Tuesday night's slate of games guarantees that March will open up with a bang--which happens to resemble the pop of bubbles bursting. Tonight is simply a crucial night for teams who find themselves either just in or out of my most recent bracket projection. Plus, the first conference tournament games of the season tip off.
My viewing picks for the evening are after the jump.
Illinois Fighting Illini at Purdue Boilermakers, ESPN (7 p.m. ET)
Truthfully, Illinois should still be in good shape, even if they lose to Purdue, a likely two seed tonight. They just couldn't afford a loss to Iowa on Saturday, nor one at home against Indiana this weekend. The Boilermakers defeated the Illini in Champaign 81-70 on February 13th.
KenPom.com projection: Boilermakers 73-63, 67 poss.
Baylor Bears at Oklahoma St. Cowboys, ESPN2 (7 p.m. ET)
I've projected Baylor as the very last team in the field at the moment, but they'll fall out if they lose at Oklahoma State, a team with fading hopes of their own. The Bears crushed the Cowboys in Waco back on January 22nd by a 76-57 score, but Oklahoma State plays far better in Stillwater.
KenPom.com projection: Cowboys 67-66, 65 poss.
Alabama Crimson Tide at Florida Gators, ESPNU (7 p.m. ET)
The overall SEC crown is on the line as the top seeds from the East and West meet. While a win in Gainesville would plug the Crimson Tide into the bracket as the SEC leader, they'd also (finally) move into position for an at-large.
KenPom.com projection: Gators 62-57, 61 poss.
Missouri Tigers at Nebraska Cornhuskers, Big 12 Network/ESPN3/Full Court (8 p.m. ET)
The Tigers had a tough time with the Huskers in Columbia, winning by just eight on January 12th. Mizzou's only won one Big 12 road game, at Iowa State. Meanwhile, Nebraska is looking to avoid dropping consecutive home games for the first time all season.
KenPom.com projection: Huskers 70-69, 68 poss.
Vanderbilt Commodores at Kentucky Wildcats, ESPN (9 p.m. ET)
The winner is in the driver's seat for a bye to the SEC quarterfinals, and if Vanderbilt can win and Florida loses, the Commodores can tie the Gators for the division crown when the two meet in Nashville on Saturday. The Wildcats lost at Memorial Gym by four on February 12th, but remember that they're a completely different team at Rupp.
KenPom.com projection: Wildcats 79-70, 68 poss.
Boston College Eagles at Virginia Tech Hokies, ESPNU (9 p.m. ET)
Fresh off their win over Duke, the Hokies can't get complacent, as the Eagles, a team that beat them in Chestnut Hill, is looking to improve their own resume. Virginia Tech would likely stay in with a loss, but BC needs this one to rejoin the field of 68.
KenPom.com projection: Hokies 73-64, 62 poss.
Ohio St. Buckeyes at Penn St. Nittany Lions, Big Ten Network (9 p.m. ET)
The Nittany Lions will look to add the Buckeyes to a list of home victims that already includes Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan State. Remember that Penn State only fell in Columbus by a 69-66 score on January 15th.
KenPom.com projection: Buckeyes 69-61, 60 poss.
As I mentioned, conference tournament play begins tonight, with the Big South quarterfinals and Horizon League first round. The Big South games will all be streamed live on BigSouthSports.com (subscription), though No. 2 seed Liberty's home game with seventh-seeded High Point will be available on Full Court and ESPN3 (7 p.m. ET).
Conversely, all four Horizon first round games will be streaming for free over at the Horizon League website. Here's the schedule for those contests with the links in the times.
No. 8 Loyola-Chicago Ramblers at No. 5 Detroit Titans, 7 p.m. ET
No. 7 Green Bay Phoenix at No. 6 Wright St. Raiders, 7 p.m. ET
No. 10 UIC Flames at No. 3 Cleveland St. Vikings, 7 p.m. ET
No. 9 Youngstown St. Penguins at No. 4 Valparaiso Crusaders, 8 p.m. ET
Please share your thoughts about tonight's action in the comments, after you sign up for a free SB Nation account, of course.