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College Basketball Viewing Guide for Saturday, March 13, 2021

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After three days without a championship game, you’ll see 15 of them today. Bubble trouble lurks in a pair of them.

NCAA Basketball: Big East Conference Tournament-Seton Hall vs Georgetown
Georgetown popped Seton Hall’s bubble on Friday night. The Hoyas could do the same to another team by defeating Creighton this evening.
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday morning’s full bracket and cut line breakdown

Chronological Conference Tournament Schedule

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Tip Time (ET) Conference Round Matchup Outlet Season Series
Tip Time (ET) Conference Round Matchup Outlet Season Series
11 a.m. America East Championship 6. UMass Lowell at 4. Hartford ESPN2 1-1 (at UML)
1 p.m. MEAC Championship N3 Morgan State vs. N2 Norfolk State ESPN2 3-1 NSU (2-0 H)
1 p.m. Big Ten Semifinals 5. Ohio State vs. 1. Michigan CBS UM 1-0 (road)
1 p.m. SEC Semifinals 4. Tennessee vs. 1. Alabama ESPN UA 1-0 (road)
3 p.m. American Semifinals 5. Cincinnati vs. 1. Wichita State ESPN2 WSU 1-0 (home)
3:30 p.m.* Big Ten Semifinals 3. Iowa vs. 2. Illinois CBS UIUC 1-0 (home)
3:30 p.m.* SEC Semifinals 3. LSU vs. 2. Arkansas ESPN Home split
4 p.m. MAAC Championship 9. Iona vs. 7. Fairfield ESPNU 1-1 (at FAIR)
5:30 p.m.* American Semifinals 3. Memphis vs. 2. Houston ESPN2 UH 1-0 (home)
6 p.m. MW Championship 3. Utah State vs. 1. San Diego State CBS USU 2-0 (home)
6 p.m. Big 12 Championship 5. Oklahoma State vs. 3. Texas ESPN Home split
6 p.m. SWAC Championship 3. Texas Southern vs. 1. Prairie View A&M ESPNU PV 2-0 (H/H)
6:30 p.m. Big East Championship 8. Georgetown vs. 2. Creighton Fox Road split
7:30 p.m. MAC Championship 5. Ohio vs. 2. Buffalo ESPN2 Road split
8 p.m. Big Sky Championship 5. Montana State vs. 2. Eastern Washington ESPNU EWU 2-0 (home)
8:30 p.m. ACC Championship 4. Georgia Tech vs. 2. Florida State ESPN Home split
8:30 p.m. C-USA Championship W3 North Texas vs. E1 Western Kentucky CBSSN Have not met
9:30 p.m. Southland Championship 2. Abilene Christian vs. 1. Nicholls ESPN2 Have not met
10 p.m. WAC Championship 3. New Mexico State vs. 1. Grand Canyon ESPNU GCU 2-0 (home)
10:30 p.m. Pac-12 Championship 5. Oregon State vs. 3. Colorado ESPN CU 2-0 (H/H)
11:30 p.m. Big West Championship 2. UC Irvine vs. 1. UC Santa Barbara ESPN2 UCI 2-0 (home)

America East Championship

Game 8: No. 6 UMass Lowell (11-11, 7-8) at No. 4 Hartford (14-8, 8-6), 11 a.m. (ESPN2)
The season series was a 1-1 split (at UML).

With perennial power Vermont and 2018’s history makers from UMBC eliminated, one set of Hawks will earn its first-ever NCAA bid early this afternoon in West Hartford, Connecticut. While the Hartford Hawks have been a Division I member since 1986, the UMass Lowell River Hawks first became eligible in 2018. UMass Lowell won the first meeting between the two by nine on January 9th, with Hartford blasting the River Hawks by 17 just one day later.

ACC Championship

Game 14: No. 4 Georgia Tech (16-8, 11-6) vs. No. 2 Florida State (16-5, 11-4), 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
The season series was a 1-1 home split.

Either the Yellow Jackets will claim their fourth ACC Tournament title all-time (1985, 1990, 1993) or the Seminoles will earn their second (2012). (Remember that FSU’s 2020 ACC title was unique in that it was awarded based on regular-season record.) This is the first ACC final since 1996 that will not feature either Duke or UNC. Tech lost that one to Tim Duncan and Wake Forest, 75-74. It’s also the first ACC championship game that won’t feature one of the league’s eight original members. Of course, two of those—Maryland and South Carolina—are now elsewhere.

While FSU defeated the Jackets in Tallahassee to open ACC play, Georgia Tech returned the favor in Atlanta on January 30th.

Big 12 Championship

Game 9: No. 5 Oklahoma State (20-7, 11-7) vs. No. 3 Texas (18-7, 11-6), 6 p.m. (ESPN)
The season series was a 1-1 home split.

Even though the Longhorns got Friday night off due to Kansas’s withdrawal, the Cowboys had to take the floor in Kansas City, and they impressively took down top-seeded Baylor, 83-74. These two clubs played a pair of tight regular-season affairs. On December 20th, Texas took down Oklahoma State by a 77-74 score in Austin, while the Cowboys needed two overtimes to record a 75-67 win on February 6th in Stillwater.

Texas is 0-6 in Big 12 Tournament title games, while Oklahoma State has won two of its three with the victories being consecutive—in 2004 and 2005. The Cowboys defeated the Longhorns in the first of those.

Big East Championship

Game 10: No. 8 Georgetown (12-12, 7-9) vs. No. 2 Creighton (20-7, 14-6), 6:30 p.m. (Fox)
The season series was a 1-1 home split.

On Friday night, the Hoyas popped Seton Hall’s bubble. With a win tonight, they’ll do the same to some unlucky bubble team while earning their first NCAA bid 2015. The Bluejays last appeared as an eight seed in 2018. With a win tonight, I would expect Creighton to find itself on seed line No. 4 on Sunday. While the Hoyas can claim a record eighth Big East Tournament title tonight, the Bluejays have yet to cut down the nets at the Garden. These two squads met twice in a six-day span in early February with Georgetown winning in Omaha by seven and Creighton taking a 15-point win in D.C.

Big Sky Championship

Game 10: No. 5 Montana State (13-9, 8-6) vs. No. 2 Eastern Washington (15-7, 12-3), 8 p.m. (ESPNU)
The Eagles won the season series 2-0 (at home).

If the Bobcats defeat the Eagles for the first time this season, they will become the second team that lost to Syracuse in their last NCAA appearance—way back in 1996—to reach the 2021 field. That Montana State team fell to the then-Orangemen in the first round by 33. SU then went on to defeat Drexel in the second round—the Dragons’ last NCAA game for a quarter century. However, to get to the field of 68, MSU will need to do much better than it did during their February 11th and 13th games in Cheney. Eastern only won those by 16 and 26. The Eagles, for the record, last made the field in 2015.

Big West Championship

Game 17: No. 2 UC Irvine (18-8, 10-4) vs. No. 1 UC Santa Barbara (21-4, 13-3), 11:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
The Anteaters won the season series 2-0 (at home).

The Big West’s top two teams meet in Las Vegas with the second-seeded Anteaters holding a hypothetical advantage over the top-seeded Gauchos by virtue of their two home wins. However, since losing those two games to close out 2020, UCSB has won 17 of 18 in 2021. UCI advanced a round in its last NCAA appearance, in 2019, while the Gauchos had the misfortune of playing a virtual road game against second-seeded Florida in Tampa back in 2011.

C-USA Championship

Game 12: West No. 3 North Texas (16-9, 9-5) vs. East No. 1 Western Kentucky (20-6, 11-3), 8:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
The teams did not meet. (Series was canceled due to weather.)

The Mean Green and Hilltoppers were supposed to play two games in Denton during the weekend of February 20th. They were canned because of the winter storm that wreaked havoc throughout Texas. Tonight’s winner will end a decent tournament drought. UNT last appeared in 2010, WKU three years later. If Rick Stansbury’s Hilltoppers advance, expect them to be a trendy upset pick in the First Round, thanks to a December win at Alabama.

Neither team has won the C-USA Tournament with the Hilltoppers having reached (and lost) the last two finals.

MAAC Championship

Game 10: No. 9 Iona (11-5, 6-3) vs. No. 7 Fairfield (10-16, 7-11), 4 p.m. (ESPNU)
The season series was a 1-1 split (at Fairfield).

Iona is aiming for a fifth straight NCAA bid and seventh since 2012, but this would be the Gaels’ first under Rick Pitino. As for Fairfield, it hasn’t danced since 1997, when the 16th-seeded Stags only lost to top-seeded UNC by eight. With a losing record, Fairfield would likely be destined for the First Four with a win tonight. Iona, on the other hand, could get a somewhat decent seed, despite the lack of games the Gaels were able to play.

MAC Championship

Game 11: No. 5 Ohio (15-7, 9-5) vs. No. 2 Buffalo (16-7, 12-5), 7:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
The season series was a 1-1 home split.

The Bulls can clinch their third consecutive NCAA bid by claiming the rubber match in Cleveland, while the Bobcats last qualified in 2012, when they reached the Sweet Sixteen. In fact, both Ohio and Buffalo recorded wins in each of their last two NCAA trips.

While Buffalo lost by one in the teams’ meeting in Western New York, the Bulls won the return matchup in Athens by 20 just two weeks ago.

MEAC Championship

Game 9: North No. 3 Morgan State (14-7, 7-5) vs. North No. 2 Norfolk State (15-7, 8-4), 1 p.m. (ESPN2)
The Spartans won the series 3-1 (2-0 at home, 1-1 away).

With South top seed North Carolina A&T State out because of CoVID and three-time defending champ North Carolina Central eliminated, the MEAC will have a fresh face representing it in Indiana, likely in the First Four. Norfolk State last qualified in 2012, when the Spartans recorded a 15-over-2 upset of Missouri, while Morgan State’s last bid came two years earlier.

MW Championship

Game 10: No. 2 Utah State (20-7, 15-4) vs. No. 1 San Diego State (22-4, 14-3), 6 p.m. (CBS)
The Aggies won the season series 2-0 (at home).

The Aztecs are in their fourth consecutive Mountain West title game, while the Aggies are in their second—meaning this is a rematch of both the 2019 and 2020 finals. (Remember that last season’s event was moved up a week because of a convention that ultimately ended up curtailed because of CoVID.) Utah State is looking for both its third victory over SDSU this season and their third win over the Aztecs in this particular game. San Diego State last won the title in 2018 by defeating New Mexico.

While Utah State solidified its place by defeating Colorado State on Friday night, a win here would ensure two Mountain West bids.

Pac-12 Championship

Game 10: No. 5 Oregon State (16-12, 10-10) vs. No. 3 Colorado (22-7, 14-6), 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)
The Buffaloes won the season series 2-0 (home-and-home).

If you’re a fan of a bubble team, you’ll want to stay up late for this one, even if it is “spring ahead” night for most. Last night, Beavers defeated top-seeded Oregon for a second time this season to earn a date with a Buffaloes team that edged second-seeded USC. Unfortunately for those teams around the cut line, Oregon State needs to win this one to reach the field. So, if the Beavers win their first conference tournament title ever, they’ll earn their first bid since 2016. That also happens to be the last time Colorado—a lock—reached the field.

Southland Championship

Game 9: No. 2 Abilene Christian (22-4, 13-2) vs. No. 1 Nicholls (18-6, 14-2), 9:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
The teams did not meet.

The Wildcats can clinch their second straight NCAA bid on their way out the door to the WAC. As for the Colonels, who will remain in the Southland, they last qualified in 1998. That team was a 16 seed. Nicholls will again likely earn that seed with a win tonight. ACU could end up higher, as it’s in the NET top 90.

SWAC Championship

Game 7: No. 3 Texas Southern (15-8, 10-3) v. No. 1 Prairie View A&M (16-4, 13-0), 6 p.m. (ESPNU)
The Panthers won the season series 2-0 (home-and-home).

Two Texas teams meet in Birmingham, Alabama with the Panthers aiming to reach the field for the second straight time and the Tigers looking to get back for the first time since 2018 and for the first time under Johnny Jones, the former LSU coach.

WAC Championship

Game 5: No. 3 New Mexico State (12-7, 7-6) vs. No. 1 Grand Canyon (16-6, 9-3), 10 p.m. (ESPNU)
The Antelopes won the season series 2-0 (at home).

Tonight, Grand Canyon can become the third current WAC member to reach the field. However, the Antelopes will need to go through archrival New Mexico State to get there. The Aggies have doomed GCU to lesser postseason tournaments in each of the last two completed seasons with wins in this game. NMSU has 25 NCAA appearances to its name, with eight in the last 10 years.

American Athletic Semifinals

ESPN2 will air both games.

Game 8: No. 5 Cincinnati (11-10, 8-6) vs. No. 1 Wichita State (16-4, 11-2), 3 p.m.
The Shockers won the teams’ lone meeting (at home).
Game 9: No. 3 Memphis (16-7, 11-4) vs. No. 2 Houston (22-3, 14-3), approx. 5:30 p.m.
The Cougars won the teams’ lone meeting (at home).

The American could place as few as one team in the field or as many as three, depending on what happens today and tomorrow. Wichita State probably needs to win the auto bid despite being the No. 1 seed, while Houston is a lock. Memphis is arguably more of a bubble threat than the Shockers, though the Tigers are still seething over losing to the Cougars at the buzzer on Sunday. Then there are the Bearcats, who knocked SMU off the bubble yesterday in the Mustangs’ first game in over a month.

Big Ten Semifinals

CBS will air both games.

Game 11: No. 5 Ohio State (20-8, 12-8) vs. No. 1 Michigan (20-3, 14-3), 1 p.m.
The Wolverines won the teams’ lone meeting (at OSU).
Game 12: No. 3 Iowa (21-7, 14-6) vs. No. 2 Illinois (21-6, 16-4), approx. 3:30 p.m.
The Fighting Illini won the teams’ lone meeting (at home).

The four Big Ten teams on the top two lines of the bracket reached semifinal Saturday, but not without drama. Michigan’s win over Maryland featured a heated confrontation between the two teams’ head coaches. Ohio State needed overtime to defeat Purdue, a result that prevented the Buckeyes from slipping to line three. And while Illinois was able to rout Rutgers to open the night session, Iowa got a battle from struggling Wisconsin.

SEC Semifinals

ESPN will air both games.

Game 10: No. 4 Tennessee (18-7, 10-7) vs. No. 1 Alabama (22-6, 16-2), 1 p.m.
The Crimson Tide won the teams’ lone meeting (at UT).
Game 11: No. 3 LSU (17-8, 11-6) vs. No. 2 Arkansas (22-5, 13-4), approx. 3:30 p.m.
The season series was a 1-1 home split.

It was all chalk in Nashville, with Alabama ending Mississippi State’s potential to be a spoiler and LSU likely popping Ole Miss’s bubble. The Crimson Tide will likely need to keep winning to have any shot at sneaking onto the top line, while the Razorbacks must do the same to somehow ascend to line two.