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Andy Katz | Correspondent | February 17, 2018

27 games on Saturday with NCAA tournament, conference race implications

March Madness is near

What’s at stake Saturday in college baseball for Feb. 17 (all times Eastern):

The Big East title
Villanova at Xavier (4:30 p.m. FOX): The Wildcats opened the door for Xavier to win the league by losing at Providence, their third Big East loss. Losing at home to St. John’s apparently was not a fluke. There are issues brewing. Xavier has won key road games at Butler and Creighton. The Musketeers got blown out at Nova but beat the Wildcats in this one and a No. 1 seed in the Big East tournament and the NCAA tournament could be locked up.

Teams needing a road win:
Texas: at Oklahoma (12 p.m., ESPN): Longhorns and Sooners have been reeling a bit lately.
Syracuse: at Miami (12 p.m., CBS): Orange need to bounce back after NC State home loss.
Virginia Tech: at Georgia Tech (12 p.m., ESPN): Strong profile. No need to suffer a bad loss now.
Marquette: at Creighton (10 p.m.): The Golden Eagles have a huge mountain to climb to get into the field. This would help tremendously.
Saint Mary’s: at Portland (10 p.m., ESPN3): The Gaels are in this position after losing at San Francisco. They must win this game or else winning the WCC tournament may be the only way into the field.
Utah: at Washington State (10 p.m., ESPN2): The Utes are back on the bubble after the win at Washington. Get the road sweep in the state and the Utes are a threat for a bid.

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Desperately need a win
Kentucky: vs. Alabama (2 p.m., CBS): The Wildcats have lost four in a row. That’s enough right there. And the Tide would be a quality win, too. So both would help Kentucky.

Must protect at home
Kansas State: vs. Iowa State (1 p.m., ESPNU): Wildcats can’t afford home losses.
Arkansas: vs. Texas A&M (4 p.m., ESPN): The Hogs have a strong home profile. And this would add to it.
Baylor: vs. Texas Tech (7:30 p.m. ESPNU): The Bears are making a lie surge for a bid. They have to win this game to help the cause.
Washington: vs. Colorado (8 p.m., Pac-12 Network): The Huskies took a hit by losing at home to Utah Thursday. They cannot get swept in Seattle on the homestand.
TCU: vs. Oklahoma State (8 p.m., ESPN2): The Horned Frogs will still need to do work on the road. They cannot let this home game go without a win.
Louisville: vs. North Carolina (8:15 p.m., ESPN): The Cardinals resume is a bit shaky now. Beat the surging Tar Heels at home and it should hold off questions.
USC: vs. Oregon State (11 p.m., FS1): The Trojans got the late win over Oregon. They need the home sweep to stave off any questions.
UCLA: vs. Oregon (10:15 p.m., ESPN): The Bruins should be fine but they don’t need doubt by losing to the Ducks.

Getting back on the bubble:
SMU: Must beat UCF (11 a.m, ESPNU): Mustangs have fallen off. Chance to climb back.

Safe, but a game worth watching
Providence at Butler (12 p.m., FOX): Expect this to be a late-possession game.

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Ivy title ramifications
Harvard: vs. Yale (9:30 p.m. ESPNU): The Crimson are trying to stay in step with Penn. Rival Yale is in Cambridge and that means the game has even more drama around it.

Big Ten title ramifications
Michigan State: at Northwestern (2 p.m., FOX): Spartans can capitalize on Purdue and Ohio State losses Thursday.

Big 12 title ramifications
Kansas: vs. West Virginia (6 p.m., ESPN): If the Jayhawks want to knock off Texas Tech — especially since they still need to go to Lubbock — it would help their cause by getting the sweep of the Mountaineers.

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SEC title ramifications
Auburn: at South Carolina (3:30 p.m., SEC Network): The Tigers got the home win over Kentucky. They can continue to work on earning that No. 1 seed in St. Louis in the SEC with another road win.

Working on seeding
Missouri: at LSU (2 p.m., ESPN): The Tigers are fine. But another road win helps the profile.
Tennessee: at Georgia (6 p.m., SEC Network): The Vols can continue to climb in the SEC/NCAA tournament seed line.

Danger games
Florida: at Vanderbilt (4 p.m., ESPN2): The Commodores won at the buzzer to knock off Mississippi State. Florida has hardly been consistent.
NC State: at Wake Forest (4 p.m., ACC Network): The Demon Deacons have it in them to win this game and the Wolfpack are coming off the high of a road win at Syracuse.
Nevada: at Utah State (6 p.m., CBS Sports Network): The Aggies already knocked off Boise State. Nevada is coming off the high of winning in Boise. This could be a trap.

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