Teams all across the country have worked their way onto the NCAA Tournament bubble, whether they've gotten their by strong play in recent weeks or by dropping games and causing the need for extra work as we head into the final full week of the month of February. That has created must-win games for squads everywhere in the days ahead, and that of course is the prevailing theme of this upcoming week. Here is a breakdown of what to watch for the next few days as teams make or break their 2006-2007 seasons.
Wisconsin at Michigan State
The Spartans are back even at .500 and looking good for the NCAA's, but a win like this would lock it up. And though the Badgers are a much better overall squad, a State victory could very well happen if UW is caught looking ahead to their weekend throwdown at Ohio State.
Texas Tech at Texas
The Longhorns are still just a game back of the leaders in the Big XII, while Texas Tech snapped out of their slump with two wins last week, including a huge home victory over Texas A&M, to get back even in conference play. Another win over an in-state rival would look good on the Raiders' resume.
Boston College at Virginia Tech
Both teams had disappointments in recent days, the Eagles dropping two home games last week while Tech fell hard on the road at NC State on Sunday. The Hokies are still in the ACC race if Virginia and UNC were to drop games, but for now, they just need to take care of business at home.
Alabama at Tennessee
Though many are high on the Tide, it's worth noting that they are only 6-6 in a weak SEC West at this point and still have to get two league victories to get to .500 in league play. UT, meanwhile, was humiliated on the road at South Carolina over the weekend and is just .500 themselves in conference action.
Texas A&M at Oklahoma State
The Cowboys have been fading fast in recent weeks, dropping four of their last five outings. A&M, meanwhile, is still knotted up with Kansas atop the Big XII after picking up a big weekend win over Oklahoma. At 5-6 in conference play, it's time for OSU fans to start getting nervous. This win would be huge.
Washington State at Oregon
Much like OK State, Oregon has fallen off dramatically as of late, losing six of their last eight contests. They now sit just one game above the break-even mark in Pac-10 play, while Washington State is 11-3 and just a game behind UCLA in the standings. If you're Oregon, you need to stop this drought and do so quickly.
Stanford at Southern Cal
These two look to be fighting it out for third place in the Pac-10 after both came up with huge weekend wins. USC prevailed on the road at Arizona, while Stanford was victorious against Oregon. Both look NCAA-bound, though the Cardinal's resume needs a bit more work than does USC's.
OTHER TOP MATCHUPS
Villanova at Marquette - 6:00 PM CST
Both squads are fading fast and need to get the train back on the tracks in a hurry.
Kansas at Kansas State - 8:00 PM CST
A win like this would all but lock KSU into the Big Dance.
Oklahoma at Missouri - 6:00 PM CST
At .500 in Big XII play, Sooners need a nice road win to boost their bubble dreams.
DePaul at Notre Dame - 6:00 PM CST
Both have seven wins in Big East play coming into this one.
West Virginia at Providence - 6:30 PM CST
A victory for the Friars gets them into the NCAA talk here in late February.
Northern Iowa at Bradley - 7:05 PM CST
While UNI's hopes are toast, Bradley still has NCAA Tournament potential.
Missouri State at Wichita State - 8:05 PM CST
Last week was bad for the Bears, so they need to start this one off on a good note.
Air Force at UNLV - 9:00 PM CST
Both are chasing BYU in the MWC and could use this RPI-impressing win.
Wake Forest at Georgia Tech - 6:00 PM CST
Must-win for the Jackets who are 5-7 in ACC play.
Arkansas at Auburn - 7:00 PM CST
The Hogs still have a Big Dance shot but desperately need this road win.
Georgia at Mississippi - 7:00 PM CST
Both are hanging right on the bubble. This could be UGA's eighth SEC win.
Vanderbilt at Mississippi State - 7:00 PM CST
Huge game for the Dawgs who have won three in a row. How will Vandy respond after upset of Florida on Saturday?
Florida State at Maryland - 8:00 PM CST
Definite must-win for FSU. Probable must-win for UM, who has won three straight.
Michigan at Illinois - 8:00 PM CST
Both are hovering around .500 in Big Ten play. Wolves need it more.
NC State at North Carolina - 8:00 PM CST
Tar Heels, tied for ACC lead, seek revenge from earlier loss in Raleigh.
Purdue at Iowa - 8:05 PM CST
Must-win for both squads as each is right near .500 in Big Ten action.
Washington at Oregon State - 8:00 PM CST
Must-win for the Huskies who are now 6-8 in Pac-10 play.
Duke at Clemson - 8:00 PM CST
Tigers, now 5-7, are in serious danger of finishing below .500 in ACC action.