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Andy Katz | Correspondent | March 1, 2018

Iowa, Michigan battle in Big Ten tournament, Virginia takes on Louisville

March Madness is near

Here is what you need to know in college basketball for Thursday, March 1:

1. Northwestern vs. Penn State, Big Ten tournament, 6:30 p.m., BTN, Madison Square Garden: Penn State is still down one critical big with Mike Watkins out with a knee injury. The Nittany Lions must beat Northwestern to get a third shot against Ohio State. And they probably need to knock off the Buckeyes to have a chance at an at-large berth. Lose to Northwestern and the Nittany Lions are likely destined for the NIT.

2. Iowa vs. Michigan, Big Ten tournament, 2:30 p.m., BTN, Madison Square Garden: The Hawkeyes are playing with house money. They have nothing to lose anymore. Michigan could win the Big Ten tournament and climb onto a possible top four line with a run in New York. The winner gets a chance to knock off top-seed Michigan State. This has a chance to be the best game of the day at Madison Square Garden.

3. Western Kentucky at Middle Tennessee State, 8 p.m., CBS Sports Network: The Blue Raiders are going for the season sweep of the Hilltoppers and the Conference USA title. Lose and the two teams will be tied for the title with one game remaining. Middle Tennessee State can ill afford to lose a home game as it attempts to earn a bid without having to win the conference tournament.

4. Virginia at Louisville, 8 p.m., ACC Network: The Cardinals ended a two-game slide with a win at Virginia Tech. If the Cards were to take out Virginia at home that would essentially quiet any chatter about Louisville being on the bubble. Virginia has already won the ACC regular season and the top seed in the tournament next week. A No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament is almost a lock, as well. So the pressure in this game is all on Louisville.

5. Stanford at Arizona, 10 p.m., FS1: The Wildcats will be without Sean Miller coaching and Allonzo Trier playing, unless something changes in the next few hours. Arizona is coming off a loss at Oregon and is holding onto a one-game lead over USC with two left to play (one for USC, which plays host to UCLA). How will Arizona respond? What will the crowd be like? What kind of sense of urgency will the Wildcats play with against a spirited Stanford team that is only two games out of first.

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