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Associated Press

Iowa guard Joe Wieskamp shoots against Michigan State Saturday in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in East Lansing, Michigan.

Wes Sanderson, Reporter

DeKALB — As the Super Bowl has come and gone, the sports world now is in a bit of a holding pattern until its next big event takes center stage in March when the NCAA Basketball tournament returns to primetime.

Though there are no large scale professional events for a few weeks, the lead into March Madness is full of entertainment and this weekend has a handful of matchups to watch as Selection Sunday draws closer.

11 University of Iowa Hawkeyes vs. 21 University of Wisconsin Badgers: 6p.m. tip-off Thursday

The Big Ten conference opens up a strong weekend of play when the Iowa Hawkeyes travel to Madison, Wisconsin to face off against divisional rival Wisconsin in the Kohls center. 

Both the Hawkeyes and Badgers have been ranked inside the AP Top-10, but have stumbled in recent weeks. The Hawkeyes suffered back-to-back losses against Ohio State and Indiana at the start of February. While Wisconsin has lost three of its last six games heading into Thursday’s matchup.

The Hawkeyes are led by this year’s odds-on favorite to claim AP-Player of the year in centerman Luka Garza who’s averaging 24.5 points-per-game. 

Iowa though is more than just Garza. The Hawkeyes have flourished thanks to breakout years by a trio of guards in Jordan Bohannon, Joe Wieskamp and C.J Fredrick, the Hawkeyes have a formidable starting rotation heading into Madison. 

The Badgers will need to hold the defensive side of the floor against Iowa who is averaging 87.4 points-per-game, but Wisconsins’ defense is holding its opposition to a conference low 62.6 points-per-game making the Badgers defense an obstacle come Thursday. 

18 Virginia Tech Hokies vs. 16 Florida State Seminoles: 11a.m. tip-off Saturday on ESPN 2

The ACC blue bloods have not performed as they normally do come basketball season, so it’s no surprise why not many analysts are forgetting to mention Florida State and Virginia Tech. 

Both Florida State and Virginia Tech have been quietly plotting their ways through a very weak Atlantic Coast Conference schedule, but doing so with very few hiccups.

Both the Hokies and Seminoles will need to rely on their defenses that are allowing less than 69 points-per-game if they want to not just win this Saturday showcase, but to boost its ranking in the AP-poll and possible bracket seeding. 

The winner Saturday is primed to control the one seed at the ACC Tournament starting on March 9 in Greensboro, North Carolina, so to say the game has high implications for both teams is an understatement.

13 West Virginia Mountaineers vs. 12 Texas Longhorns: 2p.m. tip-off Saturday on ABC

Much like the ACC, the Big-12 conference title is still up for grabs with just over two weeks left in its regular season, but two of the frontrunners are set to squareoff on the hardwood Saturday afternoon.

The Mountaineers have won three of their last five games, vaulting them up inside the AP-top 15 for the first time this season, meanwhile the Longhorns have dropped three of its last five including losses to second ranked Baylor and conference rival Oklahoma Sooners. 

Though the Baylor Bears are still the top team in the conference, a win by either team Saturday could give the winning squad better seeding position for their conference tournament and possibly a first-round bye. 

3 Michigan Wolverines vs. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes: Noon tip-off on CBS

Typically Michigan vs. Ohio State is a rivalry that revolves around its football programs, but this year this heated rivalry moves its ways indoors to the hardwood as both the Wolverines and the Buckeyes are looking to secure not just the one seed at the Big-Ten Tournament, but also locking themselves into a one-seed for the NCAA tournament as well.

The Wolverines have seen four of its games postponed this season due to COVID-19 outbreaks inside its own program, but even with those issues Michigan has only suffered one loss to its 14 wins. 

This will be the Wolverines toughest match-up yet, especially given that its a road match-up against a program that has a history of hating one another.

The Buckeyes last lost came a month ago, when Purdue left Columbus with a two-point upset victory. Since then, Ohio State has secured two top-ten road victories over Iowa and Wisconsin.

Though Sunday’s matchup is important, the Buckeyes still have to face two other AP-25 teams before the conference tournament begins in March, so the Buckeyes margin for error slightly greater than the Wolverines.