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College Basketball weekly preview: Week 18

We are in the final week of the season for College Basketball, and this is going to be the most crucial part of the season. It’s important because teams are now fighting for position in their conference tournament as they look to improve their record and hopes to get an invite to the big dance.

Unfortunately, this article will be the last of the weekly previews for the regular season, but we will be back to do our version of “Selection Sunday” as we try to predict the 68 teams that will be part of March Madness this year.

But first, let’s recap last week’s schedule and rankings to see how much as changed before we see another ranking on Monday morning.

Monday, March 4th:

Virginia versus Syracuse

Virginia is most likely going to be one of the top four teams in the tournament. Their only losses came against Duke twice, and with everything going on with Duke now, Virginia could beat them if they met again. Maybe that’s something we could see in the ACC tournament.

But Syracuse wants to prove that Virginia is beatable and they want to help their chances of making it into the tournament. A big win over the No. 2 overall team is a good statement game as they wrap up there up and down season that put the head coach in a tight spot. Does Syracuse have what it takes to knock out Virginia, or will Virginia continue to prove their dominance?

Texas Tech versus Texas

With all that has happened over the past few weeks, Texas Tech could win the Big XII regular season title and be a top 10 team while they do it. Of course, they have to take care of business here first.

Texas is still trying to figure out a way to get themselves into the tournament bid, and they will need all the help they can get! With a big win over Texas Tech and a strong conference tournament, Texas may find themselves in a good situation, but let’s not get our hopes up too high LongHorn fans.

Kansas State versus TCU

This is one of those games that could good either way and they both looking to improve their record and get a higher seed in the tournament. I do believe that TCU will still make the tournament despite their struggles in the conference. But TCU might need a bit of help in the conference tournament to prove that they can beat teams in the conference because their 6-10 conference record isn’t going to cut it.

 

Tuesday, March 5th

Michigan State versus Nebraska

Michigan State probably lost their chance at being one of the top seeds in the tournament with their recent loss against Indiana. I mean if you ask me I had Michigan State as a two seed, but a loss to unranked conference opponent hurts them.

This game against Nebraska should be a good rebound game as they prepare to take down Michigan again for the next time this season. With that win, they may jump back to a third seed, but that’s probably the best I can give them.

Virginia Tech versus Florida State

This game is essential for both teams as they continue to be in the tournament picture. But it’s more significant for the ACC tournament because the winner of this game could have the 4th seed in the conference which means they get an extra bye. Duke, Virginia, and North Carolina will be right there with them as they wait and watch for their opponent.

The loser won’t be in a bad spot though, and could likely meet again in the conference tournament barring any mental break downs. So let’s see who comes out on top.

Purdue versus Minnesota

This is another game that Purdue will use to boast themselves in the tournament, but Minnesota still has a slight chance to make the tournament.

With a win for Purdue, they could secure the top spot in the conference tournament and continue to have a dominant season at home. For Minnesota, it’s about making a final push into the top half of the conference and hopes they have a good enough resume to get into the big dance.

Kansas versus Oklahoma

Kansas is in a similar situation when it comes to where to be seeded in the conference tournament. With recent losses to both Texas Tech and Kansas State, the Jay Hawks are now sitting in third in the conference. This is a big week though because, with a little help from Texas, Oklahoma, TCU, and Iowa State Kansas can claim the top spot in the Big XII.

Of they would still have to take care of business on their own too as Oklahoma is fighting for whatever small chance is left for them to make the round of 68. Can the Kansas Jay Hawks reclaim the conference, or will it end “sooner?”

 

Wednesday, March 6th

There’s not anything significant happening on Wednesday besides the Big East regular-season champion trying to rebound from a loss to the defending champion, Villanova. That team is Marquette who has found some real success this season, and they look to finish strong by taking down a struggling Seton Hall team.

Seton Hall’s recent struggles might have knocked them out of the tournament this year, but Xavier and Georgetown can have a chance. Will Seton Hall earn themselves a chance with a big win here, or will Marquette continue to claim the Big East?

 

Thursday, March 7th

Iowa versus Wisconsin

This is an exciting game because one or both of these teams may not be ranked in the top 25 this week, you will have to look at the new rankings to find that out. But this game is all about positioning in both the conference tournament and NCAA tournament. It’s also a game to determine who the 5th seed in the conference tournament will be. Although Wisconsin has a better conference record, they could afford to lose. But for the sake of their positioning in the big tournament, they should want to win this game.

As I see it now, Wisconsin is an 8-9 seed while Iowa is a 7-8 seed and that’s only based off overall record. Iowa hasn’t had much success in the conference this season, but they still have a better record than Wisconsin. Let’s see who will win this one.

Cincinnati versus Central Florida

Cincinnati barely held on to beat Memphis and keep themselves ahead in the conference. But there is still Houston who thanks to Central Florida has now lost their second game of the season. On Saturday night, I gave you an article where I revealed 12 teams that I believe should make some noise in the tournament and Central Florida was one.

After a big win over the top 10 ranked Houston Central Florida turns their attention to Cincinnati as they look to increase their chances of a higher seed in the tournament. Can they continue the momentum or will Cincinnati prove to be superior?

 

Friday, March 8th

Buffalo versus Bowling Green

This isn’t the best game to watch, but it’s probably the most crucial game of Buffalo’s season. At least since Feb. 1st when Buffalo lost their third game of the season to Bowling Green. That loss nearly knocked Buffalo out of the top 25, but they managed to pull themselves together and are currently 26-3 with the regular season conference title in hand.

Bowling Green is 20-9, and they are looking to get momentum back into their hands as they try to convince the committee that they are worthy of a spot in the tournament. Can they get a win over Buffalo again and earn themselves a place in the round of 68?

Maryland versus Minnesota

Maryland will be in the tournament, but they want more than just a berth. They want to be the automatic bid for Big Ten. It would help their chances if they could remain in the top four of the conference. It’s one less game they’ll need to play to be crowned Big Ten champion, but let’s be honest can they beat Michigan?

Minnesota wants to finish the season strong and earn themselves a spot in the dance as well. It’s going to come down to how they finish out the season and the conference tournament. So can Minnesota make a move and earn their way in?

 

Saturday, March 9th

Syracuse versus Clemson

Both of these teams are also looking to get themselves in the tournament. I think a win here would boost both teams chances, but Syracuse has a better RPI with wins over the top 25 teams like Duke. They even have a better overall record and will likely still get an invite without success here.

But for Clemson, it’s a make or breaks the game as they look to get to .500 in the conference assuming that they beat Notre Dame on Wednesday. Clemson’s chances of making the dance will depend on how they play this week and in the conference tournament, do they have enough to get by?

St John’s versus Xavier

Week after week, St. John’s finds a way to let me down. I mean I gave them the benefit of the doubt when I gave them a spot in the top 25, but they continued to fail as a top 25 team. Each time they were there, it was a loss or two. Their most recent loss was against Xavier, so this game is all about revenge for St. John’s. Xavier beat St. John’s last week and jumped ahead of them in the conference standings. Xavier is making a final push for the big dance with wins over St. John’s and Villanova over the last few weeks, but it may be too little too late as they look for another win over St. John’s and a good conference tournament. Even that may not be enough for Xavier to make it into the tournament.

Villanova versus Seton Hall

Villanova is not a favorite this year, but they have never let that stop them. We’ve all seen the ups and downs of Villanova this season. And though they are already in the tournament. They want to finish the season with another conference title and they have full control over after beating Marquette. Will they do it again?

Texas Tech versus Iowa State

This is the second game of the week for Texas Tech and this should be the one that will help them be crowned Big XII champions. But Iowa State needs this win to improve their record and give themselves a chance at getting a better seed. Can Texas Tech hold on and win the conference or will Iowa State make another statement?

Kansas versus Baylor

Kansas is looking to get the conference title too, but they need a little more work than Texas Tech and Kansas State. A win over an opponent like Baylor will help them. But Baylor is on the lower seed of the tournament and wants to move up. A game with Kansas will help, especially if it comes as a win and moves them in front of Kansas in the conference.

Virginia versus Louisville

Virginia has looked unbeatable all season long unless they played Duke. But this isn’t Duke, it’s Louisville and they themselves are looking to add another big win on their resume as we get closer to the end. Louisville has had a rough season and we should expect to see them in the tournament, but what seed is the biggest question.

Duke versus North Carolina

Duke is out for revenge against the Tar Heels in this one. It’s the game that will always be reminded as the game Zion’s shoe broke his ankle. But Zion Williamson and Duke look to continue to prove that they are the most dominant team in the ACC.

With a win over North Carolina, Duke will be the top seed in the ACC tournament and maybe even the big dance, but a loss would result in them finishing third in the ACC.

Kansas State versus Oklahoma

Kansas State plans on taking the Big XII title, but it’s going to be interesting to see how things play out in the Big XII. Oklahoma is fighting for a small chance at the tournament and their hopes to get a better seed.

Michigan versus Michigan State

This is another game with two top teams in the conference fighting for a top spot. Michigan State is looking to take their momentum with them from a hopeful win against Nebraska and finish the season strong. Michigan State will sweep the season series against Michigan, but Michigan is looking for revenge and they want to earn themselves a spot in the top five by seasons end. Who will come out on top?

Nevada versus San Diego State

Nevada is desperate for a win here after nearly dropping out of the top 25 and losing two straight games. Nevada has also lost their lead in their conference with the recent loss to Utah State.

San Diego State is looking to add another good win to their resume and a win over a vulnerable Nevada team might be good for them. Let’s see how well Nevada bounces back from two straight conference losses and if they can reclaim the lead.

 

Sunday, March 3rd

Houston versus Cincinnati

Houston is looking to get back on the winning side of things after getting their second loss on the season. They still hold a strong lead on the conference, but Cincinnati is looking to take over this week. If Cincinnati can managed to beat Houston and Central Florida this week, they could very well be the conference champ. It would also make for a great conference tournament in the AAC, so let’s make sure to keep an eye on game and conference as we wrap up the season.

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

As we enter the final week, let’s keep an eye on how teams wrap up their seasons. Can some of the lower teams surprise us and make a move to the top? Will we see the same new faces trying to prove that they should be in the tournament? Let’s remember to return in a few weeks to see Fourth Quarter Sports’ version of selection Sunday. Who will be the top overall team in the nation when it’s decision time? Comment on which games you think are important and who might be on upset alert!

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