Championship Weekend #1 TV Preview - March 6-8, 2009

This weekend you'll have lots of options to quench your hoops thirst.  First, let's take a look at the regular season games of interest before moving on to the excitement of single-elimination play.

Friday

St. John's @ Notre Dame (Big East/Altitude/MSG/MASN/Full Court, 7 EST) - The Irish are pretty much finished as an at-large candidate.  They can't afford to lose one to a Red Storm team that's feeling good after its win over Georgetown Tuesday. 

Saturday

Connecticut @ Pittsburgh (CBS, 12 EST) and Louisville @ West Virginia (ESPN, 9 EST) - Nothing important going on with these two games, only the Big East regular season title and a #1 seed or two up for grabs.

Michigan @ Minnesota (ESPN, 12 EST) - The Gophers knocked the Badgers to 1-1 in the three-way Big Ten bubble round-robin.  They can go for the sweep and leave the Wolverines winless in their last two and in major trouble.

Georgia Tech @ Boston College or NC State @ Miami (Raycom Regional/Full Court, 12 EST) - Wednesday night was not a good one for the Eagles or 'Canes. The Yellow Jackets severely damaged the U's chances on Wednesday night, while BC dropped one they shouldn't have in Raleigh.  Now, everyone switches partners to close out the regular season.

Tulane @ Memphis (CSS, 1 EST) - The Tigers can wrap up yet another perfect run through C-USA.  Thanks to Oklahoma's struggles over the past two weeks, they can also lay claim to a potential #1 seed.

Kentucky @ Florida or California @ Arizona State (CBS Regional, 2 EST) - The Wildcats and Gators look to recover from a pair of damaging losses to Bulldogs on Wednesday night.  Don't call this an elimination game, as the winner will probably still have to win a couple of games in Tampa next weekend.  In the other game, the Sun Devils are reeling, having lost three straight.  Meanwhile, the Golden Bears have been a bit inconsistent over the past three weeks.  They're looking for their first Saturday win since Valentine's Day.

Missouri @ Texas A&M (ESPN2, 2 EST) - The Tigers are looking for their first big road win, while the Aggies want to finish above .500 in the Big 12.

Penn State @ Iowa (Big Ten, 2 EST) - The Nittany Lions cannot afford a hangover after Talor Battle's big game-winner on Thursday night.

Syracuse @ Marquette (Big East/SNY/MASN/Full Court, 2 EST) - The Golden Eagles haven't won since Dominic James broke his foot.  If they lose this one, they'll only get a single bye in the Big East tournament next week.

South Carolina @ Georgia (Raycom/Full Court, 2 EST) - The Gamecocks aren't that safe, and if they allow the Bulldogs their second straight big win, they'll be in even more danger.

Oklahoma State @ Oklahoma or Maryland @ Virginia or Oregon @ UCLA (ABC Regional/Full Court, 3:30 EST) - Cowboys and Terps need wins to help their resumes.  The Sooners are in danger of losing a #1 seed.  UCLA has a slim chance at the Pac-10 crown and a protected seed.  The Cavs and Ducks will just try to play spoiler.

New Mexico @ Wyoming (the mtn., 3:30 EST), TCU @ Utah (the mtn., 6 EST), and Air Force @ BYU (the mtn., 9 EST) - If the Lobos, Utes, and Cougars all win (or if two of the three do), it's tiebreaker time in the Mountain West.

Texas @ Kansas (CBS, 4 EST) - The Jayhawks can clinch the top seed in the Big 12 tournament with a win.  The Longhorns are looking for a big win to boost their seeding. 

LSU @ Auburn (Raycom/Full Court, 4 EST) - The Bayou Bengals would have been going for a 15-1 conference mark, had they not lost to Vandy in Baton Rouge on Wednesday.  The AU Tigers are looking for their 10th league win, which normally would bode well for their selection hopes.  However, the Tigers out-of-conference resume is remarkably thin, even for an SEC school.

Washington State @ Washington (FSN/selected CSN outlets, 5:30 EST) - The Huskies can clinch the Pac 10 outright with a win.  The Cougars, meanwhile, are looking to finish .500 in the league, potentially higher than both USC and Arizona.

Stanford @ Arizona (FS Arizona, 7:30 EST) - The Wildcats are in real danger of missing the tournament for the first time in over a quarter century.  The Cardinal are looking for their third straight win.  If they hadn't dropped four straight before their current run, Johnny Dawkins' team could very well be in the thick of the discussion.

Nevada @ Boise State (Full Court, 9 EST) - I was wrong the other night.  This is your last chance to see the current Boise State floor this season.  It took me re-reading this a couple of times to realize I forgot to say what I planned to say for this game, which shortchanges the Wolf Pack.  They're a real threat for the WAC's auto bid now, considering they 1) host the tournament next weekend and 2) just beat Utah State at Lawlor last weekend.

UNLV @ San Diego State (CBS CS, 10 EST) - This is a possible bubble elimination game, even though these two may well meet again in the 4/5 game at the Mountain West tournament in Las Vegas next week.  The Rebels have an overall resume that's far superior to the Aztecs, but I can't see the Committee taking them with seven league losses, including two to SDSU.

Sunday

Alabama @ Tennessee or Purdue @ Michigan State (CBS Regional, 12 EST) - The Vols have locked up the SEC East crown and are looking to protect their seed (read "not lose") at this point.  The Spartans have already won the Big Ten regular season title.  The Boilermakers may fall down to the 3 or 4 seed if they lose this one.

Akron @ Kent State (MAC/FS Ohio, 12 EST) - Since Buffalo has lost five of their last six, they're tied with the Zips, Miami, and Bowling Green at the top of the MAC East.  The Golden Flashes are only a game back.  It's going to be a fun tournament in Cleveland next week!

Virginia Tech @ Florida State (Raycom/Full Court, 2 EST) - The Hokies visit Tallahassee knowing that winning there is their last chance at an at-large bid. 

Duke @ North Carolina (CBS, 4 EST) - Once touted as the greatest team in the history of the sport, the Tar Heels are trying to hold onto a #1 seed.  Duke's hovering between a 2 and a 3.  If they get a win in Chapel Hill, they should be in good shape for a slot in Greensboro alongside their eternal rivals.

Northwestern @ Ohio State (Big Ten, 4 EST) - If the Wildcats do what they never seem to do, build on a big win, they'll be 9-9 in the Big Ten and very much in contention for their first ever trip to the Big Dance.  The Buckeyes, meanwhile, may not be able to afford a loss here.

Clemson @ Wake Forest (FSN/selected CSN outlets, 6 EST) - If Clemson loses this one, they'll be playing on Thursday in Atlanta for sure. 

Indiana @ Wisconsin (Big Ten, 7 EST) - The Badgers should get their 10th Big Ten win in this one.

Here's a rundown of where to find conference tournament action on TV this weekend.  Unfortunately, you'll need to have a satellite package to get many of these games if you're out of market.

Friday

Missouri Valley Quarterfinals (MVC/FS Midwest/CSN Chicago, 1 EST and 7 EST)
Ohio Valley Semifinals (ESPNU, 9 EST) - The top four seeds are all still alive. 1) UT-Martin vs. 4) Morehead State and 2) Murray State vs. 3) Austin Peay
Atlantic Sun Semifinals (CSS/Full Court, 7 EST) - Three Tennessee schools hope to challenge regular season champ Jacksonville. 1) Jacksonville vs. 4) Lipscomb and 2) ETSU vs. 3) Belmont

Saturday

Colonial Quarterfinals (Comcast Network/CSN New England/CSS (Games 2-4 only)/Full Court, 12 EST and 6 EST) - I'll be in attendance!
Missouri Valley Semifinals (MVC/FS Midwest, 2:30 EST)
Metro Atlantic Quarterfinals (MAAC/MSG/FCS Atlantic, 2:30 EST)
Big South Championship (ESPN2, 4 EST) - Either Radford or VMI will be the first team in the field of 65,
Atlantic Sun Championship (ESPN2, 6 EST) - Friday's winners play for the right to be the second team in.
Horizon League Semifinals (ESPNU, 7 EST) - Bubble teams everywhere are cheering for Butler.
Ohio Valley Championship (ESPN2, 8 EST) - Any one of the four semifinalists could be the third team into the field.

Sunday

Patriot League Semifinal #1 (CSN Mid-Atlantic/CSN California, 12 EDT)
Missouri Valley Championship (CBS, 2 EDT) - Creighton probably needs to get this far and lose a close one to either UNI or Illinois State to feel somewhat safe.
Northeast Semifinal #1 (NEC/MSG/FCS Atlantic, 2 EDT) - Robert Morris hosts Quinnipiac in this one.  The Colonials fell at this same stage a year ago.
America East Semifinals (AmEast/MASN/CSN New England (game 2 only)/Full Court, 2 EDT)
Colonial Semifinals (Comcast Network/CSS (game 2 only)/Full Court, 3 EDT)
Southern Conference Semifinals (SportSouth, 6 EDT) - Will the Davidson Wildcats survive their quarterfinal? (Probably)  Will the two Charleston schools (College of and The Citadel) be alive?
Metro Atlantic Semifinals (MAAC/MSG/MASN/FCS Atlantic/Full Court, 6 EDT) - The question is, with all of the bubble turmoil over the past week, how much of a shot does Siena have if they don't win this thing?
West Coast Semifinals (ESPN2, 9:30 EDT) - This tourney moves to a neutral site, Las Vegas, this season.  Watch St. Mary's in game two to see how they play upon Patty Mills' return.

I'll post a new bracket before I head down to Richmond tomorrow morning.

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