Friday, February 27, 2009

Weekend Preview

With the calendar turning to March on Sunday, it’s time to start counting down to Selection Sunday (if you haven’t already). With that in mind, time is running out 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. Conference tournaments in many leagues tip-off next week, so the next couple of days will be great hors d'oeuvres for the greatest month of the year.

Top Games

Clemson at Florida State (Saturday, 2:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV):
Florida State could use a win to solidify its NCAA hopes, while Clemson needs to bounce back after its home loss to Virginia Tech. Prediction: Florida State 73, Clemson 67

Duke at Virginia Tech (Saturday, 3:30 PM, ABC):
Can Virginia Tech pull off its second straight upset? The Hokies beat Clemson on the road on Wednesday, while Duke is hitting its stride again. Prediction: Virginia Tech 77, Duke 73

Ohio State at Purdue (Saturday, 4:00 PM, ESPN):
Battle in the Big Ten. Purdue fell on the road to Michigan on Thursday, while Ohio State beat Penn State Tuesday, but needs another win or two for its at-large profile. Prediction: Purdue 65, Ohio State 56

Utah at BYU (Saturday, 5:00 PM, CBS College Sports):
Utah likely locked up a spot in the Dance with its win over UNLV this week, but BYU is still on the bubble. The Cougars could make a serious move with a win here.
Prediction: BYU 75, Utah 69

UCLA at California (Saturday, 9:00 PM, ESPN):
Intrastate rivalry in the Pac-10, with both teams having surprisingly similar profiles. UCLA is still without a marquee road win, while Cal could improve its seeding and lock up a bid.
Prediction: California 72, UCLA 68

Marquette at Louisville (Sunday, 12:00 PM, CBS):
Two of the best in the Big East -- when healthy. Unfortunately, Marquette will be shorthanded the rest of the season, as Dominic James is gone for the year with a broken ankle. Prediction: Louisville 74, Marquette 66

Missouri at Kansas (Sunday, 2:00 PM, CBS):
Potential battle for the top spot in the Big 12. Kansas is in first place right now, after winning at Oklahoma on Monday. Missouri won the first meeting between the two on a Zaire Taylor shot with time winding down. Prediction: Kansas 84, Missouri 77

Michigan State at Illinois (Sunday, 4:00 PM, CBS):
Michigan State is clearly the best team in the Big Ten, but the Spartans look terrible at times. A win on the road here would get them back on the right track. Illinois will try to improve its seeding. Prediction: Michigan State 66, Illinois 63

Bubble Battles

Notre Dame at Connecticut (Saturday, 2:00 PM, CBS):
Connecticut still needs to keep winning to keep its hold on a No. 1 seed, while Notre Dame keeps its at-large hopes alive with a win. Prediction: Connecticut 84, Notre Dame 69

Arizona at Washington (Saturday, 3:00 PM, FSN):
Arizona has fallen back a bit after dropping two in a row on the road, while Washington can wrap up the Pac-10 title with a victory. Prediction: Washington 74, Arizona 67

LSU at Kentucky (Saturday, 4:00 PM, CBS):
LSU continues to rise in projected bracket as it has dominated the SEC. Kentucky needs a win over the Tigers to stay in the field.
Prediction: LSU 70, Kentucky 68

Temple at Dayton (Saturday, 4:00 PM, Regional TV):
Battle in the Atlantic-10 between two teams in need of a win. Temple lost at La Salle to hurt its at-large chances, while Dayton fell at Rhode Island. Prediction: Dayton 77, Temple 70

Texas at Oklahoma State (Saturday, 6:00 PM, ESPN):
Very interesting Big 12 contest. Texas would lock up a bid with a win here, while Ok State would likely be one of the last teams in with a victory. Prediction: Oklahoma State 73, Texas 65

Nebraska at Kansas State (Saturday, 8:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV):
Huge bubble game in the Big 12. Nebraska has almost fallen out of the picture, while KSU needs a win.
Prediction: Kansas State 69, Nebraska 61

Michigan at Wisconsin (Sunday, 1:00 PM, Big Ten Network):
Wisconsin has had an impressive turnaround this season, while Michigan may have salvaged its season with its win over Purdue on Thursday. Prediction: Wisconsin 63, Michigan 54

Tennessee at Florida (Sunday, 2:00 PM, CBS):
SEC East rivalry game that has added bubble meaning this year. Tennessee has faded over the past few weeks, while Florida needs a win to stay in the field. Prediction: Florida 79, Tennessee 74

Cincinnati at Syracuse (Sunday, 2:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV):
A win here would make Syracuse a lock for the Tournament, and Cincinnati would be in good shape with a win after beating West Virginia Thursday. Prediction: Syracuse 72, Cincinnati 66

Must-Wins for Bubble Teams

Georgetown at Villanova (Saturday, 12:00 PM, ESPN):
Last stand for Georgetown. A loss here and the Hoyas are going to a three-letter tournament. Prediction: Villanova 76, Georgetown 65

Iowa State at Texas A&M (Saturday, 1:30 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV):
The Aggies have played well lately, and have an increasingly impressive resume.
Prediction: Texas A&M 71, Iowa State 57

Arizona State at Washington State (Saturday, 5:00 PM, FSN Regional):
If Washington State were to win here, then beat Washington next week, the Cougars might be in the hunt. Prediction: Arizona State 63, Washington State 60

Indiana at Penn State (Saturday, 6:00 PM, Big Ten Network):
Penn State fell at Ohio State during the week, but a win here would get the Nittany Lions on the right track. Prediction: Penn State 67, Indiana 52

UAB at East Carolina (Saturday, 7:00 PM):
The Blazers' at-large chances are pretty much done after their loss to Memphis, but if they win out and get to the C-USA title game, they may have a shot.
Prediction: UAB 82, East Carolina 65

USC at Stanford (Saturday, 8:00 PM): The Trojans are in serious bubble trouble after losing at California on Thursday. A loss here and they have to win the Pac-10 Tournament. Prediction: USC 69, Stanford 64

San Diego State at TCU (Saturday, 8:30 PM, Mountain TV): The Aztecs have fallen out of the field with their recent struggles, including a home loss to BYU this week. Prediction: San Diego State 68, TCU 60

South Carolina at Vanderbilt (Saturday, 9:00 PM, ESPNU): The Gamecocks are looking like the best team in the SEC East right now, and a win here would put them in position for a bid. Prediction: South Carolina 74, Vanderbilt 70

New Mexico at Colorado State (Saturday, 9:00 PM):
Can the Lobos make a run at an at-large bid? They are playing solid basketball lately and have a chance to finish in second. Prediction: New Mexico 73, Colorado State 61

Providence at Rutgers (Sunday, 2:00 PM, ESPNU): The Friars can't follow their win over Pittsburgh with a dud at the Scarlet Knights. They need a convincing performance. Prediction: Providence 81, Rutgers 66

Rhode Island at Duquesne (Sunday, 3:30 PM): The Rams make their way onto the bubble after their win over Dayton on Wednesday. Duquesne has been solid in the A-10. Prediction: Duquesne 87, Rhode Island 83

Maryland at North Carolina State (Sunday, 7:30 PM, FSN):
The Terrapins couldn't pull off the upset combo, losing to Duke on Wednesday. They need a win here to bounce back, though. Prediction: North Carolina State 71, Maryland 66

Non-BCS Games to Watch

Georgia Southern at Davidson (Saturday, 2:00 PM):
The Wildcats can't afford any more losses in Southern Conference play -- and might need the automatic bid. Prediction: Davidson 90, Georgia Southern 65

Illinois State at Creighton (Saturday, 2:05 PM, ESPN2):
With a win here, Creighton would tie for the Missouri Valley title -- and possibly get itself in the mix for an at-large bid. Prediction: Creighton 73, Illinois State 64

Georgia State at VCU (Saturday, 4:00 PM, Comcast Network):
The Rams could win the CAA title outright if they knock off GSU, who blew out Hofstra this week. Prediction: VCU 76, Georgia State 63

Jacksonville at Belmont (Saturday, 5:15 PM):
First place in the Atlantic Sun is on the line, as the two teams tied for first square off. Jacksonville has lost four of eight, while Belmont has won four of five. Prediction: Belmont 79, Jacksonville 74

Morehead State at Tennessee-Martin (Saturday, 7:00 PM):
The Ohio Valley title is up for grabs. UT-Martin has a one-game lead on MSU, but lost the first meeting by nine on the road. Prediction: Tennessee-Martin 83, Morehead State 73

Stephen F. Austin at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Saturday, 8:00 PM):
Two of the best teams in the Southland battle. SFA leads its division, while Corpus Christi is one game out in the West. Prediction: Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 61, Stephen F. Austin 57

North Dakota State at Oral Roberts (Saturday, 8:05 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV):
The top teams in the Summit face off for first-place. NDSU won the first meeting by eight, but that was nearly three months ago. Prediction: Oral Roberts 76, North Dakota State 74

Evansville at Northern Iowa (Saturday, 8:30 PM, Regional TV):
UNI needs a victory if it wants a share of the Missouri Valley title. The Panthers are struggling, dropping four of their last six. Prediction: Northern Iowa 66, Evansville 57

Utah State at Nevada (Saturday, 10:05 PM):
The Aggies are going to win the WAC easily, but they can't afford many more losses if they are going to be in the mix for an at-large bid in case of a conference tourney loss.
Prediction: Utah State 68, Nevada 63

Siena at Canisius (Sunday, 2:00 PM):
The Saints have been running over the MAAC the past couple of months, and have put themselves in position for a bid no matter the outcome of the conference tournament. They can't lose here, though. Prediction: Siena 81, Canisius 61

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