West Virginia and Marquette have opportunities to lock up bids on the road while St Mary’s face a tricky match-up at home on a busy Thursday on the bubble.
Big stakes in Big East The Backyard Brawl could prove crucial in deciding if West Virginia makes it to the Big Dance. The Mountaineers have overcome some dips in form to move inside the bubble but the job isn’t done yet. Victory at #4 Pitt tonight would mean Bob Huggins and his charges could rest easy before the Big East Tournament. The Panthers slipped up against St John’s last weekend but have been otherwise dominant in the Big East. It’s too much to expect the Mountaineers to close the deal tonight. I like Pitt to win big.
Marquette face an equally daunting task on the road to UConn. The NCAA’s sanctions on the Huskies won’t take effect until next season so it will be a full-strength Connecticut team that tackles the Golden Eagles tonight. The road to March Madness is going to be tough for Marquette and it’s going to get rougher after tonight. I like UConn to win with ease.
No mistakes allowed Gonzaga’s place as the undisputed kings of the West Coast Conference (WCC) has been in doubt ever since St Mary’s went to the Sweet Sixteen last year. The Gaels now sit atop the WCC and look poised to claim the league title outright. Victory tonight however is crucial in order to secure an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament. The Zags are on the outside of the bubble as it stands but a road win at St Mary’s would send them surging inside. The Gaels will feel the effects of that loss to Utah State in Bracketbusters if they don’t win tonight. College Basketball betting fans know that whoever loses will be a long-shot for an at-large bid. Tonight it’s win and you’re in or else win the WCC tournament. I like St Mary’s to punch their ticket tonight.
Happier times in Pauley Pavilion The task facing UCLA for the rest of the regular season is clear. Avoid bad losses and you will go dancing. The Bruins last big banana skin is at home tonight against Arizona State. The Sun Devils are just 2-12 in conference play but forced overtime in their previous contest with UCLA. After the pain of last season, the last thing Bruins’ fans need is an anxious wait on Selection Sunday. Win tonight and they can think about the Pac-10 tournament. I like UCLA to win big at home.