***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2012
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game
#8 West Virginia @ #9 Villanova – 12:00 pm on CBS (****)
Both of these teams had the potential earlier in the year to be # 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament, but now one of them may even drop to a # 3 seed. With West Virginia ranked eighth in the country and Villanova ranked ninth, this game will probably decide who has to play a # 14 seed in the tournament (which is historically a much tougher game than a # 15 seed). This should be a great game to watch, as WVU has the sixth best offense in the country, while Villanova ranks fifth in offensive efficiency. Both teams, especially Villanova, struggle on defense. One of the few defensive standouts is Devin Ebanks, whose size previously helped force Scottie Reynolds into 1-5 shooting. Unfortunately for the Mountaineers, Reynolds scored 17 points against everybody else, and West Virginia suffered a rare home loss. WVU shot below 26 % from beyond the arc in that game, and will have to shoot closer to their 35 % season average if they want to keep up with Villanova’s offense. The Mountaineers have a bigger lineup, and if they can limit Villanova’s looks inside (VU shot 60 % from two-point range last game) they should come out with a win.
#1 Syracuse @ Louisville – 2:00 pm on ESPN (***)
For those fans who thought that Louisville’s last loss might put them out of the tournament, think again. According to RTC, U of L is safely in at this point, and it may take a loss here and an early exit in the Big East tournament for the Cardinals to be put back onto the bubble. The last ever game at Freedom Hall should be a great matchup between the top ranked Orange and the team that shocked them at the Carrier Dome a few weeks ago. In that game, U of L was the beneficiary of 30 points from their bench in a 66-60 victory. Although this game will be on the road for Syracuse, it might actually play into their hands, as they are the only team in the country without a road loss. Louisville’s 80th ranked defense may have a tough time guarding Syracuse’s attack, which ranks eighth in offensive efficiency. Wesley Johnson was just 5-20 in the last game, so look for more productivity from the fantastic ‘Cuse forward who shoots over 49 % from the floor. Although a loss here may not put the Cardinals on the “first four out” list, they may need to record at least one win in the Big East tournament to stay safe.