The NCAA Tournament doesn’t get going until March 19, but for the real college hoops fans, the days leading up to Selection Sunday is when the madness really begins. Over the next two weeks teams will fight for the postseason lives. Bubbles will burst and tickets will be punched, and Cinderellas will be born. This is the real March Madness.
Today is the day. 13 automatic bids will be handed out today, the most of any day during Championship Week. The day is highlighted by the final game in the Big East for both Syracuse and Louisville. Make sure to keep your eye on the MAC championship, where Akron and Ohio meet in a battle between current powerhouse and former champ.
Today is the last Saturday of the non-March Madness portion of the 2012-2013 college hoops season.
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Here’s what to watch for on Saturday.
Game of the Night: Kansas State vs. Kansas
You know what they say about beating the same team three times in the same season, right? The Jayhawks will go for the sweep against their Sunflower State rivals. Because of Duke’s loss to Maryland on Friday night, a spot on the top line in the NCAA tournament could be for grabs.
– Watch this too: Michigan State vs. Ohio State
The Buckeyes and Spartans meet in a rematch of last year’s title game. Ohio State enters the game having won six-straight. Both teams held serve on their home courts during the regular season. Can Aaron Craft shut down Keith Appling again? Can the Spartans reduce DeShaun Thomas’ offensive production?
Player to Watch: Dez Wells, Maryland
There is not a more athletic and dynamic combo-guard in the country than Maryland’s Dez Wells. When the sophomore is match-up nightmare when he asserts himself into the game, and he’s done just that in the Terrapins two previous ACC tournament games. In the quarterfinals against top-seed Duke, Wells scored a career-high 30 points to keep the Terrapins tournament hopes alive for another 24 hours. He’s going to have to repeat his performance against North Carolina, who swept the regular season series with the Terps.
He’s good too: Chaz Williams, UMass
The Brooklyn-native has played his best basketball of the season in front of his family and friends at the Barclays Center this week, propelling upstart UMass into the Atlantic-10 semifinals agaisnt VCU. The one-on-one match-up between Williams and VCU defensive mastermind Briante Weber will be fun to watch and may detrmine whether or not the Minuteman can sneak in the back door of March Madness.
America East Conference Finals
11:30 a.m. – Alabany (4) vs. Vermont (2)
Atlantic Coast Conference Semifinals
1 p.m. – North Carolina State (5) vs. Miami (1)
3 p.m. – Maryland (7) vs. North Carolina (3)
Atlantic 10 Conference Semifinals
1:30 p.m. – Butler (5) vs. Saint Louis (1)
4 p.m. – UMass (6) vs. VCU (2)
Big 12 Conference Finals
6 p.m. – Kansas State (2) vs. Kansas (1)
Big East Conference Finals
8:30 p.m. – Syracuse (5) vs. Louisville (2)
Big Sky Conference Finals
9 p.m. – Weber State (2) vs. Montana (1)
Big Ten Conference Semifinals
1:40 p.m. – Wisconsin (4) vs. Indiana (1)
4 p.m. – Michigan State (3) vs. Ohio State (2)
Big West Conference Finals
10:30 p.m. – UC-Irvine (4) vs. Pacific (2)
11:35 a.m. – Southern Mississippi (2) vs. Memphis (1)
Great West Conference Finals
8:30 p.m. – Houston Baptist (4) at Chicago State (3)
Mid-American Conference Finals
6:30 p.m. – Ohio (2) vs. Akron (1)
Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Finals
5 p.m. – North Carolina A&T (7) vs. Morgan State (5)
Mountain West Conference Finals
6 p.m. – UNLV (3) vs. New Mexico (1)
Pac-12 Conference Finals
11 p.m. – Oregon (3) vs. UCLA (1)
Southeastern Conference Semifinals
1 p.m. – Alabama (4) vs. Florida (1)
3 p.m. – Vanderbilt (10) vs. (3) Ole Miss
Southland Conference Finals
8:30 p.m. – Northwestern State (2) vs. Stephen F. Austin (1)
Southwestern Athletic Conference Finals
4:30 p.m. – Prairie View A&M (4) vs. Southern (1)
Western Athletic Conference Finals
11 p.m. – UT-Arlington (4) vs. New Mexico State (3)
You can find Troy Machir on Twitter at @TroyMachir