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On The Menu: Thursday, March 3, 2016

It's a potentially significant night in the American Athletic Conference. Plus, a half-dozen conference tournaments will be in action tonight (even though only five will be on TV or streaming) and by around 10 p.m. Eastern, the first championship game of the year will be set.

David Butler II-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

Illinois Fighting Illini (13-16, 5-11) at No. 14 Maryland Terrapins (23-6, 11-5), 7 p.m. (ESPN)
Northwestern Wildcats (18-11, 6-10) at Penn State Nittany Lions (15-14, 6-10), 9 p.m. (ESPNU)

It's not the most thrilling final Thursday of the regular season in the Big Ten, where the biggest thing at stake is a possible quarterfinal bye for Maryland.

Pac-12

No. 25 California Golden Bears (21-8, 11-5) at No. 18 Arizona Wildcats (22-7, 10-6), 9 p.m. (ESPN)
Stanford Cardinal (15-12, 8-8) at Arizona State Sun Devils (14-15, 4-12), 11 p.m. (FS1)

The Golden Bears must complete a season sweep of the Wildcats to have any chance at claiming a share of the Pac-12 regular season crown. Arizona is one of the rare teams Cal didn't blow out at home this season, as the Bears won by just a single point back on January 23rd.

Across the Bay, the Cardinal have seen their NCAA hopes revived by others' struggles, but that won't last with a loss in Tempe. Stanford topped ASU by two, also on January 23rd.

SEC

Georgia Bulldogs (15-12, 8-8) at South Carolina Gamecocks (23-6, 10-6), 7 p.m. (ESPN2)

The Bulldogs defeated the Gamecocks by a 69-56 score back on February 2nd in Athens. While Carolina seems safe, it shouldn't risk a loss to a team out of the hunt.

American Athletic

Memphis Tigers (16-13, 7-9) at Temple Owls (18-10, 12-4), 7 p.m. (CBSSN)
Connecticut Huskies (20-9, 10-6) at No. 24 SMU Mustangs (24-4, 12-4), 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
Cincinnati Bearcats (21-8, 11-5) at Houston Cougars (21-8, 11-6), 9 p.m. (CBSSN)

It's a pretty big night in both the American title race and bubble hunt, even though Tulsa sits this round out. A UConn road win over the conference's only ranked team would boost a profile that took a hit on Sunday with a home loss to Houston. While the Huskies defeated the Mustangs by six at home, winning at Moody will be a different proposition—SMU won't last season's meeting in Dallas by 18.

The Bearcats head to Houston looking for a sweep, as they defeated the Cougars on January 13th. UH has a win over each of the American bid contenders not named Cincinnati.

Meanwhile, the Owls will hope to avenge a 67-65 loss at Memphis from back on January 13th. If they do that, they'll be in good position to claim at least a share of the conference crown and the top seed in Orlando next week.

Elsewhere

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (22-7, 11-5) at Marshall Thundering Herd (15-14, 11-5), 7 p.m. (ASN/MASN2/CSN California)

The Bulldogs and Thundering Herd are tied with Middle Tennessee for second in C-USA. Only two of the three can reasonably avoid regular season winner UAB in the bracket until the final.

Conference Tournaments

For full information on this year's conference tournaments, visit Conference Tournament Central.

Atlantic Sun Semifinals

Both games are streaming on ESPN3.

Game 5: No. 4 Florida Gulf Coast Eagles (18-13, 8-6) at No. 1 North Florida Ospreys (22-10, 10-4), 7:30 p.m.
The pair split their season series with each winning at home.
Game 6: No. 7 Stetson Hatters (11-21, 4-10) at No. 6 Lipscomb Bisons (12-20, 7-7), 7 p.m.
The Bisons swept the season series.

The winner of the FGCU-UNF semifinal will host Sunday's championship game, and the worst possible scenario for the Atlantic Sun would be a Stetson-Ospreys matchup. In that case, the Hatters, ineligible for the NCAAs, could potentially send UNF back to the First Four, with a win in the final.

Big South First Round

All three games are streaming on the Big South Sports website.

Game 1: No. 9 Charleston Southern Buccaneers (9-20, 5-13) vs. No. 8 Longwood Lancers (9-22, 5-13), 2 p.m.
The Lancers won the only meeting 78-76 in double OT on the road.
Game 2: No. 10 Presbyterian Blue Hose (10-19, 5-13) vs. No. 7 Radford Highlanders (16-14, 9-9), approx. 4:30 p.m.
The Blue Hose won the only meeting 69-68 at home.
Game 3: No. 11 Campbell Fighting Camels (12-17, 5-13) vs. No. 6 Gardner-Webb Bulldogs (15-15, 10-8), approx. 7 p.m.
The pair split their season series with each winning at home.

Today's winners will move on to meet the top three seeds in Friday's quarterfinals. Note that Campbell is hosting as the 11th seed.

MAAC First Round

Note that there's no TV or streaming coverage of these three games.

Game 1: No. 9 Quinnipiac Bobcats (9-20, 6-14) vs. No. 8 Rider Broncs (12-19, 8-12), 5 p.m.
The pair split their regular season series with each winning at home.
Game 2: No. 10 Niagara Purple Eagles (7-24, 5-15) vs. No. 7 Canisius Golden Griffins (13-18, 8-12), approx. 7:30 p.m.
The Golden Griffins swept the regular season series.
Game 3: No. 11 Marist Red Foxes (7-22, 4-16) vs. No. 6 Manhattan Jaspers (12-17, 9-11), approx. 10 p.m.
The pair split their season series with each winning on the road.

In an effort to protect the conference's better teams, the Metro Atlantic has a new format this season. Therefore, the winners of games one and two will move on to the first quarterfinal doubleheader on Friday, where the top two seeds—Monmouth and Iona—will await. The winner of game three gets tomorrow off, and will play third seed (and host) Siena) in the second quarterfinal doubleheader on Sunday.

MVC First Round

Both games will air on the MVC TV Network and on FS Midwest and CSN Chicago Plus. They'll also stream on ESPN3.

Game 1: No. 9 Bradley Braves (5-26, 3-15) vs. No. 8 Loyola of Chicago Ramblers (14-16, 7-11), 7 p.m.
The pair split their season series with each winning on the road.
Game 2: No. 10 Drake Bulldogs (7-23, 2-16) vs. No. 7 Missouri State Bears (12-18, 8-10), approx. 9:30 p.m.
The Bulldogs swept the season series.

Tonight's winners will take on top seed Wichita State and two seed Evansville in Friday's quarterfinals.

OVC Quarterfinals

Both games are streaming on the OVC Digital Network.

Game 3: No. 8 Austin Peay Governors (15-17, 7-9) vs. No. 4 Tennessee State Tigers (20-9, 11-5), 7 p.m.
The Tigers defeated the Governors 66-52 at home on January 14th.
Game 4: No. 6 Murray State Racers (17-13, 10-6) vs. No. 3 Morehead State Eagles (18-11, 11-5), approx. 9:30 p.m.
The Racers defeated the Eagles 62-57 at home on January 2nd.

The third and fourth seeds jump into action on Thursday night in Nashville, with Morehead State facing the stiffer test.

Patriot League Quarterfinals

All four games are streaming on Campus Insiders.

Game 3: No. 9 Holy Cross Crusaders (11-19, 5-13) at No. 1 Bucknell Bison (17-12, 14-4), 7 p.m.
The Bison swept the season series.
Game 4: No. 5 Colgate Raiders (13-16, 9-9) at No. 4 Army West Point Black Knights (18-12, 9-9), 7 p.m.
The pair split their season series with each winning at home.
Game 5: No. 6 American University Eagles (11-18, 9-9) at No. 3 Boston University Terriers (18-13, 11-7), 7 p.m.
The Terriers swept the season series.
Game 6: No. 7 Navy Midshipmen (19-13, 9-9) at No. 2 Lehigh Mountain Hawks (15-14, 13-5), 7 p.m.
The pair split their season series with each winning on the road.

One road team (Holy Cross) has already won in the Patriot League Tournament. Can anyone else join the Crusaders (who are unlikely to repeat the feat, given how Bucknell routed them twice)? The Navy-Lehigh matchup looks particularly intriguing, but the Mountain Hawks have gone 10-1 since losing to the Middies at home, including the nine-game winning streak they're currently on.

Viewing Picks

Early Evening Tips

Atlantic Sun Semifinals, 7 and 7:30 p.m. (ESPN3)
Patriot League Quarterfinals, 7 p.m. (Campus Insiders)
Georgia at South Carolina, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
Memphis at Temple, 7 p.m. (CBSSN)
Louisiana Tech at Marshall, 7 p.m. (ASN/MASN2/CSN California)
Illinois at Maryland, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
OVC Quarterfinal: Austin Peay vs. Tennessee State, 7 p.m. (OVC Digital Network)
Big South First Round, 2:30, approx. 5, and approx. 7:30 p.m. (Big South Sports)
MVC First Round: Bradley vs. Loyola of Chicago, 7 p.m. (MVC TV/FS Midwest/CSN Chicago Plus/ESPN3)

Late Evening Tips

UConn at SMU, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
California at Arizona, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
Cincinnati at Houston, 9 p.m. (CBSSN)
OVC Quarterfinal: Murray State vs. Morehead State, approx. 9:30 p.m. (OVC Digital Network)
Northwestern at Penn State, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
Stanford at Arizona State, 11 p.m. (FS1)
MVC First Round: Drake vs. Missouri State, approx. 9:30 p.m. (MVC TV/FS Midwest/CSN Chicago Plus/ESPN3)

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