The regular season has come and gone this year and the only thing left before March Madness is conference tournaments. A few teams are fighting for spots in the tournament, but many teams road into the dance have gotten quite murky. Many teams need one more win to seal their spots in the tourney, and beating an opponent on the bubble only helps your seeding.
Here are some of the most important first-round games of the conference tournaments.
Clemson 19-12 (9-9) vs NC State 21-10 (9-9)
— Clemson Basketball (@ClemsonMBB) March 11, 2019
If the season ended today, I’d have both of the teams in the dance. Unfortunately for both teams, they’re stuck playing each other. Both teams are in desperate need of a resume booster, and this would be just that. NC State would be a lot safer if they were to lose, but a loss for Clemson may be their kiss of death. I like the up-tempo, high volume three-point shooting the Wolf Pack bring to the table. I expect them to win a close barn burner.
Prediction: NC State 84-79
Indiana 17-14 (8-12) vs Ohio State 18-13 (8-12)
— Indiana Basketball (@IndianaMBB) March 10, 2019
Here’s a look at two teams staying afloat due to their great out of conference resumes. Indiana has gotten on a little hot streak to close out the year, but Ohio State has been downright awful. The Buckeyes wouldn’t have to worry so much could have capped off their 23 point comeback against Wisconsin, but they weren’t so lucky. I believe a loss knocks out either of these teams, but Indiana might still need another win after this one. As long as Ohio State doesn’t have star big man Kaleb Wesson, they stand no chance in this one. Also, with how well Romeo Langford has been playing, I believe the Hoosiers shouldn’t have much trouble in this one.
Prediction: Indiana 71-59
Creighton 18-13 (9-9) vs Xavier 17-14 (9-9)
Welcome from the dead Xavier faithful! A team that looked all but buried in their coffins has rattled off six of their last seven and opened up a case for them to make the tournament. Both teams need this win, but Xavier will 100 percent be eliminated with a loss. Unfortunately for the Musketeers, they may be without star forward, Naji Marshall. He’ll be the difference maker in this one, and if he plays, I think Xavier will roll on.
Prediction: Xavier 79-72
Arkansas 17-14 (8-10) vs Florida 17-14 (9-9)
— Gators Men’s Basketball (@GatorsMBK) March 10, 2019
Both of these teams are still on the outside of the picture as we speak so they’d both be eliminated with a loss. Also, I don’t think the records do either of these teams justice. Neither team played that well in out of conference play, and they both struggled at the beginning of conference play. They’ve each done full 180’s since then and have poised themselves to make a shot at the dance. I think the Gator’s defense causes too many problems for the Razorbacks, and they’ll keep their tournament hopes alive.