basketball-men-d1 flag

Andy Wittry | | February 1, 2018

Games that will decide the power conference title races

Ty Jerome talks Cavalier basketball

As the college basketball season enters the final days of January, there isn't a single tie atop the standings in any of the power conferences. Cincinnati, Virginia and Auburn have built multiple-game leads in the AAC, ACC and SEC, respectively, while Kansas, Villanova, Purdue and Arizona and are hanging on to half- or one-game leads in the rest of the power conferences.

RELATED: UK back in the mix, Auburn climbs in latest AP Top 25

Will those same teams finish in first place in their respective conferences or can other conference title contenders make a late push to take the regular season crown?

Here are the remaining games in each power conference that will impact which school wins the regular season championship.

American Athletic Conference

School Conference Record Overall Record
Cincinnati 9-0 20-2
Wichita State 7-2 17-4
Houston 6-3 16-5

Cincinnati is alone in first place with a two-game lead over Wichita State and a three-game lead over Houston after the Bearcats beat the Cougars by 10 points on Wednesday. Here's where things get interesting: The Cougars and Shockers split their two meetings, each defending their home court, and the Bearcats still have three games remaining against the Shockers and Cougars. So, three of Cincinnati's nine remaining regular season games are against the teams that are in second and third place in the conference.

The Bearcats boast the nation's longest home winning streak at 38 consecutive wins, so the best chance for Houston and/or Wichita State to hand the AAC-leading Bearcats a loss is to win at home. Cincinnati still has five remaining road games and there aren't many teams in the country that haven't slipped up on the road in conference play at least once.

Cincinnati at Houston, Thursday, Feb. 15: Houston's defense ranks in the top 30 in terms of efficiency and the Cougars are coming off of a 73-59 win over Wichita State, followed by a 23-point win over South Florida. Senior guard Rob Gray is the name to know for the Cougars. He's averaging a team-high 18.7 points, 4.1 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game. Houston hasn't lost at home this season.

Cincinnati at Wichita State, Sunday, March 4: Wichita State's transition to the AAC hasn't been without a bump or two in the road. After non-conference losses to Notre Dame and Oklahoma, the Shockers rattled off seven straight wins before consecutive losses to SMU and Houston. They have a top-15 offense and they're a strong rebounding team.


School Conference Record Overall Record
Virginia 10-0 21-1
Duke 7-3 19-3
Clemson 7-3 18-4
Louisville 6-3 16-6

If it's too early for Virginia's coronation as this year's ACC regular season champion, we're probably not far away from that point. Virginia has a three-game lead over Duke and Clemson with eight regular season games remaining. projects Virginia to win the rest of its regular season games, although the Cavaliers still have road trips to Syracuse, Florida State, Miami, Pittsburgh and Louisville.

Virginia at Syracuse, Saturday, Feb. 3: Tony Bennett and the Cavaliers are 4-2 against the Orange since Syracuse joined the ACC and Virginia has split its two road games at Syracuse in ACC play. The Cavaliers pulled out a 68-61 win over the Orange earlier this season.

Virginia at Florida State, Wednesday, Feb. 7: The Seminoles have given the Cavaliers trouble since Bennett arrived in Charlottesville. Virginia is 6-7 against Florida State since the 2009-10 season, including a 1-4 road record against the Seminoles.

Virginia at Miami, Tuesday, Feb. 13: After entering the season with the No. 13 ranking in the AP Top 25 preseason poll and finishing its non-conference season with an 11-1 record, Miami has been a .500 team in ACC play. The Hurricanes are in the top 20 in defensive efficiency and own home wins over Louisville and Florida State. They led Duke by 13 with less than eight minutes to play but lost to the Blue Devils by eight in Coral Gables.

Virginia at Louisville, Thursday, March 1: The Cardinals host the Cavaliers in their home finale, where they're 13-1 this season. If Virginia has taken at least two losses in conference play by then and Louisville is still in second place in the ACC standings, this could be a major opportunity for the Cardinals. Remember the 2015 season, when Virginia took a 28-1 record to Louisville for its regular season finale and lost?

Big 12

School Conference Record Overall Record
Kansas 7-2 18-4
Texas Tech 6-3 18-4
Oklahoma 6-3 16-5
West Virginia 5-4 16-6
Kansas State 5-4 16-6

Can Kansas win the Big 12, again? The Jayhawks currently have the lead in conference play with Texas Tech and Oklahoma chasing them, tied for second place. The toughest part of Kansas' remaining schedule is a three-games-in-eight-days stretch that features the Jayhawks hosting West Virginia and Oklahoma before they travel to Texas Tech. Something to keep in mind: Kansas only needs to tie for first to extend its streak.

From now until the end of the regular season, there is seemingly at least one game a week between Big 12 contenders, so the conference title race will have to be re-evaluated periodically. Until and unless Kansas runs away with the conference, the regular season championship could come down to the wire.

West Virginia at Oklahoma, Monday, Feb. 5: West Virginia ended Oklahoma's 10-game winning streak with an 89-76 win in Morgantown. Trae Young had 29 points on 22 shots with eight turnovers against "Press Virginia."

Oklahoma at Texas Tech, Tuesday, Feb. 13: Texas Tech traveled to Norman as one of the hottest and most surprising teams in the country, ranked No. 8 after a 14-1 start. They left with a 10-point loss.

West Virginia at Kansas, Saturday, Feb. 17: Kansas erased a 16-point deficit in Morgantown on Jan. 15 to end a four-year drought on the road against West Virginia. Can the Mountaineers return the favor at Allen Fieldhouse?

Oklahoma at Kansas, Monday, Feb. 19: Trae Young needed just nine shots to score 26 points in an 85-80 home win over Kansas in which the Sooners scored the final eight points.

Kansas at Texas Tech, Saturday, Feb. 24: Texas Tech gave Kansas its second double-digit home loss, 85-73, of the season on Jan. 2.

Kansas State at Oklahoma, Saturday, Feb. 24: Kansas State handed Oklahoma its worst loss of the season, 87-69, on Jan. 16. The Wildcats held Trae Young to 20 points and 12 turnovers on 8-of-21 shooting, while Barry Brown scored 24 points and Dean Wade added 21.

Texas Tech at West Virginia, Monday, Feb. 26: Texas Tech knocked off then-No. 2 West Virginia 72-71 in Lubbock on Jan. 13, giving the Red Raiders perhaps the most impressive pair of wins in Big 12 plays following their win at Kansas.

Big East

School Conference Record Overall Record
Villanova 7-1 20-1
Xavier 8-2 20-3
Creighton 7-3 17-5
Seton Hall 6-3 17-5

Villanova won the regular season conference title in the first four years of the restructured Big East and it's the Wildcats' league to lose once again. They sit in first place with a 7-1 conference record with Xavier in second at 8-2. Creighton and Seton Hall have three losses each, so it might be a two-horse race at this point. Villanova's worst Big East regular season record since the start of the 2013-14 campaign was its 15-3 mark last season.

The Wildcats throttled the Musketeers in their first meeting, 89-65, but they still have to make the return trip to Cincinnati to play Xavier. That game is part of a tough six-game stretch: vs. Butler (since the start of last season, Villanova is 0-3 against Butler and 52-2 against everyone else), at Providence, at Xavier, vs. DePaul, at Creighton and at Seton Hall. Xavier (19-3) is the Big East's best challenger to Villanova, so their meeting in mid-February could determine whether the Wildcats will take the regular season crown once again.

If Villanova sweeps Xavier in the regular season, it would likely take multiple 'Nova losses elsewhere in that six-game stretch for another school to have a shot at winning the Big East.

Villanova at Xavier, Saturday, Feb. 17: Xavier is 1-9 against Villanova since joining the Big East. The Musketeers' lone win against the Wildcats in conference play came at home in 2016, when Xavier entered the matchup with a 24-3 record – a similar trajectory as this year's Musketeers team.

Big Ten

School Conference Record Overall Record
Purdue 11-0 22-2
Ohio State 10-1 19-5
Michigan State 9-2 21-3

Purdue might be well on its way to a second straight Big Ten title. The Boilermakers have won a program-record 18 straight games after beating Maryland at home on Wednesday. They're one of two teams that ranks in the top 15 in both offensive and defensive efficiency (the other is Michigan State). However, Purdue hasn't played second place Ohio State or third place Michigan State, so the Buckeyes and Spartans will still have the opportunity to make up ground in the conference standings.

Ohio State at Purdue, Wednesday, Feb. 7: Purdue has 21 wins in a row at home dating back to last January, so the Boilermakers should have the upper hand in this matchup, at least on paper. Few teams can match the offensive firepower, defensive intensity and size of Purdue. But the Buckeyes are just one game back of the Boilermakers and could even up the standings with a win.

Purdue at Michigan State, Saturday, Feb. 10: It's too bad there's only one game between the Boilermakers and Spartans in the regular season. They were picked to be the top two teams in the conference by most prognosticators and they could end up on a collision course at some point in the postseason.


School Conference Record Overall Record
Arizona 9-1 19-4
USC 8-2 17-6
Washington 5-3 15-6

Arizona is the favorite to win the Pac-12 – not just because of its current status atop the standings but also due to its remaining schedule. Arizona and USC meet just once this season and they'll play in Tuscon. The same goes for Arizona and UCLA.

USC and Washington need Arizona to lose on the road because the Wildcats are unlikely to lose at home very often. They're 12-0 at home this season and 94-4 at home since the start of the 2012-13 season.

Arizona at Washington, Saturday, Feb. 3: Arizona only plays the Washington schools once each in the regular season and both games are on the road. The Wildcats will play the Huskies in Seattle, where Washington is 11-2 this season.

UCLA at Arizona, Thursday, Feb. 8: After three straight losses in the Pac-12, UCLA has begun to right the ship, beating Cal and Stanford by double digits last week.

USC at Arizona, Saturday, Feb. 10: This is the only regular season meeting between the Pac-12's top two teams. It'll be the Wildcats' second game of the week against the Los Angeles-based Pac-12 schools before they begin a three-game stretch on the road.

Arizona at Arizona State, Thursday, Feb. 15: This is the only game left on Arizona's regular season schedule that projects the Wildcats to lose. Arizona won the first meeting 84-78.

Stanford at Arizona, Thursday, March 1: Arizona traveled to Stanford when both teams had only one loss in conference play. The Cardinal led by three with less than two minutes to play but the Wildcats pulled out a 73-71 win.


School Conference Record Overall Record
Auburn 8-1 20-2
Ketucky 6-3 17-5
Tennessee 6-3 16-5
Florida 6-3 15-7

Auburn leads the SEC with an 8-1 record in conference play but there's still a lot of basketball to be played.

Florida, which is one game back of Auburn in the loss column, hosts the Tigers in late February in the only regular season meeting between the schools. The Gators have their own challenging schedule to end the season with games at Tennessee, at home versus Auburn, at Alabama and at home against Kentucky – the other four teams listed in the chart above.

The trio of three-loss SEC teams still have to play Auburn and Florida a combined six times, so there's ample opportunities for teams to make up ground in the conference race.

Tennessee at Kentucky, Tuesday, Feb. 6: The Volunteers handled the Wildcats at home early in the new year, winning 76-65 after trailing by eight at halftime.

Tennessee at Alabama, Saturday, Feb. 10: The lone meeting between Tennessee and Alabama in the regular season is in Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide are led by freshmen guards Collin Sexton (18.5 ppg) and John Petty (11.8 ppg).

Kentucky at Auburn, Wednesday, Feb. 14: Kentucky is 3-2 in road games and 1-2 in neutral site games this season. The Wildcats' only game against the SEC-leading Tigers is on the road.

Alabama at Auburn, Wednesday, Feb. 21: Alabama held off Auburn 76-71 at home in mid-January behind John Petty's 27 points and eight 3s.

Florida at Tennessee, Wednesday, Feb. 21: When at its best, Florida has beaten Gonzaga and Cincinnati, and pushed Duke to the final minute. At its worst, Florida lost back-to-back home games, including one to Loyola Chicago. A road game in Knoxville won't be easy against a Tennessee team that has won six of seven after starting 0-2 in the SEC.

Auburn at Florida, Saturday, Feb. 24: Man, this should be a good one. The two teams currently in first and second in the SEC meet just once in the regular season when the Tigers travel to Gainesville. The result of this game could shape the SEC conference title race, especially since the game takes place in late February.

Florida at Alabama, Tuesday, Feb. 27: The late season slate for the Gators doesn't get any easier after they travel to Tennessee and host Auburn. Florida travels to Alabama for a game that projects to be a one-point win for the Gators.

Kentucky at Florida, Saturday, March 3: In every season since 2010, Florida or Kentucky has won at least a share of the SEC title. If the SEC regular season champion hasn't been decided when this game tips off, the Gators and Wildcats might be playing for a conference title in Gainesville.

The 57 Cy Young Award winners who played college baseball

With the presentation of the 2020 Cy Young Award on Wednesday, Nov. 11, we've accumulated a list of 57 MLB Cy Young Award winners who played college baseball. One Cy Young standout from each decade will be featured and include a brief summary of their college career.

The college football teams, conferences and coaches with something to prove in Week 1

These are some of the best storylines in week 1 of the 2022 college football season, beginning with the Backyard Brawl between West Virginia and Pittsburgh.

Oscar Robertson: College basketball stats, best moments, quotes

Here's everything you need to know about Oscar Robertson's college career at Cincinnati.

Subscribe To Email Updates

Enter your information to receive emails about offers, promotions from and our partners