Feb 22, 2012, 1:25 PM EST
All times ET. Television guide via here.
Game of the Night: West Virginia @ No. 20 Notre Dame, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
There was a time this season where it looked like the Mountaineers were going to be the second best team in the Big East. That was before they lost five out of six, nearly playing their way out of the NCAA Tournament. Bob Huggins team did pick up a huge win over Pitt on Saturday, going into the Peterson Events Center and smacking the Panthers around by 18 points. Hopefully, that will be the spark that snaps West Virginia out of their funk, because they have two games to prove their mettle to the selection committee. After their rematch with Notre Dame, WVU hosts Marquette on Saturday and surging South Florida to close out the regular season. Their profile is probably weaker than some folks believe, making this week — and this game, they only have decent road win — vital.
Who’s getting upset?: No. 6 Michigan State @ Minnesota, 8:30 p.m. (BTN)
The beauty of playing in the Big Ten? Minnesota may be 5-9 in conference play, but they still have a shot at making the NCAA Tournament. Why? Because they still have three chances to pick up quality wins — home to Michigan State and Indiana and at Wisconsin. Its not going to be easy considering the fact that the Gophers are in a bit of a rut right now, but crazier things have happened. I think the Gophers come to play at the Barn tonight. I also think that there isn’t much potential for an upset elsewhere in the country tonight.
Mid-major matchup of the night: UC-Santa Barbara @ Long Beach State, 11 p.m. (ESPN2)
Long Beach State is the best team in the Big West, and that is fairly undisputed. They are currently sitting at 12-0 in league play with a three game cushion on both UCSB and Cal St. Fullerton. A win tonight guarantees at least a share of the regular season title for the 49ers. Having said all that and knowing just how talented LBSU’s point guard Casper Ware is, the best player in the conference is a Gaucho, not a 49er. Orlando Johnson is an athletic, 6’5″ guard that was built to score. He’s too big and strong from smaller defenders and he has the perimeter skills and ability to get bye bigger defenders. For all the transfers that Cal St. Fullerton has on their roster, my money is on one of these two teams winning the league’s auto-bid.
South Florida @ No. 2 Syracuse, 7 p.m. (ESPN3, Big East Network): All of a sudden this game is quite intriguing. Thanks to Georgetown’s loss, South Florida is now sitting all alone in fourth place in the Big East. Do they belong there? A strong performance tonight will give us a clue.
Nebraska @ Purdue, 6:30 p.m. (BTN): Purdue is your consummate bubble team. They have solid, but not great, computer numbers. They’ve swept all of the other Big Ten bubble teams, but they haven’t beaten anyone that’s a lock. They cannot afford a home-loss to Nebraska.
George Mason @ Northeastern, 7 p.m. (ESPN3); VCU @ UNC-Wilmington, 7 p.m.; James Madison @ Drexel, 7 p.m. (ESPNU): Do any of the top three teams in the CAA have a real shot at getting to the NCAA Tournament? If they want to continue those dreams, they cannot lose to lesser opponents.
Richmond @ St. Joe’s, 7 p.m.: St. Joe’s has been an exciting team to watch all season long, but for the first time it appears that the Hawks have a real chance of making a run to the NCAA Tournament. They cannot afford to lose this game as their profile lacks some depth.
East Carolina @ Memphis, 8 p.m.; Southern Miss @ UTEP, 9 p.m.: Both Memphis and Southern Miss are tied for first place in Conference USA. Both are also on decent NCAA Tournament footing, although another loss — over the weekend, Memphis lost at home to UTEP and Southern Miss dropped one at Houston — for either team could put that in jeopardy.
Be sure to keep an eye on
No. 19 Wichita State @ Illinois State, 8:05 p.m. (COX): The road is a notoriously dangerous place for Missouri Valley teams. Ask Creighton. Their fall from the top of the MVC started with an innocent trip to Northern Iowa.
Boise State @ No. 21 UNLV, 10:15 p.m. (CBS College): The Rebels are sliding, having lost to New Mexico and TCU on the road in their last three games. With the Lobos losing at Colorado State last night, UNLV has a chance to move back within a game of first in MWC play.
No. 22 Temple @ La Salle, 7 p.m.: Temple has taken control of the Atlantic 10 race, but this will be a dangerous game for them. A Big 5 rival having a good year on the road. That has upset written all over it.
Wyoming @ No. 24 San Diego State, 10:30 p.m. (MTN): Wyoming is a much-improved basketball team, but they have just about played their way off of the bubble. This will be a good chance for SDSU to bounce back from back-to-back losses, however. Hopefully, Jamaal Franklin’s ankle is healthy.
UT-Arlington @ McNeese State, 8 p.m.: These are the two best teams in the Southland. Arlington is currently holding a two-game lead over McNeese State. With a win, they can clinch a share of the league title.
Other notable games
- No. 5 Kansas @ Texas A&M, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
- Rutgers @ No. 10 Marquette, 8 p.m. (ESPN3, Big East Network)
- NCCU @ No. 23 Indiana, 9 p.m.
- Houston @ Marshall, 7 p.m.
- Dayton @ Duquesne, 7 p.m.
- Old Dominion @ Georgia State, 7 p.m.
- Ole Miss @ Tennessee, 7 p.m. (ESPN3, SEC Network)
- South Carolina @ Vanderbilt, 8 p.m. (ESPN3, SEC Network)
- Texas Tech @ Iowa State, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
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