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What's at Stake Today in College Basketball

Frank-Mason

*Singing* It’s the most wonderful time of the year. There’s just two days left in the regular season and conference tournaments have been underway all week. It’s all leading up to Thursday when we get 51 games with all major conferences playing their tournaments combined with the one-bid leagues, which gives us a surprise every year – the early favorite this year is Campbell’s Chris Clemons.

I’ll have a look at the UNC/Duke game by itself, but this is an overview of college basketball from a national standpoint. Here is what to watch for today and what’s at stake in college basketball.

1. The first NCAA Tournament is punched

The Ohio Valley Championship is today, which means either UT-Martin or Jacksonville State will be the first team in the NCAA Tournament. UT-Martin is the No. 2 seed but Jacksonville State is expected to win by two per KenPom (line not out yet for the game). Jacksonville State is coming off a 6-point win over a heavy favorite in Belmont yesterday. I always believe these one-bid league championship games are the best to watch due to the emotion involved, so tune in at 8pm to watch the OVC.

2. Bubble teams trying to get one last win

There are a handful of teams floating around the bubble that need one last regular season win to feel on the right side heading into conference tournament play. We’ve talked about how bids can be stolen, so getting this last quality win goes a long way. Today we have Wake Forest at Virginia Tech, Creighton at Marquette, Florida at Vanderbilt, Texas Tech at Kansas State, TCU at Oklahoma, Indiana at Ohio State, Michigan State at Maryland, Illinois at Rutgers, Georgia Tech at Syracuse and Cal at Colorado for games where one, if not both, of the teams needs a win.

3. Will Ohio State/Indiana be the end of coaching careers? 

It’s that time of the year where we see coaches being let go across the country. Two that we’ve heard have been Tom Crean at Indiana and Thad Matta at Ohio State as potential guys looking for new jobs. Personally, I don’t think you let Matta go, but the real intrigue here is if one of these two get Archie Miller. Indiana is one of the 10 most recognizable jobs in the country while Miller has ties to Ohio State.

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4. ACC title up for grabs 

It’s somewhat fitting the best conference in college basketball comes down to the last day and it’s fairly simple. If UNC wins at home on Senior Night against Duke, they are outright ACC champs and have a lock on the No. 1 seed. They also can clinch the ACC title outright with a Notre Dame loss at Louisville. I’ll have a breakdown of the Duke/UNC game later on.

5. Frank Mason’s chance to clinch National Player of the Year 

Frank Mason has recently passed Josh Hart as the favorite for National Player of the Year and can all but lock up the award with a decent game today. Hart ‘struggled’ and I use that term very loosely here, during part of the Big East play as teams just took him away and let Jalen Brunson beat them, while Mason has been consistent all year. Right now it’s a two-man race between those two with Caleb Swanigan in a clear third.