Night Court: Duke exacts revenge on UNC; huge performances abound
We've been blessed with a lot of really good Saturday this season. The finale for regular-season hoops was among the best.
Here’s everything you need to know from college basketball’s final regular-season Saturday …
For a complete breakdown of the bubble happenings, check out our daily Poppin’ bubbles feature.
News of the Night: Duke works over UNC.
The Blue Devils got revenge on their rivals for the 74-66 loss on Feb. 20. Mike Krzyzewski's team was in control most of the night in the 93-81 win.
Jabari Parker had himself a night, displaying an offensive array of moves that leads many to believe he's the most NBA-ready college prospect right now. But more on all that in just a second.
But first. Quinn Cook, this is pretty.
Parker (career-high 30 points) and Rodney Hood combined for 54 points. Parker said a "sense of urgency" played into how Duke played.
It's encouraging to see Parker play this way at this point in the season because it gives us a window into what the stars could be providing in March. As you'll see throughout this post, a lot of big names came up in needed spots on Saturday. The only consistent player this entire season at a high level has been Doug McDermott. But if others start showing large? Oh, it's about to get very fun.
What's this all mean in terms of seeding? It means Duke helped itself in getting this win, probably staying on the No. 3 line for most bracketologists. UNC by nature of the loss sees its hopes for earning a No. 4 seed go away.
Duke, now 24-7, is still probably going to take a hit in the rankings; after all, this team was dropped 82-72 at Wake. UNC is 23-8 and could be anything from a Final Four team to a one-and-done group come NCAA tournament time. Their mystery is their appeal.
GIF via Michael Shamburger
Game of the Night: New Mexico blows 16-point lead, San Diego State wins the Mountain West.
An incredible scene in San Diego played out, giving us about as thrilling an outcome/game as a 51-48 final could be. UNM had a 16-point lead into the second half, and the Aztecs looked awful. Xavier Thames (game-high 23 points) was constantly trying to spark something, but it wasn't happening. A 41-25 game with 11:10 to go, seemingly New Mexico on its way to taking the Mountain West crown.
Then Steve Fisher switched to a 1-3-1 zone, and SDSU went on a 17-1 run.
You see from time to time how a switch to a zone can baffle an opposing team. It happened here. The crowd got back into it, and Thames' jumper with 2:57 to go gave SDSU a lead it would not relinquish.
Game of the Day: Iowa State knocks off Oklahoma State in overtime.
The first time these two teams played, it went three overtimes before Iowa State pulled it out – this time, the Cyclones needed just one. But they wouldn’t have even been in that position if not for Naz Long’s buzzer 3 at the end of regulation.
Marcus Smart was very good before fouling out, finishing with 27 points and five assists, but DeAndre Kane matched him point-for-point. Georges Niang went for 22 points and six rebounds. Oklahoma State is likely in the NCAA Tournament, but a win in the Big 12 tournament would mean Selection Sunday is likely to be relatively stress-free.
Oregon bests Arizona and punches its tournament ticket: The Ducks are dancing. They were likely in good shape either way, but now they are most certainly in the NCAA Tournament after coming back to beat Arizona, 64-57. Oregon was absolutely on fire in the second half, going 10-for-19 from 3-point range for the game. Jason Calliste was huge off the bench, finishing with 18 points, with Johnathan Loyd chipping in another 16 points. Aaron Gordon (21 points) was great for Arizona, but the Wildcats didn’t get enough from Nick Johnson (4-for-12 shooting) and shot just 2-for-11 from 3-point range.
What else we’ll be talking about in the morning: Doug McDermott has the best game of his career on the best possible night.
We really are running out of accolades and ways to call McDermott a great player. An all-time great. He not only cracked 3,000 points in Creighton's 88-73 win over Providence. But he passed Oscar Robertson first. Then got to 3,000 -- on a 3-pointer, of course. Then he passed Hersey Hawkins to move into seventh place on the all-time list. And then he left the game with 45 points, a career high, a capacity, record-setting home crowd all on its feet for him and the other seniors.
Amazing night, and we'll have more on the site soon.
Florida and Louisville make statements about their title candidacy: Big statements.
Florida is likely the title favorite heading into the NCAA Tournament, especially after hammering Kentucky, 84-65, to finish 18-0 in SEC play. The Gators don’t flood the court with lottery picks, but they essentially have seven starters and all can make plays at the right time. On Saturday, Patric Young led the way with 18 points and seven rebounds, while Casey Prather had 15 points. Meanwhile, Kentucky continues to drop toward the 8-9 game in the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats were rattled early against Florida, getting down in a big hole and then using up all their energy to cut the lead to six in the second half. The Harrison twins combined to shooting 6-for-21 from the field, and Willie Cauley-Stein struggled to finish with four points and three rebounds.
Louisville absolutely destroyed Connecticut, 81-48, and Matt Norlander wrote about the Cardinals’ ability to cut down the nets in Dallas. Montrezl Harrell continued his dominance on the interior, going for 20 points and 11 rebounds. Russ Smith facilitated with 13 assists – and only three points. Didn’t think we would ever see that. Shabazz Napier ended with a 2-for-13 outing – which could lead to Smith or Sean Kilpatrick being the AAC Player of the Year.
Andrew Wiggins scores 41 in loss: We wrote about this earlier today. Wiggins was fantastic, finishing with 41 points on just 18 shots, while also chipping eight rebounds, four blocks and five steals. Without Joel Embiid, though, West Virginia had its way offensively, going for 92 points behind a combined 74 points from Eron Harris, Juwan Staten and Devin Williams.
Andrew Wiggins is the only D-I player in last 15 seasons with at least 5 steals and 4 blocks in a 40-point game.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 8, 2014
That’s a good win: Memphis bounces back, takes down SMU.
In the first half, it looked like more of the same from Memphis – the Tigers were turning it over too much, not making outside shots, and getting beat in transition. Then Joe Jackson took over in the second half, the perimeter shots started falling and Memphis pulled away for a 67-58 win. Jackson had 18 points, while Austin Nichols continued his stellar play with 14 points and nine rebounds.
Tennessee dominates Missouri in SEC bubble battle: This was an enormous game for both teams. The winner moves up in the pecking order, and the loser faces an uphill battle in the SEC tournament. Well, Tennessee absolutely rolled past the Tigers, 72-45. The Vols have now won four in a row, as Jarnell Stokes had 15 points and 10 rebounds. Their last three games have been won by an average of 31 points – and they haven’t trailed at all in the past four games.
And that’s a bad loss: Arkansas gets smacked at Alabama.
What a turnaround from Wednesday. The Razorbacks dropped 110 on Ole Miss earlier in the week, and then lost 83-58 at Alabama in a game that could have solidified their tournament hopes. They turned it over 15 times, shot just 9-for-25 from 3-point range and let Alabama shoot 54.7 percent from the field. Trevor Releford had 24 points in his final home game in a Crimson Tide uniform.
Also a bad loss: Texas takes a seed hit by dropping game at Texas Tech
You know, on a very busy Saturday and with conference tournaments coming up, this outcome will fly under the radar. With pretty much everyone except the selection committee, that is. No doubt the Longhorns falling to 14-17 Tech will drop the team a seed line. Have to. That's a bad loss. Rick Barnes' team could atone for it by reaching the Big 12 championship game.
Iowa dropped at home by Illinois? Oooooof.
Jon Ekey drilled an incredibly tough 3 just before time expired. It wound up beating Iowa. Watch:
This means Iowa's lost five of its last six. The Hawkeyes are probably in the thick of the 8/9 game convo right now. And barring a Big Ten run, this team won't dodge a No. 1 or 2 seed in the Round of 32, should it even get that far. Iowa's not made the NCAAs in eight years, and now the team is drunkenly crawling to the event.
WCC: First off, Gonzaga escaped what could have been disaster. David Stockton hit a tough, off-hand layup with less than two seconds to go to beat Santa Clara 77-75. The Bulldogs probably -- probably -- are in now no matter what. This GIF, via SB Nation, summed up the tense experience for the Zags.
Elsewhere, San Francisco was the early quarterfinal winner on Saturday. BYU got past Loyola Marymount, helping the Cougars' case for a bid in the process.
The Horizon League: We had big drama in the semifinals, as Milwaukee got out to a big lead on No. 1 seed Green Bay early. But the Phoenix fought back, and the two gave us a fun second half. Keifer Sykes, who had a bum ankle, wasn't at 100 percent. The game went to OT, and Milwaukee got the better of Green Bay. A 73-66 final means the Phoenix will hope on Selection Sunday, but its chances of making the NCAA tournament aren't too great.
Wright State beat Cleveland State 68-63 in a mild semifinal upset, meaning the No. 3 will play the No. 5 on Tuesday for the right to get the auto bid.
Ohio Valley: Eastern Kentucky upset Belmont to earn a bid to the NCAA Tournament. We covered it all right here.
Missouri Valley: Wichita State moved to 33-0 with an easy win in the semifinals over Missouri State. Indiana State had a good game from Southern Illinois, but after a 3 from Desmar Jackson did not fall as time expired, the Sycamores -- the league's second-best team -- escaped with a 62-59 win. On Sunday at 2 p.m. on CBS, Wichita State goes for 34-0 against ISU. Be there.
NEC: The title game is set: No. 1 Robert Morris will host No. 4 Mount St. Mary’s, who took down second-seeded Wagner on Saturday.
Patriot League: Top-seeded Boston University advanced to the championship game with a win over Army. It will play No. 2 American in next weekend's title game.
Big South: The championship game will feature No. 8 seed Winthrop at Coastal Carolina.
CAA: Top-seeded Delaware fought off Hofstra in the quarterfinals, while Northeastern also advanced.
The Summit League: IPFW won 85-47 over IUPUI in the quarters.
MAAC: Iona and Canisius both advanced, setting up a semifinal between the top-seeded Gaels and the league’s Player of the Year, Billy Baron. Manhattan got past St. Peters 72-58. The Jaspers will play Quinnipiac in the semifinals. Top four teams advance for what should be a great two games.
America East: Top-seeded Vermont will have to play at No. 4 Albany in the semifinals on Sunday. Stony Brook, the No. 2 seed, got by Maine 80-54. SBU gets No. 3 Hartford, which beat Binghamton.
Southern Conference: Davidson rolled past Samford, while Western Carolina knocked out Elon. Those two winners will play in one semifinal. Georgia Southern's 62-55 win over Chattanooga was an upset, as Georgia Southern won just four league games this season. Wofford was the other winner in the quarters.
Players with impact (non-Doug McDermott and Andrew Wiggins division)
- In a do-or-die game, Vermont's Brian Voelkel came up huge. He went for 10 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists in the Catamounts' crucial quarterfinal win the America East tournament. Triple double in the postseason. That's great.
- Maurice Watson Jr. of Boston U. set a 2013-14 season-high with 17 assists in the team's 91-70 win over Army. Had just one turnover.
- DeAndre Kane made his final case for Big 12 Player of the Year, finishing with 27 points, seven rebounds and eight assists.
- Albany advanced to the America East semis behind five 3-pointers and 30 points from Peter Hooley.
- Eric Moreland snared 19 rebounds for Oregon State in a win. The Beavers have talent, and it's why fans are frustrated. They should have a better record.
- Iona has a number of guys who can fill it up, and it was Tre Bowman on Saturday. He had 28 points, six rebounds and five 3-pointers.
- Twenty-six points and 12 rebounds for Davidson’s De’Mon Brooks.
- Toledo’s Justin Drummond had another good day, finishing with 22 points, five rebounds and seven assists.
- Javon McCrea went for 34 in Buffalo's 88-65 win over Bowling Green. Bulls scare MAC teams, and McCrea is trying to get the program to its first NCAA tournament.
Numbers to figure
3: Wichita State is the third team in Division-I history to start 33-0, the first team since UNLV did it in 1991.
15: The number of years it's been since the OVC had the same team reach the NCAA tourney in consecutive seasons. Via @frozenrope9190.
33: The number of home games Duke has won in a row.
UNC's 20 rebounds was its fewest in a game since March 8, 1987 (20 against State)— Laura Keeley (@laurakeeley) March 9, 2014
And UNC's 59.6 field goal percentage was its highest in a loss since March 1986 (also vs. #Duke in Cameron)— Laura Keeley (@laurakeeley) March 9, 2014
1: Florida is the first team in SEC history to go 18-0 in the conference season. The Gators outscored SEC opponents by 13.1 points per game.
Big key for Baylor:
Baylor in 2nd halves of last 5 games: 41 assists, 9 turnovers. #SicEm— Baylor Basketball (@BaylorMBB) March 8, 2014
Other outcomes of note:
- What on earth, UCLA? We could've filed this under the bad losses as well. A 73-55 loss at Washington State is like a stain of bird poo on the resume. Not good at all. Pac-12 teams have been stepping on land mines for most of the past two weeks.
- Cincinnati let Rutgers hang around too long, but pulled out a 70-66 win. The Bearcats also won a coin flip to determine the No. 1 seed in the AAC tournament.
- Baylor was 2-8 exactly one month ago. After being the only Big 12 team to beat Kansas State in Manhattan, the Bears finish 9-9 in the league. They’re hitting their stride, and not many point guards are playing better than Kenny Chery (29 points, six assists).
- California did itself a very big favor by holding serve on its home court and getting a big win over Colorado. Askia Booker's desperation attempt as time expired in overtime did not fall, allowing Cal to win 66-65, keep itself in the field, and improve to 19-12.
- Georgia will be the No. 3 seed in the SEC tournament, which is utterly amazing. Mark Fox saved his job this season by coaching the Dawgs to a 12-6 league record and 18-12 mark overall. Georgia beat LSU at LSU 69-61 on Saturday. The Bayou Bengals have no at-large chane left.
- Josh Newkirk might have saved Pittsburgh’s season. His steal and buzzer-beater sent the Panthers’ game at Clemson into overtime, and then Pittsburgh pulled away in the extra period.
- Georgetown still has work to do in the Big East tournament after losing by 18 at Villanova on Saturday. The Wildcats are making their case for a No. 1 seed.
- Toledo clinched a share of the Mid-American regular-season title with a win over Eastern Michigan.
- Michigan got a good game from Indiana, but unlike last year's regular-season finale, the Hoosiers were not able to win at UM. John Beilein's team won 84-80 and will enter the Big Ten tournament as the No. 1 seed.
- Arizona State will feel a seed ding after losing 78-76 at Oregon State. Sun Devils are stilly finely in the field, but this was a lackluster showing. Looked like ASU took OSU for granted.
- Stanford snapped a three-game losing streak by escaping with a one-point win over Utah.
- St. John’s kept its at-large hopes alive with a double-overtime win at Marquette. The Red Storm blew a six-point lead in the final 15 seconds of regulation, but responded well in the extra sessions.
- Oklahoma cruised past TCU by 30 points. Buddy Hield finished with 24 points and eight rebounds.
- George Washington was tested on the road Saturday night against a bad Fordham team but came out with a 70-67 win. The 23-7 Colonials are trying to play themselves into a No. 7 seed or better at the A-10 tournament.
- It was already pretty much the case, but Richmond is officially no more after falling 60-48 at Dayton. The Flyers are in the field for now, absolutely.
-- Doug McDermott posed with billionaire -- and Creighton fan/Omaha resident -- Warren Buffett. Buffett had face stickers/temporary tats. At least five of them.
Just Warren Buffett and Doug McDermott. pic.twitter.com/pCjooySzqI— Gregg Doyel (@GreggDoyelCBS) March 8, 2014
-- New Mexico State announced Saturday it was continuing its suspension of K.C. Ross-Miller for the entirety of the WAC tournament. Ross-Miller was the player who threw the ball at the end of the game between NMSU and Utah Valley.
-- Iowa State’s student section made headlines with its flopping during Marcus Smart’s pregame introduction.
-- Some emotion from Loyola Marymount head coach Max Good after its win over Portland on Friday.
-- Andrew Wiggins was among four freshmen listed in the 15 finalists for the Wooden Award.
-- St. John’s and head coach Steve Lavin confirmed they are in extension talks.
Jeff Borzello and Matt Norlander contributed to this lengthy post.
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