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Andy Katz | Correspondent | February 28, 2018

Villanova-Seton Hall a statement game, Syracuse can't afford a loss

March Madness is near

Here is what you need to know in college basketball for Wednesday, Feb. 28:

Most intriguing game

Pitt at Notre Dame, 7 p.m., ESPNU: Well, this has nothing to do with the winless Panthers and all to do with Bonzie Colson scheduled to start and return to the court after missing the past two months with a broken foot. The Irish have won four of their last six after losing seven in a row. Notre Dame wasn’t on our bubble breakdown last week but if they were to win a few more games (beat Pitt and then win a few in the ACC tournament since I’m not expecting the Irish to win at Virginia this weekend), then there is a chance. The Irish were 11-3 overall, 1-0 in the ACC when Colson went down and is 6-9 without him. This could be an interesting decision for the committee if the Irish can show well with Colson back in the lineup.

Statement game

Villanova at Seton Hall, 8:30 p.m., FS1: Villanova has become the team to beat in the Big East, and so far Creighton, Providence and Butler have been able to change their seasons by knocking off Nova at home (St. John’s won at Villanova but the Red Storm aren’t going to the NCAAs unless they win the Big East tournament). Seton Hall will be in the field but this could be a win to change the narrative even more and give the Pirates momentum going into the Big East tournament next week at Madison Square Garden. It would also behoove the Wildcats to win this game to help a top two line profile.

Must win

Syracuse at Boston College, 9 p.m., ACC Network: The Orange cannot afford to lose this game. Beating BC on the road isn’t going to get them in the tournament but it’s the kind of loss that could keep them out. Syracuse has lost three of the last four games, with the one win at Miami. The season finishes with a game against Clemson, giving Syracuse a legit shot to finish with a road win and a quality home win. Then, win a game in the ACC tournament and the profile will look much more palatable.

Desperation game

Texas A&M at Georgia, 8:30 p.m., SEC Network: These two are in the middle of that muddled group of SEC teams that are becoming harder to separate. The Aggies have slid back a bit losing three of the last four, but the last game was a critical road win at Vanderbilt. They finish with the road game at Georgia and a home game against Alabama. Georgia is hanging on with three wins in the last four games, beating Florida on the road and Tennessee and LSU at home. The Bulldogs finish with the Aggies and then at Tennessee.

The one to watch

Providence at Xavier, 6:30 p.m., FS1: I could have gone with Florida State-Clemson or Houston-SMU here, but the Friars and Musketeers should provide a rugged affair that could be a precursor to the Big East tournament this week. If the Friars play to their potential -- push the ball, guard, and crash the boards -- then they can give Xavier a game at Cintas. The Friars beat Xavier 81-72 in early January so they go into this game with confidence, especially after beating Georgetown in DC. Xavier is trying to get the top seed in the Big East and win the title outright for the first time. This is the tough one, since the season ends at DePaul Saturday.

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