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Mardi Gras Preview - 24 February

After a couple of relatively quiet Tuesday nights, Shrove Tuesday more than comes through in the action department. It's hard to believe that two short weeks from now, we'll be in the thick of Championship Week.

Penn State @ Ohio State (ESPN, 7 EST) - After dropping three straight, the Buckeyes are firmly on the bubble with the Nittany Lions, the last team in my bracket. While OSU has better out-of-conference wins to brag about, it won't matter much if they finish markedly behind PSU in the Big Ten standings. Right now, the gap is only a game, in favor of Penn State.

Pittsburgh @ Providence (Big East/FSN Pittsburgh/CST/MASN/SNY/Full Court, 7 EST) - Pitt looks to be in the best position to grab the tournament's #1 overall seed. The Friars, meanwhile, are on tourney life support thanks to losses to Louisville and Notre Dame. Pulling the upset would immediately move PC, who lacks a marquee win, back into the conversation.

Syracuse @ St. John's (Big East/Full Court, 7;30 EST) - The Orange, now 7-7 in the Big East (for those of us keeping track), desperately need to get back on track. 4-10 St. John's in the Garden is the first of three very winnable games for SU (Cincy on Sunday and Rutgers on Tuesday, both in the Dome, are the others).

TCU @ New Mexico (the mtn., 8:30 EST) and BYU @ San Diego State (the mtn., 10:30 EST) - The winner between the Cougars and Aztecs will rise to second in the MWC. The Lobos can join them with a win over the Horned Frogs.

Florida @ LSU (ESPN, 9 EST) - The Bayou Bengals look for a win to cap Mardi Gras. At 11-1, LSU is running away with the SEC regular season title. The Tigers already have beaten the two East frontrunners they've met: South Carolina, 85-68, in Baton Rouge and Tennessee, 79-73, in Knoxville. Meanwhile, the Gators are looking for their third win in a row and fifth straight victory over an SEC West opponent.

Florida State @ Boston College (ESPNU, 9 EST) - The Eagles need a win after suffering an 11-point thumping at the hands of Miami Saturday. The Seminoles are a 3-point loss at UNC away from being in first in the ACC. However, a loss here could hurt their seeding.

Baylor @ Iowa State (Big 12/Altitude/YES/MASN/Full Court, 9 EST) - The Bears need to win their last four (@ISU, Colorado, @Texas, Nebraska) to get to .500 in the Big 12. If they do that, they'll definitely be in the conversation because of the win in Austin. However, they have to take care of business in Ames first.

Texas A&M @ Nebraska (ESPN2, 9:30 EST) - Like Baylor, the Aggies have a schedule that is favorable to reaching .500 in the league (@NU, ISU, @Colorado, Missouri). A&M has the added advantage of being 5-7 instead of 4-8, however. If they win in Lincoln, 8-8 is a near certainty and 9-7 is within reach, since they get the Tigers in College Station instead of Columbia.