We are rolling towards the finish line, the final few weeks of the 2006 college hoops regular season. Every game matters from here on out, and teams like Indiana, Maryland, Seton Hall, and Stanford certainly know that. Each of those bubble squads will take on one of the top twenty teams in the country this weekend, and those who pick up the win will take a huge step towards a possible waltz into the Big Dance come the month of March.
MUST-SEE THIS WEEKEND
Iowa at Indiana
Neither squad was impressive in their last outing, the Hawkeyes' getting beat on the road at Northwestern while the Hoosiers' were slammed at Wisconsin. However, Iowa still leads the way in the Big Ten by a half-game, while IU finds themselves a couple games back. This conference race is going to go down to the wire, and if the Hawks are going to win it, they'll have to find a way to win on the road.
LSU at Florida
The Gators lost a stunner at home to South Carolina Wednesday and have fallen even further behind Tennessee in the SEC East. LSU, meanwhile, seems to have a firm grasp on the SEC West, but Alabama (after beating the Tigers last weekend) is itching to get back in the race. A Florida victory would keep the Gators in the hunt in the East, and the resulting Tiger loss could open the door for the Tide to make a run at the West.
Duke at Maryland
The Devils continue to lead the ACC race by a large margin, while the Terps finally snapped a three-game losing streak with a victory over Virginia earlier this week. UM is squarely on the bubble and would like to avoid falling back to .500 in league play. A Maryland victory would likely move the Terps into the field of 65 (for now, anyway) while allowing NC State to get back in the conference race.
Southern Illinois at Creighton
These two are right in the thick of things in the Missouri Valley. The Jays are tied with Northern Iowa atop the league standings heading into the weekend, while the Salukis find themselves a game back of that pair. This race is sure to right down to the final week of the season, but every game counts, not only for league title purposes but also NCAA positioning come March.
Illinois at Ohio State
The Buckeyes got a huge Thursday night win on the road at Michigan and are now right back in the Big Ten race. Both the Buckeyes and Illini are 6-3 in league play, a half-game behind league-leading Iowa. Illinois is looking to rebound from a stunning home loss to Penn State, while the Buckeyes could make a serious statement if they can complete the week with a second win over a Big Ten conference contender.
West Virginia at Georgetown
The Hoyas have now won six straight games and 13 of their last 15 overall. WVU picked up its first league loss of the year at Pittsburgh Thursday, but the Mountaineers are still tied atop the Big East standings. Georgetown, at 8-2 in league contests, is a half-game back of tri-leaders WVU, UConn, and Villanova. West Virginia would like to avoid losing two straight, while G'Town is looking to cash in on another huge RPI-building victory.
YOU'LL WANT TO CATCH THESE, TOO
Alabama at Mississippi - Saturday 2:00 PM CST
Kentucky at Vanderbilt - Saturday 2:00 PM CST
Bucknell at Holy Cross - Saturday 2:30 PM CST
UCLA at Washington - Saturday 2:30 PM CST
Nebraska at Texas - Saturday 3:00 PM CST
Iowa State at Kansas - Saturday 3:00 PM CST
Tennessee at Georgia - Saturday 3:00 PM CST
Old Dominion at Virginia Commonwealth - Saturday 5:00 PM CST
Oral Roberts at IUPUI - Saturday 6:00 PM CST
Connecticut at Seton Hall - Saturday 7:00 PM CST
Missouri State at Northern Iowa - Saturday 7:05 PM CST
Stanford at Gonzaga - Saturday 8:00 PM CST
Cincinnati at Pittsburgh - Sunday 1:00 PM CST
Marquette at Rutgers - Sunday 1:00 PM CST
North Carolina at Miami - Sunday 7:00 PM CST