College basketball today: Arizona goes for sweep vs. rival Arizona State; AAC squads jostle for position
Here's what to know in college basketball for Thursday, Feb. 15:
1. The game of the night
Arizona at Arizona State, 9 p.m., ESPN: The Sun Devils won two games in a row in 2018 for the first time by sweeping last weekend’s LA homestand. Now they’ve got a chance to redirect the final few weeks of the season by knocking off rival Arizona in Tempe. To do that, ASU will need a monster game from Tra Holder. This is his moment. Holder has been on a bit of a tear again, scoring more than 20 points per game during the Sun Devils' current three-game win streak that includes a road win at Washington State. Arizona would have to completely collapse to avoid winning the Pac-12. This is a game Arizona State needs to re-establish itself as a team that can be a major factor in March.
2. The undercard
Cincinnati at Houston, 7 p.m., CBS Sports Network: The Bearcats start the toughest two-game stretch of the American by going to Houston and then coming home to host Wichita State Sunday. Houston gave the Bearcats a run in Cincinnati two weeks ago but couldn’t close it out. This is their chance to lock in an NCAA bid. Beat Cincinnati — to go along with the win over Wichita State — and it would be hard to keep the Cougars out. Houston isn’t catching Cincinnati in the standings, but it would have a strong chance of being the No. 2 seed with the win.
3. The revenge game
Temple at Wichita State, 7 p.m., ESPN2: The Owls knocked off Wichita State in Philadelphia on Feb. 1. If you have watched Temple lately, you would see that it has the look of an NCAA tournament team. The Owls own November wins against Auburn and Clemson. Those matter in March, too. Temple has won five in a row; get the sixth and it will have made a strong case. But the Shockers want to stay within reach of the Bearcats. They’ve got two to go against Cincinnati, so being three games out is still within reach for Wichita State — but only if it beats Temple.
4. The opportunity
Ohio State at Penn State, 8 p.m., BTN: The Nittany Lions beat Ohio State in a crazy ending on a Tony Carr bank 3-pointer in Columbus. Get the sweep and Pat Chambers has a real shot to get this team in the NCAA tournament. Penn State will have more chances in the final few weeks, but this would go along way toward convincing the committee that it belongs. Ohio State has something to play for, too. It’s called the Big Ten title. This is the first of two tough road games for the Buckeyes with the other one being next at Michigan.
Purdue at Wisconsin, 7 p.m., ESPN: The Boilermakers are coming off two straight losses — both coming on the final possessions. Expect them to be ready to roll in Wisconsin — even at Kohl. The Badgers are depleted and haven’t found any consistency with limited options offensively. They're thin inside but Purdue struggles on the boards. That has to change against Wisconsin and going forward.
Off to the land of . pic.twitter.com/HGcmpfkQ6V— Purdue Men’s Basketball (@BoilerBall) February 14, 2018