DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The NCAA Tournament is just over six weeks away, which means it’s now crunch time for all 351 teams in the country.
Conference play is halfway done for most leagues across the NCAA, and while several teams seem to have a firm grasp on top spot, there are a plethora of teams who are still within striking distance in their respective leagues. The level of parity in league play this season has been at an all-time high, which will lead to an exciting finish in almost every conference.
Monday pits two teams who are still in the hunt for the MEAC title against one another, as the Norfolk State Spartans visit the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats in Daytona Beach, FL. It marks the second of two meetings between the programs in a span of just 10 days. With both teams within 2.5 games of first place coming into Monday’s match-up, a win would go a long way for either team.
LYNCHBURG, Va. — The Big South looks like a big mess through the first 10 games of conference play.
Coming into Thursday night’s action, three teams are tied atop the league standings at 7-3, while another two teams are just a game behind at 6-4. Overall, six of the teams in the 10-team league are at .500 or better in conference play, which means the second half of league play will be an exciting one.
Thursday night also marks the second meeting of the regular season between the Winthrop Eagles and Liberty Flames. A win for the Flames would help them take another step towards the top, while a win for the Eagles could leave them alone in first place when the night is all said and done.
As the contenders start to separate themselves from the pretenders down the stretch, each and every game is an important one. Thursday night’s tilt inside the Vines Center will tell us a lot about both the Flames and Eagles as Big South play continues to move towards the conference tournament.
Coming into Wednesday night’s action, the teams in first place and 10th place are separated by just four games. Nine teams in the league have a record of at least .500 against conference foes, adding some drama to the second half of league play as the calendars prepare to be flipped to February.
Right in the middle of the log jam are the Abilene Christian Wildcats and Lamar Cardinals. Both teams enter their tilt on Wednesday night with identical 13-9 records overall, and 5-4 records in conference play. Both teams are looking to pick up a win and separate themselves from the pack and make a move up in the standings.
With only eight teams making the Southland Conference tournament in Katy, TX, each and every game is significant.
EAST LANSING, Mich. — The race to the NCAA Tournament is heating up, and several teams are desperately looking for wins to bolster their resumes.
On Friday night, the Wisconsin Badgers have a chance to build some positive momentum and pick a marquee win that will keep them in the conversation. The Badgers are on the outside looking in at the field, and their margin for error is rather slim at best. Many have projected Wisconsin to miss the tournament altogether, and that could very well be the case.
The Badgers visit the sixth-ranked Michigan State Spartans on Friday night, and will be looking for any sort of positive outcome. A win would do wonders for them, while a loss may seal the deal on their tournament chances.
As for the Spartans, a win would be their third in a row, and they would keep pace atop the Big Ten standings with the likes of the Purdue Boilermakers and Ohio State Buckeyes. With the way the Green and White have played in their last two games, another win is expected for the home side on Friday.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Through seven games, the race for the Big Ten title is heating up.
At the top, you have the Purdue Boilermakers and the Ohio State Buckeyes, both of whom are 7-0 thus far. The Boilermakers received a first-place vote in the latest AP Top 25 rankings, while the Buckeyes are knocking on the door of the top 10.
In between the two, you have the sixth-ranked Michigan State Spartans, who are 5-2 in conference play and are looking to pick up their second straight win on Monday night when they face the Illinois Fighting Illini on the road. After a tough stretch of three games, the Spartans bounced back last time out for a big win to keep pace in the Big Ten race.
As for Illinois, they are trending in the opposite direction. They have lost five straight games overall, and are dead last in the conference at 0-7. Illinois is the only team in the Big Ten without a conference win, and they would like to change that on Monday night.
Nipping at their heels is a team that knows what it takes to win the conference title. Last year’s champion, the North Carolina Central Eagles, enter Monday night’s match-up with the Maryland Eastern Shore Hawks at 4-1 in conference play. The Eagles will look to pick up another win and keep pace with the Wildcats and Aggies atop the standings.
As for the Hawks, they are looking to put an end to their losing streak and play the role of spoiler in the MEAC. At 1-5 in conference play, Eastern Shore comes into the day in 12th spot in the 13-team league. It’s the second of three straight home games for the Hawks, and they’ll be looking to give their fans something to cheer about.