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The Little Dances: Championship Week Day 9 Preview

Jabari Brown, Laurence Bowers, Mike Muscala

Bucknell’s Mike Muscala, center, shoots over Missouri’s Laurence Bowers, right, as Jabari Brown, left, looks on during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013, in Columbia, Mo. Missouri won the game 66-64. Muscala had a team-high 25 points in the game. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)


The NCAA Tournament doesn’t get going until March 19, but for the real college hoops fans, the days leading up to Selection Sunday is when the madness really begins. Over the next two weeks teams will fight for the postseason lives. Bubbles will burst and tickets will be punched, and Cinderellas will be born. This is the real March Madness.

(CLICK HERE to browse through all of our conference tournament previews)

Here’s what to watch for on Wednesday.

Game of the Night:Cincinnati vs. Providence
While this match-up may not have all the makings of an epic Big East tournament classic, it pits two teams heading in opposite directions. Cincinnati has lost six of their last nine and is squarely on the bubble after spending much of the early portion of the season ranked in the top-25. Providence on the other hand, has won seven of their last nine and might actually be able to sneak into the NCAA tournament if they can pull off an impressive run in New York City. It all starts tomorrow at noon.

Player to Watch: Mike Muscala, Bucknell
Muscala is arguably the best player you’ve never hear of. The senior forward averages 19ppg and 11rpg and despite playing in the Patriot League, may earn himself an All-American nomination or two. Muscala has already scored 2,007 points in his storied career, and a win tonight in the Patriot League finals would cement his legacy as one of the top-5 best Patriot League players of all time.

Miscellaneous Madness:
Today is the final chance for Grambling to avoid a completely winless 2012-2013 campaign. The Tigers are 0-27, but because so many SWAC teams are ineligible to compete in postseason play, Grambling got the call up. They face an Alabama A&M team that beat them by 25 and 27. If we’ve learned anything from this season, it’s that Grambling can absolutely get their first win of the season today.

Wednesday Schedule:

Big East Conference Second Round
Noon - Cincinnati (9) vs. Providence (8)
2 p.m. - Seton Hall (12) vs. Syracuse (5)
7 p.m. - St. John’s (10) vs. Villanova (7)
9 p.m. - Rutgers (11) vs. Notre Dame (6)

Big 12 Conference First Round
7 p.m. - Texas Tech (9) vs. West Virginia (8)
9:30 p.m. - Texas Christian (10) vs. Texas (7)

Conference-USA First Round
4:30 p.m. - SMU (10) vs. UAB (7)
7 p.m. - Rice (11) vs. Houston (6)
9:30 p.m. - Marshall (9) vs. Tulane (8)

Mid-American Conference Second Round
6:30 p.m. - Buffalo (8) vs. Ball State (5)
9 p.m. - Miami-OH (11) vs. Eastern Michigan (7)

Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Quarterfinals
6 p.m. - Bethune-Cookman (8) vs. Norfolk State (1)
8 p.m. - North Carolina A&T (7) vs. North Carolina Central (2)

Mountain West Conference Quarterfinals
3 p.m - Air Force (6) vs. UNLV (3)
5:30 p.m. - Fresno State (7) vs. Colorado State (2)

Pac-12 Conference First Round
3 p.m. - Arizona State (9) vs. Stanford (8)
5:30 p.m. - Oregon State (12) vs. Colorado (5)
9 p.m. - Utah (10) vs. USC (7)
11:30 p.m. - Washington State (11) vs. Washington (6)

Patriot League Finals
7:30 p.m. - Lafayette (2) at Bucknell (1)

Southeastern Conference First Round
7:30 p.m. - Mississippi State (13) vs. South Carolina (12)
10 p.m. - Auburn (14) vs. Texas A&M (11)

Southland Conference First Round
6 p.m. - McNeese State (8) vs. Nicholls State (5)
8:30 p.m. - Central Arkansas (7) vs. Sam Houston State (6)

Southwestern Athletic Conference Quarterfinals
9 p.m. - Grambling (7) vs. Alabama A&M (6)

You can find Troy Machir on Twitter at @TroyMachir