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Championship Week: Day 12 Preview

Kansas State Wildcats v Baylor Bears

KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 08: Perry Jones III #1 of the Baylor Bears shoots a free throw during a game against the Kansas State Wildcats in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Basketball Tournament March 8, 2012 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

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Over the next 13 days, the brackets will start to take shape. Teams with no at-large aspirations will make one final push at the post-season. Teams on the bubble will look to assert themselves as worthy members of “The Big Dance”, and contenders will start priming their engines for a national Championship run. While “March Madness” officially begins following Selection Sunday, the real madness starts now.

Until Sunday, March 11, this will be your home for Championship Week recaps and previews. The players and teams are starting to prepare for March Madness, so you should too.

Game of the Night: UNLV vs. New Mexico
These two teams split the season series, with each squad winning in dominant fashion on their home-court. But with the tournament being held in Las Vegas, the Runnin’ Rebels will hold the significant home court advantage, which has been crucial this season. All seven of UNLV’s losses came outside of Sin City, including a 20-point loss to the Lobos at The Pit. Both teams boast talented lineups with numerous capable playmakers. The winner of the game will have the inside track towards winning the MWC Tournament title.

Marquee Match-up: Indiana vs. Wisconsin
The Hoosiers lost a valuable part of their squad yesterday when senior guard Verdell Jones III went down with a painful knee injury against Penn State. The Hoosiers are one of the top-25 highest scoring teams in the country, while Wisconsin is knowing for the slow pace of play and deliberate style of offense. Both teams are already tournament bound, but this game will provide the winner with added momentum, and a spot in the Big-Ten Championship game.

Player to Watch: Perry Jones III, Baylor
The Sophomore scored a career-high 21 points on Thursday night in a much-needed win over Kansas State. But while he’s shown flashes of dominance this season, he has lacked consistency. It will be interesting to see how he fares against the tough Kansas front line of Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey. Jones scored just five points against Kansas in the first meeting of the season, but bounced back to score 18 in the second meeting, both games being won by the Jayhawks. The Bears’ success today depends entirely on which PJ3 shows up to play.

Miscellaneous Madness: The first round of March Madness is just six days away, but today is the perfect time to get primed and prepared. Take the day off from work and hunker down for a full-loaded schedule of games, 38 in-all, featuring the top-seeds from all the major conferences.

Friday Schedule

Atlantic Coast Conference Quarterfinals
12:00PM - #8 Maryland vs. #1 North Carolina
2:00PM - #5 North Carolina State vs. #4 Virginia
7:00PM - #10 Virginia Tech vs. #2 Duke
9:00PM - #6 Miami vs. #3 Florida State

Atlantic-10 Conference Quarterfinals
12:00PM - #8 Massachusetts vs. #1 Temple
2:30PM - #5 St. Joseph’s vs. #4 St. Bonaventure’s
6:30PM - #7 LaSalle vs. #2 Saint Louis
9:00PM - #6 Dayton vs. #3 Xavier

Big East Conference Semifinals
7:00PM - #4 Cincinnati vs. #1 Syracuse
9:00PM - #7 Louisville vs. #3 Notre Dame

Big-Ten Conference Quarterfinals
12:00PM - #8 Iowa vs. #1 Michigan State
2:30PM - #5 Indiana vs. #4 Wisconsin
6:30PM - #10 Minnesota vs. #2 Michigan
9:00PM - #6 Purdue vs. #3 Ohio State

Big-XII Conference Semifinals
6:30PM - #4 Baylor vs. #1 Kansas
9:00PM - #6 Texas vs #2 Missouri

Big West Conference Semifinals
9:30PM - #7 UC-Irvine vs. #1 Long Beach State
12:00AM - #4 Cal Poly vs. #3 UC-Santa Barbara

Conference-USA Semifinals
3:00PM - #5 Marshall vs #2 Southern Mississippi
5:30PM - #4 Central Florida vs. #1 Memphis

Mid-American Conference Semifinals
7:00PM - #4 Kent State vs. #1 Akron
9:30PM - #3 Ohio vs. #2 Buffalo

Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Semifinals
6:00PM - #8 Hampton vs. #4 Bethune-Cookman
8:00PM - #11 Florida A&M vs. #1 Norfolk State

Mountain West Conference Semifinals
9:00PM - #4 Colorado State vs. #1 San Diego State
11:30PM - #3 UNLV vs. #2 New Mexico

Pac-12 Conference Semifinals
9:00PM - #9 Oregon State vs. #4 Arizona
11:30PM - #6 Colorado vs. #2 California

Southeastern Conference Quarterfinals
1:00PM - #8 Louisiana State vs. #1 Kentucky
3:30PM - #5 Alabama vs. #4 Florida
7:30PM - #7 Ole Miss vs. #2 Tennessee
10:00PM - #11 Georgia vs. #3 Vanderbilt

Southwestern Athletic Conference Semifinals
3:30PM - #6 Alcorn State vs. #2 Texas Southern
9:00PM - #5 Arkansas-Pine Bluff vs. #1 Mississippi Valley State

Western Athletic Conference Semifinals
9:00PM - #6 Hawaii vs. #2 New Mexico State
11:30PM - #5 Louisiana Tech vs. #1 Nevada

Troy Machir is the managing editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @TroyMachir.