Blog Entry

Saturday Wrap-up

Posted on: March 12, 2011 6:38 pm
Edited on: March 12, 2011 11:58 pm
NEW YORK -- The Princeton Tigers and Memphis Tigers both won in the final seconds.

So they'll both be in the NCAA tournament.

Nolan Smith?

His hurt toe seems OK.

Here's Saturday's Wrap-up to recap a busy day of college basketball.

Best game: The Princeton-Harvard playoff received considerable hype relative to Ivy League standards, then lived up to that hype with a classic ending that featured Douglas Davis hitting a leaner at the buzzer to give Princeton a 63-62 win that'll send the Tigers to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2004. Harvard hasn't made the NCAA tournament since 1946, still. But the school can claim Natalie Portman, and that's worth something.
Other best game: Memphis was down 12 with less than 10 to play to a team it had lost to by 27 points three Saturdays earlier. Game over, right? That's how it looked, and I found myself breaking from the action to look at the Tigers' resume in an attempt to make an educated guess about whether they could earn an at-large bid as second-place finishers to UTEP in the C-USA tournament. Then Tarik Black scored four straight points and suddenly the Tigers were on a run that would culminate with Joe Jackson at the free throw line, his team behind by a point. Jackson made the first, then made the second. And when UTEP's Christian Polk missed at the buzzer, Josh Pastner was able to celebrate his first trip to the NCAA tournament and calm his passionate fan base, all at the same time.

Yet another best game: Isaiah Thomas rushed the ball up the court, ignored his coach's desire to get a timeout and sank a fadeaway jumper at the buzzer to lift Washington to a 77-75 win over Arizona in the Pac-10 title game. Consequently, the Huskies are the automatic bid from the Pac-10 for the second straight season. Now let's see if they can make the Sweet 16 for the second straight season, too.

Yet another best game: Connecticut completed a historic run to the Big East tournament title with a 69-66 win over Louisvile in which Kemba Walker had 19 points. You want to read more about it, check my column from Madison Square Garden.

Team whose dream remained alive: Dayton finished ninth in the Atlantic 10 after being picked fourth in the preseason poll, which is a fact-based way of saying this hasn't been the best of seasons for Brian Gregory. But now he's just a win over Richmond away from erasing all that from his fans' memories and making the NCAA tournament thanks to a 64-61 victory over Saint Joseph's in the A-10 semifinals. The Flyers will be underdogs in the A-10 title game, for sure. But they'll have a chance, and that's not something that seemed likely a week ago.

Team whose dream was crushed: BYU's dream wasn't crushed, exactly. But the door to a possible No. 1 seed officially closed with a 72-54 loss to San Diego State in the Mountain West title game. That the Cougars could easily handle SDSU twice with Brandon Davies but could not handle SDSU without Brandon Davies is yet another sign that this isn't the same team that moved into the top five of the AP poll two weeks ago. And that's too bad. Because I'm no longer certain Jimmer's gonna be around for the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.

Performance I hope you witnessed: Harrison Barnes has elevated his game in recent weeks as much as Joe Jackson elevated his game in recent days. The North Carolina freshman now looks worthy of the Preseason National Player of the Year award bestowed upon him in October -- proof being the 40 points he dropped in UNC's 92-87 win over Clemson in the ACC semifinals. Barnes was 12-of-17 from the field, 6-of-8 from 3-point range and 10-of-11 from the free throw line. It took him longer than I expected to become a star, I admit. But can anybody deny he's reached that status heading into Sunday's ACC tournament final against Duke?

Performance I hope you missed: Texas dropped to 0-6 in Big 12 title games by falling 85-73 to Kansas in a contest the Longhorns never really threatened to win. They were down 48-33 at the half and let KU shoot 56.9 percent for the game. Their cooperation allowed the Jayhawks to secure a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

Three things worth noting

1. Kentucky's 72-58 win over Alabama kept the Crimson Tide on the bubble and advanced the Wildcats to the SEC title game for the second straight season. Last year they played Mississippi State. This year they'll play Florida, the reigning SEC East champions.

2. Nolan Smith suffered a toe injury late Friday but returned early Saturday and scored 27 points in Duke's 77-63 win over Virginia Tech in the ACC semifinals. I think that means he's OK. Virginia Tech's at-large hopes? They're probably OK, too. But it's impossible to say for sure.

3. Not sure I had Ohio State needing to beat Northwestern, Michigan and Penn State to win the Big Ten tournament, but that's the way this event has unfolded. So unless you think the Nittany Lions are beating the Buckeyes on Sunday, go ahead and pencil in Thad Matta's team as the bracket's No. 1 overall seed. Better yet, just wait. Considering the way things are going, Talor Battle will be holding a Big Ten trophy Sunday afternoon.

Final thought: Paul Hewitt was tied to Georgia Tech a little longer than he probably should've been because of a $7 million buyout that the school previously didn't want to pay and Hewitt was never going to walk away from, wisely. But Georgia Tech officials finally secured the funds to move their program in another direction after Hewitt finished with a losing ACC record for the fourth straight season, and the school confirmed his termination early Saturday.

Both sides will be better for it.

Georgia Tech is a good school and Hewitt is a good man, but this relationship needed to end. The two sides had become like a numb married couple that's only together because it's more convenient than separating, and that's not fun for anybody. So good for Georgia Tech, and good for Paul Hewitt. Saturday was an expensive day for the former and a tough day for the latter, but it's a day both clearly needed to arrive.
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Wrap-up

Since: Jan 9, 2007
Posted on: March 12, 2011 11:32 pm

Saturday Wrap-up

the BETTER TEAM    WON TONIGHT!!!!!!  NOT the better PLAYER!!!!! 
So the better player beat the better team 2 out of 3?  At least SDSU won the game that counted for the auto bid and should be a 2 seed.  Enjoy your nice win, but be careful taking shots at BYU.

Since: Nov 1, 2008
Posted on: March 12, 2011 11:30 pm

Saturday Wrap-up

Ditto... 32-2 baby! The numbers don't lie... Aztecs poised for a deep run...

Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: March 12, 2011 11:29 pm

Saturday Wrap-up

Win or lose, Ohio State is getting the top overall seed. Since Penn State has probably played its way in, the committee won't have time to factor in a loss if Penn State does win.

Since: Feb 28, 2009
Posted on: March 12, 2011 11:17 pm

Saturday Wrap-up

Nice call on the Rebels.  I'm still wondering why Quintrell's playing time was so limited last night.  He's the key to a 2nd weekend.  Go Rebels!

Since: Aug 30, 2006
Posted on: March 12, 2011 11:16 pm

Saturday Wrap-up

the BETTER TEAM    WON TONIGHT!!!!!!  NOT the better PLAYER!!!!!     WTG SDSU AZTECS!!!  Billy was a BEAST!!!     Great Games this weekend!!!!!  HELL YA!!!

Since: Mar 16, 2009
Posted on: March 12, 2011 11:05 pm

Shhhh, UNLV is Rising...

SDSU is a very athletic and mature team that walked all over BYU, again without Davies. However, UNLV has shown they can run with these Aztecs. The Rebels were swept three times by the Aztecs, which is problematic, but the Rebels are back to early season form and it took a last minute bucket for SDSU to get the win in the semi-final game. Yeah, I'm biased but I think the Rebels are a sleeper here and just might make the greatest noise out of all the teams representing the MWC this season. Just sayin'.......Cool

Since: Dec 2, 2007
Posted on: March 12, 2011 10:56 pm

Saturday Wrap-up

I obviously meant "all 45" and "all 40"... oops.

Since: Dec 2, 2007
Posted on: March 12, 2011 10:54 pm

Saturday Wrap-up

Will be interesting to see how Washington plays with Venoy Overton returning from suspension...  I really hope he doesn't start.  They were a MUCH improved team without him (although Thomas needs someone else to spell him some minutes occasionally-- he played all 25 today, all 20 on Thursday).  Overton's pestering (petulant?) overzealous style of play is as distracting to our own team, as it is to others.  He forces the refs to blow the whistle the way he plays, whether for or against us. Constantly.  And it's horrible for getting a rhythm going on offense.  Especially with a team whose best scorers are the OTHER guard (Isaiah Thomas) as well as three deep shooters who rely on rhythm to developing a rhythm to get going.  You can watch the transformation, after we lost our starting point guard, Gaddy, and as Overton got healthier, he started playing more and more minutes, and our offensive rhythm got worse and worse (we're the 2nd highest scoring team in the NCAA and just two weeks ago we scored 17 pts in the FIRST HALF against WSU).  Freshmen Terrence Ross is peaking at the perfect moment, too (16 pts tonight) and it would be a shame to send him back to the bench.  Stay with the hot hands Romar!  This lineup is undefeated...

Since: Sep 22, 2006
Posted on: March 12, 2011 10:41 pm

Saturday Wrap-up

Bracket killers?  
Gonzaga; still very talented, and now likely to be under-rated again.Belmont: they play a very unorthodox style, like a combination of hockey and Nolan Richardson's "40-minutes of Hell" that could throw a team.Utah State: much, much better than people think; beefy up front and experienced.Memphis: everyone thinks they're a shadow of Calipari's teams but like Gonzaga, they have physical talent.Butler: see Gonzaga and Memphis.Old Dominion or George Mason: solid teams, experienced coaches.Penn State: no one believes but them.
In a negative sense: 
I expect BYU and SDSU to underperform their seeding, and picking any SEC team to go deeper than Round 2 is suspect in my mind.

Since: Mar 29, 2007
Posted on: March 12, 2011 9:58 pm

Early Saturday Wrap-up

It's so hard to say what goes thru the committee's minds. I don't know if Sunday means alot unless it is an unexpected conference winner, then automatics and at-latges can get shuffled. It could come down to tomnorrow for the#1 overall seed. Im not saying it will, but Ive seen things besides the afore mentioned normal Sunday work happen and surprise everyone, or leave us scratching our heads. With KU dominating a likely 2 seed in Texas, were OSU to lose, perhaps it would mean enough to give pause to the committee as far as overall #1. OSU has looked a bit knackered in the previous 2 games, and the rest is going to help them, though they've played well tired, against a top 10 team, that fatigue would show up more than Thad or any coach would want.

As it stands OSU has the hold on #1 overall, and with the drubbing of the Horns, The Hawks are a firmly entrenched 2nd overall seed. Other teams are starting to step up, and all of a sudden this year of no "Great, but many good" teams has changed, and quite a few sleeping giants are being awoken. Did anyone expect the run NC would put on?, Well ok maybe if ur a homer. It seems now this year has matured into what will be a field that will have not only several great teams, there looks to be many bracket killers and ticking timebombs....I will say it that dang K-State team. They can look horrible for 3-4 games, then all of a sudden they become a buzzsaw, taking out everything in their path. UConn has danger written all over them...the problems is its also written at the bottom of the gas tank, and it may play a factor on Thursday or Friday.

So... straying a bit, but out of curiosity..who are some of you guy's projected bracket killers?

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