If you are a hoops fanatic, there is no better time of year. Some of us who write on here would contend that if you have a pulse there is no better time of year. We are now nearing the end of Championship Week. Bubbles are bursting, Cinderellas are either emerging or crashing out, and every game matters. If you intend to spend the day planted on the couch, here's what to catch.
The day starts off with two bids being awarded in games that tip at 11:30. Albany faces Vermont in the America East Conference final on ESPN2. Neither team is getting in without a win. Over on CBS, Memphis plays Southern Miss in the Conference USA final. Memphis is in no matter what, but Southern Miss probably needs a win. It's a soft bubble this year, and the committee could do something weird, but the Golden Eagles can't take that chance.
Next up come a whole host of semifinals. Alabama meets Florida in an SEC that is woefully weak this year. Florida is in no matter what, Alabama is in if they win. That tips at 1 on ABC. Also tipping at 1 is NC State against Miami on ESPN. Both teams are already in, but the Hurricanes have their eyes on a possible one seed. At 1:30 Butler tips against Saint Louis in our very own Atlantic 10 on CBSN. Both teams are in no matter what, but cheering for Butler to lose is always good fun. Finally, Wisconsin will take on Indiana at 1:40 over on CBS. Both are already in.
More semifinals in the big six. Dez Wells and Maryland take on UNC in a game slated to tip at 3 on ESPN. Dez' 30/6/3 last night carried the Terps over Duke, but not into the tournament. Maryland needs to beat NC (a lock) to get in. Vandy and Ole Miss are schedule to tip on ABC at 3:30. Vandy is only going dancing if they win, but Ole Miss probably needs to win this one, and maybe the tournament, to make it. Watch this game, if only for Marshall Henderson.
After that, at 4, comes UMass and VCU. UMass is right on the cut line right now, so a win over VCU gets them in. The Rams, who aren't as good as people think, are a lock. Michigan St. and Ohio St. tip right after that on CBS. It's the Big 10, they're both in, go grab a snack or something. After that come two finals. At 4:30 on ESPN2 perennial 16 seed Prairie View meets Southern for a bid. At 5 on ESPNU North Carolin A&T gets Morgan St. with a berth on the line.
Moving west now, we start at 6 on ESPN with Kansas and K-State playing yet another semifinal. Both teams are locks already, but this will be hotly contested anyway. At 6 on CBS, the Mountain West final pits UNLV against New Mexico. Both are in regardless of the outcome. At 6:30 on ESPN2, Ohio takes on Akron in the MAC final. Brian Walsh suits up for the Zips, who almost certainly need to win after Alex Abreu's drug trafficking charge and a loss to Buffalo destroyed their at large hopes. Ohio is nowhere near the bubble, so this is also their season.
At 8:30 in a game that you can probably only watch on pirated feeds, Houston Baptist plays Chicago St in a final that means nothing. The conference will have one member (NJIT) next year and doesn't receive an auto bid. In games that matter, the Big East final is Syracuse and Louisville at 8:30 on ESPN. Both are, obviously, in no matter what. In the Southland final (on ESPN2 at 8:30) Northwestern St. takes on Stephen F. Austin in the only chance either has at making the field. Weber St. and Montana find themselves in the same position when they tip at 9 on ESPNU.
The Big West final tips at 10:30 on ESPN2, with UC Irvine and Pacific both vying for the auto bid. Despite Pacific's win over Xavier, neither team is getting an at large. In the WAC final Texas-Arlington takes on New Mexico St. at 11 on ESPNU. Neither team is going anywhere unless they win this one. Tipping at the same time over on ESPN is Oregon against UCLA with the PAC 12 on the line. Both teams are in no matter the outcome, but this may be worth a watch if only to hear how clueless Bill Walton is about things that aren't happening right in front of him.
That's the college ball action today. By the time you see this, Albany and Vermont will already be playing for their tournament lives.