Mexico at Colorado State (Saturday, 5:30 PM, Regional TV):
The Lobos kept their at-large hopes alive with a huge win over UNLV this week; they can’t afford a letdown loss in this one. Their horrible SOS puts them at a disadvantage already.

Arizona State at Oregon State (Saturday, 5:30 PM, Regional TV): Oregon State hasn’t won a Pac-10 this season; the Sun Devils certainly don’t want to be their first victim. ASU lost to Oregon on Thursday, and now must win this game in order to get to .500 in the Pac-10.

Auburn at Arkansas (Saturday, 6:00 PM, ESPN Classic): The Razorbacks are struggling at the wrong time of the season, losing five of their last seven games. A win here would get them to 9-7 in the league, and back to fourth in the conference pecking order for at-large bids.

Charlotte at Rhode Island (Saturday, 7:00 PM): The Rams looked to be down for the count heading into the week, but they went on the road and knocked off a hot La Salle team. A win here would get them back to 8-8 in the A-10, and in the at-large discussion.

Villanova at Providence (Saturday, 7:30 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): The Wildcats picked up a must-win over South Florida during the week; this one is more important. Providence is playing well right now, but ‘Nova needs this victory to get back to .500.

Massachusetts at George Washington (Saturday, 7:30 PM): Yet another must-win for a bubble team in the Atlantic-10. The Minutemen are likely second in the league pecking order, but a loss here would kill that talk. It would be their sixth win in a row if they can get it.

Houston at UTEP (Saturday, 9:05 PM): Is Houston even still alive for an at-large bid? Although it is unlikely that they are in consideration, if the Cougars can run the table and lose a close game in the C-USA title game to Memphis, then they might get a look. Short of that, no.

Florida at Kentucky (Sunday, 12:00 PM, CBS): A humongous bubble game in the SEC East. Florida missed a prime opportunity to get a marquee victory over Tennessee this week, while Kentucky continues its winning ways; a win here puts them at 12-4 in the conference.

New Orleans at South Alabama (Sunday, 1:30 PM): Like several of the other dominant conference winners, South Alabama can’t afford an early exit in the Sun Belt Tournament. I think the Jaguars will get in if they win a game or two, but a loss here would hurt.

Kent State at Akron (Sunday, 6:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): The Golden Flashes blew some of their at-large capital with a loss to Bowling Green last week, and another defeat here would be costly. Akron could tie for the MAC conference title with a win.

Maryland at Virginia (Sunday, 7:30 PM, FSN): The Terrapins blew a huge chance last weekend when it lost a 20-point lead at home to Clemson and ended up dropping their fourth in six games. A win here would put them back on the right track, but they are only sixth in the league.

North Texas at Western Kentucky (Sunday, 10:00 PM): The Hilltoppers are likely not in the mix for an at-large bid, mainly due to their lack of any sort of good win, but a run to the Sun Belt title game and a close showing against South Alabama might give them a chance.

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