NCAAB: This week's can't-miss games

NCAAB: This week's can't-miss games

This week's can't-miss games
By MATT SEVERANCE

It's the final week of the regular season in the major conferences, with most mid-majors starting their tournaments this week. Here's the most intriguing matchup to watch and bet on each night.

Villanova Wildcats at Notre Dame Fighting Irish (Monday, 7 p.m., ESPN)

Nova's loss to Georgetown Saturday might cost the Wildcats a bye in the Big East tournament, while the Irish (7-9 in the Big East) probably need to win out this week and then grab a few victories in the conference tourney to get an NCAA bid.

“If we can get into 9-9 range (in league play), we'll be in the discussion,” Irish coach Mike Brey said after Saturday's loss to Connecticut. “That's all we can ask for right now."

But the Irish might be shorthanded Monday as senior forward and captain Zach Hillesland left three minutes into Saturday's game with a bruised sternum. He is questionable for Monday. Tyrone Nash will make his first collegiate start if Hillesland can't go. Nash had four points and nine rebounds in 20 minutes against the Huskies.

Florida State Seminoles at Duke Blue Devils (Tuesday, 8 p.m., Raycom)

Duke has won four games in a row since guard Elliot Williams moved into the starting lineup and Jon Scheyer jumped from shooting guard to point guard. Scheyer is averaging 19 points per game since the switch and has just four total turnovers during that stretch.

The Blue Devils might be without backup point guard Nolan Smith again. He sat out Saturday's win over Virginia Tech due to a concussion sustained Wednesday. Back on Jan. 10 in Tallahassee, Smith was still a starter and had 12 points when the Blue Devils took a 66-58 win over Florida State as 9.5-point favorites.

Marquette Golden Eagles at Pittsburgh Panthers (Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., ESPN2)

The Panthers finished their second stint as the nation's top team with a 1-1 week, meaning they will surrender that post to Connecticut in Monday's polls. Pitt does need just one more victory or a Villanova loss to assure itself a top-four seed in the Big East tournament and a bye into the quarterfinals.

The Panthers beat Seton Hall Saturday despite an injury to DeJuan Blair. The big man banged knees with a Seton Hall player less than four minutes into the game and played just 26 minutes. The injury is not expected to keep him out this week.

Oklahoma Sooners at Missouri Tigers (Wednesday, 9 p.m., Big 12 Network)

Sooners All-American Blake Griffin was back from injury with a vengeance against Texas Tech Saturday. He put up 20 points, 19 rebounds and one flying leap over the scorer's table in OU's 78-63 win, which ended its two-game losing streak.

Oklahoma freshman guard Willie Warren didn't start Saturday's game because of a coach's decision. Coach Jeff Capel didn't say anything about his decision. Warren played just 12 minutes against the Red Raiders and went scoreless. Backup forward Juan Pattillo was suspended for Saturday's game and didn't dress. Both he and Warren are expected back in good graces, so to speak, for this week's game at Missouri.

Dayton Flyers at Xavier Musketeers (Thursday, 9 p.m., ESPN2)

The Flyers are just a game back of Xavier for the Atlantic 10 lead and already beat the Musketeers once this season. That win ended Xavier's six-game winning streak in the series but it was costly for Dayton. It lost third-leading scorer Rob Lowery to a season-ending injury during that contest.

Dayton has lost its last 23 games at Xavier going back to 1981. But the 2008-09 Flyers have reached 24 wins for the first time since the 1953-54 team.

An Xavier win would guarantee it at least a share of the regular-season championship. The Musketeers have won the past two conference titles outright. Xavier  has won 23 conference games in row at home, with the last loss to an A-10 opponent coming in the 2005-06 home finale against St. Joe's. 

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