College basketball today: Ohio State-Michigan, Wichita State-Cincinnati to impact conference title chases
Here's what you need to know about college basketball for Sunday, Feb. 18:
1. The Big Ten title chase
Ohio State plays at Michigan (1 p.m. ET, CBS) to try to turn a bad week around after getting slammed at Penn State Thursday. The Buckeyes beat Michigan at home in early December, but the Wolverines are now a much more refined offensive team, making 3s and are in line with what John Beilein desires. The Buckeyes have to stay in step with Michigan State after the Spartans came back to win at Northwestern.
Ohio State has the tougher schedule between the two with a season finale at Indiana after a home game against Rutgers. Michigan State has two games remaining, Illinois at home and then at Wisconsin. But one thing is certain after the Badgers' win over Purdue earlier in the week: nothing is a given.
2. The American title
Wichita State is two games behind Cincinnati (4 p.m. ET, ESPN) with two left to play against the Bearcats. The Shockers have won three in a row, including avenging a previous loss at Temple. Cincinnati is coming off its first AAC loss at Houston. The Cougars are still a viable threat to challenge for the American title, and they play at Temple at the same time Sunday (4 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network).
Wichita State was a preseason pick to challenge for the title and a few weeks ago it looked like there was no shot. But the Bearcats’ loss at Houston has suddenly given the Shockers hope.
3. The second seed in the ACC tournament
Both Duke and Clemson are 9-4, three games behind Virginia. The Tigers host the Blue Devils (1 p.m. ET, ACC Network) but could be shorthanded even more if Shelton Mitchell can’t go. He was still in concussion protocol as of Friday after taking an elbow to the head in the overtime loss at Florida State Wednesday. The Tigers will have to get creative at the point if Mitchell is a no-go.
Win | Season 113 | Cinematic Recap pic.twitter.com/IXEkpDR0C1— Duke Basketball (@DukeMBB) February 16, 2018
The Tigers are already down without their second-leading scorer Donte Grantham. So if Mitchell is out that means the Tigers will play Duke without two of their top four scorers. Duke won’t have Marvin Bagley III for the third straight game due to a mild knee sprain. But the Blue Devils have depth in the post. This would be a huge win for the Tigers at home if they can pull this off shorthanded.
4. The MAAC title
Will it be Rider or Canisius? The Broncs host the Golden Griffins (2 p.m. ET) with both teams at 13-2 and with three games to play. Rider lost at Canisius by one on Dec. 29. Seven days earlier, Rider beat Penn State at the buzzer in State College, Pa. Rider has won nine games in a row, Canisius six.
5. A key win in the quest for a possible NCAA tournament bid
Penn State and Nebraska are both pushing for an at-large bid out of the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions play at Purdue (8 p.m. ET, BTN) after knocking off Ohio State. Penn State has won four in a row and a win over Purdue, which has lost three straight, would be a bid-clincher.
The Nittany Lions have a brutal end to the season with games against Michigan at home and Nebraska on the road. Nebraska is at Illinois (3:30 p.m. ET, BTN) in the Huskers' final road game of the season. Nebraska has won six in a row and ends the season with two home games against Indiana and Penn State.