Five games this weekend that will have major impact on NCAA Tournament seeding

The word "seed" gets bandied about a lot in early March. Sure, you could be talking about springtime lawn and garden preparations, but around these parts it usually refers to the upcoming NCAA Tournament.

A high regional seed doesn’t guarantee a trip to the Final Four, of course, but most involved with college basketball will tell you a spot near the top of the bracket is worth pursuing, as it usually means more favorable matchups in the early rounds.

Much remains to be determined on the final weekend of the men’s season. Several programs with national title aspirations look to stay in the hunt for one of those coveted No. 1 seeds, while others are just trying to optimize their level of play heading into conference tournament week.

Here are the five best games of the weekend, though you’ll want to pay attention to other conferences that will be crowning their champions as well.

No. 4 Illinois at No. 10 Ohio State

Saturday, 4 p.m. ET, ESPN

It seems quite likely that the Big Ten will snag at least one No. 1 seed, if not two. The Buckeyes will have to overcome a recent skid to get back into position for one, and a win against the Fighting Illini would certainly help. Illinois is also seeking a top spot, however, and the Illini should be a confident group after finding ways to win without leading scorer Ayo Dosunmu. He might be back by the weekend, but the performance of backcourt mates Trent Frazier and Andre Curbelo in his absence has been encouraging. OSU’s high-scoring duo of E.J. Liddell and Duane Washington will try to counter.

TOP 25:  Gonzaga, Michigan atop Ferris Mowers Coaches Poll

No. 18 Texas Tech at No. 3 Baylor

Sunday, 4 p.m. ET, ESPN

Baylor’s place on the top line of the bracket is probably safe. But the Bears would like to regain the form they were displaying before having to pause for COVID-19 concerns. Jared Butler in particular wasn’t quite himself when the team returned to action, but his huge night in Tuesday’s overtime win at No. 5 West Virginia was a good sign. He followed that with 22 points in a Thursday night win over No. 18 Oklahoma State. The Red Raiders are not in danger of missing the NCAA Tournament, but they’ve struggled against the Big 12’s upper echelons since their Feb. 1 takedown of Oklahoma. Mac McClung is capable of heating up at any time, but he’s going to need help to beat a deep squad like Baylor.

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