In this college basketball regular season, the final week of February has arrived. March is almost here, and you can feel the excitement beginning to build. The pressure is higher, the prizes are bigger, the sense of finality more acute as teams push toward the finish line of the regular season, which has just two full weeks left. Let’s examine the best games and do your online betting using our NCAAB odds.
Alabama Crimson Tide vs Arkansas Razorbacks (Wednesday, February 24)
This is a game in which Alabama is trying to officially clinch the regular-season Southeastern Conference championship, having spent all of 2021 multiple games ahead of the rest of the pack in the SEC. Alabama is likely to get a No. 2 seed, but if the Crimson Tide can finish their regular season strongly, they have an outside chance at a No. 1 seed, joining Gonzaga, Baylor, and Michigan on the top line of the bracket on Selection Sunday.
Arkansas is safely in the NCAA Tournament. The Razorbacks are now playing for seeding position. Beating a high-end team such as Alabama will gain Arkansas an extra seed line for Selection Sunday and give the Hogs a chance to move even higher up the bracket in subsequent weeks if they can add more wins. Being able to move up one whole seed line is a big deal, so this is a high-priority game for Arkansas.
Indiana Hoosiers at Rutgers Scarlet Knights (Wednesday, February 24)
This game is a bubble game for both teams. Rutgers is in better position than Indiana in a spot for March Madness, but both teams badly need this game just the same. Indiana just suffered a brutal home-court loss to Michigan State this past Saturday, while Rutgers also lost at home over the weekend against Maryland. Whoever loses this game will have to make a run at the Big Ten Tournament if it wants any real chance at an NCAA at-large bid. This is a classic late-season pressure cooker.
West Virginia Mountaineers at Baylor Bears (Thursday, February 25)
The Baylor Bears have been on an extended COVID-19 pause in their season, so there is real uncertainty surrounding the way in which they will emerge from the interruption to their season. It is hard to play at a very high level for months, then shut everything down for a few weeks, and then restart without a hitch. Baylor will resume its schedule against West Virginia, a top-15 team with plenty of talent and a knack for making big comebacks. West Virginia has completed three comebacks of 12 points or more this season, including a 19-point comeback this Saturday against Texas in an 84-82 win. Baylor’s defense is where the Bears are strongest, and they will try to make sure West Virginia’s offense is never able to establish any kind of comfort zone on Thursday afternoon in Waco.
Iowa Hawkeyes vs Michigan Wolverines (Thursday, February 25)
The Michigan Wolverines just defeated Ohio State on the road this past Sunday, in a battle of teams fighting for No. 1 seeds. Michigan is now firmly in position for a No. 1 seed. A win over Iowa would pretty much seal that top seed for the Wolverines, since Iowa is a top-12 team which will carry value on a resume. Iowa big man Luka Garza is the leader for National Player of the Year, but he will need help from teammates C.J. Fredrick and 3-point shooting marksman Joe Weiskamp. Iowa will also have to find a way to contain Michigan’s offense, which exploded for 92 points in the big win over Ohio State. Michigan hit 8 of its first 11 3-point shots and gained a rhythm on offense Ohio State could never disrupt. Iowa, which has a relatively weak defense, will find it hard to stop the Wolverines’ high-octane attack.
USC Trojans vs Colorado Buffaloes (Thursday, February 25)
USC began the week tied with Oregon and UCLA at the top of the Pac-12. The Trojans played Oregon Monday night. USC has to go from playing Oregon to playing Colorado in the space of a few days. The Trojans are likely to be physically worn down, whereas Colorado did not play a game on Monday and should be fresher. Plus, Colorado knows how to play at altitude, while USC isn’t as used to the same experience. Colorado has a definite advantage in this game, and it already defeated USC in Los Angeles earlier in the season.
Boise State Broncos vs San Diego State Aztecs (Thursday, February 25)
This is a game San Diego State needs more than Boise State. The Broncos and Aztecs are both likely to make the NCAA Tournament, but neither team is a lock. Adding wins to the resume matters a lot and will provide insurance in case either team loses a game or two later in the regular season, or in the Mountain West Conference Tournament in March.
Oregon Ducks vs Stanford Cardinal (Thursday, February 25)
Oregon is fighting for the Pac-12 championship, while Stanford is a bubble team. The stakes are different for both teams, but very big nonetheless.
Illinois Fighting Illini vs Wisconsin Badgers (Saturday, February 27)
Illinois is trying to get a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Illini probably can’t climb to a No. 1 seed, but a 2 seed is possible. Losing to Wisconsin would likely derail that effort, so this is a high-value game for coach Brad Underwood’s group.
UCLA Bruins vs Colorado Buffaloes (Saturday, February 27)
UCLA is battling USC and Oregon for the Pac-12 title. The Bruins have a tough closing schedule, with this road game in Boulder being one such example. The Bruins have won a lot of close games this season and will probably be involved in another one in the Rocky Mountains this Saturday night.
Florida State Seminoles vs North Carolina Tar Heels (Saturday, February 27)
This game is important for North Carolina in that the Tar Heels can probably lock up a March Madness bid with a win. UNC beat Louisville this past Saturday to move to the good side of the bubble. A few more quality wins will ensure a bid for the Tar Heels.
Florida State needs this game in its pursuit of the ACC regular-season championship. The Seminoles are in good position, but they play a lot of road games down the stretch and need to remain focused on the task at hand.
Iowa Hawkeyes vs Ohio State Buckeyes (Sunday, February 28)
Another Sunday brings another big game for Ohio State, which lost to Michigan this past Sunday. The Buckeyes take on an Iowa team which played at Michigan earlier in the week. Ohio State is pursuing a No. 1 seed. A win here would represent a huge boost in that attempt for coach Chris Holtmann’s team.
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