Tag:Gettin' In
Posted on: March 13, 2010 11:51 pm
Edited on: March 14, 2010 12:15 am

Sunday Morning's Gettin' In

Did West Virginia just secure the fourth top seed?

Or is it still Duke's to win?

Honestly, I'm not sure.

But this sure is fun, isn't it?

Here's Sunday morning's Gettin' In:

Teams that punched tickets: West Virginia, Houston, Vermont, Kansas, Santa Barbara, Ohio, Sam Houston State, Morgan State, Washington, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, San Diego State and New Mexico State each earned automatic bids to the NCAA tournament on Saturday. That means 27 of the 65 spots in the field are now claimed.

Best game: "Anybody who didn't know the ball was going to him hasn't been watching us," Bob Huggins said after Da'Sean Butler hit yet another game-winner, and I can only assume Huggins was talking about Georgetown's John Thompson III, who didn't deny Butler the ball when West Virginia inbounded it with less than 10 seconds remaining in a tie game. Thus, Butler caught it without issue and sank a tough shot for a 60-58 victory that gave the Mountaineers the Big East tournament title and a strong claim on the fourth top seed. Also worth noting is that the Hoyas didn't guard the inbound guy. Why? How many games have to be lost this way before the NABC implements a rule requiring its coaches to guard the inbound guy on every inbound play?

Other best game: I'm pretty certain we've reached the point where nobody will be surprised if Evan Turner loads Ohio State on his back and carries the Buckeyes to the Final Four. Dude. Is. Killing it. The latest example is Saturday's 31-point, 10-rebound, six-assist effort that helped OSU advance to the Big Ten title game thanks to an 88-81 double-overtime win over Illinois. Yeah, Turner also had 10 turnovers. But whatever. That would only matter if the Buckeyes lost, and they didn't.

Team whose dream remained alive: Nobody uses the SEC tournament to salvage a bad season better than Mississippi State. The Bulldogs won the event to earn the league's automatic bid last season, and Saturday's 62-52 win over Vanderbilt again advanced Rick Stansbury's team to the SEC title game, where a win over Kentucky will secure another trip to the NCAA tournament and disappoint the thousands of UK fans expected to fill the arena Sunday in Nashville. "Big Blue, as you well know, they're going to travel; no question the place will be packed with them," Stansbury said. "... All those [other] fans that are still left here, we need all those fans for us." Absolutely, those fans cheering against UK would help Mississippi State. But what the Bulldogs really need is somebody who can handle John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins. And Patrick Patterson. And Eric Bledsoe.

Team whose dream was crushed: Akron wasn't the highest seed in the MAC tournament, but the Zips were the highest seed left by the time Saturday's title game rolled around. Their opponent was Ohio, a team that was seeded ninth because of a 7-9 league record. So Akron was the favorite, Ohio the underdog. And you can probably guess who won, right? Yep, Ohio recorded an 81-75 overtime victory that featured 13 ties and 24 lead changes, which was one less lead change than Akron needed to make the NCAA tournament.

Performance I hope you witnessed: I took some grief from Duke fans for leaving Kyle Singler off the CBSSports.com All-ACC first team, and Singler did his part Saturday to make those angry fans look smart. He got 27 points, eight rebounds and six assists in Duke's 77-74 win over Miami. If he repeats that performance Sunday, the Blue Devils will beat Georgia Tech, win the ACC tournament and possibly earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

Performance I hope you missed: Bobby Maze finished with nine points and five assists when Tennessee beat Kentucky two weeks ago at Thompson-Boling Arena. That's solid. He finished with three points (on 1-of-8 shooting) and two assists when Tennessee lost to Kentucky on Saturday in the SEC semifinals. That's not solid.

Three other things worth noting

1. Houston's 81-73 win over UTEP in Saturday's C-USA title game should make C-USA a two-bid league for the first time since 2005, but it might not given all the other craziness that happened. Just so we're clear, I suspect the Miners will make it. But what it'll come down to is whether the selection committee puts more emphasis on UTEP's 15-1 league record than it does the fact that the Miners have zero wins over other projected at-large candidates. Utah State is facing the same issue, by the way. The Aggies easily won the WAC regular-season title but lost Saturday's tournament championship game to New Mexico State. Their body of work consists of a win over BYU, and not much else.

2. The disappointing Washington Huskies will end up in the NCAA tournament after all. That's the result of Saturday's 79-75 win over California in the Pac-10 title game. The Bears should join Washington to make the Pac-10 a two-bid league. It's like the C-USA of the west.

3. Scoring 11 points in a half and losing 69-42 to an unranked Minnesota team is no way to prove you're still good despite an injury to a key player. But that's exactly what Purdue did Saturday, and now the Boilermakers won't be in any position to complain if the committee gives them a three seed, a four seed, any seed, really. It's unfortunate and cruel, but true.

Final thought: The NCAA tournament will expand.

Might be next season.

Could be three seasons from now.

But eventually -- and sooner rather than later -- this incredible event will be bumped to 96 teams, and if it's explained as nothing more than a money grab, well, what can you do? The push for an extra buck (or an extra billion bucks) has made smart people do dumber things, and I'm not going to try to convince anybody that a more lucrative TV deal would be bad for the NCAA. But anybody suggesting expansion will add to the intrigue of the NCAA tournament or improve it in any meaningful way needs to be punched in the nose by that girl basketball player at Baylor.

This championship week has proved otherwise.

Remember Connecticut?

The Huskies were bounced from the bubble so long ago that most have completely forgotten about them, but they'd probably earn an at-large bid in a 96-team field. Same goes for the Arizona State team that lost an embarrassing game in the Pac-10 tournament to Stanford, the UAB team that lost an embarrassing game in the C-USA tournament to Southern Miss -- plus Memphis, Dayton, Cincinnati and a bunch of other average outfits.

Who needs that?

So call it a money grab if you want, then go grab the money. But the NCAA would be wise to realize that the two weeks of conference tournaments and the subsequent three weeks of the NCAA tournament are terrific precisely because the NCAA tournament isn't too large. Additional revenue is important, I understand. But that money will come at a cost, and I'm not certain it's a price I'd want to pay.
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Gettin' In
Posted on: March 12, 2010 10:40 pm
Edited on: March 13, 2010 7:30 am

Saturday Morning's Gettin' In

Michigan decided not to guard Evan Turner.

Houston moved to within one win of a trip to the NCAA tournament.

So, yeah, it was another strange day of college basketball.

Here's Saturday morning's Gettin' In.

Team that punched a tickets: Lehigh earned an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament on Friday. That means 15 of the 65 spots in the field are now claimed.

Best game: Can you do better than the National Player of the Year sinking a 37-footer at the buzzer for a win? I think not. So the wrap-up must begin with Ohio State's 69-68 victory featuring Evan Turner catching an inbound pass with 2.2 seconds remaining, taking two dribbles and firing a long 3-pointer that swished at the buzzer (and advanced the Buckeyes to the Big Ten semifinals). I couldn't begin to explain why John Beilein didn't put a player on the inbound guy or Turner. But I'm glad he didn't because the strategy helped produce a memorable moment on a Friday afternoon, and I really do like memorable moments.

Team whose dream remained alive: Houston -- I repeat, Houston --  remained in play for Conference USA's automatic bid with a 74-66 win over Southern Miss on Friday.  The Cougars will play UTEP in C-USA's title game early Saturday. If your team is on the bubble, grab your Texas Western gear and root like crazy because a UTEP loss would almost certainly make C-USA a two-bid league.

Team whose dream was crushed: Considering just about every other bubble team lost the past two days -- Memphis, UAB, Ole Miss, Arizona State, Seton Hall, etc. -- Dayton could've moved to the right side of the bubble with a win over Xavier in Friday's A-10 quarterfinals, and when the Flyers took a 15-point lead with less than 11 minutes remaining it seemed like they'd do just that. But then Dayton pulled a Dayton and collapsed in spectacular fashion. The score went from 61-46 Dayton to 78-73 Xavier , meaning the Musketeers closed on a 32-12 run that ended the Flyers' NCAA tournament hopes.

Performance I hope you witnessed:   Georgetown's Greg Monroe took 15 shots, made nine and finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds in Friday's 80-57 win over Marquette. It was Monroe's third double-double in his past four games. If he gets another Saturday night, the Hoyas might just win the Big East's automatic bid despite being the event's eight seed.

Performance I hope you missed: It's not accurate to suggest Virginia Tech had to beat Miami in the ACC quarterfinals to secure an at-large bid; the Hokies will probably make the NCAA tournament anyway. Probably. But there's no guarantee, and Malcolm Delaney will be sick if Virginia Tech finds itself on the wrong side of the bubble because he was awful in Friday's 70-65 loss to Miami. The junior guard was 3-of-15 from the field, 0-of-8 from 3-point range, and 1-of-3 from the free throw line with three turnovers. Delaney finished with seven points, and now he'll spend Saturday rooting for UTEP instead of playing against Duke.

Three r andom notes

1. Evan Turner was Friday's star, but John Wall was OK, too. He got 23 points, seven rebounds and five assists in Kentucky's 73-67 win over Alabama that pushed the Wildcats into the SEC semifinals. They'll play Tennessee on Saturday. The Vols beat UK two weeks ago.

2. Mississippi State's 75-69 win over Florida on Friday prevented the SEC semifinals from featuring four SEC East schools. More important, it kept the Bulldogs in play for the NCAA tournament, but there's still work to do.

3. Kansas took over late and looked very much like the nation's best team in Friday's 79-66 win over Texas A&M. The Jayhawks trailed 47-40 in the second half before closing on a 39-21 run and winning 79-68. Sherron Collins got 26 points and six assists. KU will play Kansas State in Saturday's Big 12 title game.

Final thought: The Mountain West Conference became a four-bid league Friday night.

That's the result of San Diego State's 72-69 win over New Mexico.

And what it means is that this non-BCS league will absolutely get more bids than the Pac-10, possibly get more than the SEC, and perhaps as many as the Big Ten because New Mexico, BYU and UNLV began the day safely in the field, and San Diego State solidified its place with a victory over a New Mexico team that had won 15 straight to move to No. 8 in the latest AP poll.

So does this make the Mountain West a basketball power?

Not necessarily.

But the league is clearly more powerful than most recognize.
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Gettin' In
Posted on: March 12, 2010 12:07 am
Edited on: March 12, 2010 12:16 am

Friday Morning's Gettin' In

What's the only thing worse than bad point guard play in March?

A double-bye in the Big East tournament, obviously.

Here's Friday morning's Gettin' In.

Best game: I watched roughly 12 hours of basketball Thursday, which is more exhausting than you'd think. So I was tired by the end of the day, but not too tired to appreciate the brilliance of Da'Sean Butler, who made big plays on both ends of the court while leading West Virginia to a 54-51 win in the Big East quarterfinals. First, he applied pressure to Dion Dixon and caused the UC guard to dribble the ball off his own head and out of bounds. That's called a turnover. So the Mountaineers got the ball back with 3.1 seconds remaining and got it to Butler, who banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer to keep West Virginia in contention for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

Double-bye blues: In between Syracuse losing to Georgetown in the Big East quarterfinals despite a double-bye and Pittsburgh losing to Notre Dame in the Big East quarterfinals despite a double-bye, Villanova lost to Marquette in the Big East quarterfinals despite a double-bye, and double-byes sure don't seem to be an advantage, do they? Three of the four schools that had them -- i.e., three of the Big East's top four seeds -- lost Thursday. The only one that didn't was West Virginia, which, again, won only because a UC player dribbled the ball off his own head in the final four seconds.

Team whose dream remained alive: It's probably premature to call Georgia Tech a "lock," but the Yellow Jackets started Thursday in everybody's bracket, ended Thursday with a 62-58 win over North Carolina, and will spend Friday playing Maryland in the ACC quarterfinals. Best I can tell, they should lose to Maryland; thus, it shouldn't hurt them. So if the Yellow Jackets are in now, shouldn't they also be in on Selection Sunday barring a bunch of non-bubble teams making runs?

Team whose dream was crushed: Despite zero wins over other projected at-large teams and three losses outside of the top 150, Memphis entered the C-USA tournament as an at-large team in multiple brackets. So Thursday was a big day for the Tigers; all they had to do was beat a Houston team that finished 7-9 in the league to advance to the C-USA semifinals. But Elliot Williams and Doneal Mack combined to go 2-of-15 from the field, Aubrey Coleman sank a leaner with less than five seconds left, and Houston beat Memphis 66-65 to ensure the Tigers will miss the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2005.

Performance I hope you witnessed: New Mexico remained in play for a possible No. 2 seed thanks to a ridiculous effort from -- who else? -- MWC Player of the Year Darington Hobson. The junior college transfer got 28 points and 15 rebounds in Thursday's 75-69 win over Air Force. It was Hobson's third straight game with at least 20 points and 14 rebounds.

Performances I hope you missed: Oklahoma State's James Anderson won the Big 12 Player of the Year award on Sunday and responded by missing 10 of 14 3-point attempts in Thursday's 83-64 loss to Kansas State. He must be better in the NCAA tournament for the Cowboys to advance (and for the rims to survive).

Four random notes

1. Arizona's 75-69 loss to UCLA in the Pac-10 quarterfinals means the Wildcats' streak of 25 straight NCAA tournament appearances will end. Sean Miller's team is now 16-15 overall, 2-1 against UCLA. Yes, they swept the season series from the Bruins, then lost in the league tournament.

2. Ernie Kent coached his last game at Oregon on Thursday, barring a huge surprise. California beat the Ducks 90-74 in the Pac-10 quarterfinals and dropped their record to 16-16. Kent refused to address reports of his resignation/firing, but by all accounts he knows he's gone after 13 seasons, and it should become official in the next 48 hours.

3. Jimmer Fredette won Thursday's scoring title. The BYU guard hung 45 points on TCU in a 95-85 victory that launched the Cougars into the MWC semifinals. Fredette was only 10-of-23 from the field, but he sank 23 of 24 free throws to eclipse the 40-point barrier for the second time this season.

4. An MRI is expected to be performed on Arinze Onuaku's right knee Friday, and the selection committee will be among those interested in the results. If it becomes apparent that the Syracuse big man -- who injured his knee in Thursday's loss to Georgetown -- won't be available for the NCAA tournament, the committee could drop the Orange to something other than a No. 1 seed even though they clearly have the body of work of a No. 1 seed. My advice to Syracuse: Don't announce the results unless it's positive news. Keep it vague until the bracket is set because the committee probably won't penalize the Orange unless it knows Onuaku is out for sure.

Final thought: Jim Calhoun announced Thursday that he plans to coach UConn next season.

I hope he does.

But let's not forget that "plans" can change, and sometimes people have no control over them. I point this out not to be Debbie Downer, but to remind everybody that we're a long way from the start of next season. Calhoun has battled cancer three times and missed games each of the past two seasons for medical reasons. He's 67 years old. So while Calhoun's health concerns seem to be curbed at the moment, who knows where he'll be in eight months?

And that's the point.

Who knows?

Not me.

Not you.

And Calhoun couldn't possibly know either.

So, yes, I believe the Hall of Famer when he says he plans to coach next season.

I'm just not totally convinced he won't have to change his plans for reasons out of  his control.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 11, 2010 12:01 am
Edited on: March 11, 2010 9:04 am

Thursday morning's Gettin' In

Anthony Johnson got Montana into the NCAA tournament.

All it took was 34 second-half points.

Here's Thursday morning's Gettin' In.

Teams that punched tickets: Robert Morris and Montana each earned an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament on Wednesday. That means 14 of the 65 spots in the field are now claimed.

Best game: Anybody who watched Louisville-Cincinnati instead of Montana-Weber State missed out Wednesday night, because what happened in the Big Sky tournament title game is the stuff that makes this month great. Down 20 at the half, Montana rallied behind Anthony Johnson, who sank a pull-up jumper that proved to be the game-winner with 15 seconds remaining. Final score: Montana 66, Weber State 65. Johnson got 34 points in the second half and finished with 42, which was plenty enough to make him the star of the night and somebody to watch when the Grizzlies open the NCAA tournament next week.

Team whose dream remained alive: Sam Houston State's Southland tournament opener was more difficult than it should've been, primarily because Nicholls State's Anatoly Bose finished 15-of-23 from the field and scored 40 points. But Bob Marlin's Bearkats withstood the effort Wednesday and escaped with a 62-57 victory, meaning the Southland's regular-season champ stayed on course to earn the league's automatic bid.

Team whose dream was crushed: South Florida needed a win over Georgetown to remain in play for an at-large bid, but Dominique Jones missed twice as many shots as he made -- including all five 3-point attempts -- and that's all you really need to know. Remember, last month's upset of Georgetown featured Jones going 8-of-17 and finishing with 29 points. On Wednesday, he was 6-of-18 for 21 points, and the Bulls as a team shot just 29.1 percent from the field. Thus, they lost 69-49 in the second round of the Big East tournament, and now all they can do is hope for a nice NIT run.

Performance I hope you witnessed: Houston's Aubrey Coleman lived up to his reputation as an elite scorer by hanging 29 on East Carolina in Wednesday's 93-80 victory that propelled the Cougars into the quarterfinals of the C-USA tournament. Next up is a game against Memphis. A win there would cause the Tigers to miss the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2005.

Performances I hope you missed: How did Nebraska upset Missouri in Wednesday's first round of the Big 12 tournament? I suppose it starts with the Huskers shooting 55.8 percent from the field, 57.1 percent from 3-point range and 86.4 percent from the free throw line, and it should be noted that they also out-rebounded Missouri by a 33-21 margin. But all of that might've been offset if Kim English and Zaire Taylor wouldn't have combined for a 4-of-25 effort from the field that included a 3-of-13 performance from 3-point range. That's dreadful, and it contributed to Missouri becoming just the second No. 5 seed in Big 12 tournament history to lose to a No. 12 seed.

Three random notes

1. The New York Post's Lenn Robbins is reporting that St. John's will not bring back Norm Roberts for a seventh season. The Red Storm lost to Marquette in the Big East tournament Wednesday. They are 17-15.

2. The Louisville players must've heard Rick Pitino explain how the Cards secured an NCAA tournament berth with Saturday's win over Syracuse, because they opened the Big East tournament looking like a team that felt it had nothing left to accomplish and lost 69-66 to Cincinnati late Wednesday. The Bearcats, by the way, are the lone double-digit seed to advance to the Big East quarterfinals. They'll play West Virginia Thursday night.

3. Brandon Knight, widely viewed as the nation's best uncommitted prospect, told SunSentinel.com on Wednesday that he's eliminated Miami as a potential college destination. Knight is still considering five schools. They are Connecticut, Florida, Kentucky, Kansas and Syracuse.

Final thought: Syracuse and Georgetown play Thursday's early game at the Big East tournament. If you have plans to watch, prepare to be reminded that the Orange beat the Hoyas twice during the regular season, at which point somebody will almost certainly explain that you shouldn't assume that means Syracuse will win again because it's "difficult to beat somebody three times" in the same season.

My response: Really?


Honest to God, this is among the dumbest theories in sports.

Drives me crazy.

I mean, if you beat somebody twice doesn't it stand to reason that you're probably going to beat them if you play again? Why do we like to pretend that the third time will be some great challenge? For instance, I have a 7-year-old son, and we sometimes play Tiger Woods Golf on the Wii. When we do, I kill him because he's terrible at putting (and I'm pretty awesome at putting). So I beat him the first time we play, and then I beat him the second time we play, and when we decide to play a third time, guess what happens? Yep. I smoke him again.

The third time isn't more difficult.

In fact, it's often easier because by then he's demoralized.
Anyway, if Georgetown beats Syracuse in the Big East quarterfinals it'll be because Georgetown is pretty good. It might be because Austin Freeman goes bananas. Or because Greg Monroe gets 22 and 15. Or because the Hoyas' defense smothers the Orange like it smothered USF. But it won't be attributed to the theory that it's "difficult to beat somebody three times" because it's just not difficult.

You know what's difficult?

Beating teams that are better than you.

That's difficult.

So Georgetown is the one facing a difficult challenge here.

The Hoyas have to do something they haven't done.

All the Orange have to do is something they've already done twice.
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Gettin' In
Posted on: March 10, 2010 12:28 am

Wednesday morning's Gettin In

Butler destroyed Wright State.

UConn destroyed its NCAA tournament hopes.

Here's Wednesday morning's Gettin' In ...

Teams that punched tickets Tuesday: North Texas, Butler and Oakland each earned an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament on Tuesday. That means 12 of the 65 spots in the field are claimed.

Best game: Any title game that's tied with less than 30 seconds left is a good title game, so this is a perfect spot to mention North Texas' win over Troy in Tuesday's finals of the Sun Belt tournament. Game tied, like I said, with less than 30 seconds remaining. Josh White drove left, stopped at the free throw line and buried a jumper that proved to be the game-winner. UNT won 66-63. So the Mean Green are headed to the NCAA tournament, and Troy is trying to figure out why it let Josh White drive to the free throw line.

Team whose dream remained alive: South Florida's Dominique Jones got 20 points and nine rebounds in Tuesday's 58-49 win over DePaul that advanced the Bulls to the second round of the Big East tournament and kept their NCAA tournaments hopes intact. USF is now 20-11 with wins over Pittsburgh, Georgetown and Seton Hall (and just one loss outside of the top 100), which puts them right on the bubble heading into Wednesday's game with Georgetown. And raise your hand if you thought we'd ever have a season when UCLA, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Cincinnati, Michigan and LSU would all be off the bubble while USF was on it.

Team whose dream was crushed: We can stop talking about Connecticut and asking whether the Huskies will be the first 15-loss team to earn an at-large bid because they clearly won't be thanks to an embarrassing performance in their Big East tournament opener. "It was definitely embarrassing," UConn's Kemba Walker said after Tuesday's 73-51 loss to St. John's. So we agree! And now the only important question about the Huskies revolves around whether Jim Calhoun will return to coach them next season, and that question will likely remain unanswered for a while regardless of anything that was said in Tuesday's press conference.

Performance I hope you witnessed: Oakland's Derick Nelson averages less than 12 points a game. He'd only scored more than 20 three times all season before Tuesday, and I bet you know where this is going. Yep, dude went all Kyle Kuric on IUPUI. Nelson took 23 shots, made 15 and finished with 36 points in Oakland's 76-64 win that gave the Golden Grizzlies the Summit tournament title and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Not bad for a guy with a broken nose.

Performance I hope you missed: This spot is usually reserved for a player, but the entire Wright State team will work after Tuesday's 70-45 loss to Butler in the Horizon tournament final. The Raiders shot 34.6 percent for the game, just 10 percent from 3-point range. They never had a chance to turn the Horizon into a two-bid league, but they probably helped Butler improve its seed.

Three random notes

1. Troy might've lost to North Texas, but Yamene Coleman got the highlight of the night. The former Alabama player who spent his senior season at Troy absolutely crunched one on Collin Mangrum. I mean crunched . Find the highlight and watch it, then thank your god that you're not  the guy who tried to draw a charge on Coleman in the Sun Belt title game.

2. UMass busted Charlotte's bubble Tuesday night with a 59-56 win over the 49ers. Bobby Lutz's team is now 19-12 overall. That's not going to be nearly enough, even in this terrible season.

3. Cincinnati's 69-68 win over Rutgers in the first round of the Big East tournament could mark the end of the Fred Hill era. The fourth-year coach started the season on the hot seat and did nothing to remove himself from it. Rutgers finished 15-17 overall, 5-13 in the Big East.

Final thought: I'm not sure Notre Dame-Seton Hall is an elimination game because this stuff doesn't really work like that. But I do know that Wednesday night's winner should be safely in the field, which is why this is must-see TV for diehard college basketball fans.

It's like a play-in game between Big East schools.

It's days like today that make me wish I got paid to watch games.

Oh wait ...
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Gettin' In
Posted on: March 9, 2010 12:36 am
Edited on: March 9, 2010 12:39 am

Tuesday morning's Gettin' In

Fairfield blew a nice lead.

Saint Mary's did not.

Here's Tuesday morning's Gettin' In.

Teams that punched tickets Monday: Old Dominion, Siena, Saint Mary's and Wofford each earned an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament on Monday. That means nine of the 65 spots in the field are claimed.

Best game:
Fairfield was up 13 with less than 18 to play Monday night, and bubble-watchers everywhere were debating whether Siena could get an at-large bid after the sure-to-come loss in the MAAC tournament title game. My opinion: No, the Saints probably wouldn't have received an at-large bid given that they own zero top 50 victories. But guess what? It doesn't matter now because the Saints stormed back, forced overtime and recorded a 72-65 victory that made them the MAAC's automatic qualifier. Now they'll sit back and wait for the selection committee to give them a No. 12 seed, then we'll all pick them to beat some No. 5 seed.

Team whose dream remained alive: North Texas was nearly upset in the Sun Belt quarterfinals, but the Mean Green easily handled Denver in Monday's semifinals. The 63-56 victory will allow them to take a 10-game winning streak into Tuesday's title game.

Team whose dream was crushed: Western Kentucky fell behind by 16 points late in the first half and only scored 48 in the game, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that the Hilltoppers lost Monday in the semifinals of the Sun Belt tournament. What's surprising is that they had a chance to win, and that they actually led 48-47 with less than four minutes remaining. WKU seemed in control. But Troy countered with a 7-0 run, won 54-48 and ensured WKU's NCAA tournament streak will stop at two.

Performance I hope you witnessed: The West Coast Conference was probably going to be a two-bid league regardless, but Mickey McConnell ensured as much with a 26-point effort that keyed Saint Mary's 81-62 victory over Gonzaga in Monday's WCC tournament title game. McConnell hit 10 of 17 shots -- including four of seven 3-point attempts -- and helped the Gaels prevent Gonzaga from winning this event for the 11th time in 13 seasons.

Performance I hope you missed: David Schneider hit a big shot to lift William & Mary to the title game of the Colonial tournament, but missed pretty much every shot in said title game. He was 2-of-13 from the field in Monday's 60-53 loss to Old Dominion, 3-of-22 from the field in his past two games.

Three random notes

1. The Big East tournament starts Tuesday with four games. If you're a fan of a bubble team, you should root for St. John's to beat Connecticut, for DePaul to beat South Florida, and for Providence to beat Seton Hall.

2. The Horizon League title game is Tuesday night at Hinkle Fieldhouse. If you're a fan of a bubble team, you should root for Butler to beat Wright State because the alternative outcome would turn the Horizon into a two-bid league, which would effectively shrink the field by one.

The Oregonian newspaper reported late Monday that P.J. Carlesimo is a serious candidate to replace Ernie Kent at Oregon. Kent is expected to be officially fired at the conclusion of the Pac-10 tournament.

Final thought: Nothing in the Top 25 (and one) got folks fired up like Purdue down at No. 11.

But I don't understand the argument.

I mean, where do you think Purdue belongs?

No question, the Boilermakers were on their way to the No.1  seed in the NCAA tournament three weeks ago. But everything changed when Robbie Hummel tore his ACL, and this clearly isn't the same team. They looked average in a home loss to Michigan State, then backed that with a couple of wins over bad Big Ten teams, and I honestly think placing Purdue 11th is pretty darn generous.

It's unfortunate, but the fact remains that Hummel is gone.

So we'll never know what the Boilermakers might've otherwise been.

But I think I know what they are right now.

And that's something slightly less than a top 10 team.
Posted on: March 8, 2010 12:43 am

Monday morning's Gettin' In

The Northern Iowa Panthers made the field.

Will the Florida Gators eventually join them?

Here's Monday morning's Gettin' In.

Teams that punched tickets Sunday: Northern Iowa earned an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament with Sunday's 67-52 win over Wichita State in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament title game. That means five of the 65 spots in the field are claimed.

Best game:
William & Mary was up 14 at halftime and down a point in the final minute, which should tell you what kind of second half it was for the Tribe in their Colonial tournament semifinal against Northeastern. But they still won. Thanks to a David Schneider 3-pointer with 36 seconds left, and despite giving Northeastern seven shots at the tie or win in the final 30 seconds. William & Mary will now meet Old Dominion in Monday's tournament title game. If your favorite team is on the bubble, root for ODU.

Team whose dream remained alive: Western Kentucky's quest to make the NCAA tournament for the third consecutive season remains alive thanks to Sunday's 65-64 win over Arkansas State in the quarterfinals of the Sun Belt tournament. The Hilltoppers have won eight straight heading into Monday night's semifinal against Troy, which is both an average Brad Pitt film and the Sun Belt's top seed.

Team whose dream was crushed: VCU beat Delaware and George Mason to advance to the semifinals of the Colonial tournament, then jumped to a 12-point lead Sunday with less than 11 minutes remaining against top-seeded Old Dominion. Suddenly, fans of bubble teams from San Diego State to Rhode Island became huge Monarchs fans. Lucky for them, ODU closed with a 22-10 run to force overtime, and the Monarchs ultimately advanced to the championship game with a 73-69 win. More to the point, the bubble didn't shrink.

Performance I hope you witnessed: Wisconsin's Jon Leuer made eight of 13 field goal attempts and finished with 20 points in Sunday's 72-57 win at Illinois that doubled as the  junior forward's best effort since returning from a wrist injury. It helped the Badgers remain one of four Big Ten schools among the top 12 of the Top 25 (and one).

Performance I hope you missed: Manny Harris closed Michigan's dismal regular season with a dismal effort. He missed nine of 10 shots -- including all four 3-point attempts -- in a 64-48 loss at Michigan State that dropped the Wolverines to 14-16 overall and 7-11 in the league, which means the same Michigan team that began the regular season ranked 15th nationally ended the regular season eighth in the Big Ten standings. But hey, it's still better than the 10th-place finish the football team recorded!

Three random notes

1. A 74-66 loss at Kentucky pushed Florida's losing streak to three and put the Gators on uncertain ground entering the SEC tournament. For now, they're still fine despite a RPI in the 50s and three losses outside of the top 75. But they probably won't be if they somehow lose to Auburn in Thursday's SEC tournament opener.

2. Chattanooga's Ty Patterson was released from the hospital Sunday after suffering what was described as a "sudden cardiac event" during Saturday night's 96-69 loss to Charleston in the Southern Conference tournament quarterfinals. What caused Patterson's collapse remains unclear, but he was reportedly well enough to attend a women's basketball game Sunday afternoon. Why he'd want to do that also remains unclear.

Gonzaga did what Gonzaga does Sunday, which is to say advance to the WCC tournament finals. The Zags cruised to a 77-62 victory over Loyola Marymount in the semifinals and are now just a win away from their 10th WCC tournament championship in 12 seasons, and it's starting to look like the only thing that'll ever bring balance to this league is Oregon somehow convincing Mark Few to join the Pac-10.

Final thought: Seth Davis reported Friday that William Wesley (better known in basketball circles as World Wide Wes) is transitioning from behind-the-scenes powerbroker to in-the-spotlight agent of college and NBA coaches, and the question people keep asking is why.

Why is he doing it?

Why now?

But the better question is this: Why not now?

Wesley has become too high-profile in recent years to move and shake in the shadows, making a move to the mainstream inevitable, and there's no better time than now to make that move. Wesley is tight with the man who is about to be the biggest free agent in the history of basketball and perhaps American sports (LeBron James), and even tighter with the hottest name in coaching (John Calipari) who just so happens to be coaching four future first-round picks, including the projected No. 1 pick in this summer's draft (John Wall). Meantime, Wesley's Nike connections will almost certainly allow his voice to be heard when Oregon starts looking for a new coach, his Jay Z connections will almost certainly allow his voice to be heard when the Nets start looking for a new coach, and I could go on but surely you get the point.

A massive summer at different levels of basketball is nearly upon us, and the man formerly known as 'Fresh Wes' happens to have established relationships with many of the key characters. Any opinions on what's to come are all speculative, of course, but it's not an exaggeration to tell you many believe he'll be the guy who helps decide where King James plays the rest of his career, and the guy who helps decide which coach will be lucky enough to coach (and by coach , I mean ride ) the future Hall of Famer to NBA titles.

There are no limits to what's possible here.

And that's basically why Wesley is making this move.

He's long been labeled as the most powerful man in basketball.

It was only a matter of time before he took a step toward becoming exactly that.
Category: NCAAB
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