Pregame Shootaround: Harvard hosts Yale with first place on the line in the Ivy League
GAME OF THE DAY: Yale at Harvard, 8:00 p.m. (Ivy League Digital Network)
The Bulldogs and Crimson enter this game tied atop the Ivy League standings with matching 10-2 record, and the winner will be one win away from earning the league’s automatic bid. Harvard won the first meeting between the two, a two-point win in New Haven February 7, with two Wesley Saunders free throws with six seconds remaining being the difference. Two of the Ivy’s best players will be involved, with Saunders leading the Crimson and forward Justin Sears being Yale’s best option. Both teams are solid defensively, but Yale has to shoot better than the 31.5 percent they shot in the first meeting.
THIS ONE’S GOOD TOO: Bowling Green at Buffalo, 7:00 p.m. (ESPN3)
Seeding in next week’s MAC tournament is still up in the air in many cases, with the Falcons and Bulls looking to improve their standing with a win Friday night. Chris Jans has put together a very successful season in his first year at Bowling Green, and the Falcons have relied on their defense to make that charge. They limited Buffalo to 35.7 percent shooting in the first meeting but still lost by 12 due to their own offensive issues (4-for-20 3PT). It goes without saying that Bowling Green will need to shoot better if they’re to beat a Buffalo squad led by forward Justin Moss and guard Shannon Evans, with those two combining to average just over 30 points per game.
WHO’S ON UPSET ALERT?: Cleveland State (vs. Detroit), 9:30 p.m.
The two meetings between the Vikings and Titans were decided by a total of five points, with CSU winning the first meeting by four and a Juwan Howard Jr. three being the difference in the rematch. Howard Jr. will be the focus of Cleveland State’s defensive efforts, but Paris Bass is capable of putting points on the board as well with his 28-point outing in a loss to Oakland February 15 serving as an example. Cleveland State has three players averaging double figures, with guards Trey Lewis and Charlie Lee leading the way on the perimeter and Anton Grady patrolling the interior.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR
1. No, 14 Baylor looks to rebound from a two-point overtime loss to Texas with a win over Texas Tech in the regular season finale for both (9:00 p.m., ESPN2). This game could be tougher than one would anticipate, as the Red Raiders lost by just five in the first meeting February 17.
2. No. 8 Wichita State plays in the first game of the day at Arch Madness in St. Louis, as they take on Southern Illinois (1:00 p.m., ESPN3). The Shockers swept the season series, and they’ve won eight straight since losing at Northern Iowa January 31.
3. Speaking of the Panthers, No. 11 Northern Iowa takes on Bradley in another Arch Madness quarterfinal. The teams last played February 21, when UNI limited the Braves to 39 points in a 17-point home win.
4. No. 25 Murray State takes the court for the first time in this year’s OVC tournament, as they’ll take on Morehead State in the semifinals. Led by guard Cameron Payne, Steve Prohm’s Racers have won 24 straight games and they rolled through league play with a 16-0 record.
5. Kent State can wrap up a share of the MAC East title with a win over Akron (7:00 p.m., ESPN2), and they’ll share the title with the winner of the Bowling Green/Buffalo matchup. Akron won by nine February 10, but the Golden Flashes were playing without their leading scorer and rebounder in Jimmy Hall due to injury.
- Big South (quarterfinals): Longwood vs. Charleston Southern, Radford vs. Winthrop, Gardner-Webb vs. High Point and UNC Asheville vs. Coastal Carolina.
- Colonial (first round): Towson vs. Elon, College of Charleston vs. Drexel
- Horizon (second round): UIC vs. Oakland, Detroit vs. Cleveland State
- Missouri Valley (quarterfinals): Southern Illinois vs. No. 8 Wichita State, Evansville vs. Illinois State, Bradley vs. No. 11 Northern Iowa, Loyola (IL) vs. Indiana State
- Ohio Valley (semifinals): Morehead State vs. No. 25 Murray State, Belmont vs. Eastern Kentucky
- Southern (first round): Samford vs. UNCG, Furman vs. The Citadel
- West Coast (first round): Pacific vs. San Francisco, Loyola Marymount vs. Santa Clara