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The college basketball season is heading toward the home stretch.Conference play is in full swing as teams vie for both conference tournament and NCAA tournament positioning.
With football season winding down it’s time you got ready for some quality college hoops. UNC-Duke, Michigan St.-Ohio St., and a few matchups that may surprise you make the list.
After a few solid recruiting classes, head coach Tom Crean finally has Indiana back near the top of the Big 10. Unfortunately for Hoosier fans, though, Jared Sullinger plays for Ohio St. Both teams are sure to get somewhere between a 1 and 3 seed come March and if Indiana's buzzer-beating upset of Kentucky earlier this season is any indication, this will definitely be worth watching.
The Big East race may once again come down to the conference's biggest rivalry. Both Syracuse and Georgetown have spent a large part of the season ranked in the top 10. Their February 8 matchup at the Carrier Dome will carry NCAA Tournament seed implications and also put the winner in the driver's seat for a Big East Tournament bye.
In this second game of the year between Baylor and Kansas an all important 'quality win' will be up for grabs. The Bears and Jayhawks are evenly matched on both ends of the floor: they are the top shooting teams in the Big 12 while also ranking in the top third of the league in opponent's field goal percentage. Each team will focus on neutralising the other's star -- Thomas Robinson (KU), Perry Jones (BU) -- putting pressure on Kansas's guards or Baylor's other forwards to come up big.
Neither team is a tournament lock, so either one of these bracket busters would get a big boost from the selection committee with a win. Plus, West Coast Conference bragging rights will be on the line. Pay special attention to the Elias Harris (Gonzaga) - Rob Jones (St. Mary's) matchup. Both could are sure to steal headlines come tourney time.
This year's UNLV team is reminding many of the old Jerry Tarkanian teams that went to multiple NCAA tournaments and won it all in 1990. San Diego St. is a legitimate squad as well, hanging out in the top 25 for weeks now with four players averaging double figures in points. It may be a Mountain West battle, but if either of these teams wins the conference, expect them to get a very high seed in the western regional.
No one is surprised anymore by the overall strength of the Missouri Valley Conference. A tournament bid will absolutely be up for grabs in this game. Creighton already defeated Wichita St. in a grind-it-out battle earlier this season that saw the teams combine to shoot just 38% from the floor. Creighton sophomore forward Doug McDermott (24 points, 8 rebounds per game) is a name you have to remember.
No surprise here, as we have another Big East game featuring top 25 teams making the list. The individual matchups in this game will be plenty fun to watch: Shabazz Napier vs. Scoop Jardine, Andre Drummond vs. Fab Melo, Jeremy Lamb vs. Brandon Triche. The meeting in Storrs will be the second game between the two northeast powerhouses after a February 11 showdown in Syracuse.
Need we say more? Tobacco road ALWAYS has a say in who will win the ACC and as a result, who gets a higher seed come tournament time. North Carolina's Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zeller, and John Henson? Or Duke's Austin Rivers, Seth Curry, and the Plumlee brothers? We can't wait!
Florida is the only team that stands in the way of Kentucky winning the SEC regular season title. Expect this one to go into the 80s, as both teams rank in the top 20 in the nation in points per game. Although John Calipari's young squad is a popular Final Four pick, don't sleep on the Gators. They've been tested in close road losses at Syracuse and Ohio St. and a home win against Texas A&M.
This will be the second time Ohio St. and Michigan St. face off in 2012, but what better way to finish the Big 10 regular season? Future first round draft picks Jared Sullinger and Draymond Green hope to put an exclamation point on the season by leading their respective squads to victory. In typical Big 10 fashion this should be somewhat of a defensive battle. We'll say first team to 65 wins.
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