It’s finally the time of year where you can cast an eye to the basketball standings, the bubble, and the games taking place and know that they have some bearing on those two glorious weeks in March. Xavier isn’t playing after their third shutdown, so catching the Musketeers isn’t an option. (And an excellent comment from Clarkadrummage points out that the ongoing health of the players who have tested positive should be our first concern, not missed games.) There are games aplenty for a frigid Saturday better spent inside.
Most of the conference is in action today. In fact, only Xavier, Villanova, and Georgetown don’t play today and that’s in part because Nova and Georgetown play tomorrow. The game with the most impact on the standings is Seton Hall against UConn. That game is taking place as I type this and the Pirates lead the Huskies early. The winner will take over fourth place in the conference behind Villanova, Creighton, and a 4-2 Xavier team in third.
St. John’s at Providence is also worth a watch. The Johnnies just knocked off Villanova and are starting to make some noise as a genuine contender for at least an NCAA spot. The recovery from the disaster of appointing someone who isn’t a coach as coach could be erased with a bid this season. Providence has lost two in a row and is slipping in the opposite direction. The Friars are a perennial contender for the tournament but never really a contender to do anything. Both teams need this win. Marquette takes on Creighton in a game the Golden Eagles are very close to needing.
Rest of Basketball
UK plays Tennessee on ESPN at 8pm. The collapse of the Wildcats would be complete if their rival comes in to Rupp and knocks them off. It’s hard to say whether it is karma catching up to John Calipari or just the fact he isn’t a game coach, but it’s worth a watch. Texas against Oklahoma St as well as Wisconsin-Illinois also promise to be good games from the high majors.
If some mid major ball is what you are after there is plenty of that as well. (My graduate alma mater knocked off Kent State last night to keep pace with Xavier opponent Toledo in the MAC.) In CBSN at 2pm is a game between St. Bonaventure and Saint Louis. Both are former Atlantic 10 contenders who are once again back near the top of the conference. The AAC can’t offer up much, because their best team is playing, wait, let me check this again, Our Lady of the Lake on Saturday. Penny Hardaway’s Memphis plays ECU in one of those trap games that mid-major conferences are full of.
Beyond that, there are games on all day. Even better, there are plenty of games to be had tomorrow morning as well. The Super Bowl dominates the evening, but college basketball owns the daylight hours. Find a blanket, find some coffee, and settle in.