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Tuesday’s slate, what to watch: Missouri, Michigan must beware


All times ET. Television guide via here.

Game of the Night: Kansas State @ No. 3 Missouri, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)

Kansas State is coming off of a huge road win against Baylor, which should ease some of the Wildcat’s concerns about making the NCAA Tournament. While the win over Baylor is probably not enough in and of itself, Frank Martin’s club also owns a victory over Missouri from the start of conference play. And not just any win; a 16 point demolition. Don’t think, for a second, that the Tigers have forgotten about that.

Missouri is all but a lock for a top two seed in the tournament, so while they will be playing for pride -- and a regular season Big 12 title -- Kansas State still has some work to do before they are comfortably in the tournament, and a sweep of a top three team would go a long way. The key matchup is going to be at the point. Will Angel Rodriguez, who has had a bit of an up and down freshman season, be able to handle the ball pressure that is going to be provided by Phil Pressey?

Who’s getting upset?: No. 11 Michigan @ Northwestern, 8 p.m. (BTN)

Northwestern bounced back from consecutive road losses to Purdue and Indiana with a solid win at home over Minnesota. The Wildcats are on the verge of being on the right side of the bubble for the first time in the history of the program, but the problem is that they cannot quite get over the hump in their big games. Case in point: they lost at Michigan earlier this season by two points in double overtime. These two teams play similar styles of basketball, so expect plenty of threes to be taken.

Mid-major matchup of the Night: Xavier @ UMass, 7 p.m. (FS Ohio)

Xavier picked up a huge win at home over the weekend, as they were able to hang on against Dayton in overtime. The bigger news, however, is that for the first time since the brawl, Tu Holloway played like Tu Holloway. The Musketeers still have their issues -- their size doesn’t play big, Mark Lyons is in a funk still, etc. -- but getting their star to once again play like an all-american and the most dangerous player in the country in the final minute is a huge step in the right direction. UMass is no pushover, however. Winning on the road will be a nice statement game for Xavier with a trip to St. Louis coming next.


No. 1 Kentucky @ Mississippi State, 9 p.m. (ESPN): I know its hard to believe, but Mississippi State is actually sitting on the bubble right now following losses to Georgia, LSU and Auburn. And now they get to host Kentucky in a game that just about everyone expects to be a blowout. Can the Bulldogs rally, especially after their coach blasted Kentucky transfer Twany Beckham in the media?

No. 7 North Carolina @ NC State, 8 p.m. (ACC Network): There is still a three-way tie atop the ACC standings, but those three have pulled away from the pack. NC State is sitting in fourth place, but they are a full three games behind the leaders. After blowing a 20 point lead to Duke and losing by 14 to Florida State at home, this is close to being a must-win for the Wolfpack.

Illinois @ No. 8 Ohio State, 7 p.m. (ESPN): You want an idea of what the bubble is like this season? Despite everything that has happened with Illinois, they still have a chance to play their way into the tournament if they can turn this around the last two weeks.

No. 9 Georgetown @ Seton Hall, 7 p.m. (Big East Network): Seton Hall is currently sitting right on the NCAA Tournament’s cutline, which is fairly surprising given how well they played earlier in the season. Jordan Theodore and Herb Pope look like they are finally starting to play like they were in November.

No. 18 New Mexico @ Colorado State, 10 p.m. (MTN): The Lobos could very well be the hottest team in the country right now, but Colorado State is the only team in the MWC outside of the top three with a shot at an at-large. They have to get this one, however.

Other notable games

- Auburn @ No. 11 Florida, 7 p.m.
- UIC @ Butler, 7 p.m.
- Wofford @ UNC-Greensboro, 7 p.m.
- Evansville @ Creighton, 8 p.m.
- Virginia @ Virginia Tech, 9 p.m.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.