College Basketball weekly preview: Week 17

We now only have a few games left in the College Basketball season before we enter into the madness. And with that comes more important games that will help teams make a final run at proving why they deserve to be in the tournament.

Most of the teams I’ve been talking about in this weekly schedule have been the top 25 teams and their big matchups. You can see last week’s matchups here. You can also see where I had each of the top 25 teams ranked last week as we look forward to another ranking Monday morning.

But let’s see how things went with some of the top teams who had tough games like Duke, Nevada, LSU, and Villanova who all took major losses in their earlier games last week. And we’ll be paying close attention to how they finish the season, especially Duke who might have lost one of their stars for the season.

Let’s Go Coogs! UH vs. UTEP basketball w/ @geeology & @dgstidham other friends” by Kaleb Fulgham is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Monday, Feb. 25th

Kansas versus Kansas State

This game should’ve been for the regular season conference title had Kansas beaten Texas Tech. But Kansas is looking to finish strong and get a higher seed in the tournament if that’s even a possibility anymore. With a perfect 15-0 home record this season, we could expect to see them take care of business.

But Kansas State wants to prove that despite being ranked lower, they are the best team in the Big XII. Kansas State has already beaten Kansas this season, so this would be a season sweep and a definite advantage in the conference tournament.

But who you got? My money is on Kansas as they put their perfect home record on the line in a revenge game.

Iowa State versus Oklahoma

After back-to-back loss to unranked opponents, Iowa State may be knocked out of the top 25. But they still have a chance to be in the tournament as a middle seed. With a record of 19-8, their chances are slimmer than ever.

Unfortunately, Oklahoma is looking for that same chance as they continue to try to get themselves back into the hunt. Who will stay alive?

 

Tuesday, Feb. 26th

Duke versus Virginia Tech

Duke had a rough week lay will as the No. 1 team. Unfortunately, they won’t be No. 1 in the next rankings due to their loss against North Carolina, but it was a tough decision.

Just like the decision of Duke’s freshmen superstar, Zion Williamson. If you’ve been living under a cave this week, you missed the news of Zion and his most recent injury. We can all thank Nike for that.

But Duke was able to find a way to win a revenge game against Syracuse with R.J Barrett and Alex O’Connell combining for 50 of the team’s 75 points to keep them from getting swept and losing their second consecutive game.

For Virginia Tech, it’s all about being able to prove that they can play with the big boys in the ACC. Despite their 10-5 conference record, Virgina Tech has not been able to beat Virginia or North Carolina this season. A win over Duke will prove that they deserve a top space in tournament, but will they do it?

Iowa versus Ohio State

Iowa is trying to hang on to whatever hope is left for them in the Big Ten after remaining behind Purdue, Michigan, and Michigan State. They have been struggling to win conference games all season long. In fact, Iowa is 21-6 overall with a 11-0 nonconference record.

For Ohio State, the same could be said as they are 10-1 in nonconference play with that one loss being against Syracuse early in the season. But Ohio State isn’t looking good in the conference winning seven of their 16 games and one of the teams on the bubble to get in. Can they get in though?

North Carolina versus Syracuse

Both of these teams had the challenge of taking down Duke from the top spot. North Carolina was the only one able to get a win due to the unfortunate events of Williamson’s injury. They still have one more game against Duke and you know that’s going to be another classic.

Syracuse doesn’t have another chance at Duke and their chances of being in the tournament are very slim as well. A win over a ranked Louisville helps them build a better resume for the selection committee. Hopefully a win over another top conference opponent will give them what they need to make the tournament.

 

Wednesday, Feb. 27th

Louisville versus Boston College

I do expect to see Louisville in the tournament somewhere. But they have been struggling as of late. And I found it hard to want to keep them ranked in the top 25 with their 10 losses. They have lost three of the last four conference games and are looking for a nice bounce back game to wrap up the season.

Boston College may not be that easy of a game though. They too have been in the middle of the pack in the ACC, but never once were they ranked top 25. Maybe their 13-13 record is the reason for that. They have gone 4-10 in the conference so far and it’s clear that they most probably won’t be in the tournament. But it would be nice to rubbish the season strong and knock out a team that’s on the bubble.

Marquette versus Villanova

This is an interesting game because since the last time these two teams played, we have seen different streaks.

For Marquette, it’s all about continuing to climb up the rankings and try to get a top seed for the tournament and having a current win streak of four games should help them remain that. Another win over a top 25 team should help their case.

This is about getting back on track and revenge for Villanova. Since their last meeting. Villanova has dropped four of its last five games, including three in a row. The defending champions aren’t looking so good after all. But this win will help them remain in the top 25 and be in the running for a top 5 seed in the tournament.

 

Thursday, Feb. 28th

St. John’s versus Xavier

I’m a believer in St. John’s and I still don’t know why! They have been an average team all season long, but have struggled to win conference games. They are 8-7 in the Big East with an overall record of 20-8. That’s the same record as the 2018 National Champions, Villanova.

Although Villanova isn’t playing well lately, it’s still an impressive record, especially if you best them and Big East Champion, Marquette three out of four times. Can St. John’s win the Big East outright bid, find out in our latest version of “Buy or Sell.”

But Xavier is still trying to fight their way into a chance at the tournament. And their win over Villanova was a step in the right direction. Xavier is 7-8 in the conference and still has two games against St. John’s which could recent in a strong finish and slim chance to make the tournament. However, they might need a better conference tournament too.

But my interest is how St. John’s will finish the season as they look to improve the conference record.

Michigan versus Nebraska

After falling short of a comeback against Michigan State, the Wolverines now have their eyes set on the rematch that will come at the season finale. But before we get there, Michigan will have to find a way to win the games that don’t matter like they have been doing all season. Michigan still wants to be one of the top teams in the nation and this game will help set up for a classic rematch.

 

Friday, March 1st

There will be no games of importance scheduled for Friday. Instead all teams are getting a good night sleep as they prepare themselves for the big games this weekend.

 

Saturday, March 2nd

Kentucky versus Tennessee

It’ll be another matchup of two top five teams and it’ll be Tennessee trying to revenge an ugly loss to Kentucky at home a few weeks ago.

That loss knocked Tennessee out of the No. 1 spot and with a win here, they could clinch themselves the SEC regular season title and a top tournament spot. The same goes for Kentucky, but the Volunteers have more pressure to do so. Who will rise to the occasion?

Utah State versus Nevada

Nevada got their second loss of the season last week and they are now a vulnerable team. Can Utah State take advantage from Nevada and get themselves hope for the tournament. Or will Nevada continue to fight back and prove that their loss was just an off night?

Clemson versus North Carolina

North Carolina looks to continue to remain hot as they are set to take on Duke in the season finale. North Carolina wants to be the best team in the ACC and beating opponents like Clemson will only help with the momentum.

Clemson is also looking to prove that they have what it takes to make the tournament and a big win over a top 10 team will help their resume came selection Sunday.

Houston versus Central Florida

Houston is wrapping up a near perfect season with some stiff opponents and if they manage to get by without a loss, we may be talking about them having a chance at a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in their regional bracket.

Central Florida looks to make a run at Houston and a run for the tournament. Central Florida is currently third in the conference behind Houston and Cincinnati who will both likely be in the tournament, but can three teams for the AAC make the tournament?

LSU versus Alabama

LSU had beaten Kentucky and Tennessee in consecutive weeks and they know that they have a real chance to not just win the conference, but get themselves a top spot im the tournament as a possibly three.

Alabama has a very slim chance of making the tournament, but I don’t think they will even be a huge competition for LSU. At least not the way the Tigers have been playing lately.

Texas Tech versus TCU

After whopping Kansas last week, Texas Tech is the front runner for the Big XII title. And this game against TCU is an important one because TCU is also fighting for a spot in the tournament. Texas Tech will be there for sure, but don’t know if it’ll be the conference champion with Kansas State still sticking around as well. But can both of these teams get what they want from game.

Purdue versus Ohio State

Purdue likely won’t be able to win the regular season conference title, but they are going to be in the tournament and would like a higher seed, so a win over a struggling Ohio State team would definitely help. It may be a trap game for Purdue as Ohio State looks to make a strong finish to the season and hope they too have a chance to make the tournament.

Florida State versus North Carolina State

This is one if several interesting games this week because despite NC State’s struggles, I do expect them to be in tournament as well. Both teams will be looking to improve their records and chances of getting a higher seed. Florida State may be around the five to seven range while NC State is a nine to 10. They are also looking to get the momentum in their favor as they head into the conference tournament.

Villanova versus Butler

Win or lose against Marquette, Villanova needs this game if they want a chance to defend their title in the tournament. If they continue to loss they may find themselves out of the tournament altogether.

Butler looks to help themselves get into the tournament after a rough season and a big win over Villanova will certainly help their case. Can Butler continue to pull Villanova back, or Villanova win both games this week and look for a long road into the tournament?

Kansas State versus Baylor

These are another pair of teams that we should likely see in the tournament. Where they will be placed is the real question. Kansas State need to win both games this week to have a real chance at winning the conference title.

Baylor needs this win to improve their chances of being a selection into the tournament. There are only 68 teams that could make the tournament and there isn’t any room for error for those teams on the bubble like Baylor is. So let’s see how this plays out for them.

 

Sunday, March 3rd

Maryland versus Michigan

This was the match up from a few weeks ago that saw Michigan come out on top. This game is important for both teams because it means two different things.

For Michigan, it’s a chance at getting back into the top five and a likely top seed in the tournament.

For Maryland, it’s about remaining in the top 25 as the season wraps up. By doing so, they can guarantee themselves a spot in the tournament. But let’s watch how this game goes.

******************************************************************************

Also, keep an eye on how teams do this week as we enter the final few games of the season before heading into the conference tournament and selection Sunday. Who will be the top overall team in the nation when it’s decision time? Will it be Duke or Gonzaga? Or maybe Michigan and Kentucky find their way up there too. Comment on which games you think are important and who might be on upset alert!

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