March Madness 2017: Takeaways from Thursday's conference tournaments
One of the busiest days of the year in college hoops didn't disappoint
Thursday was one of the busiest days for college basketball for the whole season, and also one of the most eventful.
Here are the highlights:
Kansas State extending its season is huge for Bruce Weber: Kansas State’s athletic director is headed to take the job at Tennessee, and the Wildcats’ up-and-down season put Weber in the crosshairs for the coaching carousel this offseason. But by knocking off Baylor, Kansas State may have secured a spot in the NCAA Tournament and extended its 2017 season.
Notre Dame finally gets one over on Virginia: Mike Brey and the Irish have not beaten Virginia since joining the ACC, and the program hasn’t won against the Cavaliers since 1981. Tony Bennett’s pack-line defense has been the perfect antidote to Notre Dame’s system in recent years, but on Thursday night in Brooklyn it was Virginia’s offensive struggles that cost them a chance at advancing to the ACC Tournament semifinals.
Kansas goes down, but retains NCAA Tournament place: The Jayhawks have lost in their first Big 12 tournament game twice in conference history, once in 2009 and Thursday, against a TCU team gassed up for the moment by first-year coach and former Horned Frog Jamie Dixon. The win was TCU’s first in Big 12 conference tournament play and sets up a date with Iowa State in the semifinals. For Kansas, the loss reveals the value of Josh Jackson (suspended) but does not change the team’s projected status for the NCAA Tournament. They’ll still be a 1-seed, but maybe Villanova will now get the title as the “overall No. 1” for 2017.
Villanova, Oregon, Arizona took care of business: The defending champion Wildcats had St. John’s doubled up at one point in the second half and cruised to a 108-67 win while Oregon and Arizona each won by double digits in the Pac-12 conference tournament. On a day when the No. 1 team in the polls lost, these other heavyweights not only advanced but looked title-worthy.
Get ready for UNC-Duke III: Duke knocked off North Carolina at home in early February, celebrating Mike Krzyzewski’s second game back from surgery with a win, then the Tar Heels got even with a senior night win in Chapel Hill last Saturday. Both games were highly competitive contests played at a high level and now we, college basketball fans everywhere, are lucky enough to get a third edition of UNC-Duke in Brooklyn on Friday night. Since both Tobacco Road rivals are in one semifinal, 2017 is guaranteed to be the 21st consecutive ACC tournament with Duke and/or North Carolina in the championship game.
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