March is very much here. Can you feel the madness? If not, catch a game or two this weekend. Any of the games listed here will do the trick. Watch them all and you'll be ready to fill out a bracket. Guaranteed.
Here are five games you don't want to miss (all times ET):
It's a little strange that one of these teams is unranked as they meet in their final ACC regular season game of the season. The Tar Heels actually belong back in the polls after winning six straight and pulling within one game of the second-place Blue Devils. So don't think the stakes aren't high in this one, just because North Carolina is trying to prove itself to the tournament selection committee. Roy Williams has turned to a four guard lineup with great results. Carolina's last loss was at Duke, 73-68, and it seemed to spark the Tar Heels. Duke needs another win for seeding in the ACC tournament and to stay on track for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, so there's plenty to play for on both sides. Oh, and Ryan Kelly is back for Duke, if you haven't heard.
Hard to believe this wonderful rivalry is coming to a halt. We prefer to think of it as a short separation, not an end to something so good. But the break up of the Big East Conference will bring a tear to the eye of many fans these next few days. Syracuse is headed to the ACC and Georgetown is part of the Catholic 7 breaking away from the football schools and now keeping the Big East name. Before 35,000 at the Carrier Dome on Feb. 23, Otto Porter had 33 points and Georgetown crushed the Orange 57-46. Porter may not repeat that output but Syracuse must find a way to get better shots against the difficult Hoya defense. Maybe this won't be the final memory. These two could meet again next week in the Big East tournament in New York.
Not a lot to say here other than the fact this is a must win for Kentucky. The defending national champs have lost their last two games, on the road to Arkansas and Georgia. Coach John Calipari tried to shoulder the blame after the Georgia loss, saying he has failed his players. Probably just a tactic to fire up his players for such an important game. Last year's youthful bunch embraced all that Calipari said. This year's team never matured and never became a solid team. Florida has already wrapped up the SEC regular season championship, so the Gators can think about positioning in the conference tournament and a high seed for the NCAA field. Florida hasn't won on the road since Feb. 16 at Auburn.
No. 4 Kansas (26-4, 14-3 Big 12) at Baylor (17-13, 8-9) (Saturday, 6 p.m., ESPN) By the time Kansas takes the floor, the Jayhawks will know the result of the game between Kansas State and Oklahoma State. The bottom line is a win for Bill Self and his team means at least a share of the Big 12 title – for the ninth consecutive year. That's amazing, but that's the goal. Even if Kansas and Kansas State remain tied for first in the conference standings, the Jayhawks would get the top seed by virtue of winning both head-to-head matchups with K-State. The Wildcats would love to grab the trophy away from rival Kansas. The last time K-State won conference crown was the Big Eight in 1976-77. Of course, Oklahoma State is very tough at Gallagher-Iba Arena. And Baylor knows a win over the Jayhawks could possibly earn the Bears an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. There's plenty of motivation to go around.
|Michigan's Trey Burke|
No. 2 Indiana (25-5, 13-4 Big Ten) at No. 7 Michigan (25-5, 12-5 Big Ten) (Sunday, 4 p.m., CBS) It seems every Indiana game against a conference foe is the game of the year in college basketball this season. This one might really be the big one. The Hoosiers could have wrapped up their outright Big Ten championship on Senior Night in Bloomington but Ohio State wouldn't have it. The Buckeyes spoiled Indiana's party with a 67-58 win. So now Indiana has to win at Michigan or settle for sharing. Indiana has lost two of its last three. But the Wolverines have lost three of their last seven. Indiana beat Michigan 81-73 at Indiana earlier in the season, There's a lot to be decided here. Both teams want the best seeding situation for the conference tournament. And both are in the running for at least No. 2 seeds in the NCAA tournament. Michigan's Trey Burke might be the national player of the year but Indiana's Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo are in the running as well. This could be an instant classic and perfect prep for March Madness.