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February 19, 2006

SCS.comIt's hard to believe it, but this is the last full week of February. That's right; nearly 20% of 2006 is gone, and a much larger portion of the college hoops season has already passed us by. Not that the biggest of hoops fans mind, however. And why? Because that means March Madness is almost here, and a large number of teams seem to be having trouble closing the deal on their plans for the upcoming month. The good news, though, is that they've still got a chance to make their case, and what better time to start than this week...please?!


Tennessee at Florida
Wednesday 7:00 PM CST

The Gators missed out on a chance to close the gap with UT when the Vols lost at Alabama this past weekend, as the Gators themselves dropped an overtime matchup at Arkansas. Still, a victory in Gainesville Wednesday night would move UF to within one game of Tennessee in the SEC East standings with three contests remaining for each. At the same time the Vols are trying to win the East, they are also battling LSU for an overall SEC title. Both UT and the Tigers currently have matching 10-2 conference records. And don't forget NCAA seeding, as each is also fighting for top placement when the pairings are announced in just a few weeks.

Ohio State at Michigan State
Wednesday 7:00 PM CST

Four Big Ten teams, including the Buckeyes, have just four league losses, while the Spartans find themselves only a game behind those teams with five conference defeats of their own. OSU has won five of their last six, while MSU is coming off of a weekend trouncing of in-state rival Michigan. Though the Buckeyes have dropped three games on the road in Big Ten play, none of those losses have come by more than five points, meaning the Spartans' work will not be easy on Wednesday night. A MSU win, however, would keep the team in the running for at least a share of the conference championship.

North Carolina at NC State
Wednesday 8:00 PM CST

The Wolfpack continues to hold the second-best record in the ACC behind league-leading Duke, while North Carolina comes into this contest playing about as well as anyone in the league, except for possibly the Blue Devils themselves. UNC has won six of their last seven, that one defeat coming at the hands of Coach K's squad. NCSU, meanwhile, has very quietly gone about their business, winning six of their last seven while awaiting a chance to make a move if Duke were to slip up somewhere along the way. Doesn't look like that'll happen, but this should be a great, in-state battle nonetheless.

UTEP at Memphis
Wednesday 9:00 PM CST

Conference USA, outside of the Memphis Tigers, has received very little attention this season. At first glance, one would assume that UM is running away with the league, but look again and you realize that UTEP is just one game back of the Tigers while UAB is just two back. The Miners, who have lost just once since January 11, are fighting for their NCAA lives and trying to improve what right now is a very poor RPI rating. A victory over the third-ranked Tigers would certainly help that cause while also catching the attention of those that matter across the country.

Villanova at Cincinnati
Thursday 8:00 PM CST

After an outstanding week that saw them defeat both Connecticut and Georgetown, the Villanova Wildcats will take the outright Big East lead into the new week. 'Nova is now 21-2 overall and has lost just once in conference play. Cincinnati, meanwhile, improved its NCAA hopes tremendously with a 2-0 mark last week, taking the Bearcats a game above .500 in conference play with three matchups left on the slate. A win here on Thursday would likely solidify UC's slot in the Big Dance next month. And speaking of the Dance, if the Wildcats' success continues, look for Jay Wright's squad to earn a one-seed when the pairings are announced in just three weeks.


West Virginia at Syracuse - Monday 6:00 PM CST
  'Cuse Tourney hopes still alive; this one would be huge.

Oklahoma at Texas Tech - Monday 8:00 PM CST
  Sooners need to prove they can win away from home consistently.

Seton Hall at St. John's - Tuesday 6:00 PM CST
  Pirates slipping slightly towards bubble if they lose a second straight.

Boston College at Virginia - Tuesday 6:00 PM CST
  Win here would keep the Cavs' Tournament hopes alive.

Illinois at Michigan - Tuesday 6:00 PM CST
  This is the kind of win that could make the Wolves a lock for NCAA play.

Texas A&M at Missouri - Tuesday 7:00 PM CST
  Aggies trying to make one final NCAA push. This one is a must.

Alabama at Arkansas - Tuesday 8:00 PM CST
  Hogs looking for second straight big win to boost their Tourney hopes.

Virginia Tech at Miami - Wednesday 6:00 PM CST
  Hurricanes' slim bubble hopes will collapse without victory over Hokies.

Charlotte at Massachusetts - Wednesday 6:00 PM CST
  Must-win for 49ers to keep NCAA at-large hopes alive.

Akron at Miami (Ohio) - Wednesday 6:00 PM CST
  Zips tied for MAC East lead; Hawks 1 game back and winner of 6 straight.

Penn State at Indiana - Wednesday 6:00 PM CST
  Remaining NCAA hopes of IU would vanish with another loss to PSU.

Texas at Kansas State - Wednesday 7:00 PM CST
  Horns trying to stay in front of KU. KSU has won four of last five at home.

Colorado at Nebraska - Wednesday 7:00 PM CST
  Buffaloes need to prove they can win on the road before March gets here.

LSU at Vanderbilt - Wednesday 7:00 PM CST
  Win over West-best LSU would help the Dores' dancing aspirations.

Mississippi at Kentucky - Wednesday 7:00 PM CST
  'Cats looking good, but can't afford a slip-up just yet.

Bradley at Northern Iowa - Wednesday 7:35 PM CST
  Must-win for Braves to keep slim at-large hopes alive.

Maryland at Florida State - Wednesday 8:00 PM CST
  These teams are all over the bubble. Loser's hopes take huge hit.

George Mason at Hofstra - Thursday 6:00 PM CST
  Pride could open the eyes of many with win over the Colonial's best team.

South Carolina at Georgia - Thursday 6:00 PM CST
  Gamecocks have little, if any, margin for error from here on out.

UNC-Wilmington at VCU - Thursday 6:30 PM CST
  UNCW looking to earn NCAA berth and possibly a Colonial title as well.

California at Washington State - Thursday 7:30 PM CST
  Bears must beat upset-minded Cougs to keep pace in the Pac-10.

Wisconsin at Northwestern - Thursday 8:00 PM CST
  Badgers want to avoid anymore disappointing losses.

Stanford at Washington - Thursday 9:30 PM CST
  Cardinal need to take advantage of RPI-building opponents.

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