Ten Questions to Consider: Final Regular Season Weekend

Posted by Matt Eisenberg on March 2nd, 2018

Regular season finales and conference tournaments make this a must-watch weekend of college hoops. Here are 10 questions I have for the action this weekend.

The Lowest Seed in the Big Ten Tournament is Still Alive (USA Today Images)

  1. Will the Big Ten Tournament playing a week early ultimately be advantageous? While Big Ten teams were forced to played a compacted conference season, teams will have an extra week of rest leading up to the NCAA Tournament by finishing this week. Additionally, all the committee’s eyes can be focused on the games this weekend at Madison Square Garden, something that could be favorable to any remaining Big Ten bubble teams.
  2. Can either the Atlantic Sun or Big South Tournament champion win a game in the NCAA Tournament? Florida Gulf Coast possesses the best profile from the Atlantic Sun if it could cut down on turnovers (bottom 100 nationally). This weekend would also be a good time to get to know UNC Asheville and its sharp-shooting pair of MaCio Teague and Raekwon Miller. Before #DunkCity and UNC Asheville begin dreaming of victories over power conference teams in the NCAA Tournament, they must both cut down their conference nets this weekend.
  3. Who finishes ACC play on a two-game losing streak: Duke or North Carolina? Both the Blue Devils and Tar Heels suffered last-second losses earlier in the week and are now fighting for ACC Tournament seeding. The biggest change since these two rivals played in early February has been the reemergence of Grayson Allen. Allen is averaging 20.5 PPG over his last six games.
  4. Will San Diego State make a statement against Nevada? The Aztecs have now won five straight, including a key win against Mountain West second-place Boise State. After a mid-season stretch in which San Diego State allowed an opponent’s offensive efficiency of 100 or more in eight of nine games, the Aztecs have held each of their last four opponents under 93 points. Brian Dutcher‘s team is turning the corner at just the right time.
  5. Which Los Angeles school will improve its chances of making the tournament? Both UCLA and USC have had up and down years on and off the court. The Trojans head into the game with its crosstown rival as winners of five straight, while UCLA was recently swept on the Rocky Mountain road trip. This game could typify the problem with the NCAA’s new quadrant system in that a USC win here could elevate the Trojans’ RPI enough to turn the Bruins’ earlier win over USC into a Quadrant 1 win.
  6. What must Cincinnati do to get a win at Wichita State? In its earlier home loss against the Shockers, Cincinnati’s defense struggled to slow Wichita State inside the three-point line, and the Bearcats are coming off of their worst defensive game of the season last weekend against Tulsa. To win at Wichita State, Cincinnati must find a way to slow Shaq Morris.
  7. Will Texas Tech avoid a fifth straight loss? In mid-February, Texas Tech led the Big 12 at 10-3 and was riding high among the nation’s Top 10. Since then, the Red Raiders have lost four straight and have fallen to third place in the league. One area that has haunted Chris Beard‘s defense is the three-point line, where the last four opponents have combined to shoot a sterling 42 percent from distance.
  8. Is Loyola-Chicago an NCAA Tournament team if they were to lose in the Missouri Valley Tournament? While Loyola-Chicago is one of the best shooting teams in college basketball, a single Quadrant 1 win on its resume is likely not enough to earn a Tourney bid.
  9. Will St. Bonaventure be focused following its triple-overtime thriller during the week?  St. Bonaventure’s trio of Matt Mobley, Jaylen Adams and Courtney Strickland combined for 98 of the Bonnies’ 117 points (in 148 minutes) earlier this week, but they now have to play a road game against a Saint Louis team that is 6-2 at home in Atlantic 10 play.
  10. Who puts a temporary end to its late-season struggles: Butler or Seton Hall? A loss in this game has the potential to cost the losing team several seed lines in the Big East Tournament. Paul Jorgensen remains a barometer of success for the Bulldogs this season, as he has scored 10 or more points in 15 of Butler’s 19 wins and failed to reach that mark in 64 percent of Butler’s defeats. Seton Hall held Jorgensen to just six points in its 90-87 win at Butler earlier this season.
Matthew Eisenberg (140 Posts)

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