Still with me guys? We’re almost there, you can do it! We’re down to the semis and finals in our five major conference tournaments and there were some big upsets yesterday. Let’s check it out.
NC State looked like an NCAA team yesterday and also got some much needed help. The Wolfpack knocked off Virginia 67-64 in an exciting game. CJ Leslie and Lorenzo Brown put the team on their backs and got a couple big shots from Scott Wood. Dayton, Miami and Tennessee lost, meaning the Wolfpack probably have done enough to make the Big Dance but a win against North Carolina today will remove any doubt.
Speaking of UNC, the Tar Heels got past Maryland 85-69 but at a high cost. ACC defensive player of the year, John Henson left the game with a sprained wrist and his status is still uncertain for the game today. Roy Williams has been candid with his indifference towards the ACC Tournament, so I don’t expect Henson to play unless he is truly OK.
Duke did not play good yesterday, but luckily were only playing Virginia Tech. The Devils shot 19% from 3 and 37% from the floor. They won the game 60-56, but the streaky nature of a team like Duke surely makes you nervous about their chances next week.
Finally, Florida State did NC State a huge favor by knocking off Miami 82-71. The Seminoles have had a fantastic season even with a couple lack-of-focus losses. I expect this team to snag a 5 seed in the NCAA tournament and give their #2 seed all they want.
Today UNC and NC State play at 1:00, while Duke/FSU part III is scheduled for 3:00.
Big 12 Tournament
During the regular season Baylor went 0-4 against Kansas and Missouri and were never able to prove they belonged among the Elite of the Big 12. That changed last night as the Bears knocked off Kansas 81-72. Baylor has a talented team and had six players score in double figures yesterday in an extremely balanced attack.
Missouri cruised along again, taking care of Texas 81-67. When you hold a team’s best scorer to 0-10 shooting, as Texas did with Marcus Denmon, you expect to win right? Not with this Tigers team. Missouri has so many weapons and on this night Kim English and Phil Pressey scored 23 points each to carry the team.
Missouri and Baylor play for the Big 12 Championship at 6:00 today.
Big East Tournament:
The biggest upset of the night came in the most exciting conference tournament of the year. After a double-OT thriller of a win against Georgetown, the Cincinnati Bearcats followed it up by knocking off the second ranked team in the nation, 71-68. The loss doesn’t affect Syracuse in terms of NCAA seeding (they’re a lock for a #1 seed), but it does cast some doubt on the team many felt had the best chance to defeat Kentucky. While you’re filling out your brackets next week, remember this. Jim Boeheim has made it to the Elite 8 just four times in his 34 years at Syracuse. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
In the other Big East semi, Louisville continued their hot streak through the tournament by defeating Notre Dame 64-50. Rick Pitino’s team will likely earn as high as a 4 seed in the NCAA after thanks to this run. Louisville has had to deal with a ton of injuries this year, but they’re hitting their stride at the right time.
Cincinnati and Louisville square off in the
Conference USA Big East Final tonight at 9:00.
Big Ten Tournament
All chalk in the Big Ten yesterday as Ohio State easily beat Purdue 88-71, Michigan State cruised past Iowa 92-75, Wisconsin hit 13 3’s and beat Indiana 79-71, and Michigan survied Minnesota 73-69 in overtime.
Today we get four top 13 teams as #7 Ohio State plays #13 Michigan at 4:05 and #8 Michigan State plays #12 Wisconsin at 1:40.
Georgia followed up their upset over Mississippi State by scoring 41 points against Vanderbilt yesterday. Vanderbilt scored 63.
Ole Miss continued their run by upsetting second seed Tennessee, ending the Vols NCAA bid in the process, 77-72 in overtime. The Rebels still need to win this thing to make the NCAA tournament, but a win over Vanderbilt today would put them extremely close to stealing at at-large bid.
On a day where Kansas and Syracuse both lost, top ranked Kentucky also struggled but were able to get out with a 60-51 win over LSU. The first half was the worst this Wildcats team has played all season and point guard Marquis Teague played very poorly. In the second half Anthony Davis and Terrance Jones took over, but this performance was enough to make every UK fan nervous.
Florida survived a late rally from Alabama and won 66-63. They now get their third crack at the suddenly vulnerable Wildcats today.
Kentucky and Florida play at 1:00 today, while Ole Miss and Vanderbilt tip at 3:30.