Regular-season play is set to end this week, and teams across the country are scrambling to finish strong ahead of the NCAA tournament. A slew of ranked teams are set to play on Tuesday, and the results of some of their games could affect the tournament picture significantly. We took a look at the matchups featuring key programs worth keeping an eye on here.
No. 3 Baylor @ No. 6 West Virginia, 5:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
Baylor unexpectedly lost its first game all season against No. 13 Kansas over the weekend. The Bears should still be a shoo-in for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. The Mountaineers won’t move up much even if it does win this game, but No. 5 Iowa could be looking to improve its position. West Virginia still has to play white-hot No. 17 Oklahoma State to close out the season, and winning that matchup won’t be easy.
No. 12 Arkansas @ South Carolina, 6:30 p.m. ET, SECN
At least one No. 1 seed is still up for grabs as No. 7 Ohio State has lost three straight, and will face No. 4 Illinois in its regular-season finale on Saturday. Arkansas is one of the teams that could surpass Buckeyes at some point, but might not be able to close the gap unless they win out. Can South Carolina follow up its best offensive performance of the year with another strong showing to secure a win, or will Arkansas come on top and make things tough on the committee? Only time will tell.
Auburn @ No. 8 Alabama, 7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Auburn isn’t in the NCAA tournament picture, but Alabama is a notch above Arkansas. The Crimson Tide are actually one spot ahead of the Buckeyes in terms of NET rating. If Ohio State loses its last game of the regular season and Alabama beats Auburn and Georgia, the Tide can jump to the top of Region 4.
No. 4 Illinois @ No. 2 Michigan, 7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
Michigan has essentially grabbed hold of the No. 1 seed in Region 3, but Illinois is second to Baylor in Region 4. The Fighting Illini don’t have a shot at catching Baylor, but getting a win against a top-five team could help them edge out Houston. Any game between two top-five teams is worth keeping an eye on.
TCU @ No. 18 Texas Tech, 7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN+
Texas Tech is trending in the wrong direction and has lost three of their last five games. TCU isn’t a tournament team but managed to sweep Oklahoma State during the regular season. The Horned Frogs can play up to their competition. The Mac McClung-led Red Raiders could be in for a fight.
No. 15 Texas @ Iowa State, 7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN+
Texas and Iowa State have struggled in recent weeks. The Longhorns have lost two of their last three games, but two of those defeats came against ranked opponents. Iowa State hasn't won since December and is looking to avoid dropping a 15th-straight game. The Cyclones played the Longhorns tough earlier this season and had close calls against No. 16 Oklahoma and Baylor down the stretch in February; Texas could drop a few spots with a loss and needs a convincing win before its rematch against Oklahoma on March 4. The Sooners won by a point in the first meeting.
No. 25 Wisconsin @ No. 23 Purdue, 9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Wisconsin and Purdue are so close in the NET that this game's result probably won’t change much for either team. Both teams seem poised to fall in the middle of the pack in their respective regions. The Badgers are due to face No. 5 Iowa in their season finale however, and ending the year on a losing streak could help schools lower on the totem pole gain some ground.