NCAA Tournament 2013: Games This Weekend That Will Have Big Impact on Tournament
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As the regular season winds down in the NCAA, teams are pushing to break out of the bubble or to secure a No. 1 seed.
This weekend is huge for teams who are looking to set themselves up for a tournament run in a few weeks. These games feature bubble teams, teams who want the top spot in their region and teams who are just looking to prove themselves before heading into March Madness.
For bubble teams, every game counts from here on out, and for teams fighting for the No. 1 seed they must win, and win big, to show that they deserve the top seeding.
While some of these games might get overlooked by the national media, they mean a lot in the long run, and will eventually shape up what teams make up the 68-team field.
Maryland at Virginia
This game is all about the bubble.
Maryland propelled themselves into contention for the tournament following their victory over Duke on Feb. 16, and have since been a bubble team that analysts have pulled in and out of the tournament on almost a daily basis.
They have recently lost to Georgia Tech and North Carolina, but a win against fellow bubble team Virginia would be huge for the Terrapins.
Previous wins against Wake Forest and Clemson strengthen Maryland's argument, but the Cavaliers have taken a similar path to Maryland.
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Virginia also launched themselves into the spotlight after beating Duke, and star shooting guard Joe Harris has been on fire lately.
Harris will need to play big on Sunday if Virginia wants to beat the Terrapins, but a win for either team won't necessarily lock in a spot in the tournament.
Both Maryland and Virginia will need to prove themselves in the ACC Tournament next week if they don't want to be some of the first teams out.
Duke at North Carolina
The No. 3 team in the nation will go up against North Carolina on Saturday, and attempt to lock up one of the No. 1 seeds in the tournament.
While Duke's season has featured losses to Maryland, Virginia, Miami and North Carolina, they've pulled off a number of big wins, most recently a win in their rematch against Miami.
North Carolina is hot, winning five games in a row, and has made themselves close to a lock to make the tournament. Duke has already beaten the Tarheels this season, but they can't let their rivals steal one at home.
A loss would be a huge blow to Duke, who still has to navigate through the ACC Tournament if they want to land a top spot.
Will Duke end up being a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament?
However, with Ryan Kelly back in the lineup for Duke, they have become a whole new team, most recently crushing Virginia Tech 85-57.
A win for the Blue Devils in Chapel Hill, and again during the ACC Tournament, would mean an almost certain No. 1 seed.
Indiana at Michigan
Indiana and Michigan will fight for the Big Ten regular season title on Sunday night in Ann Arbor.
The Hoosiers were a lock to take home the title until they lost to Minnesota back on Feb. 26, and then to Ohio State earlier this week.
Now, Indiana will have to take on Trey Burke and the Wolverines on the road if they want to take home the regular season title outright.
A win for Indiana would almost lock them in for a No. 1 seed in the tournament, while a win for Michigan would make them a quick favorite to at least make it to the Sweet 16.
The Wolverines have recently had impressive wins against Purdue and Michigan State, and Burke has been on a roll, averaging 19.1 points per game.
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Michigan hasn't lost a home conference game all season, and a win on Sunday would give them momentum heading into the Big Ten tournament.
Kansas State at Oklahoma State
In one of the top ranked matchups of the week, No. 13 Oklahoma State will look to take away a top seed in the Big 12 tournament from Kansas State.
Kansas State has won six games in a row since losing to Kansas on Feb. 11.
A win in Stillwater would give Kansas State a solid shot at a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament and the Big 12 tournament.
While Oklahoma State is out of the running for the regular season title in the Big 12, they could still take a No. 2 seed from the Wildcats in the Big 12 tournament.
With freshman Marcus Smart leading the way for the Cowboys, Oklahoma State could become a popular team heading into the NCAA tournament.
Smart is averaging just under 15 points per game, and averages 5.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists.
When brackets come out in a few weeks, experts should look back on this game as one that really influenced the seeding, no matter who wins.
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