Michigan will try to claim its third consecutive win and stay in the conversation for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament when the fourth-ranked Wolverines travel to face Penn State on Wednesday night. The Wolverines remain in the top five despite dropping three of four earlier this month, and they've won two straight, including a 71-58 home win over Illinois on Friday. The Nittany Lions remain winless in Big Ten play and have dropped 14 straight dating to an 84-74 home win over Duquesne on Dec. 29.
The Nittany Lions are running out of chances to get that elusive first win in conference play with just four games remaining, including trips to Minnesota and Northwestern before finishing at home against a ranked Wisconsin team. Michigan has won the past five meetings, including a 79-71 home victory Feb. 17. The Wolverines have won two of their past three trips to Penn State. With a win, the Wolverines would match their highest win total under coach John Beilein, tying last year's 24-10 mark.Virginia Tech Hokies at Miami Hurricanes (-18, 131)
Miami survived three straight close calls before its chance at an unbeaten ACC season ended on Saturday at Wake Forest. The seventh-ranked Hurricanes look to get back on track when Virginia Tech visits on Wednesday. Miami has averaged 54.7 points and 38 percent shooting the last three games, but can still depend on its strong work on the other end of the court. Miami, which is 12-0 at home, would hold at least a two-game lead in the ACC with a victory before playing at second-place Duke on Saturday.
Virginia Tech snapped a nine-game losing streak by beating Florida State on Sunday, shooting 50 percent for the second time in conference play this season. Senior guard Erick Green leads the nation in scoring and poured in 30 points in the Hokies’ 73-64 loss to Miami on Jan. 30.
Georgetown Hoyas at Connecticut Huskies (+2, 124)
Georgetown’s formula of relying on Otto Porter Jr. on offense and its suffocating defense has served it well during its nine-game winning streak. Both will need to be operating at peak efficiency Wednesday when the eighth-ranked Hoyas attempt to end their struggles at Connecticut. Porter tallied a career-high 33 points in Saturday’s win at Syracuse, ending the Orange’s 38-game home winning streak.
Porter, averaging 19.7 points over the last nine contests, has provided the offense necessary to push Georgetown into sole possession of first place in the Big East standings while the defense has allowed only two opponents to eclipse 56 points during the winning streak. Both marks figure to get tested against the surging Huskies, who have defeated the Hoyas six of the last seven times they have met at home. Connecticut has won seven of nine and is among the conference leaders in field goal percentage and scoring offense during Big East play.Oklahoma State Cowboys at TCU Horned Frogs (+16, 119)
Oklahoma State took the first step to staying in the race for the Big 12 lead with Saturday’s victory at West Virginia. Now the 18th-ranked Cowboys look to continue rebounding from last week’s double-overtime loss to Kansas when they travel to TCU on Wednesday. While the Horned Frogs do have a victory over the Jayhawks this season, that upset is their only conference triumph.
Oklahoma State sits one game behind Kansas and Kansas State in the conference standings, and will host the Wildcats in the regular-season finale March 9. TCU has lost five in a row.
Akron Zips at Ohio Bobcats (-2.5, 134)
Akron looks to extend the nation's longest winning streak to 19 games when it takes on host Ohio in a first-place showdown in the MAC East Division. The Zips come in with a perfect 12-0 league record, but the Bobcats are just a game behind in the standings at 11-1. The two teams played three weeks ago, with Akron coming out on top by 14.
Home is the place to be for Ohio, which is 15-1 in Athens this year and 5-6 on the road. The Bobcats come off a BracketBusters loss to Belmont on Saturday, so they'll certainly be focused on getting back on the winning track. The Zips' defense has been a key to their success, holding 12 opponents to fewer than 60 points, including four of their last five.
St. Joseph's Hawks at Saint Louis Billikens (-11, 124)
With its second straight win over a ranked team Saint Louis jumped into the Top 25 at No. 19 as it hosts St. Joseph's in an Atlantic 10 conference game on Wednesday night. Saint Louis has won nine in a row, the longest active streak in the Atlantic 10 Conference and tied for the eighth longest winning streak in the nation.
The Billikens have beaten St. Joseph's six straight times and Hawks' coach Phil Martelli warned his team to be ready for a monumental task. "Now we go into the deep, deep end of the water," Martelli said. "This team we're playing Wednesday night is playing as well as any A-10 team has ever played. Saint Louis is an absolutely certifiable monster, and I just told the players that I hope they're excited about that."
Louisville Cardinals at DePaul Blue Demons (+15, 146)
Louisville has won three straight games since the five-overtime defeat at Notre Dame and a trip to the Carrier Dome to face Syracuse looms on Saturday. The ninth-ranked Cardinals must stay alert to keep its Big East regular-season title hopes alive when they visit struggling DePaul on Wednesday. Louisville, one game behind league-leading Georgetown, has beaten the Blue Demons nine straight times. The Cardinals aren’t the best shooting team in the league, but they are third in the nation in steals and score 31 percent of their points off turnovers.
DePaul is suffering through another difficult season, losing 11 of its last 12 games. The Blue Demons are third behind league-leader Louisville in scoring offense, but is last in scoring defense. Cleveland Melvin and Brandon Young, two of the top eight scorers in the league, are always dangerous though.
Arizona Wildcats at USC Trojans (+6, 133)
Arizona will try to remain atop the Pac-12 standings when the No. 11 Wildcats travel to USC on Wednesday night. Arizona enters the week all square with Oregon, who beat the Wildcats in their only meeting this season. Arizona has won three in a row after back-to-back losses to California and Colorado, but continues to struggle with consistency during the second half.
Solomon Hill, a 6-7 senior forward for the Wildcats, returns to his hometown of Los Angeles. The team’s second leading scorer (13.6) hasn’t played well in his previous three stops at USC, averaging 5.7 points. Solomon had a string of 15 straight games in double figures snapped Saturday against Washington State. He took five shots and scored five points. The Trojans have lost their last two games following a season-long four-game winning streak. J.T. Terrell is averaging 14.2 points in the 10 games since coach Kevin O’Neill was fired, increasing his season average to 11.2.
San Diego State Aztecs at New Mexico Lobos (-3, 129)
No. 14 New Mexico could take another big step toward winning at least a share of its fourth Mountain West regular season championship in five years with a win over preseason conference favorite San Diego State. The Aztecs, who enter tied for third place with UNLV, trail the Lobos by three games with four games to go. The Lobos hold a two-game lead in the Mountain West over Colorado State after snapping the Rams' 27-game home win streak on Saturday, 91-82, behind 46 points by junior guard Kendall Williams.
One team that has been able to hold its own with Steve Alford's Lobos is San Diego State. The Aztecs have won five of the last seven meetings between the two teams and embarrassed New Mexico in the first meeting, 55-34, in San Diego on Jan. 26. The 34 points were the fewest scored in a game since 1976 by the Lobos who shot just 25 percent from the floor. The Aztecs are 5-2 in their last seven trips to The Pit and are the last Mountain West team to win in Albuquerque (Jan. 12, 2012).
St. Mary's Gaels at Pepperdine Waves (+12, 129)
No. 23 Saint Mary's heads to Malibu after one of its finest stretches of the season last week with home wins over BYU (64-57) and Creighton (74-66). The Gaels have already clinched second place in the West Coast Conference and the No. 2 seed for the WCC Tournament behind No. 2 ranked Gonzaga (27-2, 14-0). Saint Mary's has won 12 straight against Pepperdine, including a 84-72 victory on Jan. 26, and has won eight straight at Firestone Fieldhouse.
Pepperdine, picked to finish last in the preseason WCC coaches poll, enters the contest in seventh place and could finish anywhere between sixth and eighth depending on how things play out in the final week of conference play. The Waves have lost two in a row since edging last place Loyola Marymount, 52-50, on Feb. 14. They are 6-6 at home, including a 58-56 overtime victory of Washington State on Nov. 16, heading into their home finale.