Michigan State (at Minnesota), Tennessee (hosting South Carolina), Alabama (hosting LSU) and Butler (hosting Georgetown) all play Wednesday night. But those games don’t have the same seed/league meaning as this Starting Five.

Here’s what’s at stake:

Game of the Night:

Oklahoma at Texas Tech, 7 p.m., ESPN: The Sooners have lost four of the last five games. Sure, Oklahoma got a No. 4 seed in the top 16 unveiled Sunday by the men’s basketball selection committee.


Get a head start on the official NCAA Bracket Challenge Game.


But let’s be real. That was a snapshot in time based on the six quadrant 1 wins. The Sooners could easily slide off that line in a week. Texas Tech is the current favorite to win the Big 12. The Red Raiders still have three road games, but get Kansas at home with a chance to sweep the Jayhawks. This game has plenty of intrigue (the Red Raiders’ defense, offensive output of Keenan Evans and Trae Young).

Oklahoma needs another quadrant 1 win to stay on the four line. Tech needs it to keep Kansas off its tail for another day.

Four others of importance:

Kansas at Iowa State, 7 p.m., ESPN2: The Jayhawks have to keep up with the Red Raiders. They cannot afford to drop two games behind the Red Raiders 10 days before they meet in Lubbock.

But the Cyclones are hardly a walk in the park. Freshman Lindell Wigginton has been on fire of late and had 26 points in the upset of Oklahoma last weekend. Iowa State has its last two home games against the Sooners and West Virginia. Kansas could have its hands full in this one.

Texas A&M at Missouri, 7 p.m., ET, ESPNU: The Aggies looked like an SEC champ in knocking off Kentucky last Saturday at home. But since then the Aggies have suspended JJ Caldwell (for the season) and Jay Jay Chandler (indefinitely) and then Monday announced Duane Wilson is done for the season with a knee injury. The Aggies have won four in a row, but face a daunting task at Missouri and then at Arkansas with the latest thinning of the roster.

MBB Poll Reactions: UVA tops AP poll for first time since 1982

Mizzou beat back Mississippi State in overtime and has won four in a row, including a road win at Alabama and a home win over Kentucky. Both of these teams should be in the NCAAs and could be sleepers to win the SEC tournament. But how the Aggies handle the latest setbacks will be the most intriguing aspect of this game.

Virginia at Miami, 9 p.m., ESPN: The Cavaliers were stunned at home by Virginia Tech in overtime. But they still earned a No. 1 seed in the committee’s top 16 and then got the nod for the No. 1 spot in the AP Poll. Defense has not been an issue — at all this season.

Now, how will the Cavaliers handle the target on the road? Miami had won three in a row before losing at Boston College by two. The ‘Canes have the resume to get into the field, but a win against Virginia could be the one that helps their selection and seeding more than any other. Miami already missed out on an opportunity for a signature home win when Duke beat them at home. Miami can’t let this one slip, too.

Maryland at Nebraska, 7 p.m., ET, Big Ten Network: Maryland has the goods to play anyone in the Big Ten tight and could steal a road win. But Nebraska is on a mission. The Huskers need every one of the final four games to make a statement that this team belongs in the field. All are winnable with a road game at Illinois and home games against the Terps, Indiana and Penn State.

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That would give the Huskers a nine-game win streak heading into the Big Ten tournament. Nebraska could get a double-bye and not feel the pressure to get a win in New York. Get one, though, and that could clinch it. That’s a lot on the Huskers’ plate, but they are more than capable of winning out to squelch any questions about their resume.

Andy Katz is an NCAA.com correspondent. Katz worked at ESPN for 18 years as a college basketball reporter, host and anchor. Katz has covered every Final Four since 1992, and the sport since 1986 as a freshman at Wisconsin. He is a former president of the United States Basketball Writers Association. Follow him on Twitter at @theandykatz.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NCAA or its member institutions.


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