March Madness: 23 Saturday games with the most at stake in the NCAA tournament picture
Here's what’s at stake on Saturday, Feb. 24 in college basketball:
Michigan at Maryland, 12 p.m. ET, ESPN: Michigan needs to beat Maryland and then hope Nebraska loses Sunday to Penn State to get the fourth seed in the Big Ten tournament and receive the double bye. The Terrapins are still searching for a signature Big Ten win, and if you’re looking for a sleeper in New York City next week don’t ignore the Terps.
Marquette at DePaul, 12 p.m. ET: The Golden Eagles are on the fringe of the bubble. This is the game they cannot lose.
Providence at Georgetown, 12 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network: The Friars are going to make it, at least by my look at the numbers. But they need to start playing well again and the Hoyas have become a stern test of late.
Baylor at TCU, 12 p.m. ET, ESPN2: One of these two teams may get left out of the field. This is a clear separation type of game for them in the middle of the Big 12.
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Wichita State at SMU, 2 p.m. ET, ESPN: The Shockers are one game behind Cincinnati and get the Bearcats at their place to end the season. Beat SMU and that game will have even more meaning.
Louisville at Virginia Tech, 1 p.m. ET, CBS: The Cardinals could be the odd team out of the ACC. To avoid that they must get a signature road win and stop their two-game slide. The Hokies look strong enough to me to get in on their own.
Oklahoma State at Texas, 2 p.m. ET, LHN: These are the ultimate bubble teams in the Big 12. The Cowboys have played exceptionally well on the road in big games this season. The Longhorns have been inconsistent, too.
Villanova at Creighton, 2:30 p.m. ET, FOX: The Bluejays absolutely must get this game. They may be the least stable of the Big East teams. Beating Nova would likely clinch a bid and eliminate stress. Creighton has been close but has had issues closing games. That has to change.
USC at Utah, 2:30 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network: The Utes are my team to make a late run for a bid — but Utah has to win out. The Utes knocked off UCLA. They have to win this one, too, before they host Colorado next week.
Texas A&M at Vanderbilt, 4 p.m. ET, ESPN2: Texas A&M will be the toughest team to select/seed for the committee since it's been all over the map this season. The Aggies have lost three in a row. This could be a crushing fourth loss if they aren’t prepared.
Kansas at Texas Tech, 4:15 p.m. ET, ESPN: The Jayhawks have a chance to win their 14th straight Big 12 title by knocking off the Red Raiders. With a Texas Tech win, the Red Raiders will be tied with Kansas and would win the tiebreaker due to a season sweep. But a two-game lead with two to go would essentially mean a 14th title for the Jayhawks.
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Washington at Cal, 4:30 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network: The Huskies lost at Stanford. Their at-large chances could be toast if they get swept in the Bay Area.
Arkansas at Alabama, 6 p.m. ET, SEC Network: Alabama is in. Arkansas should be, as well. But the Hogs put themselves in a bit of a tenuous position with a home loss to Kentucky. The Razorbacks need to show well here.
Kansas State at Oklahoma, 6 p.m. ET, ESPN2: The Sooners need to get a win. Period. Oklahoma has lost six in a row and is 6-9 in conference play. Kansas State is 9-6 in the Big 12. There is no way anyone saw that coming a month ago.
Syracuse at Duke, 6:15 p.m. ET, ESPN: The Orange have missed chances at home against North Carolina and NC State. Asking Syracuse to beat Duke at Cameron would be too much to demand. But the Orange could help their cause with a strong showing.
Harvard at Penn, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN3: Top two seeds could be on the line in the Ivy League tournament. Both teams will make the four-team playoff, but positioning is still unknown.
Gonzaga at BYU, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN2: The Zags have a chance to win the WCC outright with a win at BYU. That would be yet another significant accomplishment for Mark Few’s crew after losing at home to Saint Mary’s last month.
Arizona State at Oregon State, 8 p.m. ET, ESPNU: The Sun Devils are trying to avoid the Oregon sweep and get back to .500 in the Pac-12. The Sun Devils have never been consistent in the conference. It would help if they could start in the final three games.
St. Bonaventure at VCU, 8 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network: The Bonnies got the one win they had to have against Rhode Island. But they cannot afford a slip and give the selection committee a reason to leave them home. This would be another strong statement on the road.
Missouri at Kentucky, 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN: The Wildcats played their best game of the season at Arkansas last time out. Mizzou slumped against Ole Miss at home. The Wildcats will likely look to avenge the earlier loss in Columbia and reset the narrative on them heading into the SEC tournament.
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Auburn at Florida, 8:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network: The Tigers are looking to win the SEC. That alone is an amazing statement based on the preseason predictions and the depleted roster. Florida has been floundering and is in danger of not making the tournament. Knocking off Auburn would do wonders for the Gators' confidence and resume. They need something positive here late in the season after losing three in a row.
Arizona at Oregon, 10:15 p.m. ET, ESPN: The Wildcats beat Oregon State in overtime in Corvallis without Allonzo Trier. This one would be even tougher to grab shorthanded. But Arizona has been resilient. Beating the Ducks in Eugene would stand out for the committee.