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College basketball weekend preview: Virginia goes for ACC conference title

Michigan knows they can win the Big 10
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

If Friday night’s Iona vs. Manhattan game is any indication of the kind of basketball we’ll see this weekend, then college basketball fans are in for a treat. Emmy Andujar helped lead the Jaspers to a 80-77 overtime victory. The Iona Gaels will win the MAAC but last night’s victory set the stage for a very exciting conference tournament.

Now let’s see what we have in store for Saturday’s college basketball action.

Here are the updated NCAA Tourney Bracket projections.

Five Star Games *****

Syracuse vs. Virginia (4:00 p.m. ESPN)

If Virginia wins, the Cavaliers will win the ACC regular season title. Their only loss in conference was to Duke eons ago. Since then, they have dominated the ACC in wins and on the scoreboard. The last two wins have come by 21 and 25 points. Yet, they’ve only scored 70 and 65 points in those games. Yes. The defense is that good.

For Syracuse, nothing has come easy lately. Even if they get a double digit lead, it’s likely that the Orange will be in a battle to the final buzzer. They stopped their two game losing streak by beating Maryland on the road. Now they need to win today and their final two games for any chance of the best record in the ACC.

Doug McDermott leads 10 players in Naismith Award Semifinals.

Louisville vs. Memphis (2:00 p.m. CBS)

No one should be surprised by the late February surge that Louisville has displayed once again. The Cardinals have won seven in a row, but they have a great challenge to finish the season. Russ Smith hit a game winning shot against Cincinnati, and they blew out Temple. Louisville is looking to win the AAC outright. If they do, they are a possible #1 seed when the brackets come out.

Memphis lost to Houston on the road, but that can all be erased if they complete the sweep against Louisville. The way the season’s been going, they’ll get a classic victory down the stretch, but the Tigers should know Louisville has been on a revenge tour.

Missouri State vs. Wichita State (2:00 p.m. ESPN)

There’s no doubt that the Missouri Valley wants to maximize its exposure. Wichita State will be flirting with history when they take the court for their final game of the regular season. If they win, they’ll be (31-0) entering the conference tournament. In the first game, Missouri State had an 18 point halftime lead, yet they still could hold off the Shockers in a decisive second half. Can Missouri State finish the deal this time?

Four Star Game ****

Cincinnati vs. Connecticut (12:00 p.m. ESPN)

We have another American Athletic Conference game that should go down to the wire. Shabazz Napier and the Huskies have their final chance to keep pace with the top of the league. He just might get a triple double in the game today. That’s the type of impact he’ll need to beat Cincinnati.

Sean Kilpatrick was named to the Naismith Award semifinal, and his play has been spectacular for the Bearcats. Cincinnati needs to win to at least stay atop the conference standings.

Creighton vs. Xavier (5:00 p.m. Fox Sports 1)

Whenever you have a chance to see Doug McDermott and the Creighton Blue Jays perform, go for it. The Musketeers could use a home win of this magnitude to secure some points for the NCAA tourney selection committee.

Creighton is vying for the Big East title with three games remaining. Two of the games are on the road, but they Blue Jays do have the tie breaker over Villanova.

Kansas vs. Oklahoma State (9:00 p.m. ESPN)

The Jayhawks can win the Big 12 outright with one more win. There’s talk of Kansas still becoming a #1 seed, but they might have to win out. Oklahoma State needs this win badly. If they get win here, it’s likely that Oklahoma State will be a lock for the NCAA tourney with 20 regular season victories. The Cowboys have won two straight since Marcus Smart returned from a three game suspension.

Texas vs. Oklahoma (4:00 p.m. ESPN Full Court)

The Longhorns have taken a little dip late in the Big 12 schedule. They beat Baylor in a close game, and they can stay tied for second place with Iowa State if both teams win. However, if Oklahoma picks up the home victory, the Sooners will be tied with Texas in conference play.

Other Games to watch ***

LSU vs. Florida (4:00 p.m. CBS)

The Tigers did everything except beat Kentucky last weekend. If they get the road win over Florida, LSU will have at least a .500 record in conference play. More importantly, they’ll have a legitimate shot for an At-Large bid. The Gators will be looking to stay undefeated, and hold on to the No. 1 ranking.

St. Louis vs. VCU

The Rams need this home win badly. They are currently tied for third place in the Atlantic 10, but they could fall to as low as sixth place. Saint Louis lost a game after winning 19 straight. Maybe they were looking ahead to the showdown with VCU, but the Billikens are likely to lose that top 10 ranking.

Iowa State vs. Kansas State (7:00 p.m. ESPNU)

If you want see a lot of scoring, then pay attention to Iowa State. With three games left, the Cyclones haven’t scored fewer than 70 points this season. They are tied for second place, but they are only a game ahead of Kansas State. By the end of the night, Kansas State could be in a four way tie for second place.

Minnesota vs. Michigan (6:00 p.m. Big Ten Network)

When you’re a bubble team, the best thing you can do is win. Minnesota has the chance to get a huge victory on Saturday. The Wolverines were prime for the upset earlier in the week, but they forced overtime, and a game winning shot by Glenn Robinson III snatched a victory. Let’s see if the Gophers can go on the road and win a tough one.

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