With slightly more than two weeks remaining in the regular season, a number of key matchups down the stretch will help determine regular season champions and all-important conference tournament seeding as numerous conference races remain up for grabs. Here are a number of key games of note that will go a long way to determining conference tournament seedings in early March.
Albany @ Boston University, Feb. 21 (America East Conference)
Albany will be looking for the season sweep of Boston University and an almost insurmountable lead in the America East Conference when they travel to Boston on Thursday. Winners of 13 consecutive overall and sitting at 21-3 and 12-0 in conference play, the Great Danes would own a two-game lead versus Boston, a sweep of the season series and two-game cushion with three games to play with a victory. A loss would open the door for the Terriers to steal the regular season title.
Duke @ Maryland, Feb. 24 (Atlantic Coast Conference)
Duke’s two-game conference lead may not be as comfortable as it previously appeared. The game at Maryland on Feb. 24 will be a statement game for the Blue Devils as they look to answer the question of how they will play without injured All-America guard Chelsea Gray, who suffered a season-ending knee injury on Feb. 17 against Wake Forest. Duke, 24-1 and 14-0, closes the season with its four toughest games against Florida State (Feb. 22), Maryland, Miami (Fla.) on Feb. 28 and at home against North Carolina on March 3. Maryland at 12-2 will be waiting in the weeds to see how Duke reacts to playing without its team leader.
Davidson @ Chattanooga, Feb. 25 (Southern Conference)
While close to clinching, Chattanooga can make it close to official by defeating Davidson on Feb. 25 in Chattanooga. The Mocs, 23-3 and 16-1, hold only a one-game lead above Davidson (16-9/13-2) in the loss column. The Feb. 25 game will be the second meeting of the year between the two schools, with Chattanooga wining 60-56 on Jan. 18 at Davidson. Winners of 13 consecutive games, Chattanooga has gone 44 days since its last loss on Jan. 7 at Elon. Davidson’s only other conference loss was to Charleston on Feb. 11.
Oral Roberts @ Lamar, March 2 (Southland Conference)
With wins already scored against Lamar and Sam Houston State, Oral Roberts, 13-11 and 10-4, has positioned itself for a its first Southland Conference regular season title. The conference could be decided when the Golden Eagles play at Lamar on March 2. Oral Roberts will be looking for the season sweep of the Cardinals, 17-7 and 9-4, after winning earlier by a 77-48 count on Jan. 24 in Tulsa. Sam Houston State, 13-12 and 9-4, is also in contention, but has lost its last three games to slip behind the leaders.
St. Joseph’s @ Dayton, March 3 (Atlantic 10 Conference)
Dayton’s season has been nothing sort of sensational, with the Flyers currently sitting at 22-1 overall and 10-0 in the Atlantic 10 Conference. With both Charlotte and St. Joseph’s at 9-1 in conference play, Dayton has a slim margin for error down the stretch. Of Dayton’s four remaining games, three will come against teams at .500 or below in conference play in St. Bonaventure, Temple and St. Louis. The regular season title could be on the line when Dayton hosts St. Joseph’s on March 3. Winners of 10 of the last 11 games, St. Joseph’s lone defeat came at the hands of Charlotte on Feb. 10. The March 3 game between Dayton and St. Joseph’s will be the first game between the two teams this season.
Tennessee @ Kentucky, March 3 (Southeastern Conference)
Tennessee and Kentucky appear to be on a collision course with the Southeastern Conference (SEC) regular season championship in the balance. The two teams will meet for the first time this season on the final day of the regular season, March 3, in Lexington. The Lady Vols, 20-5 and 11-1, have four games remaining to play, with a Feb. 28 home game against Texas A&M also looming. Kentucky, 23-3 and 11-2, is in the running for a second consecutive SEC regular season title. The Wildcats scored a must-win against Texas A&M in College Station (70-66) on Feb. 18 to remain in the hunt.
Connecticut @ Notre Dame, March 4 (Big East Conference)
The thought of any team holding an advantage above mighty Connecticut seems foreign, but Notre Dame will be seeking its sixth win in the last seven games against the Huskies when the two teams close the regular season on March 4 in South Bend. Notre Dame, 24-1 and 12-1, currently has a one-game Big East Conference lead against Connecticut by virtue of its 73-72 win back on Jan. 5 in Storrs, Conn. Counting two wins at the last two Women’s Final Fours, Notre Dame has won five of the last six meetings against Connecticut. The last team to beat Connecticut five out of six times was Miami (Fla.) back in the early 1990s — before the Huskies started winning national championships. Notre Dame is looking to hold on for its second consecutive Big East Conference regular season title.
Army and Navy (Patriot League)
American University will have a huge say in who wins the 2013 Patriot League regular season championship. Army and Navy sit atop the league standings with identical 8-2 records and will have to navigate past American (6-4) this week if they have title aspirations. Navy will play at American on Feb. 20, while Army will host the Eagles on Feb. 23. If the season were to end in a tie, the Black Knights hold the tie-breaker by virtue of two wins against the Midshipmen this season.
|WOMEN’S FINAL FOUR TICKETS|
A select number of individual all-session tickets to the 2013 NCAA Women’s Final Four in New Orleans are currently available for purchase by logging on to www.ncaa.com/tickets.
All-session tickets will enable the ticket holder to watch the two national semifinal games on April 7, beginning at 5:30 p.m. CT, and the national championship game on April 9 that tips off at 7:30 p.m. CT. All games will be played at New Orleans Arena.
Stanford and California (Pac-12)
Stanford and California may have to wait until the Pac-12 Conference Tournament to decide who has the upper hand this season. Both have identical 13-1 conference records and will be facing the same four opponents during the final two weeks of the season, with games against Oregon, Oregon State, Washington and Washington State. Toughest challenge for each appears to be a road game at Washington, with Stanford going to Seattle on Feb. 28, while California, winner of 11 consecutive games, will close the regular season there on March 2. Stanford has won 10 consecutive games since losing at home to California 67-55 on Jan. 13.
Princeton @ Pennsylvania, March 12 (Ivy League)
Once again dominant in the Ivy League, Princeton’s lone challenge to another league championship and automatic qualification in the NCAA tournament could come down to the final regular season game at Pennsylvania on March 12. The lone conference without a tournament, each Ivy League regular season game is important as Princeton looks for its fourth consecutive league championship. The Tigers, 16-5 and 7-0, defeated Pennsylvania by 77-47 count at home on Jan. 12.
Seattle and Utah State (Western Athletic Conference)
Seattle (15-9/12-3) and Utah State (14-11/11-3) will not play again during the regular season after splitting two games earlier this year. Seattle appears to have the upper hand with its last three regular season games at home where they are 9-3 this season. Utah State will play twice at home and on the road, closing the season on a Texas swing at Texas State and UTSA.
C. Vivian Stringer will again attempt to become a member of the 900-win coaching club on Feb. 23 when Rutgers travels to St. John’s. With Stringer sitting at 899, the Scarlet Knights have lost three consecutive games to DePaul, Connecticut and Syracuse. She is looking to join the club that currently includes Pat Summitt, Jody Conradt and Sylvia Hatchell … SMU head coach Rhonda Rompola will be looking for her 400th career win this Thursday when the Mustangs take on Tulsa … Baylor’s Brittney Griner became the eighth member of the NCAA Division I 3,000 point club against Connecticut in a 76-70 victory on Monday. The Big 12 career scoring leader scored 21 of her 25 points in the second half to lead the No. 1 Lady Bears to the win … Kelsey Bone of Texas A&M has 12 double-double’s this season and now 26 for her career … Stetson’s Victoria McGowan recorded her fourth career triple-double vs. Lipscomb, becoming one of only two active Division I women’s basketball players with four career triple-doubles … Skylar Diggins of Notre Dame became the first women’s basketball player in school history to amass 2,000 points, 500 rebounds and 500 assists in Sunday’s win against Marquette. She also became the second all-time scorer at Notre Dame with 2,131 points … Syracuse (22-3) has its best record through 25 games in program history, while its 10-2 Big East Conference mark is its best in 25 years.