There is a huge slate of games of various levels of importance today. As is always the case in February, there are high seeds, low seeds and any seeds at stake. Let's take a look...
HIGH STAKES/HIGH SEEDS
#20 Baylor (16-5, 5-4) at #16 West Virginia (18-4, 6-3) 12PM, Morgantown, WV, ESPNU
In a matter of weeks, Baylor went from unproven and overrated (at least in my mind), to a solid 4 seed at the moment. The Mountaineers are looking like a 6 seed and a home win over the Bears could inch them even higher. Prediction: West Virginia 69, Baylor 67.
#9 Notre Dame (21-3, 9-2) at #3 Duke (19-3, 6-3) 1PM, Durham, NC, CBS
I have Duke as a 1 seed, based in part on their three monster road wins at Wisconsin, Louisville and Virginia. It will not be easy for the Blue Devils to stay on that 1 line with tough games like today's commonplace in the ACC. Notre Dame is in the 3 seed range and today's game presents only upside for the Irish. Prediction: Duke 81, Notre Dame 75.
Providence (17-6, 7-3) at Xavier (14-9, 5-6) 1PM, Cincinnati, OH, FS1
Believe it or not, this game is more about high seeds than the bubble. Providence has surged to 5 seed territory after their road win at Georgetown; and despite Xavier's bad home loss to Creighton Wednesday, they remain pretty solidly in the field, for now. Prediction: Xavier 72, Providence 66.
#8 Kansas (19-3, 8-1) at Oklahoma State (14-7, 5-5) 2PM, Stillwater, OK, ESPN
While most of the country looks at the Jayhawks as merely a top 10 team as their ranking suggests, their resume looks much more like a 1 seed. In order to stay there, Kansas will have to go into Stillwater and beat a tough Cowboys team, who is extra tough at home. Oklahoma State could improve their already surprising 6 seed status. Prediction: Oklahoma State 68, Kansas 65.
#22 Georgetown (15-7, 7-4) at #7 Villanova (20-2, 7-2) 2PM, Philadelphia, PA, FOX
The Hoyas have been a bit of a tease so far this season. They look like a top 4 seed one day, then an 8 seed the next. That's why they currently find themselves in the 6 seed vicinity. They head into hostile Philly territory with a mad Villanova team looking for payback for the 20-point beat down Georgetown handed them a few weeks back. Nova's a 2 seed for now and a home win today would help solidify that. Prediction: Villanova 77, Georgetown 70.
#10 Louisville (19-3, 7-2) at #4 Virginia (20-1, 8-1) 7PM, Charlottesville, VA, ESPN
It's back to big boy business with this one, as Virginia looks to maintain its 1 seed status and Louisville seeks to improve its current 3 seed resume. Prediction: Virginia 64, Louisville 60.
Tennessee (13-8, 5-4) at Georgia (14-7, 5-4) 12PM, Athens, GA, ESPN2
The SEC is bubble friendly this year and Tennessee put itself on the wrong side of the bubble with their recent home loss to Mississippi State. A win at Georgia would put the Vols right back in the discussion and also hurt Georgia's current 8 seed standing. Prediction: Georgia 63, Tennessee 55.
Illinois (15-8, 5-5) at Michigan State (15-7, 6-3) 12PM, East Lansing, MI, ESPN
The Illini are on the outskirts of the bubble, but aren't out of it. They'll need a couple of big wins going forward to go along with their previous good wins over Baylor and Maryland. The Spartans will look to avoid being someone else's big win as well as improve their own plight by moving up from that 8/9 game. Prediction: Michigan State 71, Illinois 60.
Creighton (11-13, 2-9) at St. John's (13-8, 3-6) 12PM, New York, NY
This one is all about the Johnnies. They are squarely on the bubble, just hanging on in my latest bracketology. They can ill afford any more bad losses, so with all due respect to Creighton, who beat St. John's in Omaha and is coming off a win at Xavier, this is a must-win. Prediction: St. John's 74, Creighton 64.
Temple (16-7, 7-3) at Memphis (14-8, 6-3) 1PM, Memphis, TN, ESPNN
The Owls are a complicated case. They have a decent RPI, but only one real good win (Kansas by 25) and multiple bad losses, a couple to good teams. I have them on the outside looking in. They can't afford another bad loss and losing this one would be that. Memphis is off the radar. Prediction: Temple 68, Memphis 66.
Purdue (15-8, 7-3) at Minnesota (13-9, 3-7) 3PM, Minneapolis, MN, BTN
The Boilermakers have quietly put themselves seriously in the discussion, after four straight wins, including victories over Iowa, Indiana and Ohio State. Minnesota has been a disappointment this year, but is very capable of playing spoiler. Prediction: Minnesota 77, Purdue 72.
#23 Texas (14-8, 3-6) at Kansas State (12-11, 5-5) 4PM, Manhattan, KS, ESPN
Texas is falling and falling fast and is in desperate need of a win to avoid falling to double-digit seed status. Kansas State had been making a strong push towards a tourney bid before losing three straight and four of five. Prediction: Texas 72, Kansas State 71.
Alabama (13-8, 4-5) at LSU (16-6, 5-4) 6PM, Baton Rouge, LA, ESPN2
LSU looked to be in good shape until they lost back-to-back games at Mississippi State and to Auburn. Now, they are hanging on by a thread. Bama would love to take their spot, which is conceivable if they can get a couple of solid road wins such as this one. Prediction: Alabama 63, LSU 61.
Harvard (12-5, 4-1) at Yale (14-6, 5-0) 7PM, New Haven, CT
Thanks to the Ivy League not having a postseason tournament, this is a huge game. Yale can take a two game lead on the Crimson with a win. Harvard is coming off an overtime victory over Brown last night, while Yale took care of Dartmouth pretty easily. Prediction: Yale 67, Harvard 66.
#19 SMU (17-5, 9-2) at Tulsa (17-4, 10-0) 8PM, Tulsa, OK, ESPNU
This game is big for both teams, but probably bigger for Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane have yet to record a truly good win, despite their 10-0 league record. SMU is coming off a disappointing home loss to Cincinnati. A win for Tulsa likely gives them some breathing room from the "last four in." Prediction: SMU 64, Tulsa 59.
#1 Kentucky (22-0, 9-0) at Florida (12-10, 5-4) 9PM, Gainesville, FL, ESPN
This one is all about Florida, since Kentucky almost certainly remains a 1 seed even with a loss. A Florida win, on the other hand, likely equals a get in the tournament free card. Currently, the Gators are right on the doorstep. Prediction: Kentucky 70, Florida 60.
Other games of note...
Marquette (10-12, 2-8) at Seton Hall (15-7, 5-5) 12PM, Newark, NJ, CBSS
#18 VCU (19-4, 9-1) at St. Bonaventure (12-8, 4-4) 2PM, St. Bonaventure, NY, NBCS
DePaul (12-12, 6-5) at #24 Butler (17-6, 7-3) 3:30PM, Indianapolis, IN, FS1
Other Top 25 games:
Texas Tech (12-11, 2-8) at #12 Iowa State (16-5, 6-3) 2PM, Ames, IA, ESPNU
#11 North Carolina (17-6, 7-3) at Boston College (9-12, 1-8) 3PM, Chestnut Hill, MA, ESPN3
#15 Oklahoma (15-7, 6-4) at TCU (14-8, 1-8) 3PM, Fort Worth, TX, ESPNN
#6 Arizona (20-2, 8-1) at Arizona State (11-11, 3-6) 4:30PM, Tempe, AZ, FOX
Northwestern (10-12, 1-8) at #5 Wisconsin (20-2, 8-1) 5:30PM, Madison, WI, BTN
Drake (6-16, 4-7) at #14 Northern Iowa (21-2, 10-1) 8PM, Cedar Falls, IA, ESPN3
Missouri State (7-14, 3-8) at #17 Wichita State (19-3, 10-1) 8PM, Wichita, KS, ESPN2
#13 Utah (16-4, 7-2) at Colorado (11-10, 4-5) 10PM, Boulder, CO, Pac12N
#2 Gonzaga (22-1, 11-0) at San Francisco (7-15, 3-9) 11:30PM, San Francisco, CA, ESPN2
Vegas Pick (7-6):
Arizona -8.5 at Arizona State
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