College basketball is beginning its final move toward March Madness.
With less than a month to go before Selection Sunday, it is important how teams are playing down the stretch.
Apart from trying to impress the committee that selects the teams for the NCAA tournament, college coaches want to be peaking at the right time.
Here is a quick look at how the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll Top 25 teams are doing in the month of February (going into the games on Saturday, February 18th).
Mike Brey has the Fighting Irish peaking at the right time.
Notre Dame (18-8; 10-3 Big East) has won all four of its February games.
Even better, the Fighting Irish have won seven consecutive contests dating back to January 21st, when they handed Syracuse its first loss.
Mark Few and the Bulldogs are playing well in February.
After starting the month by losing on the road to BYU, Gonzaga (21-4; 11-2 WCC) has won four straight, including a nice win over conference leader St. Mary's.
Looking at the bigger picture, the Zags have won 16 of their last 18 games.
I'm not sure how well Rick Stansbury is sleeping these days.
His Bulldogs have lost two consecutive overtime games, both by two points.
By going 2-2 in February, Mississippi State (19-7; 6-5 SEC) has dropped into fourth place in the conference race.
MSU's more recent struggles simply reflect the fact that it has played .500 ball (4-4) over the last month.
Tony Bennett's Cavaliers have lost three of their last four games. The last two, both road games, haven't been close (UNC: 70-52; Clemson: 60-48).
In the last month, Virginia (19-6; 6-5 ACC) has gone 5-4 after opening the season by winning 14 of its first 16.
Leonard Hamilton has to be somewhat satisfied with how his Seminoles are playing at this stage of the season.
Florida State (18-7; 9-2 ACC) has won four of its five February games. The one loss was a disappointing four-point road loss to Boston College.
Other than that, FSU has beaten three ranked opponents (UNC, Duke and Virginia) in the last five weeks.
Indiana (20-6; 8-6 Big Ten) has recovered nicely from a mid-January free fall when it lost four of five games.
Tom Crean's Hoosiers have turned it around in February, winning three of four games.
IU's schedule sets up well for it to finish the regular season on a roll and head to the conference tournament with confidence and momentum.
John Beilein must be excited to see his Wolverines turn things around in February.
After going 2-3 at the tail end of January, Michigan (19-7; 9-4 Big Ten) has won three of four games.
Winning today's (Feb. 18) home game against league leader Ohio State would set the stage for Beilein's bunch to close out the regular season with a bang.
Other than a heartbreaking, one-point home loss to No. 2 Syracuse this past week, Rick Pitino has his squad playing at a high level.
Louisville (20-6; 8-5 Big East) has won three of four February games and six of seven overall.
Bo Ryan's Badgers have had three tough games to open February.
Wisconsin (19-7; 8-5 Big Ten) lost at home to Ohio State for the first time in 10 games.
They pulled out a tough OT win at Minnesota. Then, this past week, UW lost to Michigan State in East Lansing.
Coming into the month, the Badgers were riding a six-game winning streak.
After starting the season by winning 21 of their first 23 games, Randy Bennett's Gaels have split their first four February games.
Both of the losses have been uncharacteristic double-digit defeats: 73-59 on the road to Gonzaga and 75-60 at home to Loyola Marymount.
If Saint Mary's wins its two remaining WCC games, it will be the first team other than Gonzaga to win the regular-season conference championship outright since the 2000-01 season.
Steve Fisher's Aztecs are scuffling right now.
San Diego State (20-5; 6-3 MWC) has lost its last two games (to UNLV and New Mexico) and has dropped three of its last five.
Out of its five remaining games, SDSU's only challenge should be in its home rematch with Colorado State, who beat the Aztecs in Fort Collins at the end of January.
Steve Prohm's Racers were the last undefeated Division I team.
Murray State (25-1; 13-1 OVC) made it all the way to its February 9th matchup with Tennessee State before losing 72-68.
MSU has bounced back from that loss by winning its last two games while getting ready for the season's stretch run.
Buzz Williams' Golden Eagles have won two of their three February games
Their sole defeat was a frustrating loss at Notre Dame.
Taking a step further back, Marquette (21-5; 10-3 Big East) has won nine of its last 10 games and is in second place in league play.
MU has a challenging schedule ahead, playing three of its last five games on the road, plus a season finale at home against Georgetown.
February hasn't been the most friendly month for Florida (20-6; 8-3 SEC).
Billy Donovan's Gators have dropped two (Kentucky and Tennessee) of the month's first five games. The loss to Tennessee snapped their 19-game home win streak.
Previous to losing to Kentucky on February 7th, UF had won six straight.
David Rice's Rebels have had a strange opening to the month of February.
UNLV (22-5; 6-3 MWC) had quality wins over Colorado State and San Diego State.
They also have dropped puzzling games to Wyoming and TCU.
Rolling back a little further, the Rebels had two close calls to close out January, beating Boise State and Air Force in overtime on the road.
After looking strong in the first three months of the season, Scott Drew's Bears have wobbled through their first five games of February.
Baylor (22-4; 9-4 Big 12) started the month by picking up two wins at Texas A&M and Oklahoma State.
With an opportunity to step into the league lead, the Bears then dropped back-to-back games against Kansas and Missouri.
This past week, Baylor handled Iowa State and should be favored to win its five remaining conference games.
John Thompson III's Hoyas weren't supposed to be playing this well, but they continue to surprise many.
Georgetown (19-5; 9-4 Big East) has won three of its four February games, with the only loss coming at Syracuse in overtime.
The Hoyas close out the season with three of their final five games on the road.
Tom Izzo's Spartans are playing very good basketball right now.
Michigan State (21-5; 10-3 Big Ten) has won all four of its February games and beaten three ranked opponents (Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin) in the process.
Three of their final five games are on the road. The Spartans will close out the regular season at home against Ohio State.
With the exception of the final two-and-a-half minutes against Duke, Roy Williams' Tar Heels have played well in February.
While losing to the Blue Devils in the manner they did could have been devastating, Carolina (22-4; 9-2 ACC) seems to have bounced back.
It has won three out of its four games in the month, with an average margin of victory of 12 points.
Thad Matta's Buckeyes have played solidly to open February.
Ohio State (22-4; 10-3 Big Ten) has won three of its first four games this month.
It beat Wisconsin in Madison for the first time in a decade.
The Buckeyes, however, lost to Michigan State at home for their only defeat.
Ohio State and Michigan State are tied for first in league play.
The teams close out the regular season by facing each other on March 4 in East Lansing.
Should be a great one!
Bill Self's Jayhawks are still rockin' in February.
Kansas (21-5; 11-2 Big 12) has won four of its first five games this month.
Their only loss was a three-point barn-burner at Missouri on February 4th.
Since then, KU has beaten Baylor and Kansas State on the road and Oklahoma State at home.
The biggest of the Jayhawks' final five games will be when they host Missouri on February 25th. That game could be for the conference championship.
For seven consecutive seasons, Kansas has won or tied for the regular-season league title.
Mike Krzyzewski's Blue Devils are officially 4-1 in February, but Coach K knows that his team could easily be 2-3 so far for the month.
Following their most recent win over N.C. State, Coach K said, "They (the Wolf Pack) thoroughly outplayed us for about 29 minutes."
Duke (22-4; 9-2 ACC) still has to play Florida State on the road and North Carolina at home before the end of the regular season.
When Missouri (24-2; 11-2) lost Laurence Bowers to an injury before the season began, most people wrote off the Tigers.
But coach Frank Haith is doing a terrific job of consistently putting his team in position to win games—and that's exactly what the Tigers are doing.
They have won all four of their games so far in February, including victories over Kansas and Baylor.
The Tigers play three of their last five games on the road, including a matchup with Kansas that could be for all the Big 12 marbles.
Jim Boeheim may have one of the deepest squads that he has ever coached at Syracuse.
The Orange (26-1; 13-1 Big East) have only lost once this season, at Notre Dame on January 21.
The 'Cuse has beaten Georgetown, UConn and Louisville this month and will face the Huskies and the Cardinals again before the end of the regular season.
While John Calipari's Wildcats had a close call at Vanderbilt this past week, winning 69-63, that doesn't change the fact that Kentucky (25-1; 11-0 SEC) is still the most dominant team in the country.
The Wildcats have won the first three games of this month by an average of 20 points per game.
They are the top team in the nation in field-goal-percentage defense (35.8 percent) and blocked shots (9.4 BPG).
UK plays what could be two interesting road games before the end of the regular season.
One is against Mississippi State on February 21st; the other is against Florida in the season finale on March 4th.