Friday, March 2, 2012

Road to the 2012 Final Four in New Orleans

It's finally March! The final weekend of the regular season will be very entertaining with conference championships and conference tournament seedings (as well as national seeding, of course) on the line across the country. This past week also started Champ Week, with the smaller conferences starting their conference's tournaments, making for some interesting games and some unexpected upsets. I will provide you with a few key games over the weekend to look out for as we get ever so close to Selection Sunday (March 11). Enjoy, and make sure to check out some of the action over the weekend, prepping yourself for the "madness" that is the month of March.

Stars for the Game
1- Check the Box Score
2- Last couple of minutes
3- Could be Watchable
4- Watchable
5- Must See Basketball

Saturday Lineup

Pittsburgh Panthers (16-14, 5-12 Big East) vs. Connecticut Huskies (17-12, 7-10 Big East)

The defending National Champs go up against a team that was a #1 seed a year ago, both teams struggling during this tough season. The Huskies and Panthers two teams that are usually NCAA teams every year, the Huskies are clinging to hope of a final spot in the NCAA tournament, while the Pitt Panthers are looking like a NIT team. This game provides us with UCONN Head Coach Jim Calhoun's return to the sideline (been out most of the season suspension/health issues). The Huskies are in need of a W heading into the Big East Tournament as they continue to hold on to hope in making the NCAA tourney and defending their title. Stars- 2

#18 Louisville Cardinals (22-8, 10-7 Big East) vs. #2 Syracuse Orange (29-1, 16-1 Big East)

Can the Orange reach 30 win's before the beginning of the Big East Tournament? The Orange of Syracuse host Louisville on Saturday afternoon at the Carrier Dome. In the first meeting, the Orange escaped out of Louisville back on Feb. 13, winning 52 to 51, holding the Cardinals scoreless in the final two minutes of the game. Syracuse looks to have locked up a #1 seed in the national tournament but, would like to continue their momentum heading into the postseason. The Cardinals have had some recent success beating the Orange at the Carrier Dome in past seasons. Stars- 4

Game of the Weekend
#6 North Carolina Tar Heels (26-4, 13-2 ACC) vs. #3 Duke Blue Devils (26-4, 13-2 ACC)

UNC-Duke, Rivalry Game, ACC Title on the line, potential #1 national seed, revenge factor, Senior Night, did I miss anything? Haha, this game marks the 6th time that the two teams meet in the season finale with the ACC Regular Season Championship going to the winner of this game (UNC 3-2 in those such games). An Instant Classic back in early February at the Dean Smith Center, when the Tar Heels blew a double digit lead in the final 2.5 minutes, capped off by an Austin River's 3-pt bucket at the buzzer, Duke 85-84. Clearly, its UNC-Duke and it should be another classic meeting between the two teams. Stars- 5

Sunday Lineup

Noon CBS
#1 Kentucky Wildcats (29-1, 15-0 SEC) vs. #13 Florida (22-8, 10-5 SEC)

Just like the Syracuse Orange, the #1 team in the land can reach win number 30 before the SEC tournament. The Wildcats are looking unbeatable and have been one of the best teams all season across the country. Led by a class of super freshmen and some veteran players, the Cat's are primed for a deep run this year. In the first meeting between these two teams, the Wildcats hammered the Gators at Rupp Arena, 78-58 (Feb 7). Can the Wildcats finish off a perfect SEC schedule heading into postseason play? Stars- 3

#11 Ohio State Buckeyes (24-6, 12-5 Big Ten) vs. #5 Michigan State Spartans (24-6, 13-4 Big Ten)

With the loss by the Spartans on Tuesday (to the Hoosiers) and the Buckeyes winning a thriller vs. NW Wednesday night, this meeting will decide how many Big Ten Regular Season Champs we will have this season. If the Spartans win, they will win it outright, however, if the Buckeyes pull the road upset they will share it with MSU, along with Michigan (if they win @ Penn State on Sunday). Wow, potential for THREE co-champs, no wonder the Big Ten has been the best conference in the nation this season. In the first meeting between the two teams above, the Spartans ended the Buckeyes 39-game home winning streak, beating them in Columbus, 58 to 48 on Feb. 11th. The factor in this one will be how Jared Sullinger can play vs. the Spartans offense and the guys around him knocking down some shots. Could this be the 2nd of 3 meeting between the two teams this season (Big Ten Tournament Final)? Stars- 5!

This concludes my preview of the upcoming weekend of key meetings, but there are plenty more games to watch out for, you can check out the weekend schedule right here. Weekend Watch