Wednesday is loaded with bubble teams looking for statement wins, while a couple of teams also try to keep a stranglehold on first place in their respective conferences.
Note: All times are Eastern, and the rankings are according to the AP poll.
Best game: No. 8 North Carolina at Miami (Fl.) (8 p.m., ESPN). The Hurricanes have already knocked off Duke; can they get another big win? North Carolina bounced back from its heartbreaking loss to Duke by pulling away in the second half against Virginia, while Miami snapped a five-game winning streak with a loss at Florida State over the weekend. The battle inside between Miami’s Reggie Johnson and Kenny Kadji vs. UNC’s Tyler Zeller and John Henson will be fun to watch. The Hurricanes need to keep the Heels off the offensive glass.
Second-best game: New Mexico at No. 13 San Diego State (10:15 p.m., CBS Sports Network). A showdown for first place in the Mountain West. New Mexico has won five in a row to move to 6-2 in the league, while San Diego State still has a share of pole position despite its loss to UNLV over the weekend. The first time the two teams played, the Aztecs pulled out a five-point road win. If New Mexico wants to win, it will have to knock down 3-pointers and also defend San Diego State inside the arc.
Another one to watch: Purdue at Illinois (8:30 p.m., Big Ten Network). A major bubble battle in the Big Ten. Both teams would be in the field right now, but neither is safe by any stretch. Purdue has lost four of its last six, with the lone wins coming over Northwestern. Illinois has dropped six of seven, but its last two twins were over Ohio State and Michigan State. The key in this one could be Meyers Leonard staying out of foul trouble; he has the potential to dominate on the inside for Illinois.
Guaranteed win: If Oral Roberts wins at IPFW (7 p.m.) tonight, the Golden Eagles clinch the Summit League title (they would become the second team to lock up a championship). ORU won the first meeting between the two teams, by 11 at home, but IPFW has lost nine of its last 10 games. Oral Roberts has too many offensive weapons for IPFW, and the Golden Eagles are comfortable playing at IPFW’s fast pace.
Potential upset: Colorado State has lost four of its last six, including a tough loss at TCU over the weekend. The Rams have one more game before the four-game stretch that will decide their season, but road trips to Boise State (10 p.m., Mountain) are never easy. If the Broncos get hot from 3, the Rams could be in trouble. Meanwhile, Texas-Arlington puts its 15-game winning streak on the line at Stephen F. Austin (8 p.m.), which is 9-1 at home this season.
Three things to keep an eye on:
- No. 16 Murray State starts a tough final four games tonight, at Southeast Missouri State (8 p.m., ESPN3), which gave the Racers plenty of trouble two weeks ago.
- Don’t look now, but Tulsa is only a half-game back of Southern Miss and Memphis. If the Golden Hurricane beat Southern Miss tonight (8 p.m.), things could get interesting.
- Northwestern needs another good win to boost its at-large resume, and tonight at No. 18 Indiana (6:30 p.m., Big Ten Network) would do the trick.
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