Today was one of the busiest days of the year in college basketball, with all six major tournaments having at least three games each and crazy action all over the nation. It was the type of day that deserves a neat summary in conclusion:
Game of the Day: UCONN vs Pitt
This was the rare instance where the best game of the day on paper, ended up being the best game of the day in practice. Both teams played with a ton of energy and the game was actually executed on a very high level at both ends. Pittsburgh showcased the exception defense that makes them a Final Four contender, but the Panthers had no answer for the one-on-one play from UCONN in the second half. Kemba Walker was once again a revelation and his shakedown of Gary Mcghee at the end of the game is one of those plays that you will see over and over in the years to come. A lasting image in a quarterfinal tournament game? That is easily the game of the day.
Biggest Win: Colorado over Kansas State
Colorado came into its Big 12 quarterfinal against Kansas State with one clear objective. A win over one of the hottest teams in the country would not only vault the Buffaloes to the conference semifinals in its final year in the league, but would also put Colorado on the right side of the NCAA bubble. The ensuing 87-75 performance was one of the best of the year we have seen in college basketball when it mattered the most. Whatever happens for the rest of the tournament, Colorado will hear its name called on Selection Sunday and when that happens, they can look back at this win as the main reason why.
Most Impressive Performance: Texas A&M over Missouri
There are many reasons to wonder what has happened to Missouri over the past few weeks. Mike Anderson's team has looked poor on a number of occasions down the stretch, but never has the team seemed to have less life than during today's 86-71 smackdown at the hands of the Aggies. For those around the Texas A&M program, there is some quiet optimism that this team may be clicking at the right time to make some surprising March noise. If the game on Thursday in Kansas City is any indication, it may not be that surprising for long.
Worst Loss: UCLA
I have given up trying to figure out the Pac 10. I can forgive the occasional poor road performance by one of the three top powers, but UCLA's 76-59 loss to Oregon on Thursday was just plain pathetic. You are playing in your home city, with a chance to get a better seed and re-establish dominance in a conference that has somewhat forgotten your existence in the last two years. Instead, you show up and go through the motions of caring, while putting one of the worst teams in the conference through to the semifinals. An embarrassing loss for a program that has clearly slipped in the past three years.
Performance of the Day: Michael Thompson
The Big 10 tournament hasn't been around as long as some of its fellow Championship Week events, but it still deserves attention when one of its records is broken. Michael Thompson of Northwestern went out and scored a smooth 35 points in a 75-65 victory by his Wildcats over Minnesota. While Northwestern is not likely to break its NCAA tournament drought this year, Thompson's performance gives the school a rare record that is not based upon futility. And for that, it is worth a mention.
Setup for Biggest Game Tomorrow: Georgia vs Alabama
Only one game tomorrow is a play-in game for the NCAA Tournament and it occurs in Atlanta, Georgia. Thanks to the Bulldogs victory over Auburn, Georgia and Alabama play at 1 pm, with the winner likely into the NCAA Tournament and the loser on the bubble on Selection Sunday. Both teams played to end the regular season and Alabama's win gave the Tide a fighting chance for the Big Dance. Now with this the only game of the weekend in which two bubble teams play each other, you can expect a large reward to the winner.
Worst Day of Basketball: SEC in Atlanta
This was a terrible day to be stationed as I was, in Atlanta for the SEC tournament. All four games were dreadful. Three were decided by double digits and the four losers represented some of the worst teams in major conference college basketball. Every game saw more Kentucky fans waiting for their team to play on Friday than fans of the teams actually on the court and the gym resembled a morgue during Friday night's finale between LSU and Vanderbilt. The schedule is a bit meatier on Friday, but for Day One at least, the SEC has been a dud.
MVP of the Day: Kemba Walker
One of the most impressive crossovers you will ever to see to get an open final look. Kemba's shot fit in well with all of his heroics this year and reminded everyone that the Huskies are still a force to be reckoned with this March. We will see if they can get four games in four days against Syracuse tomorrow, but that shot and the move that made him open, will be remembered for a long time to come.