Here is a look ahead to the final weekend of the regular season and the four biggest match-ups.
Michigan State vs. Ohio State
MSU won by six when the two teams squared off nearly two months ago. Ohio State, however, is fighting for its NCAA tournament life.
After winning 19 of their first 21 games, MSU has struggled, dropping four of their last nine. MSU can argue that three of those four losses came to top 20 teams; however, two of those losses were nothing short of embarrassing, including a 19-point thrashing by Indiana and a 15-point loss to Wisconsin in which they only scored 42 points.
The one redeeming factor for MSU is their 29-point vengeful slaughtering of #17 Indiana.
Ohio State, who looked to be completely falling apart, losing six of their last nine, including four straight at one point, managed to win their first game against a top 20 opponent Tuesday as they handed #17 Purdue an overtime loss.
If OSU is going to even think about anything other than the NIT following next week’s conference tournament, it must start tomorrow.
A win should catapult the Buckeyes into a position to make a run at the Big Ten Conference Title. A loss should slam the door shut on any hopes of a Big Dance invitation.
A win for MSU should legitimize their season and increase their hopes of continuing success.
Prediction: MSU 72 OSU 68—Michigan State sweeps the season series and sends the Buckeyes to the NIT.
Georgetown vs. Louisville
The Cardinals edged out a victory one month ago in a low scoring affair. Look for the Hoyas to turn the table this time around.
Since their loss to Pitino’s Cardinals, Georgetown has won 5 of their last 6.
Louisville has an even more impressive streak, winning nine in a row, with their last loss to Connecticut by two points back in January.
Excluding themselves, both Georgetown and Louisville have beaten three of their top four Big East foes this season, all of which are ranked in the top 20.
Louisville has managed an impressive 8-2 road record. However, the Hoyas have an even more impressive 15-0 home court record.
Look for Roy Hibbert and David Padgett to have a colossal collision as the big men battle it out down low.
This game, like many others Saturday, will determine who the outright conference champ is. Expect nothing less than an unforgettable rematch.
Prediction: Georgetown 70 Louisville 68—Hoyas remain undefeated at home this season; Louisville revamps and looks ahead to Big East tourney.
UAB vs. Memphis
The first time these two teams met, it was a thriller to the end. UAB had the game in hand with a little over a minute left in the game before utterly falling apart.
Memphis proved in some ways why no team is perfect, at least this year.
Then again, after overcoming the adversity presented by Mike Davis’ Blazers, Memphis proved why they deserved their number one ranking.
Memphis has since lost its unbeaten status by falling to No. 4 Tennessee, its only loss of the season.
UAB has won five straight games since losing its only game at home to the Tigers, including three by very convincible margins and a two-point thriller against Houston.
Outside the fact that both schools play the same C-USA, in many ways the two schools have very similar schedules.
UAB beat Kentucky earlier in the season; Memphis lost to its SEC opponent.
UAB lost to an average Florida State team, whereas Memphis beat an average Oklahoma team.
The key difference is Memphis’s win over the Connecticut Huskies.
Look for the Blazers to be ready to play again as this time they travel to Memphis. Look for Memphis to give UAB every opportunity to win the game.
Prediction: UAB 80 Memphis 77—This time the Blazers get the upset of the year, and Mike Davis gets his signature win as the Blazers coach.
North Carolina vs. Duke
The last time North Carolina and Duke met, the Blue Devils were able to pull away in the end to beat the Tar Heels. This time North Carolina is looking for vengeance.
There are some major differences in this match-up and the first time these two teams met this season.
First and foremost, UNC now has sophomore sensation Ty Lawson back at point guard.
Even though Lawson sustained a minor set-back during the win over Florida State on Tuesday as he took a shot to his previously injured hip, he has said, “There's nothing that will make me miss this game. Nothing.”
Second, and perhaps the biggest contributing factor, is the fact that the fifth ranked Duke Blue Devils will have home court advantage in Cameron Indoor Stadium, and I guarantee you that even though the game will be sold out, none of the 9,314 seats available will be used.
The third difference between this game and the first, which never has any bearing on the game, is the fact that since the first match-up North Carolina has managed to win seven straight games and climb back up in the polls to No. 1. Duke, on the other hand, suffered back-to-back loses after attaining their number one ranking, and has now fallen down to No. 5.
What does matter, however, is that this game may likely determine which team gets a No. 1 overall seed in the Big Dance and which team is number one entering the ACC tournament on Thursday.
The winner will lay claim to the regular season ACC title.
Considering Lawson is back and that the game is in Durham, this game will more than likely turn out to be an all-time classic.
Prediction: UNC 98 Duke 94 in overtime—The Tar Heels redeem themselves, win the conference title, and secure #1 seed in the both the ACC and NCAA tournaments—what a reward for one single victory!