The final weekend of college basketball’s regular season is here for many of the power conferences, and the first NCAA Tournament ticket will be punched with a conference tournament championship set to tip off on Saturday night.
We saw a light slate of college hoops on Friday without any power conference teams in action, but there were some notable conference tournament results for the mid-major conferences.
Saturday is setting up to be a fantastic day of hoops from early afternoon till late at night, and here’s a setup of what you should be taking a look at throughout the slate of games. I hope your channel-changing hand is well rested.
Bubble/Bracketology watch for Saturday, March 5
Indiana vs. Purdue — The Boilermakers escape Saturday with a 69-67 win over Indiana. It started out looking like Purdue was going to roll to this win. A 9-0 run to end the first half helped the Hoosiers stay in it and keep it close all throughout the second half. The win means Purdue will finish in the top 3 in the Big 10 conference heading into the tournament. Illinois takes on Iowa later in the day. If Illinois loses, Purdue would jump to No. 2 in the Big 10.
The loss for Indiana could cost the Hoosiers a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Indiana would need to make up for this loss in the Big 10 tourney.
Tennessee vs. Arkansas — The Vols almost blew a 24-point lead but were able to hold off the Razorbacks in a matchup of top 15 teams on Saturday. Tennessee took home the win 78-74, which could drop Arkansas down in the top 25 poll before conference tournament play next week. UT is 23-7 and 14-4 in conference play. It looks like Auburn will roll to the regular-season title with a win over South Carolina on Saturday. The Vols win could help them stay ahead of Kentucky in the SEC standings.
The Tigers and Crimson Tide are going to OT in their matchup on Saturday. This game has some bubble implications with LSU at 20-10 and a chance to get a win over a ranked team before the end of the regular season.
Last night’s bubble watch
- Loyola-Chicago defeated Bradley: The Loyola-Chicago Ramblers have made a name for themselves with impressive runs in the NCAA Tournament in recent years, and they have a real shot at an at-large bid, but they advanced to the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament semifinals with a 66-50 win over the Bradley Braves.
- BYU defeated Loyola-Marymount: The BYU Cougars are squarely on the bubble at this point of the season, but they took care of business in the second round of the West Coast Conference Tournament 85-60 over the Loyola-Marymount Lions.
- St. Bonaventure defeated Richmond: The St. Bonaventure Bonnies avoided a loss they could not afford by taking down the Richmond Spiders 72-65 on Friday as they get ready for the Atlantic-10 Conference Tournament.
- Morehead State defeated Belmont: The Belmont Bruins’ hopes to reach the NCAA Tournament likely ended with a semifinal loss in the Ohio Valley Conference to the Morehead State Eagles 53-51.
Games to watch today
- North Carolina vs. No. 4 Duke: The final game for Mike Krzyzewski at Cameron Indoor Stadium will be the story of the day in college basketball as the best coach in college basketball history calls it a career. In terms of what it means for this season, Duke still has a shot at claiming a No. 1 seed, and this is a massive game for the North Carolina Tar Heels as they continue to live a life on the bubble.
- Morehead State vs. No. 22 Murray State: The first conference tournament title game will take place on Saturday night as the Ohio Valley Conference champion will be crowned at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2. Fans of teams on the bubble should be very interested in this one because the Murray State Racers going to be an NCAA Tournament team no matter what happens. Morehead State would steal a spot in the big dance if they can pull off the upset.
- No. 21 Texas vs. No. 6 Kansas: The Big 12 champion is a three-team race heading into the final day of the conference’s regular season with the Kansas Jayhawks and No. 3 Baylor Bears at the top of the standings with the No. 12 Texas Tech Red Raiders just one game back. The Jayhawks’ streak of 14 straight regular season conference titles ended a few years ago, and they will look to end the “drought” of having just one Big 12 Championship in the last three seasons with a win over the Texas Longhorns, which beat Kansas in Austin last month.
Bubble teams from BracketWag.com
Big Ten 8
Big East 7
Big 12 6
Mountain West 4
Missouri Valley 2