Today's Specials: Conference tourneys and a top-15 showdown
Tuesday really starts March Madness, as conference tournaments get under way. Plus, there's a top-15 matchup in the Big Ten.
Monday was very quiet, but Tuesday certainly isn’t the same. Conference tournaments kick off, but there is also a marquee, top-15 matchup on the docket. Throw in several bubble games, and a nice showdown in the Mountain West, and we’ve got a packed slate.
Note: All times are Eastern, and the rankings are according to the AP poll.
Best game: No. 14 Ohio State Buckeyes at No. 2 Indiana Hoosiers (9 p.m., ESPN). Clearly the top game of the night, as both teams still have plenty to play for. Indiana is squarely in the mix for a No. 1 seed -- and the overall No. 1 seed -- and a win in either of its final two games would clinch the outright Big Ten title. Ohio State is tied with three other teams for second place in the standings, and has won three straight games -- including wins over Minnesota and Michigan State. The first time these two teams played, Indiana put on a show and beat the Buckeyes in Columbus by 13. Ohio State can’t let Indiana get in transition, and the bigs have to stay out of foul trouble against Cody Zeller .
Second-best game: Boise State Broncos at UNLV Rebels (10 p.m., regional TV). Both teams are playing well at the right time heading down the stretch. Boise State has won four in a row, including a home win over Colorado State this past weekend that left the Broncos in solid at-large position. A win in either of its final two games -- at UNLV and home against San Diego State -- could lock up a bid. The Runnin’ Rebels have also won four in a row, including back-to-back road blowouts over Wyoming and Nevada. Tempo could be a factor in this one, as well as UNLV’s ability to guard the perimeter and 3-point shot.
Another one to watch: Alabama Crimson Tide at Ole Miss Rebels (9 p.m., ESPNU). This is essentially a bubble elimination game for both teams. Neither team would be in the field as of today, and both are falling off the bubble overall. The loser likely has no chance at a bid, while the winner will hang on by a thread. Alabama had won four in a row to get to 10-3 in the SEC, but has since lost two of three heading into Tuesday. On the other side, Ole Miss has collapsed since getting off to a 17-2 start. The Rebels have gone 4-6 in their last 10 games, including horrible losses to South Carolina and Mississippi State.
Guaranteed win: There are a couple of games that shouldn’t need too much watching on Tuesday. No. 9 Kansas State Wildcats is just a half-game back of Kansas in the league standings, and the Wildcats host TCU Horned Frogs (8 p.m., ESPN3) in what should be a relatively easy game. State won the first matchup by 13 on the road. Meanwhile, Akron Zips can clinch at least a share of the Mid-American title with a win over Miami (Ohio) RedHawks (7 p.m., ESPN3). Also, the Zips can’t afford any more losses until the title game if it wants any chance at an at-large bid.
Potential upset: Illinois Fighting Illini and Iowa Hawkeyes can finish as high as sixth-place in the Big Ten, but they can also finish as low as ninth. The two face off on Tuesday (7 p.m., Big Ten Network). Illinois, despite its recent winning ways, has struggled mightily on defense in conference play, and Iowa will have to get to the free-throw line and get easy points. Meanwhile, not allowing Brandon Paul to go off would help.
Three things to keep an eye on:
- Arkansas Razorbacks is on the wrong side of the bubble, but the Razorbacks could get some momentum with a road win at Missouri Tigers (7 p.m., ESPN).
- St. John's Red Storm is just about done in the at-large hunt, and will be completely out of the running without a win at No. 24 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (7 p.m., ESPN2).
- No. 25 Memphis Tigers won’t be the biggest story in a Conference USA game (9 p.m., CBS Sports) for the first time in a while. Texas-El Paso Miners head coach Tim Floyd admitted Monday to the LA Times that he talked to USC AD Pat Haden about the Trojans’ head-coaching job.
- Big South first round, eight teams in action
- Horizon first round, six teams in action
Other games to watch:
-- Ranked teams
- Virginia Tech Hokies at No. 3 Duke Blue Devils (7 p.m., ESPNU)
- No. 15 Marquette Golden Eagles at Rutgers Scarlet Knights (7 p.m., ESPN3)
-- At-large implications
- Southern Miss Golden Eagles Miss" data-canon="Southern Jaguars" data-type="SPORTS_OBJECT_TEAM" id="shortcode0"> at Marshall Thundering Herd (7 p.m., CBS Sports)
- Seton Hall Pirates at Providence Friars (9 p.m., ESPN3)
-- Conference races
- Ohio Bobcats at Buffalo Bulls (7 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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