For the remainder of the regular season, Blogging the Bracket's TV previews for the two busiest college basketball days of the week, Wednesday and Saturday, will be presented by Bud Light's "March to the Championship" game. (Details below the jump.)
The final Saturday in February has arrived, which means there's a packed TV schedule that's features something for everyone. Plenty of contests feature major conference powers fighting for seeding in the NCAA Tournament, and potentially an easier path in their own league events, which will be underway before you know it. Others provide bubble teams another shot at grabbing a key win to help move them into the field. And with many mid-major conferences closing their regular seasons, still others showcase teams that find themselves in tight races for conference seedings and helpful byes.
To get you ready for a busy day of action, follow the jump for my viewing picks, some of which aren't even available to me on cable (pitfall of apartment living).
Early Afternoon (ET)
Syracuse Orange at Georgetown Hoyas, CBS (12 p.m. ET)
Chris Wright will be out for the Hoyas. While the majority of Orange fans who live in the D.C. area will likely have to watch this one at home or at their favorite bar, thanks to a well-chronicled effort by the Georgetown athletic department to keep them out of the Verizon Center. Yep...just another boring Syracuse-Georgetown game. Have I mentioned that the Hoyas have dropped two of their last three after winning eight straight, while the Orange have rebounded from a rough patch by winning three straight?
KenPom.com projection: Hoyas 70-67, 64 poss.
Missouri Tigers at Kansas St. Wildcats, ESPN (12 p.m. ET)
Both of these teams have been playing well lately, with the Tigers racking up four straight wins and the Wildcats winning three in a row. Missouri beat Kansas State by 16 in Columbia on January 17th, but will be hard pressed to repeat that feat at the Octagon of Doom. That's because they've struggled on the road in the Big 12, winning only at Iowa State (and only by a half-dozen) in six league road games.
KenPom.com projection: Wildcats 76-74, 73 poss.
Wichita St. Shockers at Missouri St. Bears, ESPN2 (1 p.m. ET)
The stakes in this one are pretty simple: winner wins the Missouri Valley regular season crown and earns the top seed at Arch Madness, which starts Thursday in St. Louis. Loser gets the two seed, which means a rematch is a good possibility for the final. The Bears are looking for a season-sweep of the Shockers, as they won in Wichita by a 59-56 margin on January 9th, which seems like eons ago.
KenPom.com projection: Bears 69-68, 62 poss.
Other Viewing Options
Boston College Eagles at Virginia Cavaliers, FS South/FS Florida/NESN/CSN Washington (12 p.m. ET)
James Madison Dukes at VCU Rams, CSN New England/Comcast Network (12 p.m. ET)
Nebraska Cornhuskers at Iowa St. Cyclones, Big 12 Network Regional/ESPN3/Full Court (1:30 p.m. ET)
Texas Tech Red Raiders at Oklahoma St. Cowboys, Big 12 Network Regional/ESPN3/Full Court (1:30 p.m. ET)
BYU Cougars at San Diego St. Aztecs, CBS (2 p.m. ET)
Kawhi Leonard and the Aztecs welcome Jimmer Fredette and the Cougars to Viejas Arena with the aim of avenging their only loss of the season. The winner of this one will be in position to grab the top seed in the Mountain West tournament, which is key because host UNLV is likely to be the three seed and a likely semifinal opponent for seed No. 2 and will have the edge for a No. 1 NCAA seed, depending on what happens nationally. Of course, I still don't get why this game is at 11 a.m. PT when CBS had a 4 ET/2 PT window, which they filled with an SEC contest.
KenPom.com projection: Aztecs 72-70, 69 poss.
St. John's Red Storm at Villanova Wildcats, ESPN (2 p.m. ET)
Like Syracuse and Georgetown before them, the Red Storm and Wildcats are in the thick of the race for a double-bye in the Big East Tournament and a protected seed in the NCAAs. (Bet you weren't expecting that out of Steve Lavin's club.) The Johnnies have the athleticism in the frontcourt to cause Nova some problems and the guard matchup is intriguing as well.
KenPom.com projection: Wildcats 71-64, 66 poss.
Miami Hurricanes at Florida St. Seminoles, ACC Network Regional or ESPN3/Full Court (2 p.m. ET)
The Seminoles topped the Canes by a bucket in Coral Gables on January 19th, a game that they may have lost had Frank Haith called timeout on Miami's ill-fated final possession. With Chris Singleton out, Florida State hasn't looked the same, so this could be an opportunity for the Hurricanes to improve their slim at-large hopes, at the expense of their rivals, who looked to be in great shape not long ago.
KenPom.com projection: Seminoles 70-64, 68 poss.
Milwaukee Panthers at Youngstown St. Penguins, Horizon League Network (1 p.m. ET); Green Bay Phoenix at Cleveland St. Vikings. WWRD/STO/Horizon League Network (1 p.m. ET) and Loyola of Chicago Ramblers at Butler Bulldogs, WNDY/Lakeshore/Horizon League Network (2 p.m. ET)
There are four Horizon League games on the schedule on Saturday, with three of them in the early afternoon. All of them may have an impact on the two teams who will earn a precious bye to the semifinals for the conference tournament, which starts Tuesday. Milwaukee (12-5) is in the best position, thanks to a 3-1 record over Cleveland State and Butler, who share the same league record. If the Panthers beat Youngstown State, they'll clinch the top seed and host the quarterfinals and semifinals (and final, should they qualify). Likewise, Butler can clinch a semifinal bye if they beat Loyola at home, and earn the league title if Milwaukee loses, since they swept the Vikings. If all three lose, Valparaiso, who plays in the evening, is back in the mix and things get too messy for this post.
KenPom.com projections: Panthers 74-70, 70 poss.; Vikings 75-64, 66 poss.; Bulldogs 74-63, 64 poss.
Memphis Tigers at UTEP Miners, ESPN2 (3 p.m. ET)
The Conference USA race is shaping up to be as potentially messy as the Horizon's, but with one notable exception: the tournament host is predetermined. That team is UTEP, who's fallen out of the at-large race after dropping three of their last four conference games. The Miners are in the thick of the race for the C-USA crown, however, as they sit a game behind the lead pack, which includes Memphis. Tim Floyd will be on the sidelines for UTEP after he was spectacularly ejected from Wednesday night's loss at East Carolina, an event for which he was reprimanded by the league office.
KenPom.com projection: , poss.
Late Afternoon (ET)
Florida Gators at Kentucky Wildcats, CBS (4 p.m. ET)
The Gators clinched a share of the SEC East title, and the division's top seed for the conference tournament, by defeating Georgia Thursday night, but they face a quick turnaround in order to play Kentucky at Rupp Arena, where the Wildcats will expect to reverse a two-point loss in Gainesville. With Alabama up next on Tuesday, the Gators can afford to drop this one and still stake a claim to the overall SEC crown, but don't expect them to lie down for the hosts.
KenPom.com projection: Wildcats 71-63, 63 poss.
Arizona Wildcats at UCLA Bruins, FSN/Comcast SportsNet (4 p.m. ET)
Heading into Thursday night, the Wildcats looked all set to march into Pauley and stake a claim to the Pac-10 regular season crown. Then, they went out and lost at USC. Arizona leads the Bruins by a game, and they topped UCLA by 11 in Tucson on January 27th.
KenPom.com projection: Wildcats 70-69, 67 poss.
Alabama Crimson Tide at Mississippi Rebels, SEC Network/ESPN3/Full Court (4 p.m. ET)
Alabama is moving closer to an at-large bid. I probably would have put them in had they not struggled at home against woeful Auburn on Wednesday night; however, their progress will be erased if they lose in Oxford.
KenPom.com projection: Tide 66-65, 65 poss.
Texas Longhorns at Colorado Buffaloes, Big 12 Network Regional/ESPN3/Full Court (4 p.m. ET)
The Longhorns will look to avoid a second straight Saturday road upset, one that would torpedo their chances for a top seed, while the Buffaloes will hope their home court advantage will give them another quality win for a resume that could use a boost.
KenPom.com projection: Longhorns 74-65, 68 poss.
Michigan Wolverines at Minnesota Golden Gophers, Big Ten Network (4:30 p.m. ET)
This is a crucial game for both teams, as the Gophers are falling fast and the Wolverines need to show they've gotten past the heartbreak of Wednesday night's loss to Wisconsin. Minnesota won the pair's earlier meeting in Ann Arbor, 69-64.
KenPom.com projection: Gophers 66-62, 62 poss.
Early Evening (ET)
Mississippi St. Bulldogs at Tennessee Volunteers, ESPN (6 p.m. ET) and South Carolina Gamecocks at Georgia Bulldogs, FS South/Sun Sports/ESPN3/Full Court (7 p.m. ET)
In a podcast with Rocky Top Talk and Q&A over at Dawg Sports, I said both of their teams would make the field if they avoided a bad loss late. Look what potential exists on each team's schedule for Saturday.
KenPom.com projections: Volunteers 76-63, 68 poss.; Bulldogs 71-62, 68 poss.
Other Viewing Option
Colorado St. Rams at Air Force Falcons, The Mtn. (5:30 p.m. ET)
UAB Blazers at Houston Cougars, CBS College Sports (6 p.m. ET)
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at Long Beach St. 49ers, ESPN2 (7 p.m. ET)
Late Evening (ET)
UIC Flames at Valparaiso Crusaders, Horizon League Network (8 p.m. ET)
Depending on what happens in the three afternoon Horizon League contests, the Crusaders could be playing for a semifinal bye or nothing at all.
KenPom.com projection: Crusaders 71-57, 65 poss.
Duke Blue Devils at Virginia Tech Hokies, ESPN (9 p.m. ET)
These two find themselves at different ends of the at-large pool, so they have completely different aims for the evening. The Blue Devils want to avoid a loss that could damage their case for a top NCAA seed, while the Hokies are looking for a showcase win to book their place in the field of 68.
KenPom.com projection: Blue Devils 73-68, 69 poss.
San Diego Toreros at Gonzaga Bulldogs, KHQ/4 SD/FS Northwest (9 p.m. ET) and Portland Pilots at St. Mary's, Calif. Gaels, CSN Northwest/CSN Bay Area (11 p.m. ET)
The Bulldogs and Gaels are tied at the top of the WCC after Gonzaga's Thursday night in Moraga. If both teams win tonight, the Gaels earn the top seed by virtue of having a higher RPI, but the Zags would still earn a bye to the semifinals. If Gonzaga loses, the door opens for San Francisco to jump in. A win in San Diego should be a foregone conclusion, but the Toreros did beat St. Mary's last Wednesday. The Gaels aren't exactly out of the woods either, as they were blown out at Portland on January 29th.
KenPom.com projections: Bulldogs 72-57, 65 poss.; Gaels 78-68, 64 poss.
Please share your thoughts about today's action in the comments, after you sign up for a free SB Nation account, of course.
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