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Conference tournament viewing guide: 10 games to watch on Saturday

Russ Smith, Louisville CardinalsRuss Smith has helped Louisville win its first two AAC tournament contests by an average of 45 points heading into today's title game. (Joe Murphy/Getty Images)

Are you still with us? Good, great, grand, wonderful. Let's proceed. After Thursday and Friday delivered plenty of big moments (did you see that last Syracuse possession against N.C. State or that shot by St. Bonaventure's Jordan Gathers to beat Saint Louis?), we've still got two more days of frantic action before the brackets are finally announced on Sunday evening.

The quantity of games is dropping down the stretch, as tournaments tend to work that way, but the quality has gone way up. It's hard to choose just 10 games, but we're sticking to that. You can find a bunch of other suggested watches at the bottom as well. This isn't hard or fast. Keep your remote handy. This is just a loose itinerary so you can have a gameplan heading into your Saturday, kind of like how you pick a bunch of bands to see at a festival and sometimes end up just staying at the end stage because it's sunny and you've got a good spot.

Don't feel bad, just enjoy it.

ACC Tournament: Pittsburgh (25-8, 11-7 in conference) vs. No. 6 Virginia (26-6, 16-2 in conference)

How to watch: 1:00 p.m. ET, ESPN

Why you should watch: After a win over UNC on Friday, Pittsburgh is finally looking like the team that was set to make a big splash in its first season in the ACC. You'd think Virginia would be on notice. The only problem? The Cavaliers are also playing incredibly good basketball. This should be a defensive slugfest, and the first team to 60 points wins.

Big Ten Tournament: No. 24 Ohio State (25-8, 10-8 in conference) vs. No. 8 Michigan (24-7, 15-3 in conference)

How to watch: 1:40 p.m. ET, CBS

Why you should watch: Because Ohio State-Michigan is one of the best rivalries in college football... sorry, my programming chip got in the way. These two schools have had some huge battles in basketball as well, and the Buckeyes might play a bit looser after they battled back to beat Nebraska on Friday. Michigan also escaped in its game against Illinois. Look for both OSU and the Wolverines to bring their A-game on Saturday afternoon.

Mountain West Tournament: No. 20 New Mexico vs. No. 8 San Diego State (29-3, 16-2 in conference)

How to watch: 3:00 p.m. ET, CBS

Why you should watch: If you want to find a sleeper Elite Eight team, it's sitting there staring you in the face in the Mountain West. Both New Mexico and San Diego State have the makeup of clubs primed to make a run in the tournament. The Aztecs' defense is disorienting and suffocating, and teams ill-prepared for it just don't know what to do. Just ask Creighton and Kansas, who both fell to Steve Fisher's team earlier in the year.

ACC Tournament: N.C. State (21-12, 9-9 in conference) vs. No. 7 Duke (25-7, 13-5 in conference)

How to watch: 3:00 p.m. ET, ESPN

Why you should watch: Two of the Big Four playing for a shot at playing in the ACC championship should be enough. Oh, you want more? Okay, N.C. State is playing for its tournament life and is trying to get itself on the bubble. The Blue Devils' Jabari Parker squares off against the Wolfpack's T.J. Warren. And the crowd will be pretty much angrily split between red and blue.

Big Ten Tournament: No. 22 Michigan State (24-8, 12-6 in conference) vs. No. 12 Wisconsin (26-6, 12-6 in conference)

How to watch: 4:05 p.m. ET, CBS

Why you should watch: Had the Big Ten standings shaken out differently, this easily could've been a conference championship game. Last weekend's loss to Nebraska notwithstanding, the Badgers have been on a tear. They're extremely efficient on offense and might be the most well-rounded team Bo Ryan has had in quite some time. Michigan State had national championship aspirations coming into the season and has dealt with some injuries, but never count out Touchdown Tom Izzo.

AAC Tournament: No. 5 Louisville (28-5, 15-3 in conference) vs. No. 21 Connecticut (26-7, 15-3 in conference)

How to watch: 6:00 p.m. ET, ESPN

Why you should watch: Russ Smith vs. Shabazz Napier in what'll be the last time these two face off in the same conference. It's going to be terse. It's going to be physical. And it's for a league championship. Buckle up.

Pac-12 Tournament: UCLA (25-8, 12-6 in conference) vs. No. 4 Arizona (30-3, 15-3 in conference)

How to watch: 6:00 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1

Why you should watch: The Wildcats have arguably the best defense in the country and a duo of Aaron Gordon and Nick Johnson that rivals any two-man game in the country. For big stretches of the season, Arizona looked scary can't be stopped good, and if it can make quick work of UCLA, it could be a popular pick to win it all. UCLA is as enigmatic as it is talented. In Steve Alford's first year the Bruins have made it to the conference title game, but they'll have to find ways to score against a Wildcats team that held Colorado to just 43 points on Friday.

Southland Tournament: Sam Houston (23-9, 13-5 in conference) vs. Stephen F. Austin (30-2, 18-0 in conference)

How to watch: 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Why you should watch: Are you interested in watching a team that's won 27 straight games go for 28 and a chance to play in the NCAA tournament? Of course you are.

Big East Tournament: Providence (22-11, 10-8 in conference) vs. No. 14 Creighton (26-6, 14-4 in conference)

How to watch: 8:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1

Why you should watch: Because...

And...

Big 12 Tournament: Baylor (24-10, 9-9 in conference) vs. No. 16 Iowa State (25-7, 11-7 in conference)

How to watch: 9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN

Why you should watch: Baylor has been a story of three mini-seasons. The Bears started the year 12-1 and beat Kentucky, Dayton and Colorado. They then went 2-8 in their next 10 and were in danger of missing out on the NCAA tournament. They then won seven of eight to end the regular season and played their way into the Big 12 title game. This is a dangerous team that finally looks like it figured out how to use its talented post players. As for Iowa State, it plays fun, chaotic up-tempo basketball run by fun, chaotic talented players. What more do you want?

Honorable mentions:

  • America East Championship (Albany vs. Stony Brook), 11:30 a.m. ET, ESPN2
  • C-USA Championship (Tulsa vs. Louisiana Tech), 11:35 a.m. ET, CBS
  • SEC Tournament (Tennessee vs. No. 1 Florida), 1:00 p.m. ET, ABC
  • SEC Tournament (Georgia vs. Kentucky), 3:00 p.m. ET, ABC
  • Atlantic 10 Tournament (George Washington vs. No. 23 VCU), 4:00 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network
  • SWAC Championship (Prairie View A&M vs. Texas Southern), 4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
  • Sun Belt Tournament (Louisiana-Lafayette vs. Western Kentucky), 5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN3
  • MEAC Championship (Morgan State vs. NC Central), 6:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU
  • MAC Championship (Toledo vs. Western Michigan), 6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2
  • Big Sky Championship (North Dakota vs. Weber State), 8:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU
  • WAC Championship (Idaho vs. New Mexico State), 10:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU
  • Big West Championship (Cal Poly vs. Cal State Northridge), 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2

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