Previewing the final weekend of the college hoops regular season

Image Courtesy: Burnt Orange Nation

March 4
2.Alabama at. 24.Texas A&M
As Brandon Miller goes, Alabama goes. He led the Tide to an SEC regular season championship, its second in three seasons. Scoring 41, 24, and 17 in his last three games have led them to victories. If Brandon Miller is the Tide’s best player, Ohio transfer Mark Sears is the X-Factor for the Crimson Tide. Aggies guard Wade Taylor and big man Julius Marble have helped Texas A&M to a surprise second place finish in SEC play. To me, A&M can win this game at home if they limit the Tide in the first half like Arkansas did in the first half in last week’s game. The Aggies will need to come out and play well at the beginning of the second half if that is the case, as the Crimson Tide are a fantastic shooting team and can get points inside at a fast pace. Projected Score: Alabama 75, Texas A&M 70

3.Kansas at. 9.Texas
A win for the red-hot Jayhawks over Texas Tech on Tuesday has put them in great position to be the number one overall seed in the NCAA Tournament with the Big 12 regular season title all locked up. In their way will be a Texas team that plays much better at home than it does on the road. The Longhorns lost to TCU on Wednesday in Fort Worth. Texas must rely on the offense of guards Marcus Carr and Sir’Jabari Rice and the defense of Timmy Allen against a Kansas team that is going to be hard to stop. A win for the Longhorns puts them in play for second place in the Big 12 with losses by Baylor (hosts Iowa State) and Kansas State (goes to West Virginia) but a loss makes them the four seed in next week’s Big 12 tournament with potentially another chance against Kansas again in the semifinals. Projected Score: Kansas 78, Texas 77

25.Pittsburgh at. 16.Miami
An unlikely match-up (based off of projections at the beginning of the season) for one of the top three seeds in the ACC Tournament next week comes in Coral Gables. Miami is looking to return to the Elite 8 and go even further this season with leading scorer Isaiah Wong and leading rebounder Norchad Omier. However, Jeff Capel’s Pittsburgh team looks to lock up the ACC title with conference player of the year candidates Blake Hinson and Jamarius Burton. Projected Score: Pittsburgh 85, Miami 83

Duke at. North Carolina
6:30 PM ET, ESPN
North Carolina has gone on a three-game winning streak since a head-scratching loss to NC State in Raleigh where they had a lead for most of the game. In that streak, the Tar Heels got their first Quad 1 win of the season against Virginia. Star center Armando Bacot will have to score more than 1 point (like he did against Florida State on Monday) if the Tar Heels are going to beat Duke and even up the season series. The Blue Devils young roster has matured into a well-built machine, winning their last five games led by forward Kyle Filipowski, guard Tyrese Proctor, wing Dariq Whitehead, and big man Dereck Lively II. The Tar Heels must win this game to head to the NCAA Tournament but Duke will make it tough. Projected Score: Duke 81, North Carolina 76

8.Arizona at. 4.UCLA
Having already locked up a Pac-12 title, UCLA looks to get their third quality win this season to make its case for a one seed. Bruins forward Jaquez leads UCLA in both points and assists. Arizona three games back in conference and guard Tyger Campbell’s leadership have proven huge in an 8-0 February. In recent losses, star Arizona forward Azuolas Tubelis has not shown up and as a result offense will be needed from guards Courtney Ramey and Kerr Kriisa as well as big man Omar Ballo. Arizona could use this win to move back up to a firm two line team while hurting their conference rival’s resúmé. Projected Score: UCLA 72, Arizona 67

March 5
1.Houston at. Memphis
Likely one seed Houston has one Quad 1 opportunity left in the season and it happens to be on the final day of the regular season at the FedEx Forum against Memphis. Tigers guard Kendric Davis and Cougars guard Marcus Sasser, clear options for the American Player of the Year, match up as they look to prove why they are worthy of the award. In a preview of what could be next weekend’s AAC Tournament Championship, the game will come down to how well Memphis plays outside of Davis to beat such a talented Houston roster. Projected Score: Houston 76, Memphis 69

Illinois at. 5.Purdue
12:30 PM ET, FOX
Purdue has to continue to bounce back this weekend against Illinois, in a battle of two teams that have locked up their tournament spots already. Boilermaker center Zach Edey has been terrific even in their struggles, scoring 26 points and 16 rebounds in a second loss to Indiana on Saturday. Purdue will have to continue to rely on freshmen guards Braden Smith and Fletcher Loyer as they look to improve from their tough stretch. Sharpshooter Matthew Mayer and star wing Terrance Shannon can lead the Illini to a win in Mackey Arena but the Boilermakers rarely lose back to back in their home arena. Projected Score: Purdue 72, Illinois 64

By Carter Huff

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