As the college basketball season rounds into midseason form, may this countdown of the 10 must-see showdowns remaining in February and March guide the casual fan and college basketball savant alike.
Top 10 Upcoming College Basketball Games in February and March
10. St. Mary’s at Gonzaga, February 11, 2010 Breakdown: The best remaining mid-major showdown pits the West Coast Conference perennial juggernaut, Gonzaga, in a rematch against top-contender St. Mary’s College. The game will likely determine the #1 seed in the WCC Tournament and could decide the outright regular season conference champion. Look for SMC, led by 20-plus point per game scorer Omar Sanhan to keep the game close in the first half, but the Bulldogs’ superior guard play to make the difference in the 2nd Half. Prediction: 82-74 Gonzaga.
9. Duke at Maryland, March 3, 2010
Breakdown: The ACC is having a down year by typical lofty standards and this game could determine the regular season champion, if Maryland can stay in the hunt. Sensational guard Greivis Vazquez and Maryland play terrific at home and will be playing their hearts out with their seeding status on the line. Expect a shootout with the Terrapins falling in the closing minutes to the deeper, more experienced Blue Devils. Prediction: 78-73 Duke.
8. Connecticut at Syracuse, February 2, 2010
Breakdown: Connecticut is playing much better of late, in spite of underachieving to this point. Syracuse has been as impressive as any team in the country, led by player of the year candidate, Wesley Johnson. Upset special, in a rare road loss for Syracuse at the Carrier Dome. Prediction: 74-69 Connecticut.
7. Kentucky at Tennessee, February 27, 2010
Breakdown: Tennessee’s play down the stretch will determine the magnitude of this game. If Bruce Pearl can keep the Vols’ winning, Tennessee will rise to the occasion to host the Wildcats, similar to their upset of then #1 ranked, KU. John Wall and the improving Wildcat squad will refuse to back down and gear up for a stretch run in March. Prediction: 74-68 Kentucky.
6. Kansas State at Kansas, March 3, 2010
Breakdown: An in-state showdown between the powerhouse Jayhawks, and up-and coming Wildcats. Kansas owns Kansas State and everyone at home, but a slow first half gives hope to Frank Martin’s hard-nosed bunch. Beware the Phog in the second half, as the Jayhawks pull away and cement their place as the best team in the country, come conference tournament time. Prediction: 75-65 Kansas.
5. Kentucky at Vanderbilt, February 20, 2010
Breakdown: Vanderbilt has compiled an impressive SEC resume, thus far, and may still be undefeated at home when the Wildcats visit at the end of February. Upset alert, Kentucky comes out flat and loses to an inspired Commodores squad, but still wins the SEC Championship outright. Prediction: 78-74, Vanderbilt.
4. West Virginia at Villanova, March 6, 2010
Breakdown: The Wildcats host the last truly great game before the conference tournaments begin. Both teams are deep, talented and well-coached, but the experience, depth, and home-court advantage delivers a victory for Jay Wright’s explosive Big East contenders. Prediction: 77-71, Villanova.
3. Michigan State at Purdue, February 27, 2010
Breakdown: Two deep, experienced, tournament-tested teams meet to likely determine the outright Big 10 Champion. Expect a low-scoring slugfest for much of the game with Kailin Lucas and Michigan State closing out a victory in the final seconds. Prediction: 66-63, Michigan St.
2. Villanova at Syracuse, February 27, 2010
Breakdown: The two primary Big East contenders play for the conference championship in a heated, instant classic. The teams contrasting styles gives the advantage to home team, Syracuse, who execute superior half-court patience and efficiency to break the hearts of Scottie Reynolds, who misses a game-tying 3-pointer as time expires. Prediction: 74-71 Syracuse.
1. Kansas at Texas, February 8, 2010
Breakdown: The must-see game of the year. Period. Both teams have circled the lone meeting of the regular season on their respective calendars. Both teams are deep in experience, young superstars, and expect to play for a National Championship in April. The home court advantage slows Kansas’ high-powered offense in the first half, but an inspired defensive effort led by front court tandem, Cole Aldrich and Marcus Morris neutralizes the offensive output of Pittman, James, and Co. in the 2nd half. The most clutch player in the country, Sherron Collins, ignites a late-scoring fury to bury Texas and control their own destiny for the remainder of the regular season. Prediction: 74-68, Kansas.