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College basketball viewing guide: conference tournaments

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What are the biggest and best games on tap for the conference tournaments?

Dan Sanger

The regular some has come and gone. With Selection Sunday under a week away, teams are still jockeying for automatic and at-large berths in the Big Dance in their conference tournaments.

In addition to automatic bids being up for grabs, conference tournament performances can improve or hurt seeding in the NCAA Tournament.

With that in mind, lets look at the top games upcoming this week in conference tournament action.

**Please note that team records are reflective as of Tuesday afternoon 3/10/20**

Tuesday, March 10

Horizon League Championship Game

Illinois-Chicago Flames (18-16) vs Northern Kentucky Norse (22-9) at 6 p.m. CST on ESPN

After Illinois-Chicago pulled off the improbable and beat the No. 1 seeded Wright State Raiders, representation from the Horizon League is completely up for grabs. Can the Flames keep their magical run going, or will Northern Kentucky be dancing?

West Coast Conference Championship Game

Saint Mary’s Gaels (26-7) vs No. 2 Gonzaga Bulldogs (30-2) at 8 p.m. CST on ESPN

Saint Mary’s has improved their seeding as of late with some big wins. Gonzaga on the other hand has been one of the most consistent and most talented teams all year long. With the chance to wrap up a No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, Gonzaga will take on the Gaels for the third time this season.

Wednesday, March 11

NC State Wolfpack (19-12) vs Wake Forest/Pitt at 1 p.m. CST on ESPN

NC State is a team that is currently on the bubble. The Wolfpack are listed in the last four teams in the tournament according to Joe Lunardi, so a this is a must win for their tournament chances.

Northwestern Wildcats (8-22) vs Minnesota Gophers (14-16) at 5 p.m. CST on BTN

This game has little bearing on Wisconsin, but if you want to watch Northwestern or Minnesota lose for the final time this season, enjoy.

Nebraska Cornhuskers (7-24) vs Indiana Hoosiers (19-12) at 7:25 p.m. CST on BTN

Indiana is listed as one of the last four teams in the NCAA Tournament as things stand, but they can’t afford a loss, especially one to Nebraska. Can the Cornhuskers figure things out and get a W?

DePaul Blue Devils (15-16) vs Xavier Musketeers (19-12) at 8:30 p.m. CST on FS1

Xavier is on the outside looking in on the Big Dance, but they could greatly improve their chances with a string of wins in the Big East tournament.

Thursday, March 12

Michigan Wolverines (19-12) vs Rutgers Scarlet Knights (20-11) at 11 a.m. CST on BTN

These two teams square off for a chance to play Wisconsin. The Badgers have been playing extremely well, but both squads are solid tournament teams. This is a game to monitor for scouting purposes.

No. 24 Butler Bulldogs (22-9) vs Providence Friars (19-12) at 1:30 p.m. CST on FS1

These two Big East teams are each projected to make the NCAA Tournament currently. Each team could greatly help their seeding though with a win such as this.

Purdue Boilermakers (16-15) vs No. 19 Ohio State Buckeyes (21-10) at 5:30 p.m. CST on BTN

Purdue needs to win this game to have a chance to make the NCAA Tournament. Ohio State is probably safe at this point, but Purdue is playing to keep their season going longer into March.

No. 17 Virginia Cavaliers (23-7) vs Boston College/Notre Dame at 6 p.m. CST on ESPN

Virginia has been playing very well as of late. The Cavaliers could greatly benefit from a deep run in the ACC Tournament to improve their seeding though.

Penn State Nittany Lions (21-10) vs Indiana/Nebraska at 8 p.m. CST on BTN

Unless Indiana collapses against Nebraska, the Hoosiers and Nittany Lions will be facing off for a chance to advance on against Maryland. Penn State is obviously the favorite to advance, but Indiana has way more to play for.

Marquette Golden Eagles (18-12) vs No. 16 Seton Hall Pirates (21-9) at 8:30 p.m. CST on FS1

Marquette can’t afford to lose at this point. The Golden Eagles are firmly on the struggle bus lately, losing six of their last seven games. If they want to make sure they aren’t in a play-in game they need to win.

Friday, March 13

No. 18 Wisconsin Badgers (21-10) vs Michigan/Rutgers at 11 a.m. CST on BTN

The Badgers were able to snag the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament after winning their last eight games. Michigan and Rutgers, whoever comes out victorious, will be a tough matchup with the Badgers, but this is the type of game that Wisconsin needs to win to keep the positive vibes rolling.

No. 21 Illinois Fighting Illini (21-10) vs Iowa or Minnesota/Northwestern at 1:25 p.m. CST on BTN

A matchup with Illinois or Iowa would be fun to watch if the Hawkeyes can get past Minnesota or Northwestern. This game could potentially decide who the Badgers would play on Saturday with a win. The Big Ten tournament should be fun.

Mississippi State Bulldogs (20-11) vs Florida or Georgia/Ole Miss at 2 p.m. CST on ESPN

If things go according to plan, Mississippi State and the Florida Gators would see each other in this game. Mississippi State is heavily on the bubble, and in need of wins. A big victory over Florida would greatly help their chances of making the Big Dance.

No. 9 Michigan State Spartans (22-9) vs Purdue/Ohio State at 5:30 p.m. CST on BTN

Michigan State has vaulted back until the top-10, a space they had been a part of for the better half of the season until a rough patch in in early February. Now back to form, the Spartans are a team to watch out for in the conference tournament.

No. 12 Maryland (24-7) vs Penn State or Indiana/Nebraska at 8 p.m. CST on BTN

Maryland limped their way to a share of the Big Ten title, but they still possess one of the better collection of talent in the conference. The Terrapins hope to win in order to have a rematch with Michigan State, a game that could be extremely good.

**Note that there are semifinal conference games after 5:30 for the Big East, ACC, and Big-12 that will be of interest depending on the matchup**

Saturday, March 14

Morning games

  • American East Championship Game: 10 a.m. CST on ESPN2

Afternoon games

  • SEC semifinal: 12 p.m. CST on ESPN
  • Big Ten semifinal: 12 p.m. CST on CBS (potentially Wisconsin)
  • American Athletic Conference semifinal: 2 p.m. CST on ESPN2
  • SEC semifinal: 2 p.m. CST on ESPN
  • Big Ten semifinal: 2:30 p.m. CST on CBS

Primetime games

  • Big-12 Championship Game: 5 p.m. CST on ESPN
  • Big East Championship Game: 5:30 p.m. CST on FOX
  • Big Sky Championship Game: 7 p.m. CST on ESPN
  • C-USA Championship Game: 7:30 p.m. CST on CBSSN
  • ACC Championship Game: 7:30 p.m. CST on ESPN
  • Pac-12 Championship Game: 9:30 p.m. CST on FS1

Sunday, March 15

  • Atlantic 10 Championship Game: 12 p.m. CST on CBS
  • SEC Championship Game: 12 p.m. CST on ESPN
  • Sun Belt Championship Game: 1 p.m. CST on ESPN2
  • American Athletic Conference Championship Game: 2:15 p.m. CST on ESPN
  • Big Ten Championship Game: 2:30 p.m. CST on CBS

Selection Time: 5 p.m. CST on CBS