We’ve got a big bubble Tuesday, with seven bubble teams facing ranked teams, and another two heading on the road. We’ll either see several teams solidify their resumes or miss an opportunity.
Note: All times are Eastern, and the rankings are according to the AP poll.
Best game: No. 11 Michigan at Northwestern (8 p.m., Big Ten Network). As Jeff Goodman wrote on Monday, this could be the biggest game in Wildcats’ history. A win here and Northwestern would feel pretty comfortable about its NCAA tournament hopes. They have won four of their last six games, but they need another marquee win. Michigan is coming off a win over Ohio State. Both teams rely heavily on the 3-pointer; which team will hit more?
Second-best game: Kansas State at No. 3 Missouri (7 p.m., ESPN2). Despite Missouri being at home for this one, don’t count Kansas State out. The Wildcats are coming off a road win over Baylor that really helped their NCAA chances, and they also dominated Missouri by 16 in the teams’ first meeting back in early January. To hang with the Tigers in Columbia, Kansas State needs to dominate the offensive glass and also take care of the ball. The Wildcats also have to try to match-up on the defensive end.
Another one to watch: No. 1 Kentucky at Mississippi State (9 p.m., ESPN). This would have been a lot more exciting had Mississippi State not lost three consecutive games to teams that won’t make the NCAA tournament. With Renardo Sidney’s status also questionable, this one could get out of hand quickly. However, if Sidney does play, the Bulldogs have the size to bang with Kentucky down low. The key will be Dee Bost. Can he take good shots and take care of the ball? If so, Mississippi State could have a chance.
Guaranteed win: Binghamton is running out of chances to get a win this season, and Tuesday’s game against America East co-leader Vermont (7 p.m.) probably won’t help very much. The first time the two teams played, the Catamounts rolled to a 20-point victory – and they might be better now. Vermont has won 13 of its last 14 games, and shouldn’t have trouble dispatching of Binghamton.
Potential upset: Lots of options tonight, but we’ll go with No. 9 Georgetown heading to Seton Hall (7 p.m., ESPN3). The Pirates are desperate at this point, after losing to Cincinnati over the weekend. A win here would do wonders for their profile, while Georgetown could still sneak into the No. 2 seed line with a strong finish. Seton Hall has to play smart defense while still being aggressive enough to force turnovers. Herb Pope needs to dominate the paint.
Three things to keep an eye on:
- There are several other bubble teams with a chance to get a noteworthy win. NC State hosts No. 7 North Carolina (8 p.m., ESPN3), while Colorado State faces No. 18 New Mexico (10 p.m., Mountain). Illinois can also get back on the right track with a road win at No. 8 Ohio State (7 p.m., ESPN).
- Xavier and Miami (Fl.) go on the road in games they can’t afford to lose. The Musketeers travel to Massachusetts (7 p.m., Comcast Network/Regional TV), and the ‘Canes go to Maryland (8 p.m., ESPN3).
- No. 25 Virginia has lost three of its last four road games, and tonight the Cavaliers head to Virginia Tech (9 p.m., ESPNU).
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