Tag:Florida State
Posted on: March 21, 2011 1:34 am
Edited on: March 21, 2011 4:11 am
 

Southwest Regional preview

Posted by Jeff Borzello

Where to start? The San Antonio regional has been dominated by upsets, with five lower-seeded teams advancing to the round of 32 and three double-digit seeds still alive in the Sweet 16. In fact, top-seeded Kansas almost seems like the outcast in a foursome that features the lowest seed remaining in the field and two of the last 10 at-large teams invited on Selection Sunday. The Jayhawks are obviously the heavy favorite, but it’s tough to bet against three teams playing with house money right now.

Three storylines dominating San Antonio

1. Cinderella reigns supreme, with three double-digit seeds still alive.
2. Kansas is the favorite, but not the most impressive team so far.
3. Florida State is rolling despite Chris Singleton being a non-factor due to injury.

How they get to Houston

No. 1 Kansas: Don’t get overconfident. The Jayhawks are clearly the favorite in the Southwest regional, with more talent and depth than any of the other three teams remaining. They have dominant inside players with Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris, perimeter shooters in Tyrel Reed and Brady Morningstar and a playmaker with Tyshawn Taylor. They are also one of the best defensive teams in the country. If Kansas plays to its potential, it should not be tested until the Final Four.

No. 10 Florida State: Defense, defense, defense. The Seminoles are the most efficient defensive team in the country, allowing only 0.86 points per possession. They completely stifled Texas A&M in the second round, then held a high-powered Notre Dame group to 50 points on 31 percent shooting. Florida State is physical and athletic, overcoming a lack of offensive explosiveness with lockdown half-court defense. If Chris Singleton can get healthy, this team can play with anyone.

No. 11 VCU: Pressure in the halfcourt. The Rams pressure the ball as well as anyone in the country, creating turnovers and forcing difficult shots in a half-court setting. USC, Georgetown and Purdue shot a combined 14-for-60 from the 3-point line against VCU in the NCAA tournament, also turning the ball over 39 times in three games. The Rams have been able to overcome their lack of size inside by creating match-up problems at the offensive end.

No. 12 Richmond: Create match-up problems. Richmond won its two NCAA tournament games in different ways. The one constant was taking advantage of individual match-ups. In the round of 64, Richmond used Kevin Anderson constantly down the stretch and also put Justin Harper in areas where he could score. Against Morehead State, Harper and Dan Geriot forced the Eagles to bring their big men out to the perimeter. What can the Spiders do against Kansas?

San Antonio's five best players

1. The Morrii, Kansas: Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris form one of the nation’s top inside tandems. Marcus is better facing up, while Markieff is a load down low.
2. Justin Harper, Richmond: Harper is a legitimate NBA prospect and match-up nightmare with his inside-outside talents.
3. Jamie Skeen, VCU: Skeen has more than held his own against USC, Georgetown and Purdue. Averaging 17.6 points in his last eight games.
4. Kevin Anderson, Richmond: One of the best point guards left in the field, Anderson is averaging 20.4 points in his last eight games.
5. Chris Singleton, Florida State: A healthy Singleton could be the difference between the Seminoles reaching the Final Four or losing on Friday.  

The Kansas Jayhawks are clearly the favorite in the Southwest regional heading into the Sweet 16. The other three teams still alive are nowhere near the Jayhawks in terms of talent and depth, and Kansas is capable of blowing out each opponent. The Jayhawks have not been at their best in the first two rounds, but were still able to win handily. Better starts in the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight will end any doubt very quickly as to which team is the best in the region. Bill Self and co. march on.

Photo: US Presswire 
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Posted on: March 11, 2011 11:56 pm
Edited on: March 12, 2011 1:36 am
 

Tech wins in five minutes and five seconds

Seth Greenberg's depression turned to pure joy in Greensboro

Posted by Eric Angevine

First, the orange-clad cheerleaders were crying. That was after the five seconds.

Then, the orange-clad cheerleaders were jumping, laughing and hugging. That was after the five minutes*.

The five seconds were actually 4.7, and we need to quibble, because it was hundredths of a second that decided this game. After Eric Green hit a big two to put Virginia Tech ahead of Florida State 52-51, there were 4.7 seconds left on the game clock. Derwin Kitchen used every bit of that time and, it turned out, a little bit extra, in making what appeared to be the game-winner for the Seminoles.

That part was over in a flash, but the officiating crew took time to look at the monitor, and it became clear after careful review that the ball was still on Kitchen's fingertips when the clock struck 0.0 in Greensboro.

Following the officiating nightmares in the Rutgers-St. John's game this week, it's nice to see a big one get the careful treatment.

Virginia Tech will now face Duke, a team they upset in the regular season, in the ACC semifinals, while North Carolina and Clemson meet on the other side of the brackets.

In the end, Virginia Tech head coach Seth Greenberg reversed the earlier series of events. His joy turned into tears as he considered the resilience of his Hokies, who can go to sleep tonight knowing that they won't hear the word "bubble" again this season.

*It was never five minutes. More like two. But it felt like five minutes.

Photo: US Presswire

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Posted on: March 11, 2011 9:32 am
 

Tourney reset: ACC quarterfinals

The hoped-for ACC championship game would rematch Duke-Carolina.The ACC tournament's opening day was not without drama, but it lacked any big surprises. The March 11 games should tell us more about how the seeding will fall into place for the NCAA tournament as well as which of the surviving teams are truly ready to keep step at the Big Dance.

No. 9 Miami vs. No. 1 North Carolina, 12:00 p.m. ET

Anyone watching the final minute of the Virginia/Miami game would have been tempted to write the Cavaliers into the next line of the bracket in ink. Tony Bennett's squad then proceeded to give up a ten-point lead in a 40-second stretch of bad in-bounds passes and slippery fingers that defied the imagination, eventually losing in overtime. That is to say that Miami was given a gift, but the things that worked against an inexperienced, smallish team in the first round are not likely to do much to slow down college basketball's hottest team. Look for Zeller and Henson inside and plenty of it.

No. 4 Clemson vs. No. 5 Boston College, 2:00 p.m.

Here's where the real intrigue starts. Quite often, BC has looked like the more tournament-ready of these two teams this season. Last night's game (caveat: against the league's hands-down worst team) was one of those nights. The Eagles were led by Reggie Jackson's 27 points, but Joe Trapani and Biko Paris each topped the 20-point mark as well. Cory Raji nabbed 11 rebounds. That offensive balance is threatening, but Clemson has the advantage of an extra day of rest. The Tigers won the two teams' only meeting during the regular season, 77-69, but had to withstand a furious rally by the Eagles along the way. For this game to turn out the same way, Demontez Stitt (14.1 ppg) and Jerai Grant (12.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg) must show the same senior leadership they did in the earlier meeting.

No. 2 Duke vs. No. 7 Maryland, 7:00 p.m.

This is one of those classic ACC rivalries where the outcome is rarely predetermined by seeding or record. Coach K vs. Gary Williams may not currently have the shine of K vs. Roy Williams, but it's historically been a tough one. The Terps got here by swamping N.C. State 75-67 with Jordan Williams putting up a 16 point, 13 rebound performance. The interior has been an area of concern for the Blue Devils, who nonetheless have more options than Maryland on the inside. Odds are, this game will turn on the spectacular play of Duke's Nolan Smith (21.6 ppg, 5.2 apg), who knows only too well that a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament is open after Pitt fell early in Big East play this week.

No. 3 Florida State vs. No. 6 Virginia Tech

Lots of intrigue in this one. Will Chris Singleton come back for the Seminoles? Will he be effective if he does so? Is Virginia Tech really a tournament team? FSU is securely in the field, but can likely improve by a couple of seed lines by winning through to the semis and showing off a fully recovered Singleton. That perception that they have the key piece of the team back is possibly more important than the actual result. For Tech, it's the same stuff, different year. On the bubble and unable to make an airtight case for inclusion. Now is unequivocally the time to prove that they are the team that upset Duke on February 26 and not the team that was swept by in-state rival Virginia.

Photo: US Presswire

Posted by Eric Angevine

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Posted on: March 10, 2011 11:37 am
Edited on: March 11, 2011 8:04 am
 

FSU's Singleton may return for ACC tourney

Chris Singleton may be back for postseason play

Posted by Eric Angevine

Currently, much of the drama of the ACC tournament is centered around the revival of the UNC/Duke rivalry. If anything can inject a little life into the tourney's other proceedings, it's the news that Florida State's star guard Chris Singleton may be on the verge of returning to the court.

From the Wilmington Star-News:

Florida State’s Chris Singleton, who has been out since Feb. 12 with a broken bone in his right foot participated in practice with the Seminoles at Greensboro Coliseum, leading to speculation that he might be ready to return as early as Friday’s quarterfinal game against either Virginia Tech or Georgia Tech.

Although both the player and his coach Leonard Hamilton acknowledged that Singleton was close to a comeback, neither was ready to be pinned down on exactly when that might happen.

Singleton will have more than 24 hours to decide if he's ready to go. Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech play at 9:00 p.m. tonight, with the winner meeting FSU in the last game of the day on Friday, March 11.

Singleton's return would once again make Florida State a dangerous team capable of contending for the auto bid. With him in the lineup, the Seminoles handed Duke its first loss of the season on January 12. A possible rematch looms in the semifinals.

Photo: US Presswire
 
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Posted on: March 8, 2011 8:57 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2011 8:53 pm
 

Conference tourney preview: the ACC

In some ways, the ACC is right back where it has always been. North Carolina (24-6, 14-2) and Duke (27-4, 13-3) waged a season-long battle for control of the conference, deciding the tourney seeds on the final day of the season in a head-to-head matchup. That’s pretty much what a long view of the league's history would predict, though the rivalry failed to materialize last season. Regardless, it's back now.

It's KellyZelly!The steep dropoff after the Tobacco road bluebloods is rather less than the norm, however. Florida State (21-9, 11-5) is a defensive powerhouse that struggles to score with star player Chris Singleton on the bench with an injury. Four-seed Clemson (20-10, 9-7) looks weak due to a soft non-conference schedule and a lack of marquee wins in league play.

And that’s just the teams that earned first round byes. Let’s take a look at the rest of the field, which begins play March 10 in Greensboro, North Carolina.

No. 8 Virginia (16-14, 7-9) vs. Miami (18-13, 6-10), 12:00 p.m. ET

Virginia arrived at this juncture in a pretty standard way: it’s the second season under a new head coach who had to clean house and start fresh. It didn’t help that Mike Scott, the best player and clear senior leader of this team, went down with a season-ending injury in December. With a tough season getting tougher, Tony Bennett handed the ball to fourth year guard Mustapha Farrakhan (13.5 points per game) and watched to see which of his freshmen could play. Early returns are mildly encouraging for newbies Joe Harris (10.6 ppg) and K.T. Harrell (8.0 ppg). On the Miami side of the ball, junior Malcolm Grant (14.9 ppg) is joined by sophomores Durand Scott (13.2 ppg) and Reggie Johnson (12.0 ppg, 9.7 rpg). The 6-foot-10 Johnson, in particular, should provide a difficult matchup for the undersized Cavaliers. The Hurricanes won the only in-season matchup between the two programs by two points in overtime.

No. 5 Boston College (19-11, 9-7) vs. No. 12 Wake Forest (8-23, 1-15), 2:00 p.m.

The edge in this matchup of first year coaches should go to former Cornell boss Steve Donahue. His BC Eagles finished the season on a three-game win streak after nearly upsetting UNC in a low-scoring game in February, and junior Reggie Jackson (18.3 ppg, 4.5 apg) has been one of the league’s best players. 6-8 senior Joe Trapani is the inside to Jackson’s outside, chipping in 14.4 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. Wake Forest has had an absolutely dreadful season under former Colorado coach Jeff Bzdelik, with 6-7 freshman Travis McKie (12.9 ppg, 7.6 rpg) as the lone bright spot.

No. 7 Maryland (18-13, 7-9) vs. No. 10 North Carolina State (15-15, 5-11), 7:00 p.m., ESPN2

There will actually be a few really good players in this game, which is the only opening-round game to be nationally televised. For Maryland, it’s big Jordan Williams (16.9 ppg, 11.6 rpg) and emerging guard Terrell Stoglin (11.6 ppg) helping to make “wait ‘til next year!” sound like more than an idle boast. At NC State, where Sidney Lowe is on career life support, the somewhat disappointing senior Tracy Smith (14.1 ppg, 20 games played) is making way for any number of talented freshmen. An extremely solid foundation has been laid, with freshmen C.J. Leslie (11.2 ppg, 7.1 rpg), Lorenzo Brown (9.4 ppg, 3.8 apg) and Ryan Harrow (9.3 ppg, 3.4 apg) looking good. If the NBA doesn’t reach for any of them, perhaps a hot new coach will have something serious to work with in 2011-2012.

No. 6 Virginia Tech (19-10, 9-7) vs. No. 11 Georgia Tech (13-17, 5-11), 10:00 p.m.

Oh, what a nightcap. One team on the bubble, both coaches on the hot seat. While some of Seth Greenberg’s difficulties have come from a horrible history of injuries to key players, he still fell to sixth place in the tournament with seniors Malcolm Delaney (18.8 ppg, 4.1 apg) and Jeff Allen (13.8 ppg, 10.0 rpg) leading his squad, and that’s a pretty tough pill to swallow. If anyone is a lock to do less with more in a similar scenario, it’s been Paul Hewitt, who has shown an ability to turn NBA-quality players into mediocre seasons pretty frequently since the Yellowjackets made that fateful run to the NCAA final in 2004. While his talent level wasn’t as high this year as it has been in years prior, he still squandered an all-out effort by junior Iman Shumpert (17.5 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 3.5 apg, 2.7 spg) in Hewitt’s eleventh season as head coach of the program.

ACC tournament bracket

****

Title game: 1:00 p.m. ET, Sunday, March 13 (ESPN)

 

BEST PLAYERS  

  1. Nolan Smith, Duke
  2. Tyler Zeller, North Carolina
  3. Harrison Barnes, North Carolina
  4. Chris Singleton*, Florida State

*injured

 

Conference RPI: 5

KenPom.com rating: 4

Sagarin rating: 4

NCAA Tournament Locks: North Carolina, Duke, Florida State

NCAA Tournament Bubble Teams: Boston College, Virginia Tech

 

Last NCAA Tournament Appearance:

North Carolina: 2009 (National Champions)

Duke: 2010 (National Champions)

Florida State: 2010 (lost to Gonzaga)

Clemson: 2010 (lost to Missouri)

Boston College: 2009 (lost to USC)

Virginia Tech: 2007 (beat Illinois, lost to Southern Illinois)

Maryland: 2010 (beat Houston, lost to Michigan State)

Virginia: 2007 (beat Albany, lost to Tennessee)

Miami: 2008 (beat St. Mary’s, lost to Texas)

NC State: 2006 (beat Cal, lost to Texas)

Georgia Tech: 2010 (beat Oklahoma State, lost to Ohio State)

Wake Forest: 2010 (beat Texas, lost to Kentucky)

 

Photo: US Presswire

Posted by Eric Angevine

 

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Posted on: March 6, 2011 4:27 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2011 1:30 am
 

Poppin' bubbles: Bid thief emerges


Posted by Jeff Borzello

Saturday was enormous for the bubble – of course, by “enormous,” I mean that it made things impossibly crowded at the bottom of the at-large pile. Certain teams played themselves into the picture, while others will inevitably be sweating come Selection Sunday (Seth Greenberg, we mean you). Sunday will be no different; there is no shortage of games with big-time bubble and at-large implications.

Gonzaga 71, San Francisco 67: The Bulldogs did what they needed to do in order to stay in the hunt, even if it wasn’t pretty. Gonzaga has won eight in a row and 10 of its last 11, forging a share of the conference title at 11-3. Can the Zags get into the NCAA Tournament even with a loss Monday in the title game? They have defeated Xavier, Marquette, Baylor and Oklahoma State in the non-conference season, but the RPI is in the 60s and the SOS is in the triple-digits.

Saint Mary’s 73, Santa Clara 64: The Gaels also took care of business in the West Coast semifinals, advancing to the title game. When compared to Gonzaga, they have fewer good wins, with the only top-50 victory coming over St. John’s back in the season opener. Outside of that, the best non-league win was over Long Beach State. On the plus side, they have better computer numbers – but that loss to San Diego is an eyesore.

Florida State 72, North Carolina State 62: If Chris Singleton was playing, the Seminoles would have locked up a bid by now. Without him, though, they needed to prove that they could win without him. Florida State won five of seven to end the season, finishing 11-5 in the ACC. The ‘Noles have a marquee win over Duke, which is carrying their profile right now. Victories over Boston College and Clemson help. They will likely face Virginia Tech in the ACC quarterfinals – can they survive a loss?

Indiana State 60, Missouri State 56: What a devastating loss for Missouri State. The Bears likely needed to win the automatic bid in order to get to the NCAA Tournament; third-seeded Indiana State made sure that didn’t happen. Missouri State simply doesn’t have the profile necessary to get an at-large bid. The Bears don’t have any top-50 wins, with just three coming against the top 100. The best non-league win came over Oral Roberts. It will be a stressful week on the bubble – and I don’t think Missouri State gets in

Kentucky 64, Tennessee 58: Tennessee is probably safely in the field due to its non-conference wins over Pittsburgh and Villanova, but the Volunteers are not doing themselves any favors. They lost six of their final nine games to drop to 8-8 in the SEC. With seven top-50 victories, a win in the SEC Tournament over Arkansas should lock up a bid. If the Vols lose to the Razorbacks, though, this will be an interesting case.

Penn State 66, Minnesota 63: A few weeks ago, this might have been a must-win for Minnesota, not Penn State. However, the Golden Gophers finished the season by losing five in a row and nine of their last 10. On the other hand, Penn State moves to 9-9 in the Big Ten and has a shot heading into the conference tournament. The Nittany Lions have some decent wins over Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan State, but a loss in the conference tournament would be their 14th of the season. That could be tough to overcome.

VCU 79, George Mason 63: We have our first potential “bid thief” of Championship Week. With George Mason already locked into a bid, VCU now has a chance to take one of the few remaining at-large bids if it can win the CAA title and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Moreover, the Rams might still hold an outside shot at getting an at-large bid should it lose in the championship game. The win over the Patriots was VCU’s third top-50 win of the season.

Boston College 84, Wake Forest 68: The win didn’t really do anything to enhance the Eagles’ profile, but at least they avoided a bad loss. A defeat here and BC would have likely been out of the field. With the victory, the Eagles get the five seed in the ACC Tournament, meaning a rematch with these Demon Deacons. If Boston College defeats Wake Forest in the opening round, we could be in store for a bubble play-in game between BC and Clemson. The Tigers have already defeated the Eagles once.

Photo: US Presswire

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Posted on: March 3, 2011 7:15 am
 

The Morning Drive: Davies-less BYU falls at home

Posted by Jeff Borzello

Wednesday was basically a microcosm of the college basketball season. Bubble teams failed to take advantage of numerous opportunities, a top-four team lost and there were plenty of great games. Moreover, conference tournaments kicked off in three conferences. Follow me on Twitter: @jeffborzello

Conference Tournaments Update: Three conference tournaments started last night, in the Atlantic Sun, Ohio Valley and Patriot. In the Atlantic Sun, the top two seeds advanced, with Belmont easily winning and East Tennessee State escaping No. 7 Campbell, 54-53. Neither of the higher seeds in the Ohio Valley advanced, as No. 8 Tennessee-Martin beat No. 5 Tennessee State by four, and No. 7 Southeast Missouri State dominating No. 6 Eastern Kentucky. Over in the Patriot, No. 3 Holy Cross (with only eight overall wins) was defeated by No. 6 Lafayette, 77-70. Bucknell, American and Lehigh all rolled by double-digits. The top performers included American’s Vlad Moldoveanu, who went for 31 points and seven rebounds; Eastern Kentucky’s Marland Smith’s six 3-pointers, 20 points and 11 boards; East Tennessee State’s Mike Smith, who had 24 points, six rebounds, three assists and four steals; and Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum going for 25 points.

Top Performer: In BYU’s first game without Brandon Davies, New Mexico dominated the Cougars all over the court, blowing them out on the road, 82-64. The Lobos were led by Phillip McDonald, who knocked down five 3-pointers en route to 26 points. Drew Gordon also threw in 15 points and 16 rebounds. Jimmer Fredette had 33 points, but most of them were after the result was no longer in doubt.

Dynamic Duo: Tulane has struggled all season, but the Green Wave had a bright spot last night, beating Houston. Kendall Timmons and Jordan Callahan combined for 46 points, 12 rebounds and 14 assists to lead Tulane to the 80-77 victory. The two players combined for five 3-pointers and seven steals.

Stat-Sheet Stuffer: Justin Reynolds helped Texas A&M-Corpus Christi snap an eight-game losing streak last night, finishing with 26 points and 10 rebounds as the Islanders defeated Texas-Arlington, 26-10. Reynolds also dished out three assists, nailed three 3-pointers and picked up a steal.

Filling it up: Lamar’s Mike James – yes, the same player who scored 52 points earlier this season – went four-for-six from 3-point range en route to a 30-point effort. The Cardinals defeated Texas State, 113-102. James also had three assists and went 11-for-16 from the field.

Round of Applause: Behind 32 points from Devon Beitzel, Northern Colorado wrapped up the Big Sky Conference title by beating Sacramento State, 84-54. The Bears finished 13-3 in the league. Over in the Mid-American, Kent State clinched at least a share of the regular-season championship when Miami (Ohio) lost to Ball State. The Golden Flashes became the first team since Miami to win back-to-back regular-season titles. The RedHawks did it in 1992 and 1993.

Shot of the Night: There aren’t too many doubters talking about Harrison Barnes anymore. North Carolina’s stud freshman knocked down a 3-pointer with just over three seconds to play, giving the Tar Heels a 72-70 road win at Florida State. Barnes finished with 18 points, while John Henson went for 19 and 12. Saturday’s showdown against Duke will be for the ACC title. On the other side, Florida State did prove it can be a capable team without Chris Singleton – despite the loss.

In a Losing Effort: Freshman guard Dundrecous Nelson shed a glimpse into what the future of the Mississippi backcourt holds with a big-time performance in the Rebels’ 76-73 loss to Auburn. Nelson knocked down seven 3-pointers en route to a career-high 30 points. Nelson also grabbed four rebounds and dished out two assists.

Set the DVR: The biggest game of the night is a Pac-10 showdown between UCLA and Washington. UCLA needs the win to stay in the hunt for a conference title, while Washington needs a win for its at-large profile. Also in the Pac-10, USC can continue its surprising run towards an at-large bid at Washington State. The America East, Missouri Valley and Northeast tournament kick off tonight.

Numbers Don’t Lie:

  • Jamie Dixon set the Division-I record for most wins in a coach’s first eight seasons with 214. 
  • With its win last night over Texas A&M, Kansas clinched at least a share of its seventh consecutive Big 12 title.
  • BYU suffered its first double-digit loss at the Marriott Center since the season-opener against Loyola Marymount in 2005.
  • Clemson is now 4-58 all-time at Duke. The Tigers have lost 14 in a row.
  • West Virginia had not beaten Connecticut in the regular season since 2006.

Notes and Notables:

  • Clemson hung close throughout, but Duke wouldn’t lose on Senior Night. The Blue Devils won, 70-59. Clemson now needs at least two wins to get an at-large bid.
  • Louisville overcame an early deficit to dominate Providence in the second half, 87-60.
  • Pittsburgh clinched at least a share of the Big East title with a 66-50 win over South Florida.
  • Behind 18 points from Joe Mazzulla, West Virginia pulled away down the stretch, knocking off Connecticut, 65-56. Both teams are headed to the Dance.
  • Maryland had a slim chance at an at-large bid heading into the night, but the Terps blew it, losing by 14 to Miami (Fl.).
  • Colorado fell victim to the Nebraska syndrome, losing to Iowa State after knocking off Texas.
  • Georgia avoided a terrible loss, routing LSU by 20.
  • In a classic Bubble Burster game, Cincinnati went on the road and beat a hot Marquette team, 67-60. Jimmy Butler dropped 30 for the Golden Eagles.
  • Utah State kept its at-large hopes alive by escaping at New Mexico State, 58-54.
  • Memphis likely fell out of the NCAA Tournament picture with an 11-point loss at East Carolina. The Tigers dropped to 9-6 in conference play.
  • I hope everyone stops talking about Dayton as even a bubble team now – Saint Louis rocked the Flyers by 18.
  • Michigan State avoided what would have been a crippling loss, pulling away in the second half for an 85-66 win over Iowa.
  • Richmond stayed in the at-large picture with a 15-point road win at Saint Joseph’s.
  • We might need to take a closer look at UAB’s at-large profile after its 67-66 road win at Southern Miss. Preston Purifoy knocked down a 3-pointer with 3.2 seconds left.
  • Colorado State is another team that is slowly getting back into the mix, beating Utah by 13. The Rams need to beat San Diego State this weekend.

Photo: AP

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Posted on: March 2, 2011 9:29 pm
 

Barnes and Marshall make UNC a half-court threat

Harrison Barnes has the green light to close out gamesPosted by Eric Angevine

Putting Harrison Barnes on the preseason All-America list will still go down as a triumph of hype over common sense, but the UNC freshman might still have the last laugh as the Tar Heels moved into temporary sole possession of first place in the ACC on his three-pointer with seconds left at Florida State.

This was no drive-and-kick or pass from the post. The final play was drawn up NBA-style, with Barnes isolated on Michael Snaer for the final shot. Barnes paid the slightest lip service (or was it hip service?) to driving the lane before lofting a contested shot over the Florida State defender for a thrilling 72-70 road win.

Carolina once again looked unlike a Roy Williams-coached team. Florida State had more easy buckets off of runouts than Carolina did, but only part of that could be attributed to the Florida State defense. With Kendall Barnes running the show, the Heels actually seem to like the half-court game. Marshall's game is more about astounding court vision and a cool head than it is about speedy decision-making. His 40-foot bounce pass to John Henson for a monster dunk in the first half was a thing of beauty, and it barely raised one of Marshall's eyebrows. He is always cool. His 8 assists in this one were but half of what he managed in his breakout performance against the 'Noles earlier in the season, but there's little doubt that Marshall can shepherd the Heels through a postseason run - he doesn't play like a rank freshman.

Roy Williams will continue to slow his Heels down because he doesn't have the bench to do what he really likes to do, and will do again as soon as possible - run the gosh-darned bejeebers out of his opponents. With Ty Zeller and Henson inside, Dexter Strickland as a physical off-guard and Barnes setting up as a reliable jump shooter, Kendall Marshall may just have the right cast to run the half-court set to devastating effect.

It's tough to overstate how big Barnes' sleepy-looking game has become to the Tar Heels. He's not the team's leader and may not score the most points on any given night. But when the game is on the line, Roy Williams turns to the Black Falcon, and the Falcon delivers.

Getting past FSU was a huge test of the new-look Heels. As we wait to see if Duke can hold serve in Cameron Fieldhouse against Clemson tonight, the excitement grows around Saturday's season-ending renewal of the greatest rivalry in college hoops.

Slow-down Heels... who'da thunk it?

Photo: US Presswire

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