Ten Questions to Consider: Making Statements to Close the Regular Season

Posted by Matthew Eisenberg on March 5th, 2021

The first weekend of March brings the final weekend of the 2020-21 regular season. Seeding, both in terms of conference and NCAA Tournament positioning, is on the line as conference foes look to make a final statement before heading into sudden death territory. With pressure mounting, here are 10 questions I have for the weekend ahead:

  1. With or without Ayo Dosunmu, can Illinois carry over its performance against Michigan to this game? (Illinois @ Ohio State, Saturday, 4 PM EST, ESPN) The Illini put together one of the most impressive performances of the season on Tuesday night with their lopsided victory at Michigan. Freshman Andre Curbelo has scored 17 points in consecutive games off of the bench and senior Trent Frazier is coming off of tying his season-high with 22 points.
  2. Can D’Mitrik Trice fare better against Iowa the second time they meet? (Wisconsin @ Iowa, Sunday, 12:37 PM EST, Fox) In Wisconsin’s loss to Iowa in mid-February, D’Mitrik Trice went 3-of-15 from the field and was held to just 11 points. Trice’s offense is needed to offset the always difficult Luka Garza and Joe Wieskamp, who made 30-of-57 three-point attempts in February.
  3. Can Texas Tech lessen Baylor’s bench advantage and steal a win on the road? (Texas Tech @ Baylor, Sunday, 4 PM EST, ESPN) While Mac McClung’s 24 points matched the combined offensive production of Davion Mitchell and Jared Butler last time out, Baylor’s bench outscored the Texas Tech bench by 21 points. Limited scoring outside of McClung, combined with 20 turnovers doomed the Red Raiders.
  4. Can the Memphis defense carry the Tigers to a statement AAC victory? (Memphis @ Houston, Sunday, Noon EST, CBS) Heading into Thursday’s action, no team has a better adjusted defensive efficiency ranking than Memphis, as the Tigers have won six straight and nine of their last 10 games. Over that stretch, five Memphis opponents have been held to their lowest offensive efficiency outputs. While there are few questions about the Tigers’ defense, their offense las far behind. They will need both sides to click to beat Houston.
  5. Can UCLA’s lack of depth in the frontcourt handle USC better the second go around? (USC @ UCLA, Saturday, 4 PM EST, CBS) The Bruins were without both Cody Riley and Jalen Hill in the first match-up with the Trojans, and while Hill remains away from the team, Riley is back. A win for either team means the #2 seed in the conference tournament, while a loss likely pushes the losing team behind Colorado for the fourth seed.
  6. Will LSU defensively be able to hold up around the rim? (LSU @ Missouri, Saturday, 3 PM EST, SEC Network) Will Wade’s LSU team allows opponents to shoot 66.5 percent on field-goal attempts near the rim, which ranks among the top-20 highest percentages in the nation. For Missouri, its offensive field-goal percentage on shots around the rim ranks among the top-50 nationally.
  7. Can Colorado State avoid a slip-up in its final MWC game of the season? (Colorado State @ Nevada, Friday, 9 PM EST, CBS Sports Network) While the Rams are currently 14-3 in the MW, they travel to Nevada where the Wolf Pack are 9-2 on the season. For Colorado State, a win would keep the Rams in position to be an at-large selection a week from now.
  8. Quite simply, can Rutgers avoid disaster? (Rutgers @ Minnesota, Saturday, Noon EST, Fox) The Scarlet Knights are coming off of a horrific loss at Nebraska and now head to Minnesota to face a Gophers squad that has lost six straight games. Rutgers trailed Minnesota by four points with 2:22 to go in the first meeting, but used a 10-2 run to close the game out.
  9. Can Tennessee’s John Fulkerson find his scoring touch? (Florida @ Tennessee, Sunday, Noon EST, ESPNU) In Tennessee’s first 15 games of the season, John Fulkerson was averaging 11.2 points per game. In the eight games since February 1, Fulkerson is averaging just 5.9 points per game, having scored more than four points twice. This is clearly a problem, as Tennessee has fallen down the rankings over the same period.
  10. How close to the bubble is Ole Miss? (Vanderbilt @ Ole Miss, Saturday, 7 PM EST, SEC Network) With a win against Vanderbilt, Ole Miss would be 15-10 and 10-8 in the SEC. As of Thursday, the Rebels have a NET Ranking of #57 and, while a Quad-3 win against Vanderbilt would not enhance the Rebels’ resume, a second defeat at the hands of Vanderbilt would be crippling. In the recent loss to the Commodores, Ole Miss was 4-of-13 from deep while Vanderbilt made 11-of-23 three-point attempts.
Matthew Eisenberg (136 Posts)


Share this story

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *