Northern Iowa vs. Wichita State Headlines Set of Decisive O26 Weekend Games

Posted by Tommy Lemoine on February 28th, 2015

We’re just days away from the postseason, yet several leagues with imminent conference tournaments remain up for grabs heading into this weekend. Let’s take a look at the most crucial match-ups on tap – games that will decide top seeds — highlighted by the de facto Missouri Valley championship game on Saturday.

Atlantic Sun

  • Stetson (9-20, 3-10) at North Florida (19-11, 11-2) – 7:00 PM ET, ESPN3, Saturday. North Florida completed a sweep of Florida Gulf Coast on Wednesday and can clinch the No. 1 seed – and home court advantage in the A-Sun Tournament – by beating Stetson on Saturday. KenPom gives the Ospreys a 96 percent chance of doing just that.
  • Florida Gulf Coast (21-8, 11-2) at Jacksonville (9-21, 3-10) – 2:00 PM ET, ESPN3, Saturday. After losing at home earlier this week, Dunk City needs some help. The Eagles should handle lowly Jacksonville on Saturday, but then it’s a matter of hoping Stetson pulls off the stunner later that night.

Big South

High Point and Charleston Southern will square off for the Big South's top seed. (Laura Greene /

High Point and Charleston Southern will square off for the Big South’s top seed. (Laura Greene /

  • High Point (22-7, 13-4) at Charleston Southern (18-10, 12-5) – 4:30 PM ET, Saturday. After all the craziness and parity (earlier this month, seven teams in this league were tied for first place), the Big South championship and top seed come down to this one game. High Point breezed past the Buccaneers in January and will earn its second straight outright conference title (third overall) if it beats them again, but Charleston Southern – led by 5’8’’ point guard Saah Nimley (20.8 PPG) – is 12-2 at home this season and owns the tiebreaker should it win. Plus, who knows – this game could also decide whether Nimley or High Point’s John Brown (18.2 PPG) garners Player of the Year honors.

Colonial Athletic

  • Drexel (10-18, 8-9) at William & Mary (18-10, 12-5) – 2:00 PM ET, Saturday. For William & Mary, it is simple – beat Drexel and you clinch both a share of the CAA title (at least) and the No. 1 seed in Baltimore next week. KenPom gives the Tribe a 90 percent win probability, which should probably be higher in the wake of Drexel’s most recent rash of injuries.
  • UNC Wilmington (17-11, 12-5) at Elon (13-17, 5-12) – 7:00 PM ET, Saturday. After finishing last in the CAA last season, UNC Wilmington can claim a share of the regular season title by beating Elon on Saturday. Since the Seahawks were swept by William & Mary, though, they need the Tribe to stumble in order to clinch the top seed. If both the Tribe and Seahawks lose? Northeastern and James Madison could also claim a share of the crown, but William & Mary would own any and all tie-breakers.

Horizon League

  • Oakland (16-14, 11-4) at Green Bay (21-7, 11-4) – 2:00 PM ET, ESPN3, Saturday. Valparaiso’s road win over Cleveland State last night gave the Crusaders the regular season championship and the top seed. Spots two and three are still up for grabs in this one, though, as the winner will receive the other double-bye to the semifinals in the eight-team tournament.

Missouri Valley

With everything on the line, can Seth Tuttle and the Panthers beat Wichita State again? (Travis Heying / The Wichita Eagle)

Can Seth Tuttle and the Panthers beat Wichita State in Koch Arena? (Travis Heying / The Wichita Eagle)

  • Northern Iowa (27-2, 16-1) at Wichita State (26-3, 16-1) – 2:00 PM ET, ESPN, Saturday. How big is this game? ESPN’s College GameDay will be there – Jay Bilas and all. More importantly, the winner clinches the outright Missouri Valley championship and notches a huge, resume-bolstering victory just two weeks before Selection Sunday – something Wichita State might really need. In a recent podcast episode, CBS Sports bracket guru Jerry Palm suggested that if the Shockers lose to Northern Iowa this weekend and lose again in next week’s conference tournament, their dearth of quality wins could prevent them from making the Big Dance altogether. The good news for Gregg Marshall is that his team hasn’t lost in Koch Arena since February 27, 2013, and big man Darius Carter – who was dealing with back pain earlier in the season – put together a 20-point, 11-rebound performance against Indiana State on Wednesday. He will need to do a better job this time around against Panthers forward Seth Tuttle, who torched the Shockers for 29 points in a dominant victory back in January. Expect a better defensive effort from Wichita State on Saturday and a more competitive game overall, one closer to the pressure-packed, back-and-forth grinder a lot of us are hoping for. But even if it doesn’t live up to the hype, don’t fret – Arch Madness is only six days away.

Patriot League

  • Bucknell (17-13, 12-5) at American (15-14, 8-9) – 12:00 PM ET, Saturday. If Bucknell beats American, it wins the outright conference championship and plays on its home court throughout the Patriot League tournament. Of course that’s easier said than done against a glacially-slow Eagles unit that’s only twice lost at home this season. The Bison won by 10 in their first meeting, but that was all the way back in December.
  • Lehigh (16-12, 10-7) at Colgate (14-16, 11-6) – 2:00 PM ET, Saturday. Your eyes aren’t deceiving you; Colgate, the sub-.500 team, is in position to claim a share of the league title and earn the No. 1 seed (by virtue of sweeping Bucknell) if it beats Lehigh and the Bison lose on Saturday. The Mountain Hawks come in hot after crushing Bucknell by 19 earlier in the week, however, so don’t be shocked if the Raiders drop this game at home.
Tommy Lemoine (250 Posts)

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