Saturday, March 1st Highlighted Match-ups

Saturday, March 1st Highlighted Match-ups
Mar 01, 2008, 11:02 am

-VANDERBILT AT ARKANSAS (SEC). Vanderbilt has won seven in a row, and is coming off their biggest win of the season against Tennessee. The bulk of those wins came at home though, and the ones that were on the road were struggles against teams that aren’t as good as Arkansas…well, let me rephrase that. They were struggles against teams that are not as good as Arkansas CAN be. The Razorbacks are a very inconsistent team, but they’re much better at home than on the road. They’ve lost four of their last five and really need a win because if it keeps up they’re going to find themselves squarely on the bubble.

-MISSOURI AT BAYLOR (Big Twelve). Baylor had been in a slump, but the good news is that the majority of the games leading into the conference tournament are winnable, including this one. If they can take care of business they should be fine for a bid. If they drop a couple of games they could really be in trouble, though.

-NORTH CAROLINA AT BOSTON COLLEGE (ACC). This appears to be a big time mismatch despite the fact that North Carolina is on the road. They should be able to pick up the win, remain at the top of the standings, and solidly in the hunt for 1st place in the ACC and a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

-DETROIT AT BUTLER (Horizon League). Butler has already wrapped up sole possession of first place in the Horizon League and will host the conference tournament. They’re just playing to preserve their seed now. They’re undermatched at home, but they don’t want to simply not show up because a loss would damage their NCAA Tourney resume.

-AIR FORCE AT BYU (Mountain West). It looks as though BYU is safe for a bid and should be able to win out the regular season. This is actually the toughest game they have remaining on the schedule. If they rack up three straight losses they’ll be in serious trouble because it would look really bad to the committee, but as well as BYU has been playing they should be fine.

-WEST VIRGINIA AT CONNECTICUT (Big East). UConn is one of those teams that is squarely in the hunt for first place in the Big East. West Virginia has played tough for most of the season, and has lost some close games to quality competition. It looks as though they’re safe for a bid so long as they can win one or two more games, but this is a chance for them to really boost the quality of their resume. A win in this game would be their best of the season so far, and really come into play in regards of their seed in the tournament.

-WICHITA STATE AT DRAKE (Missouri Valley). Drake is just 2-3 in their last five games. That isn’t too bad considering they did win on the road at Butler and that they’ve already wrapped up the Missouri Valley regular season title, but if they want to sustain their seed in the NCAAs they need to turn it around. They’re at home in this one against a very beatable team, so they should be able to get the win and get back on track.

-SAINT MARY’S AT GONZAGA (West Coast). First place in the WCC is on the line, along with the chance to add another notable win to their NCAA resume. Saint Mary’s won earlier this season in a thriller, and tonight’s game should be equally as exciting. Both teams appear to be safe for NCAA bids, but this will play a big role in terms of seeding. For Gonzaga, they’re in danger of not finishing first in the league for the first time in a long time. They also don’t have an abundance of quality wins on their resume, which will effect their seeding, and they could really use another one. Saint Mary’s has been extremely tough at home, but did lose last week to Kent State, so they’ll be looking to avenge that and add another notable win to their profile.

-KANSAS STATE AT KANSAS (Big Twelve). Kansas State won earlier in the season, but they had the home court advantage in that game. Kansas has been in somewhat of a slump, but they’ve really just had one surprising loss and that was last week to Oklahoma State. I expect them to come into this one extremely focused, and Kansas State could be in trouble. It hasn’t gotten the national attention that Kansas’s “slump” is getting, but Kansas State has lost four of their last five and their profile is beginning to take a hit. This would be their fourth straight loss if they’re not able to pull the upset, which will put them in a position of needing to finish strong to get a respectable seed.

-GEORGETOWN AT MARQUETTE (Big East). Georgetown is in the race for the Big East title, and Marquette is a solid NCAA Tournament team that’s looking to add another good win to their profile. Marquette has had their struggles throughout the year, but they come into this game having won five straight, including a big road win against Villanova in their last game. The more momentum they build, the better for their seeding it is. Georgetown has been playing well, but if they want to get themselves in position to get a #2 seed, they could use a big road win like this right about now. Both teams are safely in the field, but it’s a big game because both are looking to build up/sustain their credentials.

-VIRGINIA AT MIAMI, FL (ACC). Miami is coming off a loss to Clemson, but seeing as how they won four in a row prior to that I believe they’re safe if they can finish strong. All three of their remaining regular season games are against non-tournament caliber teams, so if they play like they have been they should win them all. That would all but assure them a spot in the field. If they go into the tank they could be in trouble, though, because losing to non-tournament caliber teams certainly isn’t going to impress the committee.

-DUKE AT NORTH CAROLINA STATE (ACC). Duke had lost two straight and appeared to be slumping, but they’ve since won two straight and now appear to be back on track. Every game is big because they’re trying to keep pace with North Carolina, so this one is no different. NC State had big expectations coming into the season, but they’ve been a pretty big disappointment and aren’t in the NCAA Tournament picture right now. They’ve actually lost six straight and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this ended up being #7.

-TEXAS A&M AT OKLAHOMA (Big Twelve). Texas A&M ended a three game losing streak in a huge way with a 98-54 blowout against a Texas Tech team that had been playing pretty well. I’d say that they’re back on track and should be playing with a purpose again today against Oklahoma. The Sooners have lost two straight and didn’t look good in either game, so they need a notable win in order to get themselves back on track. They’re just 3-5 in their last eight games and they need to build up some momentum down the stretch because that is one of the things the committee looks at.

-NORTHWESTERN AT PURDUE (Big Ten). Purdue has three very winnable games between now and the end of the regular season, and if they win out they get at least a share of the Big Ten title. It’s been an incredible season for a young Boilermaker team and they should be able to set themselves up nicely to make some noise in the NCAA Tournament.

-MEMPHIS AT SOUTHRN MISSISSIPPI (Conference USA). Memphis should end up with a #1 seed if they win out, and considering how undermatched they’ve been throughout league play and that the conference tourney is on their home floor, I would be surprised if they dropped a game between now and the end.

-WASHINGTON STATE AT STANFORD (Pac Ten). Stanford is in the race for the Pac Ten title and should end up with a good seed regardless. They did struggle the other night against Washington, though, and don’t have any wins against the top ten, so they could still help themselves out quite a bit with a strong finish. Wazzu is interesting because it looks as though they actually play better on the road than they do at home. They took care of business against Cal the other night, and also appear to be solidly in the field, but this would be one of their bigger wins of the season if they pull off the upset, which would really help them out in terms of seeding.

-GEORGE WASHINGTON AT XAVIER (Atlantic Ten). Xavier has already clinched the #1 seed in the conference tournament, and is now just playing to sustain their NCAA Tournament credentials. GW, on the other hand, is playing to try and secure a spot in the Atlantic Ten Tournament. Xavier has been red hot lately, especially at home, so it isn’t likely that they’ll pull the upset.


-USC AT ARIZONA STATE (Pac Ten). Having lost eight of their last eleven, Arizona State desperately needs to add a notable win to their resume. USC picked up a big win the other night against Arizona and appears to be solidly in the field, but still has a lot to play for because a big push in the final stretch of the season could help them out. Arizona State needs a big push just to secure themselves a spot. This is about as pivotal as a game can get for ASU. If they win they’re in decent shape, but if they lose they’ll really be behind the eight-ball.

-HOUSTON AT EAST CAROLINA (Conference USA). Houston may have some hopes for an at-large bid if they can win out, but that might not even be enough and if they drop a game between now and the end, especially this one, their only way into the NCAAs will be the automatic bid.

-MISSISSIPPI STATE AT FLORIDA (SEC). Mississippi State should be fine for a bid if they can win two of their last four, especially considering how much all the teams on the bubble have been struggling lately. Florida, on the other hand, needs a really strong finish if they want to make the field and it has to start today. The Gators have struggled on the road, and really just have two wins of note (Vanderbilt, Kentucky). Seeing as how they’ve lost four of their last five, they really need to win at least two of the next three and avoid an early exit in the SEC Tournament in order to feel safe. Since all the games are against quality opponents, a finish like that will give them the kinds of wins they need to get the attention of the committee.

-SOUTH ALABAMA AT FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL (Sun Belt). This is the final regular season game for South Alabama, and if they’re able to pick up a win against FIU and win at least one game in the conference tournament I believe that will be enough to earn them an at-large bid. If they lose a game to such a low caliber opponent, though, they’ll be in big trouble.

-DAYTON AT FORDHAM (Atlantic Ten). Some people still believe that Dayton is a bubble team, but the fact of the matter is if they lose this game they probably won’t end up making the Atlantic Ten Tournament, let alone the NCAA Tournament. Both teams are in a three-way tie for 11th place, and George Washington already holds the tiebreaker over Dayton. If the Flyers lose this one, Fordham will hold a tiebreaker as well.

-DAVIDSON AT GEORGIA SOUTHERN (Southern Conference). This is Davidson’s final regular season game, and it’s probably the toughest one they’ll have in conference. Having said that, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they ended up winning rather handily because they won handily earlier in the year. The Wildcats will get some consideration of they lose in their conference tournament, but there are no guarantees that they’ll be selected. If they lose this one, they probably won’t get any consideration at all.

-WAKE FOREST AT GEORGIA TECH (ACC). Wake has been playing much better lately, but they still have two straight losses. This is a road game against a non-tournament team, and it’s exactly the kind of game a bubble team needs to be able to win. All of Wake’s remaining three games are against beatable opponents. If they play as well as they did in the previous two games (even though they lost) they should win all three, and that should be enough to put them in the field.

-RHODE ISLAND AT LA SALLE (Atlantic Ten). The losing streak is now at five for Rhode Island and they need to win out and win some games in the conference tournament just to get back in the discussion. They may be dead already, but a loss today would assure it.

-OHIO STATE AT MINNESOTA (Big Ten). Ohio State is just 2-5 in their last seven games and it looks to me like they’ve fallen way out of the picture. If they win their remaining three regular season games they’ll be back in the discussion, but anything short of that or an impressive showing in the Big Ten Tournament and they probably won’t be in the field.

-ALABAMA AT MISSISSIPPI (SEC). If Ole Miss wins their remaining three regular season games they’ll be back in the discussion, but anything short of that and I believe they’ll need to win the SEC Tournament. They’ve just gone too far into the tank for too long and have no momentum built up right now at all.

-MASSACHUSETTS AT RICHMOND (Atlantic Ten). This is UMass’s toughest remaining test of the regular season, and since they’re right on the bubble it’s one they really need. They’ve won three straight and taken care of business in all three, and if they keep it up they should be pretty safe for a bid, but anything short of that and I believe they’re in trouble. Richmond is actually in a four way tie for second place, so they could give UMass more of a fight than people expect. UMass is also a game behind, and since four teams are in front of them it’s important that they continue to win because jumping over them would help their case quite a bit.

-ILLINOIS STATE AT SOUTHERN ILLINOIS (Missouri Valley). Illinois State is right on the bubble, and this would be a huge win for them. Southern Illinois isn’t a solid tournament team by any means (although a strong finish should get them some consideration), but it would still be a big time win considering how well Southern Illinois plays at home. The committee would give them more credit than people realize. Illinois State is currently in my bracket, but they’re the last team in and the credentials are rather weak. A loss here and/or an early loss in the conference tournament would likely land them in the NIT.

-PITTSBURGH AT SYRACUSE (Big East). Pitt is safely in the field, and got a big, hard fought win against Cincinnati earlier in the week to end a three game losing streak. Syracuse really needs some big wins and they have several NCAA Tourney teams remaining on their schedule. The good news is that they’ll get multiple chances to prove they belong. The bad news is that it won’t be easy. This game, and several others, have the fell of a must-win game for the Orange.

-TEXAS AT TEXAS TECH (Big Twelve). Texas has owned this rivalry in recent years and won handily earlier this season. They’re in a position to get the #1 seed in the Houston Region if they can win out the regular season and avoid an early loss in the Big Twelve Tournament. All of their remaining games are winnable, so the Longhorns are in pretty good shape.

-TCU AT UNLV (Mountain West). UNLV has a big game coming up later this week at New Mexico, but this one is very winnable if they don’t get caught looking ahead. If they can win two of their last three and a game in the conference tournament they should be able to lock up a bid. They don’t have any overly impressive wins on their resume, which will probably hurt their seed, but it should at least be enough to get them into the field which is the important thing.

-VCU AT WILLIAM & MARY (Colonial Athletic). This is VCU’s final regular season game. They’ve already clinched the conference title, but I still believe they’re a long-shot for an at-large bid. If they win this one and advance to the championship game of the conference tourney (which is in their home city) they’ll have a shot, though.


-HARVARD AT CORNELL (Ivy League) If Cornell wins they become the first team to officially punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament. They struggled against Harvard earlier this season, but should have the advantage in this one considering they’re at home.

-TEXAS ARLINGTON AT STEPHEN F AUSTIN (Southland). SFA is 23-3 on the year, and all of their remaining games are winnable. They also have a big road win at Oklahoma from earlier this season. If they stumble in their conference tournament they’ll be a long shot for a bid, but they should be in the discussion. They could also turn out to be a dangerous first round opponent if they make the NCAA Tournament.

-UNC ASHEVILLE AT WINTHROP (Big South). UNCA was tearing it up, but they suffered four straight unexpected losses, which put them behind the eight ball and lowered their potential seed from a possible #13 down to about a #15. They actually trail Winthrop in the conference standings, but it’s by just one game. This is the final regular season game for both teams, and UNCA holds the tiebreaker because they beat Winthrop earlier this year. As a result the winner of this gets home court advantage throughout the conference tourney, so it’s a huge match-up.

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