Today's Specials: Chance for bubble teams to make statements
Wednesday is a big night for bubble teams, with a handful of them looking to get statement wins to help their resumes.
Tuesday saw several teams lose important games and therefore watch their at-large hopes fade into the abyss, while Ohio State also made a major statement with a road win at Indiana. Wednesday has five conference tournaments, 10 ranked teams and plenty of bubble action.
Note: All times are Eastern, and the rankings are according to the AP Poll.
Best game: No. 13 Oklahoma State Cowboys at Iowa State Cyclones (7 p.m., ESPNU). After a heartbreaking overtime loss to Kansas last Monday, Iowa State got blown out by Oklahoma on the road -- meaning the Cyclones are in serious at-large trouble. They have wins over Kansas State and Oklahoma, but they are just 5-8 against the top 100 with mediocre computer numbers and two sub-100 losses. Oklahoma State needs a win to stay within striking distance of the Big 12 title, as the Cowboys sit 1 1/2 games back of Kansas and Kansas State. Iowa State will need to knock down 3-pointers but also be disciplined on the defensive end.
Second-best game: No. 5 Georgetown Hoyas at Villanova Wildcats (7 p.m., ESPN2). Another chance for a bubble team to get a statement win. Georgetown is playing some of the best basketball in the country, rolling off 11 straight wins to move to 13-3 in the Big East. The Hoyas are a half-game up in the conference standings, so a win would clinch at least a share of the title. Villanova is squarely on the bubble, and back-to-back road losses to Seton Hall and Pittsburgh have left them in trouble. Wednesday’s battle against the Hoyas could be a must-win situation for the Wildcats.
Another one to watch: North Carolina Tar Heels at Maryland Terrapins (7 p.m., ESPN). A battle between a couple of ACC teams that could use a win. North Carolina has played itself into the NCAA tournament with five straight wins and a small-ball lineup, but a win over the Terps would really clinch a bid. Meanwhile, Maryland can’t afford another loss – after falling to Boston College and Georgia Tech in the last two weeks. If the Terrapins drop this one, it’s going to take a win at Virginia and a couple of ACC tournament wins to get a bid.
Guaranteed win: It might be going out on a limb a little bit to pick Syracuse Orange , since the Orange have lost three straight games and six of their last 10 games. However, the Orange are hosting DePaul Blue Demons (6 p.m., ESPN3), which hasn’t won a road game since Jan. 5 and has lost four in a row and 13 of its last 14 games. Syracuse should bounce back. Over in the SEC, No. 11 Florida Gators has been up and down since the beginning of February, but the Gators shouldn’t have much trouble with Vanderbilt Commodores (8 p.m., ESPN3). A win over the Commodores would clinch the outright SEC title.
Potential upset: There are several ranked teams going on the road on Wednesday, and a couple could be at risk. No. 7 Michigan Wolverines has dropped four straight away games, with the last road win coming in late January at Illinois. Meanwhile, a young Purdue Boilermakers team has shown flashes of its potential and might be able to bog Michigan down (7 p.m., Big Ten Network). In another game, No. 16 Saint Louis Billikens heads on the road to Xavier Musketeers (9 p.m.), where the Musketeers are usually tough to beat. This season, though, they have lost four games at home; can they upset the Billikens? A Saint Louis win would clinch at least a share of the A-10 title.
Three things to keep an eye on:
- Tennessee Volunteers suffered a tough loss at Georgia over the weekend, and need to bounce back at Auburn Tigers to keep its at-large hopes alive (9 p.m., ESPN3).
- No. 23 UCLA Bruins is tied atop the Pac-12 standings, and the Bruins start their final road trip at Washington State Cougars (9:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network).
- A loss by Temple Owls at Fordham Rams (7 p.m.) would cripple the Owls’ at-large hopes. A win and they are in good shape.
- Atlantic Sun quarterfinals (Game to watch: North Florida Ospreys vs. Florida Gulf Coast Eagles )
- West Coast Conference first round (Game to watch: Loyola Marymount Lions vs. Portland Pilots )
- Ohio Valley first round (Game to watch: UT Martin Skyhawks vs. Morehead State Eagles )
- Patriot League quarterfinals (Game to watch: American Eagles at Army West Point Black Knights )
- Northeast Conference quarterfinals (Game to watch: Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers at Bryant University Bulldogs )
Other games to watch:
-- Ranked teams
- Richmond Spiders at No. 21 VCU Rams (8 p.m., CBS Sports)
- Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at No. 6 Miami (Fla.) Hurricanes (9 p.m., ESPN3)
- No. 12 New Mexico Lobos at Nevada Wolf Pack (10 p.m., CBS Sports)
-- At-large implications
- Wake Forest Demon Deacons at NC State Wolfpack (9 p.m., ESPN3)
- Minnesota Golden Gophers at Nebraska Cornhuskers (9 p.m., Big Ten Network)
- West Virginia Mountaineers at Oklahoma Sooners (9 p.m., ESPN2)
- Colorado State Rams at Wyoming Cowboys (10 p.m., ROOT)
- Stanford Cardinal at California Golden Bears (11 p.m., ESPN2)
- Air Force Falcons at San Diego State (11:30 p.m.)
For more college basketball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnCBB on Twitter, subscribe to our RSS Feed and subscribe to our College Basketball Newsletter. You can follow Jeff Borzello on Twitter here: @jeffborzello
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