The final weekend of the regular season features bubble battles, league title showdowns and conference tournament games galore. Here's a look at the best matchups and projections on who will win each of them:
New Mexico at San Diego State (Saturday, 10 p.m. EST): New Mexico's rout of San Diego State at the Pit last month signified that the Lobos weren't going to hand over the Mountain West crown without a fight. Now the two league rivals meet again in San Diego with the Mountain West title at stake. The key to New Mexico's success in the first meeting was that it dominated the paint at one end and focused its defensive attention on locking down Xavier Thames at the other. Cameron Bairstow had 26 points to lead the Lobos, while Thames found the rim walled off and went 3 of 15 from the floor. San Diego State's supporting cast has done better recently making opponents pay for sending two and three defenders at Thames. That will have to continue Saturday for the Aztecs to avenge their previous loss and win the outright Mountain West crown. Projected winner: San Diego State.
North Carolina at Duke (Saturday, 9 p.m. EST): For all its inconsistency early in the season, North Carolina is on pace to garner a top-four NCAA tournament seed and the Tar Heels could even improve on that with a strong finishing kick. They also have a chance to finish alone in second place in the ACC with a victory and a Syracuse loss. North Carolina capitalized on its superior interior game and on ice-cold shooting from Duke to win the first matchup this season, but the rematch is in Durham and the Devils should be highly motivated. Not only do they want to avenge their previous loss to the Tar Heels, they're coming off a dreadful loss against Wake Forest earlier in the week. Projected winner: Duke.
Kentucky at Florida (Saturday, 12 p.m. EST):
Whatever the formula is for emerging from a slump, it's probably not facing the No. 1 team in the nation on the road on senior night. Underachieving Kentucky has lost two of three and needed a second-half comeback to overcome poor shooting against woeful Alabama on Tuesday night. The Wildcats are all that's standing in the way of Florida all but wrapping up a No. 1 seed and becoming the first 18-0 team in SEC history. Kentucky led Florida into the second half in their first meeting at Rupp Arena, but the Wildcats will have to take better care of the ball, knock down a few jump shots and win the rebounding battle to be competitive in Gainesville. Projected winner: Florida
UConn at Louisville (Saturday, 2 p.m. EST): The last chance for Russ Smith and Shabazz Napier to make their case for AAC Player of the year is also Louisville's chance to wrap up at least a share of the league title. The Cardinals enter the final weekend of the regular season tied with Cincinnati for first place in a league they will be leaving after this year. As fun as the battle between Smith and Napier should be, the difference maker may be Louisville's home-court advantage and superior supporting cast. Montrezl Harrell is averaging 21.5 points and 9.0 rebounds in his past four games and he could have a huge day on the glass against a UConn frontcourt that isn't exactly formidable. Projected winner: Louisville.
Wisconsin at Nebraska (Sunday, 7:30 p.m. EST): When Nebraska survived a second-half surge from Indiana and emerged with an 70-60 road victory on Wednesday night, the Huskers didn't just keep their NCAA tournament hopes alive. They also paved the way for the biggest basketball game in Lincoln in years, maybe decades. Nebraska's home game against streaking Wisconsin on Sunday is probably win-and-you're-in for the Huskers. A victory would give the Huskers 11 wins in their last 14 games with Wisconsin, Michigan State, Ohio State and Minnesota among the victims. Don't expect the Badgers to make it easy though. They have a wealth of scoring options, from versatile big man Frank Kaminsky to athletic forwards Sam Dekker and Nigel Hayes to scoring guard Traevon Jackson and sharpshooter Ben Brust. Projected winner: Wisconsin.
Conference tournament title games to watch:
Missouri Valley (Sunday, 2 p.m. EST): Either Wichita State will improve to 34-0 entering the NCAA tournament, or a bid thief will upset the Shockers and steal an NCAA tournament spot from a bubble team. The Shockers are overwhelming favorites, but Indiana State and Northern Iowa have the best chance to pull an upset.
Atlantic Sun (Sunday, 2 p.m. EST): If Florida Gulf Coast is going to return to the NCAA tournament, it will have to defeat the same Mercer team it beat in the A-Sun title game a year ago. The Bears won the regular season title outright last year, split with FGCU this year and own non-league wins over Ole Miss and Seton Hall this season.
Ohio Valley (Sunday, 7 p.m. EST): We don't know who will emerge from Friday night's semifinals yet, but the best matchup would be a rematch between Belmont and Murray State. The Bruins beat the Racers in overtime in the OVC title game last March and won the only meeting between the two teams this season by three points back in early February.
Big South (Sunday, 12 p.m. EST): This wide-open league is still in the quarterfinals, so it's not yet clear who will be competing in the title game. Coastal Carolina is probably a slim favorite since it is the host.
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