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March Madness: What to know for the regular season’s home stretch

With less than a month until Selection Sunday, the college basketball regular season is on the home stretch. 

Here’s a look at some potential storylines. 

1. Cincinnati is solidly in. 

Bracketmatrix.com shows Bearcats are widely projected as a No. 7 seed as of this writing, and their remaining schedule should allow coach Mick Cronin’s 21-4 team to solidify that if not move up. 

The No. 27 team in the new NET rankings the selection committee is directed to use for picking the field of 68 has home games coming up against UCF (No. 40) and Houston (No. 4) plus a trip to UCF in addition to games against UConn (No. 82), SMU (107) and Memphis (64) that should go in the win column. 

2. Ohio State is solidly in — for now. 

Ohio State is projected to begin the dreaded 8-9 game, which would mean a second-round date with a No. 1 seed if the Buckeyes survive round one. 

There’s a lot of basketball to be played between now and then, though, and a lot could change. 

Four of the Buckeyes’ last six games are against teams in the top 30 of the NET rankings. That means reaching the 20-win plateau will be a challenge, but there are plenty of chances to impress the committee if Chris Holtmann’s team can figure out how to commit fewer turnovers and make more shots

Ball-handling could be the difference between the Buckeyes being dangerous or one-and-done in March.

Ohio State is No. 45 in the NET rankings, down eight spots since losing at home to Illinois and at Michigan State. 

3. Kentucky is vying for a No. 1 seed. 

The surging Wildcats are widely projected to be a No. 2 at the moment, but they are likely the team best-positioned to pounce if Duke, Virginia, Gonzaga or Tennessee should falter. 

(The ‘Cats crushed the Volunteers 86-69 last weekend and play in Knoxville on March 2.) 

Either way, a juicy second-round matchup with OSU or UC could be in store for the second round. 

4. What about Wright State? 

The Raiders are tied with Northern Kentucky atop the Horizon League standings, but bracketologists are listing the 20-7 Norse as the team that will emerge to make the Big Dance. 

They are seen as a 15 seed at this point, and that is likely as good as the 16-11 Raiders can expect as NKU is currently 110th in the NET and Wright State is No. 143. 

The league’s bid will be decided March 12 in the Horizon League championship game in Detroit. 

5. Dayton and Xavier are on the outside looking in. 

Perhaps we can get a Battle of I-75 renewal if neither team has anything better to do in March? 

While one site monitored by bracketmatrix.com has the Flyers as an 11 seed, no others see Anthony Grant’s 16-9 team making the field. 

That’s still one more than the Musketeers, who are 13-13 in their first season under Travis Steele and in danger of having a five-year tournament streak snapped. 

Dayton still has a shot at the Atlantic 10 regular season title while Xavier is three games under .500 in the Big East. 

Regardless, either team will have to win its conference tournament to make the Big Dance. 

6. Who might be coming to Dayton? 

Aside from four No. 16 seeds who should be exempt, a handful of teams are in the running to get an invitation to UD Arena to open the tournament. 

Bracketologists at CBS Sports and USA Today both have Butler and UCF in their First Fours while USA Today and ESPN both have Alabama coming to Dayton. 

Fox Sports and ESPN both have Temple while ESPN and CBS both peg Arizona State. 

Also in the conversation are Clemson (still led by former Wright State coach Brad Brownell), Florida, Minnesota and Seton Hall. 

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