|Murray State won two close games against Tennessee Tech during the season. Can Tech upset the Racers on Friday? (AP)|
Quite a diverse schedule on the docket for Friday. The Mid-American and Ivy are still in the regular season, eight conferences are in the midst of tournament there’s a top-25 Big East team in action too.
Note: All times are Eastern, and the rankings are according to the AP poll.
Best game: Tennessee Tech vs. No. 12 Murray State (7 p.m., ESPNU). Outside of the Racers, Tennessee Tech might have the most talent in the Ohio Valley. The duo of Kevin Murphy and Jud Dillard combine to average nearly 39 points per game, and they combined for 42 in the quarterfinals win over SEMO. Murray State won the two regular-season meetings by a combined 13 points. The key could be free throws; Murray State had a 66-38 advantage in the first two games.
Second-best game: Akron at Kent State (7 p.m., ESPN2). A showdown in the MAC between two of the league’s perennial powers. Akron can clinch the outright title with a win on Friday night, while Kent has a chance to tie for second-place with a victory in the finale. Akron won the first meeting by nine points, having one of its better offensive performances of the season. For Kent State, the key will be contesting shots and keeping Akron from getting easy looks inside the arc.
Another one to watch: Butler vs. Milwaukee (8:30 p.m., ESPN3). The Horizon League has a wide-open conference tournament this season, and these two teams have the pieces to make a run and get the automatic bid. The two teams split the regular-season meetings 1-1, with each team winning on its homecourt. Both teams play very good defense, with Milwaukee defending the arc closely and Butler preferring to control the glass and interior.
Guaranteed win: The Ivy League race took a surprising turn last weekend when Penn knocked off Harvard in Cambridge. The two teams are now tied in the loss column at the top of the standings. Both teams should get wins on Friday night, though, as Penn hosts Brown (7 p.m.) and Harvard visits Columbia (7 p.m.).
Potential upset: The Atlantic Sun had its first upset on Thursday, but the fun might continue on Friday. No. 6 Florida Gulf Coast handled No. 3 USC-Upstate by 10 points despite star freshman guard Brett Comer struggling from the field and turning it over five times. Can the Eagles knock off No. 2 seed Mercer at home (8:30 p.m., ESPN3). FGCU can score in different ways, and Mercer has had trouble keeping teams off the glass. Belmont faces East Tennessee State in the other semifinal (6 p.m., ESPN3).
Three things to keep an eye on:
- Conferences with tournament action on Friday: Southern, CAA, Missouri Valley, Horizon, MAAC, Ohio Valley, WCC and Atlantic Sun. The best set of games to keep an eye on could be the Missouri Valley quarterfinals. Only one team finished below .500 in the league, and it will be interesting to see if Wichita State and Creighton both survive.
- BYU likely needs to get to the WCC title game to feel good about an at-large bid. That means the Cougars can’t lose to San Diego on Friday night (11 p.m.).
- There’s another top-25 team playing Friday: No. 20 Notre Dame is hosting Providence in the season finale for both teams (7 p.m., ESPN3). The Irish want a double-bye in the Big East tourney, while PC is looking for its third win in a row.
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