Three more weekends before Selection Sunday determines who plays on and who stays home.  Fewer chances to improve one’s profile…and fewer opportunities to wash away a bad loss to one’s resume.

IDLE–

Georgetown (16-12, 7-9 Big East) after a tough loss to Marquette has to wait until Tuesday to begin its back-to-back battle against the conference elite:  hosting  #9 Creighton on Tuesday before finishing up with #8 Villanova.  This just a few weeks after playing an 11:30am game on a Saturday.  Really, are the Hoyas headed to the Big Ten or something?  Two wins puts this team right back in the bubble conversation… two losses probably sends this squad headed to the NIT.

SATURDAY–

2PM–American (17-11, 13-4 Patriot League) hosts Bucknell (15-13, 10-7)– AU beat the Bison by ten to tip off the conference campaign January 2nd…getting 24 points and 12 rebounds from Tony Wroblicky (first of six double doubles in league play for the center).  An Eagles victory plus a Boston University loss at third place Holy Cross should deliver the top seed in the upcoming conference tournament.  Unlike most other Division I leagues that means home court advantage.

2:30PM–Virginia Tech (9-18, 2-13 ACC) entertains #19 North Carolina (21-7, 11-4)…despite being behind Virginia, Syracuse and Duke in the conference standings, the Tar Heels have probably been playing the best basketball since February 1st.  The Hokies haven’t been able to beat anyone not named Miami in league play.  At least they don’t have to watch their game side-by-side with another chapter of UVa’s incredible season.

4PM– #12 Virginia (24-5, 15-1 ACC) hosts #4 Syracuse (26-2, 13-2) with the conference’s regular season championship up for grabs.  Once again we revisit 1981…when Jeff Lamp, Jeff Jones and Ralph Sampson guided the Cavaliers to the program’s first Final Four.  Jim Boeheim was in his fifth season at Syracuse that winter…eventually leading the Orangemen to a Big East Championship and the NIT Championship game (this was in the second year of the league and it didn’t have an automatic berth yet).  The Orange are a miracle 3, fortuitous steal and questionable call away from taking a 5-game losing streak into Charlottesville…while the Cavaliers have shown a finishing kick in every one of their games (even the loss to Duke).  It could get interesting with the two schools’ lacrosse teams playing tomorrow night.  I hope SU has a faceoff guy this year.

4PM–Howard (6-22, 4-9 MEAC) visits Delaware State (9-18, 5-9)…the Bison beat the Hornets in overtime December 15th without James Daniel in the lineup.  So that appears to be good news…now for the bad.  Despite their close proximity in the standings…these are two teams headed in completely different directions:  Howard’s lost five straight while Delaware State’s won five of six. 

SUNDAY–

1PM–Maryland (15-13, 7-8 ACC) at Clemson (17-10, 8-7)– Nothing gets one excited about going to the Big Ten more than one last trip to Clemson.  There is no convenient way to get there…in fact, there isn’t even an inconvenient way to get there.  This is potentially a bubble-bursting game…and not for the NCAA Tournament but for the NIT.  Both the Tigers and Terps are so far out of Big Dance contention they aren’t even mentioned in Bubble talk.  The Terps are 2-6 on the road in the ACC– with wins coming over cellar-dwellers Boston College and Virginia Tech.  Bring on that trip to Lincoln…

1PM–George Mason (10-17, 3-10 Atlantic 10) at George Washington (20-7, 8-5)– the Colonials look to sweep the Orange Line Series and further cement their at-large NCAA status (GW an 8th or 9th seed in most projection models).  A win would also keep them in contention for a first round bye in the A-10 Tournament…right now they’re in 5th place (one half game behind UMass and VCU).  The Patriots led by one at the half in the January matchup between the two schools before falling 75-69…and GMU actually has a better conference record on the road than at home.

2PM– Maryland Women (23-5, 11-4 ACC) host Virginia Tech (14-14, 4-11)  the Terps locked up a bye into the Conference Tournament by blasting Boston College 92-66 Thursday evening.  The Hokies also played well in their second to last regular season game– crushing Clemson 74-48.  Senior Day celebrates the wide spectrum of the program:  Alyssa Thomas’ #25 will be raised to the rafters, Alicia DeVaughn’s career as a three-year starter will be appreciated and Katie Rutan (after beginning her college days at Xavier) leaves with the Terp faithful finding it difficult to imagine she ever wore another school’s uniform.  But there are other players who make the difference even though they don’t play major minutes;  Essence Townsend and Sequoia Austin will get their due as well.  A win plus a North Carolina State loss to Notre Dame wraps up the #3 seed in the upcoming ACC Tournament–putting them away from the unbeaten Fighting Irish’s path to the title game.

 

 

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