BracketBuster Weekend Preview: 20-22 of February

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BracketBuster Weekend Preview: 20-22 of February

Normally, I’d do a big separate BracketBusters preview, but real life intervened a bit this week (which is why there wasn’t a TV preview at any other point this week), so I’m going to give these games special attention within my normal weekend preview.  My next bracket will be out Saturday morning.

 

Friday

Illinois State @ Niagara (ESPN2, 9 EST) - It will be nice to see the great atmosphere at the Gallagher Center on national TV.  The Purple Eagles have already surrendered their chance at the MAAC regular season crown to Siena. 

The Redbirds still have a shot at the MVC regular season crown, as they sit a game behind both Creighton and UNI, facing both to close the regular season. Sadly, neither team has a real shot at an at-large, even if IL State was one of the last remaining unbeatens.

 

VCU @ Nevada (ESPNU, 9 EST) - The rematch next fall in Richmond may be a better game (though that’s arguable as Eric Maynor will have graduated). Now that the Rams lead the CAA, a loss to a down Wolf Pack squad could hurt them from a seeding perspective.

 

Saturday

Northeastern @ Wright State (ESPN2, 11 a.m. EST) - When the BracketBuster pairings were announced, there were a lot of complaints about the Huskies’ matchup.  Now that they’ve dropped four of their last five and surrendered the CAA lead to VCU, that talk has died down.

 

Liberty @ Old Dominion (ESPNU, 11 a.m. EST) - Seth Curry makes a (sort of) national TV appearance.

 

Butler @ Davidson (ESPN, 12 EST) - You better believe I’m heading to a bar before I go to Holy Cross @ American (no TV, 2 EST).  This game has added importance now that the Bulldogs are dropping games in the Horizon and the Wildcats are struggling in Stephen Curry’s absence. 

The two big questions are “Will Curry play?” and “How will Butler’s freshmen deal with the pressure of Belk Arena?”

 

Boston College @ Miami (FL) (NESN/CSN Mid-Atlantic/FS Florida/FS South/Full Court, 12 EST) - This is precisely the type of game the Hurricanes have to win if they want to stay in the at-large discussion.

 

Notre Dame @ Providence (Big East/SNY/CST/MASN/Full Court, 12 EST) - After losing to West Virginia on Wednesday night, the Irish look to rebound with this winable game.  The Friars have at-large hopes of their own that they want to keep alive.

 

Tennessee @ Kentucky (CBS Regional, 1 EST) - Remember what Jodie Meeks did in their meeting in Knoxville?  They may need an even bigger game out of him if Patrick Patterson doesn’t return.  Both teams are in a logjam at the top of the SEC East.

 

Buffalo @ Vermont (ESPN2, 1 EST) - This should be a great one between the leaders of the MAC and America East.  The Bulls have lost two straight in the league.  If they manage to hold on and claim the auto bid in Cleveland in a couple of weeks, a loss here could be detrimental to their seeding.

 

Baylor @ Oklahoma State (Big 12/Full Court, 1:30 EST) - This is a virtual elimination game for these two Big 12 clubs.

 

Marquette @ Georgetown (ESPN, 2 EST) - The Hoyas’ at-large chances would be bolstered with a win over the Golden Eagles.

 

Southern Miss @ UAB (CBS CS, 2 EST) - The Blazers were challenged in their last two wins, but now face a Golden Eagle team they beat by 17 in Hattiesburg two weeks ago.

 

Louisville @ Cincinnati (Big East/MASN/MSG/FS Ohio/Full Court, 2 EST) - The Bearcats at-large chances would be boosted with a victory over a team that still has an outside chance at a one seed.

 

Northern Iowa @ Siena (ESPN2, 3 EST) - This game doesn’t look quite as good as it did when the BracketBusters pairings were announced, since the Panthers are now in a first-place tie in the Valley standings with Creighton. 

The Saints have already clinched the MAAC regular season title and are looking to keep that momentum heading into the postseason. For UNI, a win could give them confidence heading into Arch Madness.

 

Washington State @ UCLA (FSN/selected Comcast Sportsnet outlets, 3 EST) - The Bruins look to sweep the Washington schools and boost their chances for the Pac-10 regular season crown.

 

San Diego State @ New Mexico (Versus, 3 EST) - The Aztecs are a game behind Utah for the league lead, while the Lobos are two games back.  SDSU is looking for the season sweep.

 

Vanderbilt @ Florida (Raycom/Full Court, 3 EST) - The Commodores are looking to build off their win over UK Tuesday night, but the Gators want a repeat of their 25-point triumph in Nashville.

 

North Carolina @ Maryland (ABC, 3:30 EST) - Terps get Duke at home on Wednesday.  If they can sweep the Heels and Blue Devils, they’ll have a better claim to an at-large.  That’s a huge IF at this point.

 

Miami (OH) @ Evansville (ESPNU, 3:30 EST) - With the way the MAC and Valley races are, it wouldn’t be surprising to see these two claim their leagues’ auto bids.  The Redhawks’ chances may be a bit better as they’re only a game behind Buffalo in the MAC East.  The Purple Aces actually have a losing mark (7-9) in the MVC.

 

Memphis @ UTEP (ESPN, 4 EST) - A potentially challenging road trip for the Tigers as they attempt to sweep the 11 dwarves again.

 

Radford @ VMI (MASN, 4 EST) - The Keydets dropped another one (Monday at Presbyterian).  That means the Highlanders are now two games up in the standings.  A win here would give Radford home court advantage throughout the Big South tourney.

 

Nebraska @ Kansas (Big 12/YES/Altitude/Full Court, 4 EST) - A Cornhusker win in Lawrence would do wonders for their at-large chances. Jayhawks have an excellent shot at a protected seed (but an outside shot of playing in Kansas City) at the moment.

 

Utah State @ St. Mary’s (ESPN2, 5 EST) - If the Gaels can win this without Patrick Mills, their resume would receive a tremendous boost. However, an Aggie loss here may be fatal to their chances, provided they don’t win the WAC tournament. 

 

Green Bay @ Long Beach State (ESPNU, 5:30 EST) - This is really one to watch, as the 49ers lead the Big West and the Phoenix may the beneficiary of Butler’s late-season swoon. 

 

Alabama State @ Southern (CST, 5:30 EST) - The Hornets are trying to hold off Jackson State for the SWAC lead.

 

Florida International @ Western Kentucky (Sun Belt/CSS/Full Court, 6 EST) - The Hilltoppers won at Arkansas-Little Rock Thursday to move into a tie at the top of the Sun Belt. They can’t follow that performance with a loss to the Golden Panthers.

 

Washington @ USC (selected FSN outlets/FCS Pacific, 7 EST) - The Huskies look to recover from their loss at UCLA Thursday night.  The Trojans need a win here to boost their slim at-large chances.

 

Boise State @ Portland State (ESPNU, 7:30 EST) - This matchup of last year’s WAC and Big Sky champions features two teams who could cause their league leaders trouble come Championship Week.  The Broncos actually own a win over Utah State, but Weber State swept the Vikings.

 

Florida State @ Virginia Tech (CSN-Mid-Atlantic+/FS South, 8 EST) - The Seminoles look safe, but the Hokies are reeling after dropping road games to Maryland and Virginia.

 

Dayton @ St. Louis (local TV in both markets only, 8 EST) - The Billikens dropped a 47-46 decision in Dayton on Jan. 29.  Since then, SLU has won five of six. The Flyers now have the league lead thanks to Xavier’s recent road troubles.

 

Oklahoma @ Texas (ESPN, 9 EST) -  Even though the Longhorns have struggled of late (dropping four of six), this is the first of two straight (Kansas in Norman on Monday is the other) that could result in the Sooners finally losing a Big 12 game.

 

George Mason @ Creighton (ESPNU, 9:30 EST) - Can I just say that I’m really looking forward to when these two meet up in Fairfax next season?  This game deserves better than an ESPNU broadcast, as both teams have a great chance at making it to the Dance and getting a good matchup (5 vs. 12 or 6 vs. 11).

 

BYU @ UNLV (CBS CS, 11 p.m. EST) - The Rebels need this one after dropping their visit to Wyoming on Wednesday.  The Cougars have quietly risen to a second-place tie in the conference.

 

Sunday

Illinois @ Ohio State (CBS Regional, 1 EST) - Both teams are looking to recover from Wednesday night, when the Illini had that terrible 38-33 loss to Penn State and the Buckeyes lost a close one to Northwestern.

 

Villanova @ Syracuse (CBS Regional, 1 EST) - Hopefully, there will be three refs for this one and they won’t manage to call 52 fouls.  A win may very well seal a bid for the Orange.

 

Wisconsin @ Michigan State (ESPN, 3 EST) - The Badgers look to follow up their six-game losing streak with a six-game winning streak. 

 

Michigan @ Iowa (Big Ten. 5 EST) - After a good win over Minnesota, the Wolverines can’t manage a bad loss in Iowa City.

 

Northwestern @ Minnesota (Big Ten, 7 EST) - The Gophers have dropped four of five to fall to .500 in the league. The Wildcats next play at Indiana and at home against Iowa, so they have a good chance to get to .500 if they win this one.

 

Wake Forest @ Duke (FSN/selected Comcast Sportsnet outlets, 7:30 EST) - If this one is half as thrilling as the matchup between these two in Winston-Salem, you’d be foolish to watch anything else. 

Given how inconsistent these two teams have been since that game, however, this doesn’t have the top line implications it would’ve had just a couple of weeks ago.

 

Arizona @ Arizona State (FSN/selected Comcast Sportsnet outlets, 10 EST) - The Wildcats are looking to win their eighth straight, and who would have imagined that after they lost to ASU in Tuscon a month ago.

The Sun Devils will look to slow the Wildcats down. A win here would boost their case for a protected seed.

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