Night Court: Hoos gonna dance? Virginia, you're almost there

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer

Virginia just got its Real Big Win. The Cavs now can command their way to an NCAA tourney bid. (USATSI)

Here's everything you need to know from college basketball's Thursday night.

Game of the Night: Gonzaga will run the WCC's table and be the next No. 1 team.

BYU isn't an NCAA tournament-worthy club, but it is formidable, and credit to Gonzaga for going into Provo and getting out with a 70-65 win in a physical, exciting, classic late-night WCC game.

The Zags are now 15-0, the first team in WCC history to win that many games (more teams; used to be a 14-game league schedule). This ties for the best "start" in school history, a 28-2 mark. And Mark Few is a home win against Portland on Saturday away from getting his fourth undefeated WCC regular-season title.

Bulldogs will be a No. 1 seed if they do that. I'll say they get it because I don't think they drop a bad one in the WCC tournament, either. Only two losses; only team in the country with just two losses. A little room to spare, considering Michigan, Arizona, Duke, maybe even Miami come Saturday will have dropped games.

We'll have more on Gonzaga -- though you should read our recent work from this week -- over the next couple of days.

Game of the Night No. 2: Virginia leads wire to wire to earn an NCAA bid -- almost.

Just go .500 the rest of the way, and you'll be in the NCAA tournament no problem, Hoos. The Cavaliers had their way with Duke on Thursday night. Crowd was ready, and after a 9-0 lead to start the game, UVa just kind of controlled things the way it does so well. A 73-68 ending that felt more like UVa winning 65-50. Great interior defense, Tony Bennett. Mason Plumllee had little effect and, in general, Duke just looked average.

Credit Virginia for that. It's a certain style, and it worked without much flaw in this one.

Duke's out of the No. 1 seed convo? Not at all. Hosts Miami on Saturday, which I think ends in a Duke win, and so then the carousel turns some more. We've still got a few more rounds to go before the Plinko chips come to randomly rest.

What else we'll be talking about in the morning: Mike Krzyzewski's worry over the postgame rush.

According to reporters on the scene, Mike Krzyzewski was swearing up a storm and concerned for the safety of his team and coaches when the khaki-wearing Cavs fans got onto the hardwood.

But then my man Brinson (a total NC State homer, for the record) makes a good point.

It'll be easy to roll your eyes at K, who was frustrated and on the refs all night, but the man does have a point. Player safety is a concern here, especially given the structure/tunnel locations in certain arenas. It will happen one day. A player will suffer a major injury because he gets trampled. Mob scenes can be scary, even if they're khaki-colored and smell of brie.

That's a good win: Seriously, that's a really good win, Ohio State.

With the way that good teams are getting got against low opponents, the fact that OSU didn't cave at Northwestern just makes me exhale. The Buckeyes won 63-53 to get to 21-7. We'll see what happens at Indiana next week. If OSU does win, it will guarantee itself of a No. 5 at worst. A loss, and there's still room to wiggle into a softer seed. Ohio State doesn't have an immensely impressive resume. But dodge the bad ones, and this was the final bad one. OSU is bereft of any bad Ls, and that will help its case come Selection Sunday.

But that's a bad loss: Amazingly, none of note. A good thing!

Players with impact

  1. Virginia's Joe Harris had 36. The guy was a comet. Per ESPN, he's the first player to score 30 points against Duke since C.J. McCollum lit up the Devils in the 15-over-2 madness last March. Harris, a junior wing, averages 17/game, but this was his coming-out party. He sank 12 of 20 field goals and added seven boards.
  2. Drexel needed Damion Lee to be this awesome all year. He had 34 on the road in a win over Old Dominion. Omar Strong also had 34 in a win for Texas Southern.
  3. You grab more than 20 boards, you get a mention in Night Court. Martin Seiferth had 21 for Eastern Washington.

Numbers to figure:

19: Well, Virginia's win marked the 19th time an unranked team beat a top-five opponent this season. Even more of note: 15 of those wins have come in February.

11: Freaky-deeky. It was 11 years to the day since UVa's last win over a top-five team. Oh, and yes, here's how the universe can work. It came against Duke on 2.28.02, when Duke was also No. 3. That one ended 87-84.

96.1: Ohio State has defeated Northwestern 25 of the last 26 meetings between the two. A 96.1 win percentage.

Those who clinched regular-season titles on Thursday night:

  • Robert Morris played at Bryant -- a program that has adjusted well, and quickly, to D-I -- and won 77-75, meaning Bob Morris is your Northeast Conference champ. If they win out, they'll host the league title game in 12 days.
  • Stony Brook, like Bobby M, went on the road to get its regular-season crown. The Seawolves beat BU 71-55 to lock up the America East. They've won the past two seasons, yet fallen short in the league tourney.
  • South Dakota State beat Nebraska Omaha 100-82. And so, at the very least, Nate Wolters and the Jackrabbits will go into the Summit tourney as league co-champs. NCAA tournament would benefit with getting SDSU in for Wolters' senior year.
  • And this:

Notebook on notable games:

-- North Carolina played at Clemson, won 68-59 and, at 20-8, I'm for the first time all season ready to feel comfortable calling the Heels an NCAA tournament team. I just had to see Roy Williams' team win this one. It did. Barring losing out, Heels will dance. By the way, Clemson has gone almost a month without getting to 60 in a game. Minnesota recently broke out of a similar stretch.

-- Temple reallllllly dodged one. A postponed game against Detroit from December due to weather was finally played, and it ended 83-78 for the Owls. But, man, the Titans did nearly take it. That keeps Temple on the better side of the bubble. Khalif Wyatt came off the bench and had 20 points and seven dimes.

-- Mizzou-South Carolina was forgettable, but give the Tigers credit for not messing around at all on the road, the same way that UNC didn't. It ended 90-68, and so Frank Haith's team dodges a bad loss and seed-hurting scenario.

-- Now at 26-4, Middle Tennessee State might be in a spot where it can lose once and barely sneak it. Blue Raiders won by 10 over Troy on Thursday night.

-- Credit to Morehead State for beating Tennessee State 101-100 in a game that had no overtime and was actually a massive MSU lead before TSU roared back. OVC, baby. That's what we like.


For more college basketball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnCBB on Twitter, like us on Facebook and subscribe to the thrice-a-week podcast on iTunes. You can follow Matt Norlander on Twitter here: @MattNorlander.

 
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