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Tag:Jeff Borzello
Posted on: February 15, 2012 11:30 am
Edited on: February 15, 2012 3:36 pm
 

Today's Specials: Bubble teams eye big wins

By Jeff Borzello

Wednesday is loaded with bubble teams looking for statement wins, while a couple of teams also try to keep a stranglehold on first place in their respective conferences.

Note: All times are Eastern, and the rankings are according to the AP poll.

Best game: No. 8 North Carolina at Miami (Fl.) (8 p.m., ESPN). The Hurricanes have already knocked off Duke; can they get another big win? North Carolina bounced back from its heartbreaking loss to Duke by pulling away in the second half against Virginia, while Miami snapped a five-game winning streak with a loss at Florida State over the weekend. The battle inside between Miami’s Reggie Johnson and Kenny Kadji vs. UNC’s Tyler Zeller and John Henson will be fun to watch. The Hurricanes need to keep the Heels off the offensive glass.

Second-best game: New Mexico at No. 13 San Diego State (10:15 p.m., CBS Sports Network). A showdown for first place in the Mountain West. New Mexico has won five in a row to move to 6-2 in the league, while San Diego State still has a share of pole position despite its loss to UNLV over the weekend. The first time the two teams played, the Aztecs pulled out a five-point road win. If New Mexico wants to win, it will have to knock down 3-pointers and also defend San Diego State inside the arc.

Another one to watch: Purdue at Illinois (8:30 p.m., Big Ten Network). A major bubble battle in the Big Ten. Both teams would be in the field right now, but neither is safe by any stretch. Purdue has lost four of its last six, with the lone wins coming over Northwestern. Illinois has dropped six of seven, but its last two twins were over Ohio State and Michigan State. The key in this one could be Meyers Leonard staying out of foul trouble; he has the potential to dominate on the inside for Illinois.

Guaranteed win: If Oral Roberts wins at IPFW (7 p.m.) tonight, the Golden Eagles clinch the Summit League title (they would become the second team to lock up a championship). ORU won the first meeting between the two teams, by 11 at home, but IPFW has lost nine of its last 10 games. Oral Roberts has too many offensive weapons for IPFW, and the Golden Eagles are comfortable playing at IPFW’s fast pace.

Potential upset: Colorado State has lost four of its last six, including a tough loss at TCU over the weekend. The Rams have one more game before the four-game stretch that will decide their season, but road trips to Boise State (10 p.m., Mountain) are never easy. If the Broncos get hot from 3, the Rams could be in trouble. Meanwhile, Texas-Arlington puts its 15-game winning streak on the line at Stephen F. Austin (8 p.m.), which is 9-1 at home this season.

Three things to keep an eye on:

  1. No. 16 Murray State starts a tough final four games tonight, at Southeast Missouri State (8 p.m., ESPN3), which gave the Racers plenty of trouble two weeks ago.
  2. Don’t look now, but Tulsa is only a half-game back of Southern Miss and Memphis. If the Golden Hurricane beat Southern Miss tonight (8 p.m.), things could get interesting.
  3. Northwestern needs another good win to boost its at-large resume, and tonight at No. 18 Indiana (6:30 p.m., Big Ten Network) would do the trick.
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Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 15, 2012 12:25 am
Edited on: February 15, 2012 12:29 am
 

Night Court: Sherrod Wright's 3 highlights V-Day

Sherrod Wright hits a 25-footer at the buzzer to give George Mason a two-point win over VCU. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

Here’s everything you need to know about Tuesday’s slate of college basketball games …

Game of the day: VCU and George Mason have battled for CAA supremacy several times over the past decade, but they might have had their most exciting game on Tuesday night. The two teams were back and forth throughout, but the final 82 seconds were electric. They combined for 21 points in that span, with George Mason knocking down three 3-pointers and VCU hitting seven free throws. It all ended when Mason’s Sherrod Wright hit a 25-footer at the buzzer to give George Mason a one-point win, 62-61. Mason is now tied with Drexel atop the standings.

Win to brag about: LSU is finally starting to put some things together lately. The Tigers have won three of their last four games, the latest coming against Mississippi State on Tuesday night. Freshman guard Anthony Hickey hit a runner in the final seconds of overtime to give the Tigers a 69-67 win. With wins over Arkansas, Alabama, Marquette and now Mississippi State, the Tigers are no longer an easy out heading down the stretch.

Loss to hide from: Clemson fell just short against Virginia the first time the two teams played, but the Tigers broke through this time. Clemson outscored the Cavaliers by 12 in the second half, en route to a 60-48 victory. Virginia’s Joe Harris was held to two points as he struggled with a broke left hand. Tony Bennett’s troops have now lost three in a row, dropping down to sixth in the ACC standings.

Player who deserves improper benefits: TCU guard Hank Thorns knocked down 8-of-12 from 3-point range en route to 32 points, leading the Horned Frogs to a 102-97 overtime victory over UNLV. They were down by 18 points with 15 minutes remaining, and 15 with 10 minutes left. Eight of Thorns’ points came in overtime, and the senior also dished out four assists and grabbed five rebounds in the upset win.

Player(s) who does not deserve improper benefits: Coming off a 28-point outing against LSU, Alabama’s Rodney Cooper was feeling his oats heading into Tuesday’s game against Florida. It didn’t really work out well, as he shot 2-for-9 from the field and turned it over four times in a 61-52 loss. Without Tony Mitchell and JaMychal Green, someone needed to step up for the Crimson Tide – on Tuesday, it wasn’t Cooper. 

Numbers don’t lie:

  • 24-for-26: In the last two games, Southern Illinois has allowed teams to shoot 24-for-26 from behind the 3-point line.
  • 3: George Mason knocked down three 3-pointers in the final 30 seconds in its comeback victory.
  • 77.5, 85.7: Creighton shot 77.5 percent from the field and 85.7 percent from 3-point range in its 88-69 win over Southern Illinois.
  • November 27: Tennessee-Martin hadn’t defeated a Division-I team since late November, but the Skyhawks defeated Kennesaw State on Tuesday night. 

Three other notable results:

  1. Ohio State bounced back from its loss to Michigan State on Saturday with a 78-68 victory at Minnesota. William Buford had 24 points and Jared Sullinger went for 23.
  2. Texas won its fourth game in a row, outscoring Oklahoma by 16 in the second half en route to a 69-58 win. Myck Kabongo had 13 points and seven assists.
  3. Seton Hall won its third in a row after dropping six straight games, destroying St. John’s by 30. 

Notes:

  • Cleveland State lost its third game in a row since looking comfortable at the top of the Horizon standings, falling to Milwaukee, 86-84.
  • Butler won its third in a row, beating Loyola Chicago. With the Horizon getting more unpredictable everyday, could the Bulldogs be the conference tournament favorite – again?
  • Kent State knocked off Buffalo, 76-71, putting both teams at 9-3 in the Mid-American. Each team is now 1.5 games back of Akron.
  • Manhattan took another hit in its quest to for a regular-season MAAC title, dropping one on the road to Siena, 70-64.
More College Basketball coverage
Posted on: February 14, 2012 2:53 pm
 

Today's Specials: Many teams look to bounce back

By Jeff Borzello

There aren’t any truly marquee games on Tuesday night, but a lot of teams are looking to rebound from tough losses and get back on the right track.

Note: All times are Eastern, and the rankings are according to the AP poll.

Best game: No. 6 Ohio State at Minnesota (9 p.m., ESPN). Two teams looking to bounce back from tough losses. Ohio State had its worst offensive performance of the season on Saturday night, losing to Michigan State and scoring just 48 points. On the other side, Minnesota had lost three of its last five, including an overtime defeat to Wisconsin last week. The Golden Gophers need another marquee win for its resume, but they will need to take care of the ball and also keep Ohio State out of the paint.

Second-best game: No. 12 Florida at Alabama (7 p.m., ESPN). With neither team at full strength, this one will be interesting. Florida is without Mike Rosario and Will Yeguete, as Rosario is struggling with a hip pointer and Yeguete suffered a concussion over the weekend. Alabama reinstated Trevor Releford and Andrew Steele, but JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell are still suspended. Without its two best offensive players, the Crimson Tide will struggle. Can the Gators take advantage?

Another one to watch: VCU at George Mason (9 p.m.). A battle for first place in the CAA. Well, with Drexel also 13-2 in the league, the winner will likely have to share the top of the standings. This will be the first of two meetings between VCU and Mason, as they will square off again on February 25. VCU is forcing turnovers at a high rate, while George Mason has struggled to take care of the ball. The Rams have to avoid fouling, though, as Mason gets plenty of points from the free-throw line.

Guaranteed win: Drexel has won 13 in a row after starting CAA play with two losses. The Dragons are rolling right now, and will host William & Mary (7 p.m.) on Tuesday. W&M has had a rough season, losing nine of its last 10 games to fall to 10th in the league. With VCU and George Mason playing each other, Drexel should be in a two-team tie for first at the end of the night.

Potential upset: There are a couple of games to look out for tonight. Texas, fresh off its comeback win over Kansas State, has to travel to an Oklahoma (8 p.m., ESPN3) team that gave Texas Tech its first Big 12 win of the season. However, the Longhorns struggle on the road and have not been consistent for most of the season. According to the odds, LSU beating No. 23 Mississippi State (9 p.m., ESPNU) wouldn’t be an upset, but it would be another nice win for the Tigers. They’ve beaten Arkansas and Alabama in the past two weeks. 

Three things to keep an eye on:

  1. Creighton is on a three-game losing streak, and has to take a trip to Southern Illinois tonight (8:05 p.m., ESPN3). The Bluejays can’t afford another regular-season Missouri Valley loss.
  2. Virginia has fallen back to the pack a bit after two losses in its last three games. The Cavaliers need to get back on the right track at Clemson (7 p.m., ESPNU).
  3. In what might be the worst non-conference game of the season, Tennessee-Martin visits Kennesaw State (7 p.m.). The two have a combined three Division-I wins, and neither has won since December.
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Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 14, 2012 12:00 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2012 12:23 pm
 

The Final Stretch: Title race reset

Big South champion UNC-Asheville was the first team to clinch a regular-season title. (UNC-Asheville Athletics)

By Jeff Borzello

Over the weekend, we finally got our first guaranteed postseason team, as UNC-Asheville clinched the Big South regular-season title. Asheville’s win over Radford, combined with a third straight loss from Coastal Carolina, gave the Bulldogs an insurmountable lead at the top of the standings. They are now guaranteed at least a berth in the NIT. So far, UNCA is the only team to clinch a title – where do the rest of the leagues stand?

America East: Stony Brook and Vermont are tied in the loss in column, but the Catamounts have a game in hand, at 11-2. Boston University is 10-3. Stony Brook has two league games left, while Vermont and BU have three.

ACC: There’s still a lot of time left in this one. North Carolina, Duke and Florida State are all tied at 8-2 with six games left.

Atlantic Sun: Belmont and Mercer are tied at 12-2 with four games left. The two will face off in the regular-season finale on February 25.

Atlantic-10: Each team has five or six games left, and seven teams are within 2.5 games of first place. Temple sits on top at 8-2.

Big East: Syracuse sits two games up on Marquette in the loss column, with four games left for the Orange. Marquette has a game in hand. Notre Dame is the darkhorse, sitting two games back in the loss column with two games in hand.

Big Sky: With three league games left for each team, Montana and Weber State are tied at 12-1. Weber State will visit Montana on the final day of the regular season, February 28.

Big South: UNC-Asheville clinched the title.

Big Ten: Four teams are within one game of first place with five or six games still remaining. Ohio State and Michigan State are tied at 9-3 right now.

Big 12: It looks like the title will come down to Missouri at Kansas on February 25. The teams are tied in the loss column heading into the final three weeks.

Casper Ware and Long Beach State could wrap up the Big West title in the coming days. (US Presswire)

Big West: Long Beach State is ahead by 3.5 games with just four conference tilts still remaining.

CAA: This is going to be fun. VCU, Drexel and George Mason are all tied for first place at 13-2, with three games left. Interestingly, VCU and George Mason still have to play each other twice, while Drexel has the easiest schedule of the three.

Conference-USA: Memphis and Southern Mississippi remain tied atop the league at 8-2, with six games still remaining. The two teams split their regular-season meetings. Tulsa is sitting there quietly at 8-3, though.

Great West: Utah Valley is up three games with three games left.

Horizon: Things are heating up here. Cleveland State had the lead, but has since lost two in a row, letting Valparaiso take over first place by a half-game. The two teams are tied in the loss column with three/four games left.

Ivy: Harvard lost its first league game of the season over the weekend, opening up the door for Yale and Penn to remain in contention. The Crimson do face those two at home, though.

MAAC: This is shaping up to be a tremendous finish. Iona and Loyola (Md.) are tied at 12-3 with three league games left, but Manhattan and Fairfield are only one game back in the loss column. In the final week, Iona plays Fairfield and Manhattan plays Loyola.

MAC: With five games left, Akron is atop the league at 10-1. Buffalo is one game back, while Kent State lurks at 8-3. Akron still has to play both of those teams in the final week of the season.

MEAC: After it looked like Norfolk State might run away with the title, the race became interesting. Five teams are within two games of first place, with Savannah State tied in the loss column with Norfolk. There are four/five games remaining, but Norfolk finishes the season with three road games.

Missouri Valley: Creighton’s recent three-game swoon has given Wichita State a two-game lead with three games left.

Mountain West: This one is nowhere near over. New Mexico, UNLV and San Diego State are all tied at 6-2 on top of the standings. There are still six games left, and New Mexico plays both SDSU and UNLV in the coming days.

Northeast: LIU-Brooklyn’s sweep of St. Francis (N.Y.) last week knocked the Terriers out of title contention, but Wagner still remains just one back of Long Island with four games left.

Ohio Valley: With three games left, Murray State is up three games in the loss column on Tennessee State and Southeast Missouri State. The Racers are guaranteed at least a share of the league title.

Pac-12: Who knows? Five teams are within one game of first place, with California and Washington tied at 10-3, and Arizona, Colorado and Oregon all giving chase. Cal and Washington do have three road games each to end the season, so there’s still a lot to shake out.

Mike Muscala's Bucknell Bison have a three-game lead with four left. (US Presswire)

Patriot: With four games remaining, Bucknell sits unbeaten at 10-0. The Bison have a three-game lead on both Lehigh and American. However, they still have to play both of those teams in the final stretch.

SEC: Kentucky looks just about ready to wrap this thing up, leading Florida by three games in the loss column with five left for the Wildcats. The battle in the SEC is for second place at this point.

Southern: Davidson’s loss to Charleston over the weekend kept the door open a bit, as the Wildcats now lead Georgia Southern by two games with three left. The two play in the season finale on February 25.

Southland: Despite Texas-Arlington’s 15-game winning streak, the 11-0 Mavericks are not a lock to win the league just yet. There are still five games left in conference play, and McNeese State sits at 9-2 over in the East division. UTA heads to McNeese on February 22.

SWAC: After Mississippi Valley State’s win over second-place Southern on Monday night, the 13-0 Delta Devils now have a four-game lead on Southern and Texas Southern with five remaining. 

Summit: Oral Roberts is guaranteed at least a share of the regular-season title, as the 15-1 Golden Eagles lead South Dakota State by two games in the loss column with two regular-season contests left. ORU’s final two are on the road, though.

Sun Belt: Middle Tennessee’s win over Arkansas-Little Rock this weekend gave the Blue Raiders some breathing room. MTSU, now 12-1, has a 2.5-game lead on UALR with three left. Louisiana-Lafayette is within striking distance at 9-4.

WCC: Saint Mary’s could have virtually locked up the league at Gonzaga last week, but the Zags protected their homecourt. Now the Gaels have a one-game lead in the loss column on Gonzaga heading into their final three games.

WAC: Nevada has a 2.5-game lead on New Mexico State with three games left. The two teams will face off on March 1, although the league could be wrapped up by then.

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Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 13, 2012 3:29 pm
Edited on: February 13, 2012 3:34 pm
 

K-State pins NCAA hopes on three-game gauntlet

Kansas State likely needs to win of its upcoming three games to feel good about its NCAA hopes. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

Kansas State has felt pretty good about its NCAA tournament hopes for much of the season, but three losses in its last five games has put the Wildcats squarely on the bubble.

The next three games will likely decide the Wildcats’ Selection Sunday fate. Unfortunately for them, it’s a murderous slate: home vs. Kansas tonight, at Baylor on Saturday, and at Missouri next Tuesday.

Kansas State has lost three of its six league games by three or fewer points, and also blew a 13-point lead over the weekend at Texas to lose by double-digits. Frank Martin would likely feel a lot more comfortable had the Wildcats pulled out some of those close games.

“They’re better than what their record is in league,” Kansas head coach Bill Self said, according to RapidReporter Rob Cassidy. “They’re 6-6 in the league, but they could easily be 8-4 or 9-3. It seems like they’ve had something go awry in those close games and that’s the reason why their record’s not as good.”

Although Kansas is rolling right now, tonight might be Kansas State’s best chance at a marquee win the rest of the season. The Wildcats are 10-2 at Bramlage Coliseum this season, while Kansas has had trouble winning there the past four years. After winning 19 straight at Kansas State, the Jayhawks have lost two of the past four years.

“Both teams are better than the first time we played,” Martin said on the Big 12 teleconference today. “Offensively they are a machine right now.”

That doesn’t bode well for Kansas State, which lost the first meeting between the two teams by 18 back on January 4.

If Kansas State can’t get a win tonight, and the Wildcats subsequently strike out against Baylor and Missouri, they will sit at 6-9 in the Big 12 heading into the final two weeks of the regular season. Would they have the resume needed to get into the Big Dance?

Right now, they have an RPI of 51, an SOS of 76 and a horrendous non-conference SOS of 238. They do have a marquee win over Missouri, but after that, it’s barren. Alabama was a good win at the time, but the Crimson Tide are faltering of late (and have four players suspended). Long Beach State looks OK, as does Texas.

Kansas State is right on the cutline at this point, but they need to get one of these next three games. If not, the Wildcats are going to be sweating on Selection Sunday.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 13, 2012 1:02 pm
Edited on: February 13, 2012 4:26 pm
 

Today's Specials: Syracuse heads to Louisville

By Jeff Borzello

After a huge weekend filled with plenty of upsets, bubble games and close finishes, we don’t get any time to catch our breath. Monday has some great matchups, too.

Note: All times are Eastern, and the rankings are according to the AP poll.

Best game: No. 2 Syracuse at No. 19 Louisville (7 p.m., ESPN). Interesting – a battle of two teams that seem to constantly look better when they turn up the full-court defensive pressure. Syracuse continues to cruise towards a Big East title, while Louisville has won six in a row to right the ship after a rough three weeks earlier this season. The Cardinals will need to crash the offensive glass, but also can’t commit silly turnovers. Defensively, Chane Behanan and Gorgui Dieng have to stay out of foul trouble.

Second-best game: No. 4 Kansas at Kansas State (9 p.m., ESPN). A win here would go a long way for Kansas State’s at-large hopes. The Wildcats have lost three of their last five, and sit at just 6-6 in the Big 12. With road games coming up at Baylor and Missouri, tonight could be a must-win. Kansas has rebounded nicely from its Missouri loss, blowing out Baylor and Oklahoma State. Can K-State keep Thomas Robinson from dominating the glass at both ends? The Wildcats make a killing on the offensive glass, but Kansas limits second-chances.

Another one to watch: Iowa State at No. 9 Baylor (7 p.m., ESPNU). The last time Baylor lost back-to-back games to Kansas and Missouri, the Bears went on a four-game winning streak. Will tonight be the start to another run? Iowa State has won six of its last eight since, coincidentally, losing to Missouri and Kansas. It’s going to be tremendous watching Royce White and Perry Jones go at it, but the Cyclones need to hit plenty of 3-pointers to win this one. White might not be able to single-handedly dominate the Baylor zone defense.

Guaranteed win: There aren’t too many locks on the schedule tonight, with so many below-.500 teams in action, but North Carolina Central should feel pretty comfortable heading into its game against South Carolina State (7:40 p.m.). S.C. State has three Division-I wins this season, one on the road, and has lost 17 of its last 18 games overall. Like I said, NC-Central should feel comfortable.

Potential upset: Mississippi Valley State sits atop the SWAC standings, unbeaten with a 12-0 conference record. However, the Delta Devils head on the road to second-place Southern on Monday night (8:30 p.m.). A win by MVSU would virtually clinch the league title, while a loss makes things interesting down the stretch. Southern is 7-1 on its home court, and they play some of the most stifling defense in the nation. 

Three things to keep an eye on:

  1. Belmont heads to Stetson (7 p.m.) looking for a tie at the top of the Atlantic Sun standings. The Bruins are currently a half-game behind Mercer.
  2. Are either McNeese State or Northwestern State a threat to Texas-Arlington in the Southland? They battle for East Division supremacy (8 p.m.).
  3. Norfolk State has been inconsistent lately, but the three teams chasing them – Savannah State, Delaware State and Bethune-Cookman – are all on the road tonight. 
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Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 12, 2012 8:40 pm
Edited on: February 12, 2012 8:47 pm
 

Night Court: Seton Hall, Purdue get bubble wins

Meyers Leonard struggled mightily on the offensive end against Michigan, as Illinois lost by nine. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

Here’s everything you need to know about Sunday’s slate of college basketball games …

Game of the day: In a game with major implications for the bubble, Seton Hall went on an 18-5 run to finish the game en route to a 73-66 win over Pittsburgh. Even more impressively, the Pirates played the final six minutes without Fuquan Edwin, who fouled out after making a jumper to cut the lead to four. Brandon Mobley came up with an important steal, while Herb Pope made four free throws in the final 11 seconds, to clinch the victory for Seton Hall. Pitt probably needs to win the Big East tournament to get to the Big Dance now.

Win to brag about: Stony Brook came into Sunday at 12-1 in the America East and on top of the standings. Second-place Vermont simply went out and hammered the Seawolves by 19, holding them without a 3-pointer despite 15 attempts from behind the arc. Four McGlynn had 24 points off the bench for the Catamounts, who can now win a share of the regular-season title – and potential homecourt advantage in the conference tournament.

Loss to hide from: Only two days after beating Iona to take sole possession of first place in the MAAC, Loyola (Md.) was throttled at home by Fairfield, 68-51. The loss ended the Greyhounds’ seven-game winning streak, as they shot just 17.4 percent from the field in the second half. A 12-0 run midway through the second stanza broke things open for the Stags.

Player who deserves improper benefits: In the “Battle for Brooklyn,” LIU-Brooklyn senior Jamal Olasewere shot 11-for-11 from the field, finishing with 32 points and seven rebounds in an 81-78 win over St. Francis (N.Y.). The win keeps the Blackbirds atop the Northeast, and completes a two-game sweep of the city rival Terriers.

Player(s) who does not deserve improper benefits: Michigan is most vulnerable on the inside, so most expected Illinois sophomore Meyers Leonard to have a monster game on the interior. However, he struggled with foul trouble and only finished with five points on five shots as Michigan came out with a 70-61 win. Leonard did grab 12 rebounds, but Bruce Weber needed more offensive production from his big man. 

Numbers don’t lie:

  • 0: Binghamton is still winless after losing a 62-60 game to Hartford. The Bearcats have five regular-season games left to get a victory.
  • 6: The Northeast has a “Rivalry Week” where each team plays their rival twice in a matter of days. All six matchups featured 2-0 sweeps.
  • 26: Kyle Weems became the 26th played in Missouri Valley history to reach 1800 points, as Missouri State beat Bradley by 11.
  • 10: St. John’s became the first team in the country to lost 10 games to top 25 teams this season.

Three other notable results:

  1. Georgetown hit three 3-pointers during a key three-minute stretch late in the second half to hold off St. John’s, 71-61.
  2. The Big Ten featured a monster bubble battle on Sunday, with Purdue getting the big victory over Northwestern, 87-77. John Shurna had 30 points in the loss.
  3. Washington’s Terrence Ross had 21 points and 13 rebounds to lead Washington to a 75-72 victory at Oregon State. The game was a must-win for the Huskies, in order to keep pace with California at the top of the Pac-12.

Notes:

  • Connecticut announced that Warde Manuel will be the new director of athletics for the university. Manuel has been the AD at Buffalo for the past six years.
  • Dorian Finney-Smith tipped in a missed 3 with 1.8 seconds left to give Virginia Tech a 66-65 win over Boston College.
  • Scott Machado racked up a triple-double in Iona's tougher-than-expected win over Marist. He had 10 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.
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Posted on: February 11, 2012 6:32 pm
Edited on: February 11, 2012 11:44 pm
 

Night Court: Kentucky should run the table

Chace Stanback and UNLV made big defensive plays down the stretch to hold off San Diego State. (AP)

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By Matt Norlander and Jeff Borzello

Game of the Night: Vanderbilt made the charge. It took the lead back from Kentucky in the middle of the second half. Then it didn't score in the final four minutes and seven seconds, and Kentucky remained the best team in college basketball. Wildcats 69, 'Dores 63. Anthony Davis will now wrestle the title of Player of the Year away from Thomas Robinson. That's a debate for later in the week, though. Davis had 16 points and seven blocks. He completely changed how Vanderbilt attacked inside.

The Wildcats only have incalculable Miss State and flaky Florida left to play on the road. Then comes the SEC tournament, where Kentucky fans will smother the joint. The chances this team gets to the NCAA tournament 33-1 are better than not, even if Ken Pomeroy is telling us otherwise.

Game of the Day: OK, we absolutely need a rubber match between San Diego State and UNLV. The first game ended on a Jamaal Franklin layup at the buzzer. Saturday’s contest didn’t have a buzzer-beater, but it took a Justin Hawkins offensive rebound, free throw and steal in the final 10 seconds to give UNLV a 65-63 win. The Runnin’ Rebels went four minutes without a field goal down the stretch, but they constantly came up with huge defensive plays – including Chace Stanback knocking the ball away from Franklin in the final minute. These two are now tied atop the Mountain West standings, along with New Mexico.

Michigan State now clearly worthy of a two seed. (AP)

Spartans Final Four-worthy: Michigan State got a road win at Ohio State and did it by shoving Ohio State's head into the ground. According to this tipster, Ohio State was less than 30 percent in eFG% first time since late 2007 against Texas A&M. A 58-48 outcome has to make you wonder if the Spartans will be ranked higher than the Buckeyes come Monday. What's clear after this: Tom Izzo is in the thick of the Coach of the Year race again.

Also clear: Ohio State can't be considered on the same level as Kentucky and Syracuse and Missouri. Not at this moment. Jared Sullinger was able to score 17, grab 16 rebounds ... but also had 10 turnovers. It was the eighth time this season a player had at least 10 giveaways. The other seven times, it was a guard with all those donations.

Second-tier game with significance: Reminiscent of its series of comebacks in December, Louisville ended its game at West Virginia on a 13-3 run to beat the Mountaineers in the final minute. There was some questionable calls late in the game that had Bob Huggins heated in the postgame – again. Kyle Kuric tied the game on a 3-pointer with two minutes left, then had the game-clinching steal and free throws in the last 10 seconds. West Virginia has now lost five of its last six, putting itself squarely in bubble trouble.

Saturday all-stars

  1. Jeff Withey had 18 points, 19 rebounds and seven blocks to lead Kansas to an 81-66 win over Oklahoma State. He’s become such an underrated cog for the Jayhawks.
  2. Notre Dame’s Jack Cooley shot 10-for-12 from the field, finishing with 22 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks in a win over DePaul. He’s making a case for the all-Big East team.
  3. Andrew Nicholson notched a Dwight Howard-esque performance, going for 21 points and 23 rebounds in St. Bonaventure’s win over Duquesne.
  4. Penn State’s Tim Frazier nearly racked up a triple-double against Nebraska, putting up 23 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. He also had three steals.

Numbers don't lie

30. Kent State has now won 30 consecutive games against MAC West opponents dating back to 2008.
3. Prior to today, Virginia hadn't lost this season by more than three points.
22. The number of rebounds for Miles Plumlee, one of the best performances around the tin in Duke history.
12-for-12. Indiana State made the most 3s without a miss in a game in NCAA history.
664. Roy Williams tied John Wooden with 664 wins, 23rd all-time.
23. It's been 23 years since Harvard has won at Princeton.

Other Saturday action worth your attention

  • Missouri knocked down 14 3-pointers and Baylor stubbornly stayed in its zone all game, as Tigers rolled to a 72-57 win. Read more about this game here.
  • Murray State has no hangover. The Racers defeated Austin Peay, 82-63.
  • Temple's an 8-2 A10 team after its home win over Xavier to the tune of 85-72. Owls are working their way toward another seven seed, just like last year. Xavier's tripping over itself on the way to the First Four or the NIT.
  • Florida State pulled out a five-point win over Miami (Fla.). The Hurricanes have a nice win over Duke from last weekend, but they need more beef on their profile.
  • Marquette got down 16-4 early to Cincinnati, but the Golden Eagles came back and won in a blowout. They made 32 of their last 53 shots.
  • Kansas State blew a 13-point lead to Texas, as the Longhorns now throw themselves squarely in the bubble picture. Kansas State is too inconsistent.
  • Good night, Davidson’s at-large hopes. The Wildcats lost to Charleston.
  • VCU is hitting its stride at the right time, as the Rams went into Old Dominion and knocked off the Monarchs.
  • In its first game since Austin Rivers’ big shot, Duke suffered a bit of a hangover against Maryland – but the Blue Devils made a nice second half run to get a win.

Notes

  1. With Kent State’s win over Ball State, the Golden Flashes have now swept the MAC West in four straight seasons.
  2. The Atlantic-10 could be seeing a little bit of separation at the top. Saint Louis went on the road and beat La Salle today – could the Billikens win out?
  3. Alabama suspended Trevor Releford, JaMychal Green and Andrew Steele indefinitely, days after suspended Tony Mitchell. The Crimson Tide are going to have trouble making the NCAA tournament without them.
  4. Will Yeguete was knocked unconscious in Florida's bad, bad home loss to Tennessee. It's been diagnosed as a concussion  and due to the 10 stitches in Yeguete's head, he's out indefinitely.
 
 
 
 
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