The regular season comes to and end this weekend, but not before some truly spectacular games are played. There are a staggering number of games worth paying close attention to, watching with rapt interest, and of course betting on. Many of the games will tell us how teams are feeling heading into back-to-back tournaments. Here, in order, are my picks for the 10 best games of the weekend:
10. Florida at Kentucky – The only game on this list from Sunday. As it stands now, Kentucky is probably in the tournament, and Florida is probably out. The selection committee would likely love to have the defending champs in though, and they will be looking for any excuse to include them. A nice win over Kentucky combined with a decent conference tournament win would probably be enough. This game will tell us how much Florida cares.
9. Cincinnati at UConn – Cincinnati isn’t a good team, but they are giant killers. They have wins over Louisville, Pitt and West Virginia, and they cam within a point of UConn last time they met. UConn is coming off a mystifying loss to Providence, and is looking to preserve their tournament seeding (probably a four, though the loss didn’t help). UConn needs a solid showing here for the sake of their confidence, and the confidence of bettors for that matter.
8. Kansas State at Iowa State – Michael Beasley is unquestionably the most exciting player in the country, and almost a lock for top pick in the draft this year. That means that this tournament is our only chance to see him. Right now K-State is probably headed for an eight seed and a tough first round matchup. For the sake of seeing more than one game, I would love to see the Wildcats climb up a seed or two, but to do that they need a huge win here and a deep tournament run.
7. Kansas at Texas A&M – The Aggies are a good team that have had a very bad last three weeks. I can’t stand Kansas, so any chance to see them beat is a good thing in my mind. The Aggies have the talent to contend here, and Kansas has looked vulnerable lately when they have been pushed. I expect the Jayhawks to win, but I would be very happy to be proven wrong.
6. Richmond at Xavier – I have a lot of faith in Xavier, but that faith was seriously put to the test in that mess of a game on Thursday night at St. Joe’s. They never really showed up until it was too late, and they threw away a game they should have won in their sleep. Before I pencil Xavier in deep on my brackets I want them to prove to me in this game and in the conference tournament that Thursday’s game was just a fluke and not a trend.
5. Wisconsin at Northwestern – This one is interesting in a train wreck sort of way. Wisconsin is probably the best chance the Big Ten has this year, and they have rounded into form recently by beating up on four of their last five opponents. Northwestern is just plain awful – they have just three wins over the last 19, and they are hardy against the elite of the country – a struggling Michigan, Texas Pan-American and Chicago State. If Wisconsin is in the right mood this one could get really, really ugly.
4. St. Joe’s at Dayton – The A-10 hasn’t lived up to the potential it looked like it had in the middle of the season. They will likely have two tournament bids, but at one point it looked like they might have as many as five. These two teams are two that have been disappointing. St. Joe’s is right on the bubble, and could get in with a win here and a big conference tournament. Dayton needs more than that. This should be a slugfest between two desperate teams.
3. Stanford at USC – Stanford has a win over UCLA in the palm of their hands on Thursday night, but they threw it away. Now they have to bounce back in just two days and find a way to handle O.J. Mayo and his Trojans. Not an easy task, but made a bit easier by the fact that the Trojans are coming off a tough overtime game on Thursday night, too. Stanford won the first time these teams met (though they didn’t cover). The home team will be looking to change that this time.
2. UNC at Duke – What is their not to like about this game? The teams hate each other, the coaches have been talking smack, and a number one seed could be on the line. If you aren’t excited about this game then you aren’t a college basketball fan. To add to the intrigue, Duke hasn’t lost at home all year, and UNC is unbeaten on the road.
1. Louisville at Georgetown – A true gem to find a winner in the Big East. Louisville is perhaps the hottest team in the country, but Georgetown is far from a slouch. Louisville won fairly easily the first time the two teams played, but Georgetown will be looking to change that here. David Padgett versus Roy Hibbert could be a battle of the titans.
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