Ranking the Must-See NCAA Basketball Games This Weekend
The first week of March is where the fate of many teams across the nation is decided.
While some mid-major conferences are handing out automatic bids, the power conferences are closing the doors on the regular season this weekend.
With plenty of meaningful games in the power conferences, this week's list of must-see college basketball games will only focus on regular season matchups.
As always, this list includes the brutal road trips into hostile environments that are made by the best teams in the nation.
With the final month of the season upon us, teams on the bubble for the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament also face difficult tests this weekend against teams that are almost locks to make the final 68.
Finally, with the unpredictable mid-major conference tournaments taking place this week, the focus of this list has been placed solely on the remaining regular season games on the schedule.
Keeping all that in mind, here are the 10 games of the final week of the college basketball regular season that can't miss.
10. Louisiana Tech at Denver
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
When: Saturday, 7 p.m. ET
Where to Watch: ROOT Sports
Louisiana Tech (26-3, 16-0) has received plenty of attention in the past few weeks for their conquering of the WAC in regular season play.
But can they continue their impressive run into the postseason?
That question will be answered in the Bulldogs' final regular season game at Denver (19-8, 14-2).
The Pioneers sit two games behind Louisiana Tech in the WAC standings and they are likely to be the No. 2 seed at the WAC Tournament next week.
Barring a complete and total shock when the 10 WAC teams converge on Las Vegas next weekend, these two teams should meet next Saturday for the automatic bid to the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.
The road trip to the Magness Arena will be the final test that Louisiana Tech has to conquer in the regular season. If they come out of Denver as the winning team, they could be in line for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The players to watch in this game are Louisiana Tech sophomore Raheem Appleby (14.8 points per game) and Denver duo Chris Udofia (12.4 points per game) and Royce O'Neale (11.6 points and 5.5 rebounds per game).
9. No. 15 Marquette at St. John's
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
When: Saturday, 2 p.m. ET
Where to Watch: ESPN
The Marquette Golden Eagles (22-7, 13-4) and St. John's Red Storm (16-13, 8-9) are two teams fighting for two completely different causes as the regular season winds down.
Buzz Williams' Golden Eagles have locked up one of the valuable top-four seeds for the Big East Tournament next week, but the regular season title is still in their grasp.
Currently, Marquette sits just one game behind Georgetown and they are tied with Louisville for second place.
If Georgetown slips up during their final two games, the Golden Eagles could swoop in and win a share of the Big East regular season title.
Steve Lavin's Red Storm team have plenty of work to do in the next two weeks if they want to even be considered for the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.
A win over Marquette is a necessity for St. John's to reach the .500 mark in conference play.
A win at home on Saturday would also break the Red Storm's three-game losing streak and put another quality win on to their resume.
Even if they do upset Marquette, the Red Storm will have plenty of work to do in front of their home crowd at Madison Square Garden next week at the Big East Tournament.
8. No. 9 Kansas State at No. 13 Oklahoma State
Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports
When: Saturday, 1:30 p.m. ET
Where to Watch: Not Nationally Televised
First of all, let me say that a game of this magnitude should not go uncovered by the national media.
No. 9 Kansas State (25-5, 14-3) and No. 13 Oklahoma State (22-6, 12-4) will square off at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater in a battle between two teams that could not do enough to control their own destiny in the Big 12.
Since losing to league leaders Kansas on February 11, the Wildcats have put together a six-game winning streak.
If Bruce Weber and company want to repeat their January 5 success against the Cowboys, they will need both Rodney McGruder and Angel Rodriguez to have solid performances.
A win in Stillwater could also boost the Wildcats' chances of obtaining a number two seed in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.
The Cowboys are out of the Big 12 regular season title race but they can still spoil the chances of Kansas State and take the second seed at the Big 12 Tournament away from the Wildcats.
Travis Ford's team has come together well throughout the season.
And with freshman sensation Marcus Smart leading the charge, the Cowboys could become a force to be reckoned with over the next few weeks.
The Cowboys have only lost twice in Stillwater all season and they will be looking to give their fans one final lasting memory of the strong season they have had.
7. No. 11 Florida at Kentucky
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
When: Saturday 12 p.m. ET
Where to Watch: CBS
The No. 11 Florida Gators (23-5, 13-3) have been the class of the SEC all season. Their dominance in the otherwise weak league has led them to the regular season title.
With the SEC regular season title locked up, the Gators will be looking to earn one final road win in the conference in a hostile environment at Rupp Arena in Lexington.
Billy Donovan's team are also fully healthy now as junior forward Will Yeguete returned from injury last weekend against Alabama.
Kentucky (20-9, 11-5) did not do themselves any favors last weekend by losing on the road to fellow bubble team Arkansas.
Winning on Thursday night at Georgia and at home two days later against Florida is a must for John Calipari's team.
Since their complete collapse in Knoxville on Feburary 13, the Wildcats have recovered by winning three of their last four games.
But there are still plenty of questions surrounding the freshman-laden squad.
To avoid losing to the Gators for the second time this season, Kentucky will have to be firing on all cylinders. Their attack must be led by the two experienced players on the roster: Julius Mays and Kyle Wiltjer.
If those two players, along with the three star freshman players can get out to a hot start, the Wildcats will have a strong chance of defeating the Gators.
6. La Salle at No. 16 Saint Louis
Michael Hickey/Getty Images
When: Saturday, 1:30 p.m. ET
Where to Watch: NBC Sports Network
The Atlantic 10 clash between La Salle (20-7, 10-4) and No. 16 Saint Louis (23-5, 12-2) may not grab your attention at first glance; however, there is plenty of meaning in this game.
By now, everyone in the nation is aware of the success that interim head coach Jim Crews is having with the Saint Louis Billikens.
The Billikens are in prime position to win the A-10 regular season title after defeats of VCU and Butler in past few weeks.
But they still have plenty of work to do.
With a road trip to Xavier ahead on Thursday and a home game with third-place La Salle on Saturday, the Billikens will have to earn the A-10 regular season title.
Another team in the A-10 that has also defeated VCU and Butler this season is La Salle, who will enter the Chaifetz Arena with plenty of confidence.
John Giannini has the Explorers poised for a run in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.
If Xavier takes down Saint Louis on Thursday night, they could earn a share of the A-10 title with a win on Saturday.
The Explorers are led by senior guard Ramon Galloway, who averages 17.9 points per game, and he could give the Billikens defense plenty of problems
The main figure in the Billikens' offense is junior forward Dwayne Evans, who has recorded a double-double in four of his last seven games.
5. Maryland at Virginia
USA TODAY Sports
When: Sunday, 6 p.m. ET
Where to Watch: ESPNU
Sunday night's game at the John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville is all about the bubble.
Maryland (20-9, 8-8) has hovered around the bubble since their February 16 victory at home over Duke.
But they have not done much since then to solidify their status in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.
Losses to Boston College and Georgia Tech in the past two weeks have not helped the Terrapins resume one bit. A win over fellow bubble team Virginia (20-9, 10-6) is a must for Mark Gottfried's team to make the field of 68 in two weeks time.
For the Terrapins to come out of Charlottesville with a victory, the duo of Dez Wells and Alex Len must play their best games of the season.
Just like their visitors on Sunday, the Virginia Cavaliers jumped on to the bubble radar with a win over Duke.
Virginia followed up their victory over Duke with a one-point road loss at Boston College that damaged their resume.
The Cavaliers will also need their star player, Joe Harris, to step up and provide a strong performance for a victory; however, beating Maryland will not secure a NCAA Tournament spot for Tony Bennett's team.
Both Maryland and Virginia will have work to do at the ACC Tournament in Greensboro next week to secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
4. Missouri at Tennessee
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
When: Saturday, 4 p.m. ET
Where to Watch: ESPN
Saturday's SEC clash at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville presents us with two teams who have been mentioned plenty of times in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament conversation.
Missouri (22-8, 11-6) seems like a lock to enter the field of 68, but the uncertainty of this season is sure to rear its head again. The Tigers need to keep winning to erase any question marks about their resume.
Frank Haith's team has six players who average over 10 points per game and they can be a matchup problem for any team at this point in the season.
By beating a solid Missouri team, the Tennessee Volunteers (17-11, 9-7) could make up for their failure last weekend to solidify their spot on the bubble.
Cuonzo Martin's team is currently fighting with a group of roughly 10 teams, including three from the SEC, for an at-large berth on Selection Sunday.
The Vols have three quality wins this season over Florida, Kentucky and Wichita State, and a fourth quality win would certainly help their cause.
Another positive for the Vols is that they have played better at home in the SEC this season. The Vols have a 6-2 conference record in Knoxville that includes victories over Florida and Kentucky.
3. No. 3 Duke at North Carolina
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
When: Saturday, 9 p.m. ET
Where to Watch: ESPN
One of the best rivalry games in college basketball will be played for the second time this season at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill when No. 3 Duke (26-4, 13-4) visits North Carolina (21-8, 11-5).
In the first meeting this season between the Blue Devils and Tar Heels, Duke came out on top by a 73-68 score.
Since that defeat, North Carolina has put together a five-game winning streak and in the process they have lifted themselves off of the bubble.
The Tar Heels are finally finding their feet late in the season and while they may not be a contender on the national level, they will definitely be a difficulty out in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.
Since the return of Ryan Kelly last Saturday, Duke has transformed into a completely different team that has defeated Miami and Virginia Tech.
With Kelly back in the lineup, the Blue Devils are one of the few teams in the nation we can label as a definite national championship contender.
Beating North Carolina for a second time this season would be a boost to the hopes of earning a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament
However, it could be a potential third meeting in Greensboro that would decide what seeding the Blue Devils receive.
2. No. 17 Syracuse at No. 5 Georgetown
Nate Shron/Getty Images
When: Saturday, 12 p.m. ET
Where to Watch: ESPN
Just two weeks ago, the No. 5 Georgetown Hoyas (23-4, 13-3) went into the Carrier Dome and took down Big East rivals No. 17 Syracuse (22-7, 10-6).
On Saturday, the Orange have a chance to return the favor and strip Georgetown of winning the outright Big East regular season title.
With a win over DePaul on Wednesday night and a win at the Verizon Center, the Orange will put themselves in position to earn a top-four seed at the Big East Tournament.
However, the fourth seed at the Big East Tournament will only be theirs if Pittsburgh and Notre Dame slip up during the final days of the season.
The Hoyas have not only moved to the top of the Big East standings in the past month, but they have entered the conversation to earn a No. 1 seed at the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.
John Thompson III's team has won 10 straight games since their embarrassing loss to South Florida on January 19, and there are no signs of the Hoyas slowing down at the moment.
The main reason for the success of the Hoyas has been the development of Otto Porter Jr.
The sophomore forward exploded on to the national stage with his 33-point performance against Syracuse, and he has entered the National Player of the Year conversation.
With the national spotlight shining bright on Georgetown at the moment, the Orange would love to do nothing more than knock them off their pedestal in the final Big East regular season meeting between the two rivals.
1. No. 2 Indiana at No. 7 Michigan
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
When: Sunday, 4 p.m. ET
Where to Watch: CBS
The Big Ten regular season title will be up for grabs in Ann Arbor on Sunday afternoon when the No. 2 Indiana Hoosiers (25-5, 13-4) visit the No. 7 Michigan Wolverines (24-5, 11-5).
Indiana seemed like a lock to take home the Big Ten regular season crown on Tuesday night but their celebration was put on hold after they lost to Ohio State at home.
Now, Tom Crean and company will head into the Crisler Center needing a win to take home the outright Big Ten regular season title.
The Michigan Wolverines will have plenty to say about that if they defeat Purdue on Wednesday night.
The Wolverines could go into Sunday's game with the Hoosiers with a chance to earn a share of the Big Ten regular season crown.
The young Wolverines have had plenty of trouble on the road in Big Ten play this season, but they have not lost a home conference game yet.
With all that being said, it is almost certain that this game will be a great end to a fantastic regular season in the Big Ten.
If we have learned anything about the Big Ten this season, it is to expect the unexpected.
A tie at the top of the standings would only be fitting.
Follow me on Twitter, @JTansey90.