Here are the 5 games on Saturday with the biggest NCAA tournament implications:
#7 Stanford @ Arizona
3:30 ABC/ESPN 360
If Stanford has any hope of catching UCLA for the regular season Pac-10 title, it needs this one on the road. This is its second straight game in the great state of Arizona (it lost to ASU by four on Thursday). Both teams are comfortably in the tournament, but a win like this for the Wildcats would help their tournament seeding.
My Winner – Arizona
#11 Texas @ Baylor
6pm ESPN/ESPN 360
I have three games in here because they are not only good games, but because I think three teams this week could really use a marquee win. Baylor is the first of those teams as they get a Texas team coming off of a huge win against Kansas. Beating the Longhorns now would almost solidify Baylor’s comeback into the national picture. It’s lost two straight games at Kansas and at Oklahoma State, so a win on Saturday would be a great bounce back.
My winner – Texas
#9 Michigan State @ #12 Indiana
9pm ESPN/ESPN 360
First off, Kelvin Sampson is a pig. What a bum. Anyway, the only NCAA tournament implication this game has is seeding. However, the loser of this game might as well kiss the regular season Big Ten title away as Purdue is in complete control with only one loss. Both of these teams are in the tourney, but this game is obviously intriguing because of the hoopla surrounding that pig. How will the Hoosiers respond on their home court in front of their home fans? Sampson should get booed.
My Winner – Michigan State
Florida @ #10 Vanderbilt
3pm ESPN Full Court/ESPN 360
Florida is the second team that desperately needs a marquee NCAA win. Right now people have them in the tournament as a 9 or 10 seed after that horrible home loss to LSU, but if they don’t get a marquee win soon, then people might be questioning their tournament resume. The Gators already handled Vanderbilt once at home, but this game is surely going to be different in Nashville. But the problem with Florida is that its computer numbers are awful (RPI 60 SOS 141). A rebound win at Vanderbilt will help people’s worries in Gainesville.
My winner – Vanderbilt
#8 Georgetown @ Syracuse
12pm ESPN/ESPN 360
There is no bias here. Everybody remembers last year when Georgetown came into the Dome. Syracuse beat them, the students danced on the court as if the team locked up a spot in the tournament…. fast forward to this year. The Orange finds itself in desperate need of a marquee win and the Hoyas come stomping into the Dome. At 6-6 in the conference with games at Louisville and at Notre Dame looming in the next week, this game at home is almost a must win. But don’t be shocked if Syracuse comes out on top because as Jay Bilas put it, Syracuse is the ultimate bubble team. It’ll do what it takes to stay on it (like a win over the Hoyas), but won’t do what it takes to get off of it (like beating St. Johns, Wichita State and Drexel last year).
My Winner – Georgetown