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On The Menu: Thursday, February 18, 2016

Tonight's schedule, which is heavy on key mid-major matchups, also features crucial showdowns in the Big Ten, Pac-12, and American Athletic.

Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Game information courtesy Matt College Sports on TV Website, which has even more games listed and more specific info on coverage for regional sports networks and American Sports Network telecasts.

All times listed are Eastern, adjust accordingly.

Big Ten

No. 6 Maryland Terrapins (22-4, 10-3) at Minnesota Golden Gophers (6-19, 0-13), 8 p.m. (BTN)
Wisconsin Badgers (16-9, 8-4) at No. 8 Michigan State Spartans (21-5, 8-5), 9 p.m. (ESPN)

With an expected win, the Terps will join Iowa and Indiana at 11-3, while a Gopher loss would bring us one Rutgers defeat closer (Penn State visit on Saturday) to an 0-14 vs. 0-14 showdown at Williams Arena next Tuesday.

The ESPN game is far more interesting from a competitive standpoint, as the Badgers can move closer to not only an NCAA bid but also another top four finish in the conference. Wisconsin's seven-game win streak started with a 77-76 win over the Spartans in Madison, so you can bet Tom Izzo's squad would love to end it in East Lansing.

Pac-12

Utah Utes (19-7, 8-5) at UCLA Bruins (14-11, 5-7), 10 p.m. (ESPN2)
Stanford Cardinal (12-11, 5-7) at Washington State Cougars (9-16, 1-12), 10 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks National, Bay Area, Washington)
California Golden Bears (17-8, 7-5) at Washington Huskies (15-10, 7-6), 11 p.m. (FS1)

With both the Cardinal and Cougars out of the NCAA hunt, you can safely focus on Westwood and Seattle this evening. The Utes visit Pauley having never won there during their relatively short time as a Pac-12 member, and the Bruins will hope that trend continues given their need for quality wins. The Huskies are in a similar boat, having dropped their last three, all to teams ranked higher in the bid pecking order. Fortunately for UW, the Golden Bears are 0-for-6 in Pac-12 road games so far, which is a major negative for their own NCAA hopes.

SEC

Tennessee Volunteers (12-13, 5-7) at No. 14 Kentucky Wildcats (19-6, 6-3), 7 p.m. (ESPN)

While the Volunteers did beat the Wildcats 84-77 in Knoxville, thanks to a furious comeback, back on February 2nd, UK has won its last two home games by a total of 53 points. It could be a long night for Rick Barnes' charges.

American Athletic

No. 21 SMU Mustangs (21-3, 9-3) at Connecticut Huskies (18-7, 8-4), 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
Cincinnati Bearcats (19-7, 9-4) at Tulsa Golden Hurricane (16-9, 8-5), 9 p.m. (CBSSN)

This weekend is going to be a crucial one for the American's bid hopefuls, particularly the Bearcats and Huskies, who meet in the Queen City on Saturday with the hosts looking to claim a season sweep. Both face significant challenges tonight. UConn, a full game out of first, hosts SMU, who's just a half-game behind Temple in the race for the regular season crown. The two will meet again at Moody Coliseum on the final Thursday of the regular season, just before the Mustangs travel to Cincy to close their season out.

As for the Bearcats, they head to Tulsa with a sweep on their minds, while the Golden Hurricane could really use a win after being unable to complete a huge comeback in Storrs on Saturday night.

Elsewhere

NJIT Highlanders (16-11, 7-4) at North Florida Ospreys (18-10, 7-4), 7 p.m. (ESPN3)
USC Upstate Spartans (9-19, 3-8) at Jacksonville Dolphins (15-13, 7-4), 7 p.m. (ESPN3)
Lipscomb Bisons (10-18, 6-5) at Florida Gulf Coast Eagles (15-12, 6-5), 7 p.m. (ESPN3)

At around 9:30 p.m. Eastern, there's  a good chance that the two Jacksonville schools will again share the A-Sun lead with just two conference games left to play.

Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (16-9, 10-5) at Winthrop Eagles (18-7, 10-4), 7 p.m. (BigSouthSports.com)

The Eagles, tied for the Big South lead with UNC Asheville, will attempt to reverse the 82-63 beating the Chanticleers handed them in Conway back on January 2nd.

Hawai'i Rainbow Warriors (20-3, 9-1) at Cal State Northridge Matadors (9-16, 4-7), 10 p.m. (ESPN3)

The Big West-leading Rainbow Warriors have to get past the Matadors, whom they have yet to meet this season, before their rapid rematch with UC Irvine on Saturday night.

UNC Wilmington Seahawks (20-5, 12-2) at William & Mary Tribe (17-8, 9-5), 7 p.m. (CAA.tv)
Towson Tigers (18-9, 9-5) at Hofstra Pride (18-8, 10-4), 7 p.m. (CAA.tv)
Northeastern Huskies (14-13, 6-8) at James Madison Dukes (19-8, 9-5), 7 p.m. (CAA.tv)

It could be another thrilling night in the CAA. The first place Seahawks visit Williamsburg, knowing that they needed OT to defeat the Tribe at Trask Coliseum. The Pride will aim to sweep Towson and keep sole possession of second place, while the Dukes can keep their place in a tie for third with a win over the struggling Huskies.

Missouri State Bears (11-15, 7-7) at Wichita State Shockers (19-7, 12-2), 7 p.m. (CBSSN)

The Bears lost to the MVC leaders by a 78-62 score in Springfield back on January 13th. With the Shockers coming off a rare home loss, this Thursday might not be a fun night for MSU.

Wagner Seahawks (16-9, 9-5) at Fairleigh Dickinson Knights (13-12, 9-5), 7 p.m. (NEC Front Row)

Only two of the NEC's four co-leaders meet this evening. The Seahawks dropped an 82-79 OT decision to the Knights in Staten Island, back on February 4th.

Belmont Bruins (18-9, 10-3) at Eastern Kentucky Colonels (14-14, 5-8), 9 p.m. (ESPNU)

The Bruins, who share the OVC lead with Tennessee Tech, have already lost to the Colonels in Nashville by an 88-78 score.

Pacific Tigers (7-17, 5-9) at Gonzaga Bulldogs (20-6, 12-2), 9 p.m. (KHQ/ESPN3)
Saint Mary's Gaels (20-4, 11-3) at Portland Pilots (11-16, 5-9), 10 p.m. (Campus Insiders)
BYU Cougars (19-8, 10-4) at San Diego Toreros (8-17, 3-11), 11 p.m. (ESPNU)

On Saturday, the Bulldogs and Gaels will meet at the Kennel, but the two WCC frontrunners cannot get caught looking ahead, not with their rather flimsy profiles. As for the Cougars, they open the rare weekend home-and-home series with their travel partner, knowing a sweep could put them back in second place at the end of Saturday.

Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners (18-7, 8-2) at New Mexico State Aggies (18-9, 9-1), 9 p.m. (AggieVision/ESPN3)

The Aggies can move one step closer to the WAC regular season crown by sweeping the Roadrunners, though Bakersfield gave them a fight in California, only losing by a single point after 10 extra minutes.

Viewing Picks

Early Evening Tips

SMU at UConn, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
Tennessee at Kentucky, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
NJIT at North Florida, 7 p.m. (ESPN3)
UNC Wilmington at William & Mary, 7 p.m. (CAA.tv)
Wagner at Fairleigh Dickinson, 7 p.m. (NEC Front Row)
Towson at Hofstra, 7 p.m. (CAA.tv)
Coastal Carolina at Winthrop, 7 p.m. (BigSouthSports.com)
Missouri State at Wichita State, 7 p.m. (CBSSN)
USC Upstate at Jacksonville, 7 p.m. (ESPN3)
Lipscomb at Florida Gulf Coast, 7 p.m. (ESPN3)
Northeastern at James Madison, 7 p.m. (CAA.tv)
Maryland at Minnesota, 8 p.m. (BTN)

Late Evening Tips

Wisconsin at Michigan State, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
Cincinnati at Tulsa, 9 p.m. (CBSSN)
California at Washington, 11 p.m. (FS1)
Utah at UCLA, 10 p.m. (ESPN2)
Cal State Bakersfield at New Mexico State, 9 p.m. (AggieVision/ESPN3) 
Belmont at Eastern Kentucky, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
Saint Mary's at Portland, 10 p.m. (Campus Insiders)
Pacific at Gonzaga, 9 p.m. (KHQ/ESPN3)
BYU at San Diego, 11 p.m. (ESPNU)
Hawai'i at Cal State Northridge, 10 p.m. (ESPN3)
Stanford at Washington State, 10 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks National, Bay Area, Washington)

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