March is coming! In the final days of February, teams are in the home stretch before conference tournaments.
In the latest installment of the college viewing guide, B5Q gives you a breakdown of the top games to watch from February 27 to March 3.
**Please note that team records are reflective as of Thursday morning 2/27/20**
Thursday, February 27
The two hottest teams in the Big Ten square off in this marquee game. Wisconsin is hoping to get a huge road win to keep pace for second place in the conference, while Michigan aims to continue their ascent up the standings. This is a huge opportunity for each team.
Purdue has been tough at home this season. With a in-state battle on tap, Mackey Arena should be rocking. Indiana has done their best to claw back into NCAA Tournament contention, but they can’t afford a loss to Purdue this late in the season. Can Purdue spoil the Hoosier momentum?
Other Thursday games of note:
- Illinois Fighting Illini at Northwestern Wildcats at 7 p.m. CST on BTN
- No. 23 Ohio State Buckeyes at Nebraska Cornhuskers at 8 p.m. CST on ESPN2
- Arizona Wildcats at USC Trojans (19-9) at 9 p.m. CST on ESPN
Friday, February 28
Grasping at straws here a bit, but this is likely the best game of the night. With a very weak slate of games on Friday night, I recommend using your time elsewhere so that you can watch the more pressing games on tap Saturday.
Saturday, February 29
No. 16 Penn State (21-7) at No. 18 Iowa Hawkeyes (19-9) at 11 a.m. CST on BTN
Rarely does Big Ten Network get as juicy of a match up as this, but here we are. Two of the top teams in the conference face off in a huge game in the conference race bright and early. This game should be very entertaining.
Other Saturday morning games of note:
- Texas Longhorns at No. 22 Texas Tech Red Raiders at 11 a.m. CST on ESPN
- Providence Friars at No. 12 Villanova Wildcats at 11 a.m. CST on FOX
TCU has really struggled in Big-12 play as of late, but they were able to upset West Virginia at home recently. This is probably the best of the early afternoon games before Marquette plays, and Baylor is a fun team to watch.
No. 13 Seton Hall (20-7) at Marquette Golden Eagles (18-9) at 1:30 p.m. CST on FOX
Marquette has a big chance to get a statement win as the regular season winds down. Seton Hall is a projected top four seed, and playing to keep it that way. Can Marquette feed off the home court energy at the Fiserv Forum?
Kentucky has been one of the best teams in the country all year long, and have their sights set on potentially sliding up to earn a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament. The AP polls have been rather hesitant to crown Auburn as a legitimate threat throughout the season on the other hand. Both squads are fighting atop the SEC standings, so this game has major ramifications.
Duke is another team vying for a 1-seed in the Big Dance. The reigning champions though will welcome them to town with a chance to really bolster their own postseason resume. Virginia will definitely be up for this game, but so will the Blue Devils.
Proceeding the Duke versus Virginia game is this doozy. Maryland has a quick turnaround after nearly falling to Minnesota on the road. Maryland was able to go into East Lansing and steal a victory last time these two met, can the Spartans return the favor?
Sunday, March 1
No. 10 Creighton Bluejays (22-6) at St. John’s Red Storm (14-14) at 11 a.m. CST on FS1
Creighton has won five straight, including wins over Seton Hall, Marquette and Butler. A win over Saint John’s, and Creighton will keep pace for a chance to secure a Big East regular season championship.
Both teams are tied, along with Tulsa, for the top spot in American. Houston may be the lone ranked team in the conference, but Cincinnati has also been stellar this season. Cincinnati won the matchup between these two squads, it will be interesting to see who exits victorious in round two.
Indiana Hoosiers (18-9) at Illinois Fighting Illini (18-9) at 1 p.m. CST on BTN
A pair of 18 win teams meet on Sunday afternoon with the hopes of improving their stock in the Big Ten. Illinois is in a spot to still finish within the top three within the conference with a strong finish, while Indiana is fighting for their tournament lives.
No. 19 Michigan Wolverines (18-9) at No. 23 Ohio State Buckeyes (18-9) at 3 p.m. CST on CBS
After hot starts, both teams endured a rough patch once conference games started up. Lately though, the Wolverines and Buckeyes have been surging, and are both back in the thick of things in the Big Ten. This is the type of game that could continue the momentum rolling in a positive way.
Minnesota Golden Gophers (13-14) at Wisconsin Badgers (17-10) at 5:30 p.m. CST on BTN
The Badgers are back at home next week for two games. First up, Minnesota on Sunday. Despite the highs and lows off of the court for Wisconsin, they are in the mix for a top four finish still. This is a must win game.
Monday, March 2
N.C. State Wolfpack (17-11) at No. 7 Duke Blue Devils (23-5) at 6 p.m. CST on ESPN
A tertiary rivalry of in-state schools, Duke is the overwhelming favorite against the Wolfpack at home. Unfortunately, there are very few games on though, so this is the best of the early games Monday night.
No. 22 Texas Tech Red Raiders (18-10) at No. 2 Baylor Bears (25-2) at 8 p.m. CST on ESPN
One of the last remaining chances for Baylor to stumble on their schedule, the Red Raiders have had a great season this year. After a Cinderella run in the tournament last year, can they get a huge road upset over a dominant Baylor team?
Tuesday, March 3
No. 9 Maryland Terrapins (23-5) at Rutgers Scarlet Knights (18-11) at 6 p.m. CST on BTN
Rutgers has slid a bit in the Big Ten standings lately, but they are still one of the best teams talent wise. With a long front line, they are very good inside and on the boards. Maryland has pulled away as the best, and most consistent team in the conference, but they been beatable on the road.
No. 24 Michigan State (19-9) at No. 16 Penn State (21-7) at 6 p.m. CST on ESPN
Pat Chambers was extremely confident in his team at Big Ten Media Days back in the fall, and they have lived up to the hype. Michigan State on the other hand, was the prohibitive favorite to win the conference in preseason. The Spartans have not lived up to the lofty expectations, but this is the type of game that sharpens each squad for the NCAA Tournament.
Purdue Boilermakers (14-14) at No. 18 Iowa Hawkeyes (19-9) at 8 p.m. CST on BTN
Iowa needs to take care of Purdue in order to maintain their spot along the upper tier of the Big Ten. Purdue has been very up and down this season, but when they are on, they are tough. Iowa should win this game, but you never know.
Wednesday, March 4
Xavier Musketeers (18-10) at Providence Friars (16-12) at 5:30 p.m. CST on FS1
Did you know that Providence plays in the Dunkin Donuts Center? Well they do. This game isn’t necessarily that juicy, but it is the best of the early games Wednesday night.
No. 12 Villanova Wildcats (22-6) at No. 13 Seton Hall Pirates (20-7) at 7:30 p.m. CST on FS1
A slobber-knocker of a game, Villanova and Seton Hall are in for an awesome duel. Regardless of conference affiliation, this is a Sweet 16 type game and atmosphere.
Northwestern Wildcats (6-20) at Wisconsin Badgers (17-10) at 8 p.m. CST on BTN
Northwestern has been a dumpster fire this year, so the Badgers better win this one. That’s all I’ve got.
Other Wednesday night games of note: