It's ESPN Bracketbusters weekend and the matchups are just what the doctor ordered to determine who’s worthy and who isn’t. There are also several conference games that need to be watched.
No. 24 Wichita State (23-4) @ Davidson (20-6): This might be the best matchup of the weekend. Davidson, with a big win over Kansas in December, has flown under the radar. A win against Wichita State could cement its NCAA status. Wichita State struggled early in the non-conference, losing to Alabama and Temple. But they recovered with wins over UNLV and Creighton. The Shockers are likely in the tournament, but beating Davidson should help them as far as seeding is concerned.
No. 11 UNLV (22-5, 6-3 Mountain West) @ New Mexico (21-4, 7-2): The Runnin’ Rebels have hit a bit of a wall as it dropped two of its last three games. UNLV has already made its case for the NCAA Tournament, beating North Carolina, Illinois and San Diego State. UNLV won the first matchup between these two and would take over first place by virtue of taking the two-game series. New Mexico has won six straight, including a huge win at San Diego State on Wednesday.
No. 20 Florida State (18-7, 9-2 ACC) @ N.C. State (18-8, 7-4): Florida State has really risen since dropping three straight to Harvard, Connecticut and Michigan State in late November. Since then the Seminoles have wins over North Carolina, Duke and Virginia and can lay claim to being one of the top teams in the ACC. N.C. State lost a tough one to Duke on Thursday. The Wolfpack blew a 20-point second-half lead and eventually fell, 78-73, at Cameron. Hoops Scoops believes N.C. State is on its way to the tournament, although the Wolfpack has a rough road with the Seminoles, North Carolina and Miami over its final five games.
Kansas State (17-8, 6-7 Big 12) @ No. 9 Baylor (22-4, 9-4): This could be the last hurrah for Kansas State, which has dropped two straight. The Wildcats does have a win over Missouri, but they’ll need to do more. A win at Baylor, which is 12-2 at home, could be the clincher. Baylor looked terrible in back-to-back losses to Kansas and Missouri, but blew out a decent Iowa State team on Monday. The Bears have been great at home and could secure a top three seed with a strong finish.
Quinnipiac (15-11, 8-7 Northeast) @ LIU (20-7, 14-1): LIU has arguably been the best team at home in the country with 23 straight wins at the Wellness Center. Jamal Olasewere and Julian Boyd are one of the top frontcourt duos in the country statistically. It’s really a shame the Blackbirds were in the ESPN Bracketbusters. It would’ve been interesting to see them against a top mid-major program. LIU is two wins away form clinching the Northeast Conference regular season championship and an automatic bid to the NIT. Quinnipiac has come on strong lately, winning four its last five games. The best the Bobcats can hope for is a third or fourth place finish in the conference standings.
UCLA (15-11) @ St. John’s (10-16): The Red Storm has lost four straight and nine of its last 11 games. Hoops Scoops would like to reiterate the point that the squad has just six players to work with and won’t get any help until next fall. The hope for the Red Storm is that its talented freshmen crew will stick around. UCLA went from a team with little hope of anything to possibly securing an NCAA bid. The Bruins have won five of its last seven games and has St. John’s, Arizona State and Arizona over the next eight days. All three of those games are winnable, which would put the Bruins at 18-11 and 10-5 in the PAC 12. This is a big one for Ben Howland’s crew.
Stony Brook (17-8) @ Northeastern (12-14): Outside of getting some momentum or building confidence, this game doesn’t mean much for either team. Stony Brook will be looking to recover from a loss at Vermont, while Northeastern needs to win to keep alive its objective to finish over .500. Stony Brook struggled offensively in Sunday’s 68-49 loss at Vermont and will be looking to get back into the flow.
Siena (12-14) @ Hofstra (8-20): The Pride has lost four straight and seven of its last eight, but they’ve been in most of those games. They still have a lot to do to get over the hump, but they are getting close. Siena’s been hot lately, with wins against Canisius and Manhattan. The Manhattan win was especially a big one. Siena’s talented freshman Evan Hymes dropped 21 against the Jaspers and has reached double figures in each of his last eight games.