Posted on: March 14, 2010 4:22 pm
Edited on: March 14, 2010 4:28 pm
If we learned anything from Duke's 65-61 win over Georgia Tech today, it's that Kyle Singler will not tolerate anymore of Dick Vitale's ranting. Singler dove into the broadcast table with the fury of a masked luchadore, taking out Dick Vitale and Dan Shulman in the process. Luckily, everyone was ok after the play and Vitale's glass eye stayed in place.
As for the actual game, Duke looked to be cruising to victory but let an 11 point lead with six minutes left slip to just one. The Blue Devils needed a three-pointer from Jon Scheyer with 18 seconds on the clock to fight off the late Georgia Tech run. Scheyer finished with 16 points and Kyle Singler scored 20 to lead Duke to their league-record 18th tournament title. Duke has now won nine of the past 12 ACC Tournaments.
Duke likely sealed the deal on a #1 spot in the NCAA Tournament with the win.
Posted on: March 14, 2010 3:52 pm
Mississippi State may have just seen its bubble burst in the cruelest of ways, as the SEC Championship slipped out of their fingers, 75-74 in Overtime. In regulation, the Bulldogs were up three with 5 seconds to go, but chose to foul. Kentucky's Eric Bledsoe made the first free throw but then missed the second on purpose. John Wall retreived the rebound, shot an air ball and Demarcus Cousins put in the putback, just .1 seconds before time expired. The Cats then prevailed in overtime, after a circus three by John Wall that put the Cats up for good.
Now the waiting begins for the Bulldogs. Rick Stansbury was as deflated as any coach I have ever seen after the game and seemed on the verge of tears in his press conference. He said that the two OT losses to Kentucky should be considered by Tournament committee but acknowledged that the call was now out of his hands.
What a game. I have been to SEC Tournament games for 20 years and there are only one or two that could come close to this one in terms of quality of play, raw emotion and excitement. One for the books.
Posted on: March 14, 2010 1:09 pm
Utah State won the WAC's regular season title and carried a 17-game winning streak into Saturday night's league title game, but their postseason fate is now in the hands of the NCAA Tournament selection committee after being dealt a 69-63 loss by New Mexico State. The loss was their first since Jan. 4.
The game featured two teams both nicknamed the "Aggies," a fact included here only to highlight how difficult it is to write about a game where this is the case.
The Aggies (the winning ones) were led by tournament MVP Jahmar Young's 19 points. Young was also the hero in Friday night's semifinal when he hit the game-winner against host Nevada.
"This team has a bunch of hard workers," New Mexico State coach Marvin Menzies said. "We knew this would be a war, and we put ourselves in position to win the war. Most importantly, we did what we needed to be done defensively."
The Aggies (the losing ones) are now forced to spend Sunday waiting and rooting against fellow bubble teams Minnesota and Mississippi State. USU is 27-7, won the WAC regular season by three games, has an RPI of 30, went 2-1 against teams in RPI top 50, but lost a pair of games to teams ranked above 100 in the RPI.
"We've done everything that's been asked of us," said Utah State head coach and horse look-alike Stew Morrill. "If we don't get in, it makes things really tough. Our body of work clearly shows that we should be in the NCAA Tournament."
Posted on: March 14, 2010 12:10 pm
The talk all week has been about the seeding for the SEC Tournament and how it needed to change because it wasn't a true reflection of the relative power of the league. Critics said that the four best teams were all in the SEC East and that the SEC West had no talent and should not have received the benefit of the divisional seeding that characterizes the SEC Tournament. Maybe so. But today, the Mississippi State Bulldogs will be representing the West in the Finals, after defeating two of the top East teams convincingly. Vanderbilt and Florida have gone down, but will MSU be able to repeat its magic against Kentucky? An NCAA bid may be what is at stake.
Because of the wins by Houston and New Mexico State yesterday, there are two fewer bubble teams that will find their way into March Madness. Mississippi State was all but forgotten as a Tournament team but now find themselves squarely on the bubble, potentially the last team in or out. Win today and you take away any mystery...lose today and you are the team the analysts fight about during the endless preview shows from Monday to Wednesday.
As for Kentucky, the city is painted Blue and Calipari admitted he had changed his mind and wants to win this for the fans. There will be a lot of them in Nashville today, where the crowd will give the Cats a huge homecourt edge. MSU has played the Cats well over the last few years and Jarvis Varnado seems to have big games in every meeting. How he plays may determine the winner.
Its raining Cats and Dogs in Nashville at 1 pm...or 2 pm, if you forgot to set your clocks forward, Check it out, and dont forget to make fun of Jimmy Dykes' ridiculous "black on black" Johnny Cash look on the microphone.
Posted on: March 14, 2010 1:07 am
The Big East Tournament is the crown jewel of Championship Week, and this year showcased exactly why.
West Virginia's 60-58 title game victory over Georgetown Saturday night marked the seventh game in the tournament (out of 15) that was decided by three points or less. It also highlighted one of the most underrated players in all of college basketball: tourney MVP Da'Sean Butler.
Butler scored 20 points on the night, none bigger than a gritty runner in the lane with 4.2 seconds remaining that would ultimately prove to be the deciding bucket. It was just the latest heroic effort in a season chock-full of them for Butler, who banked home a three-pointer at the buzzer to beat Cincinnati in the quarterfinals on Thursday night.
"We ran the same play we did against Cincinnati," Butler said after the game. "I scooped the layup off the glass, and it fell."
The play, termed by head coach Bob Huggins as "get the ball to Da'Sean and let him make a play," earned the Mountaineers their first Big East Tournament title and almost certainly locked up at least a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
More notes from the night:
--It's still weird for me to see Huggins as vulnerable and emotional as he was after the game. This is Bob Huggins. Bob Huggins doesn't cry. Bob Huggins coaches the scariest human beings in the world at Cincinnati and he's so intimidating that somehow guys like Kenyon Martin actually listen to him.
--Da'Sean Butler's highlight reel from this season is truly unbelievable. How a guy that good on a top-ten team from the Big East can go that overlooked is mind-boggling.
--I can see both Georgetown and West Virginia going to the Final Four and I can also see them both losing in the second round. The talent and coaching are definitely there for a run, but their styles of play just aren't as conducive to tournament success as Syracuse or Villanova's are.
--The grease board in the West Virginia locker room after the game reportedly read: "6 more, 240 minutes."
--The things that Greg Monroe can do at his size are remarkable, but at what point is someone going to finally try and force him to dribble with his right hand?
--Chris Wright inexplicably fouling with the score tied and less than 30 seconds to play would have been the story of the night had he not come down and made a sensational offensive play to tie it back up on the other end of the floor. I'm glad things ended up playing out the way they did. You'd hate to see a tournament as tremendous as this one be decided by something like that.
--I'm inviting Bilas, Raftery and McDounough to my wedding.
--Poor officiating has been one of the biggest themes of the 2010 Big East season, but there really wasn't a great deal to complain about over the past week. The stripes may have taken up a bit too much air time during the second half on Saturday, but there certainly wasn't anything as egregious as some of the stuff we saw during the regular season.
--Hearing "Country Roads" blaring inside Madison Square Garden was surreal.
--Georgetown was the eight seed in this tournament but will almost certainly have a number at least half that size (four...math...simplify and divide, baby) by its name on Selection Sunday.
--After the game, Bob Huggins made his case for the Mountaineers snagging the last No. 1 seed that appears to be floating around:
"We have 18 Top 100 wins. We have nine Top 50 wins. The 18 is the most of any team in the country. Our non-league RPI was second. Our strength of schedule is going to be one. We're going to end up in the top two or three in the RPI. They say, 'Do those things' and we've done those things. That being said, we're going to enjoy this. We're going to get together tomorrow and watch the selection show, find out where we're going to go and who we're going to play."
--This was WVU's first Big East Tournament title, but they won the A-10 Tournament title back in 1984.
--All five of West Virginia's starters are from the New York area. That's pretty cool.
--A bit overlooked tonight is that Butler became just the third player in Mountaineer history to top the 2,000-point plateau, joining Hot Rod Hundley and Mr. Jerry West.
--Great night, great tournament...the Butler did it.
Posted on: March 14, 2010 12:26 am
Edited on: March 14, 2010 12:48 am
Arkansas-Pine Bluff punched its first ticket to Dayton the NCAA Tournament by topping Texas Southern 50-38 in the SWAC title game Saturday night. Tavaris Washington scored 14 points and tournament MVP Allen Smith added 11 for the champs,
The game, which a quick google news search proves was the least-covered conference title contest in the history of college basketball, was the lowest scoring conference championship game of the '10 postseason thus far. It also marked the least aesthetically-pleasing thing I've witnessed since the ill-conceived "Ladies of Antarctica" pageant in '97.
The Golden Lions have the worst overall record (17-15) and RPI (186) of all the teams that have secured automatic bids, all but assuring the continuance of the trend of a historically black college participating in the play-in game. The One Blogging Moment crystal ball (it's pretty legit) predicts that the Winthrop Eagles will be joining them in the home of the Pine Club.
Pine Bluff could make Tuesday night a lot more entertaining for all of us if they could somehow find a way to get assistant coaches Nick Van Exel and Vin Baker eligible for action. The OBM crystal ball says the outlook does not look promising.
Posted on: March 13, 2010 10:56 pm
San Diego State wins the Mountain West Tournament for the third time this decade, defeating UNLV on their home floor, 55-45.
It was a slopfest between two emotionally spent teams less than 24 hours removed from hard fought upsets and clinching bids to the dance. Aztec freshman Kawhi Leonard provided the dirty work with a career best 21 rebounds and 16 points. Though they were the tourney's 4th seed, SDSU held wins against all league foes save for BYU, and have now won 9 of their last 10 games.
What's next for the MWC
--New Mexico could have locked up a 2-seed in the West but will likely find themselves in the 4 or 5 slot. At 29-4, New Mexico is not some cupcake glutton destined for first round despair. Building a 15 game win-streak in this league is one of the more impressive feats from any team this season. Conference MVP Darington Hobson has the right mixture of skill and swagger to ensure the Lobos don't buckle under the big stage.
--BYU figures to land a 5-6 seed after stumbling in the semis, and just as Hobson is for New Mexico, Jimmer Fredette is a force no one wants to see in their bracket, and the balance is there to set the Cougars up for the Sweet 16.
--UNLV can almost consider itself co-champs for how beneficial this tournament was to its seeding. Expect anywhere from a 7-11 seed for the tourney-savvy Rebs.
--Champs San Diego St. also fall into the 7-11-seed range most likely, and have the size, athleticism, and now some opportune confidence to make a run.
The potential is there for each school to be the higher seed in the first round. Whether they're favored or not, I would not be surprised if the conference came out of day one 4-0. Equal astonishment would arise if the MWC didn't have two reps in the Sweet 16.
Performances to remeber for maybe a night or two
Jimmer Fredette, BYU, quarterfinals vs. TCU: 45 points, 6 assists, 23-24 FT
Darington Hobson, NM, quarterfinals vs. Air Force: 28 pts, 15 rebs
Kawhi Leonard, SDSU, finals vs. UNLV: 16 pts, 21 rebs
Billy White, SDSU, semifianals vs. NM: 28 pts
Mountain West, it's been a pleasure. Thanks for the competitive basketball, gutsy performances, and a lights-out Mormon they call Jimmer.
Final Mountain West Bracket
Posted on: March 13, 2010 8:40 pm
Edited on: March 13, 2010 8:57 pm
For the first time since 2005, Ohio University has something to celebrate other than the greatest Halloween party in the history of the world. Thanks to a dynamite backcourt duo of junior Armon Bassett and freshman D.J. Cooper, the ninth-seeded Bobcats are going dancing after knocking off third-seeded Akron in the MAC final, 81-75.
Bassett, a 6'2" transfer from Indiana, continued his dominance of the MAC tourney, going for 25 points on 8-16 shooting. Bassett, who averaged 16 points in the regular season, absolutely went off in Cleveland, averaging 29 points in the Bobcats' four upset wins. But, against a hungry Akron squad, the play of a struggling freshman was what the Bobcats needed to make a difference.
In their previous two games against Kent State and Miami, Ohio was able to advance without much contribution from their second-leading scorer. D.J. Cooper combined for 1-10 shooting and four total points in the two contests, well below the 13 points he averaged in his inaugural college campaign. Against the Zips, though, Cooper found his stroke again and put up the type of LeBron James-esque statline Cleveland has become accustomed to. Cooper finished with 23 points, 7 rebounds and six assists, with 5 of those points and one crucial block coming in the extra period.
For head coach John Groce, it's a return to the tournament for the first time since Florida broke his little Buckeye heart in the national championship game in 2007. This time, he'll again play the role of underdog - a position he seems to be comfortable with.
Ohio University, it's time to get your Cinderella outfits out seven months early. You're going dancing.