We’re just three weeks from Selection Sunday and reaching the stretch run of the college basketball season.
Teams are building their tournament resumes and aiming for top seeds in next month’s NCAA Tournament. Conference regular season champions are beginning to be crowned and conference tournaments will tip in the next few weeks.
As the top teams vie for top seeds and geographical advantages in the tournament, others on the bubble are fighting just to make the field of 68. There are a lot of great games this weekend that will have impact on the tournament, but I’m most excited for these five.
Baylor (9) at Kansas (5) – Saturday, 4:00pm ET
Along with Texas, Baylor and Kansas share the lead in the Big 12 with 9-4 records.
The Jayhawks, led by player-of-the-year hopeful Jalen Wilson, look to avenge their earlier loss this season to Baylor, which saw the Bears prevail 75-69 in Waco. Both teams are playing for possible No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament and have their eyes set on the Final Four.
The winner of this game will have the inside track on the Big 12 regular season title.
Prediction: Kansas 77-70
Illinois at Indiana (14) – Saturday, 12:00pm ET
There is a cluster of teams from two through nine in the Big Ten standings. Both Illinois and Indiana find themselves in this cluster and seek a win to join Purdue at the top of the standings. Both teams are locks for the tournament, but can improve their seed based on the outcome of this one.
Trayce Jackson-Davis for the Hoosiers is an All-American and dominated the Illini in Champaign earlier this season.
Prediction: Indiana 76-68
Iowa State (19) at Kansas State (12) – Saturday, 2:00pm ET
Two of the more surprising teams in college basketball this season meet up in a top-20 showdown.
Both teams need wins to continue their surge to a top seed, while the loser is most likely eliminated from regular season title contention. Jaren Holmes led the Cyclones in their last matchup with 23 points, but K-State’s backcourt duo of Cam Carter and Markquis Nowell will propose strong resistance.
Prediction: Kansas State 67-65
Tennessee (10) at Kentucky – Saturday, 1:00pm ET
It’s rare to see a blueblood like Kentucky struggling just to make the tournament, but that’s exactly where UK finds themselves.
The ‘Cats earlier season win over Tennessee is their best of the year, but it’ll likely take another to assure themselves a spot in the field. The Volunteers are reeling a bit after a strong start to SEC play but can right the ship with a win over the rival Wildcats.
Kentucky’s Antonio Reeves had 18 points in the last meeting which saw the Volunteers struggle to score. Santiago Vescovi must find a way to get going to avoid the lulls Tennessee seems to go through on offense.
Prediction: Tennessee 65-61
Michigan State at Michigan – Saturday, 8:00pm ET
It’s been an emotional week for Michigan State after the tragic events took place earlier this week.
They travel to Ann Arbor to take on bitter rival Michigan in a must-win game for the Wolverines. Michigan has had a disappointing year but a win over the Spartans will go a long way. Hunter Dickinson will need to provide a strong inside presence to combat the skill of the Spartans. Michigan State is a team that is likely in the tournament field but can probably stamp their ticket with another quality road win.
Prediction: Michigan 61-53
Here’s the full schedule for a blockbuster slate of games this coming Saturday:
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