Championship Saturday: Your down and dirty previews
6:00 pm: No. 10 Texas vs. No. 2 Kansas - ESPN: This is what we all wanted -- the rematch. Texas went into Phog Allen Fieldhouse back in January and, despite digging themselves an 18-3 hole, were able to come away with a 74-63 victory. The win legitimized the Longhorns as a title contender, and while some of that sentiment had been swept away thanks to a late season swoon, UT allowed an average of 56 points in wins over Oklahoma and Texas A&M. Unfortunately for us, the Kansas State lost to Colorado in the Big 12 quarterfinals, which eliminated the possibility of a Jayhawk-Wildcat battle for a trip to the finals.
7:00 pm: No. 8 BYU vs. No. 6 San Diego State - Versus: Jimmer went for 52 in the semifinals. Yes, 52 points. And we weren’t even all that shocked. That should tell you a thing or two about what we expect from Jimmer while leading the Brandon Davies-less BYU Cougars in a charge for a No. 1 seed tomorrow. The Aztecs have lost both of the meetings with BYU this season, but without Davies, the Aztecs will have free reign in the paint. Again, this is what we all wanted, right?
9:00 pm: No. 19 UConn vs. No. 14 Louisville - ESPN: File this under things that are hard to believe -- the two teams in the Big East Tournament final? They were picked eighth and tenth in the conference’s preseason poll. The Huskies come into this game playing their fifth game in five days, including last night’s overtime win over Syracuse. Louisville is coming off of their own overtime victory, having come back from 16 points down to knock off Notre Dame. the two times these two teams faced in the regular season? Louisville won, both coming in overtime. I think we should expect some free basketball at Madison Square Garden.
6:00 pm: Washington vs. No. 15 Arizona - ESPN: Believe it or not, Washington was actually on the bubble heading into this tournament. And, like last season, the Huskie’s talent shined through in LA, as U-Dub has knocked off Washington State and Oregon to advance to the Pac-10 finals. Arizona has been the best team in the conference over the last month and has the best player in the league in Derrick Williams, but even they are vulnerable, as their last trip to Southern California resulted in a sweep at the hands of USC and UCLA. These are the two best teams in the Pac-10. I hate to beat a dead horse, but ... isn’t this what we all wanted?
10:00 pm: Boise State vs. No. 17 Utah State - ESPN: Boise State was the second best team in the WAC all season long, but they are a long way from being in the same conversation as Utah State. That lack of competition in conference play is a huge reason why Utah State would be smart to earn the WAC’s auto-bid if they don’t want to sweat out Selection Sunday.
4:00 pm: Harvard vs. Princeton - ESPN3: Believe or not, Harvard actually has a chance at earning an at-large bid if they happen to lose to Princeton. These two teams split in the regular season, with the Crimson claiming a victory over the Tigers just one week ago.
6:00 pm: Akron vs. Kent State - ESPN2: Kent State was the regular season champion in the MAC while Akron finished sixth. But the Zips, who were predicted to be a regular season title contender, are a much better basketball team at home, going 7-1 in Akron, and the title game will be played in Cleveland. The two teams split in the regular season.
8:00 pm: UC-Santa Barbara vs. Long Beach State: LBSU will be a heavy favorite to win the Big West’s automatic bid. They finished first in league play, a full six games in front of UCSB, and won both matchups by a combined 34 points. That said, UCSB’s combination of Orlando Johnson and Joe Nunnally is as good as good as you will find at this level.
4:00 pm: McNeese State vs. Texas-San Antonio - ESPN2: McNeese State is the No. 1 seed in Southland tournament while UTSA in the No. 7 seed, which would lead one to believe that McNeese State is a heavy favorite to win the league’s auto-bid. In all actuality, UTSA finished just two games behind MSU and beat them in their only matchup of the season.
8:30 pm: Grambling State vs. Alabama State - ESPNU: Grambling has already beaten the second and third seeded teams in the SWAC en route to the finals, where they will take on Alabama State, who knocked off favorite Texas Southern in the semis. The two teams split in the regular season.