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Huge Games on Tap For College Hoops Championship Week

The regular season has given way to the college basketball postseason. We’re in conference tournament week leading up to Selection Sunday on March 14 and the revelation of the brackets for the 2021 NCAA Tournament. This was the week of the season which was never completed in 2020. The pandemic hit on Thursday of Championship Week, stopping the conference tournaments and preventing the NCAA from releasing a bracket. There was no Selection Sunday or NCAA Tournament, so this year’s return to March Madness is going to be treasured. Let’s look at the conference tournament matchups and the college basketball odds we’re looking forward to.

ACC Tournament Second Round: North Carolina State Wolfpack vs. Syracuse Orange

Greensboro, NC (Wednesday, March 10)

D.J. Funderburk of the North Carolina State Wolfpack attempts a shot against Abdoul Karim Coulibaly of the Pittsburgh Panthers
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images/AFP

Both aee bubble teams, but Syracuse has a slightly better position than North Carolina State. The loser will clearly be out of the running for the NCAA Tournament. There is zero debate about that point. The winner would probably then need to beat top-seeded Virginia in the ACC quarterfinals on Thursday to have a real chance to make the NCAAs. This is a game with a noon start in Greensboro.

Big East Tournament First Round: Butler Bulldogs vs. Xavier Musketeers

New York (Wednesday, March 10)

This game is a bubble game for Xavier. The Musketeers lost to both Georgetown and Marquette to significantly hurt their at-large chances for March Madness. Xavier must at least make the Big East semifinals to have any realistic chance at an at-large bid, and probably needs to make the final on Saturday to feel somewhat confident. If Xavier fails to win two games in the Big East Tournament – this game and then the Thursday quarterfinal – the Musketeers will not get in the field of 68.

Big 12 Tournament First Round: Iowa State Cyclones vs. Oklahoma Sooners

Kansas City (Wednesday, March 10)

The Oklahoma Sooners were ranked in the Top 10 three weeks ago. They went on a midseason run in which they picked off numerous high-quality teams. They have beaten West Virginia twice, Alabama once, Texas once, and Kansas once. West Virginia and Alabama are likely No. 2 seeds in March Madness. Texas is a likely No. 4 seed. Those are great wins. However, Oklahoma has lost four straight in the cutthroat Big 12 and the Sooners have been a disappointment in the sportsbook. They’ve lost close games to Kansas State, Oklahoma State twice, and then Texas. Oklahoma was therefore dragged down to seventh place in the Big 12 standings, forcing the Sooners to have to play a first-round game in the Big 12 Tournament against the 10th seed in the conference, Iowa State. Oklahoma was in second place in the Big 12, so that fall to seven was substantial. Oklahoma needs to win this game to avoid falling any further in terms of its seed for the NCAA Tournament. Most experts put the Sooners at a No. 5 seed right now, but it could fall to No. 6 if the Sooners lose here.

Pac-12 Tournament First Round: California Golden Bears vs. Stanford Cardinal

Las Vegas (Wednesday, March 10)

The Stanford Cardinal were projected to be in March Madness three weeks ago, but they have gone into a tailspin, losing five of their last seven games, including losses to Washington State and Oregon State. The only wins Stanford has gained in those contests were against a bad Washington team and a mediocre Utah team. Neither win improved the Cardinal’s resume; those merely prevented Stanford from losing more ground. Stanford is the highest-seeded Pac-12 team (No. 6) which is playing in the first round. The Cardinal likely need to win four games in four days to make the NCAA Tournament. Maybe they could earn a slight chance at an at-large if they make the final on Saturday, but they have lost so much ground that they will probably have to win the tournament championship. This game against California might seem simple for Stanford; Cal is the last-place team in the Pac-12. However, Stanford was favored over Cal in last year’s Pac-12 Tournament first round, a game played the night before the pandemic stopped the tournament and the college hoops season. Stanford was upset then, so the Cardinal can’t assume this game will be a layup.

Big Ten Tournament Second Round: Michigan State Spartans vs. Maryland Terrapins

Indianapolis (Thursday, March 11)

The Michigan State Spartans will be in March Madness. Their win over Michigan on Sunday put them in the field. Now the question is where Michigan State will be placed and seeded. If the Spartans lose here to Maryland, they could fall to the First Four on Thursday, March 18. If they win here, they will escape the First Four and go straight to the Round of 64 next weekend. Maryland is in the field. The Terps are also playing for seeding next week in the Round of 64.

Big 12 Tournament Quarterfinals: Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. West Virginia Mountaineers

Kansas City (Thursday, March 11)

This is a rematch of a game played Saturday. Oklahoma State won on the road in Morgantown by limiting West Virginia to 5-of-24 shooting on 3-pointers. Cade Cunningham, the likely No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, didn’t play. Avery Anderson filled in for him and scored 31 points. Both teams are likely top-three seeds in the NCAA Tournament, so this is a tremendous matchup for a conference tournament quarterfinal game.

Big East Tournament Quarterfinal: Seton Hall Pirates vs. St. John’s Red Storm

New York (Thursday, March 11)

These teams played Saturday, with Seton Hall grabbing an 18-0 lead… and blowing it. St. John’s won comfortably to hurt Seton Hall’s at-large chances. Seton Hall probably needs to win the Big East Tournament to make the field of 68. St. John’s is in the same position.

Big 12 Tournament Quarterfinal: Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. Texas Longhorns

Kansas City (Thursday, March 11)

The Red Raiders swept the Longhorns in the regular season. They will try to go 3-for-3 in tournament play. Both teams are playing for seeding position in March Madness. Texas is currently projected as a No. 4 seed, Texas Tech at No. 5 or No. 6. If Texas loses, the Longhorns could fall to a No. 5 seed.

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