Monday, February 25, 2008

College Basketball 2/25 - No More Undefeateds

Hokies for Huskies
On Saturday, when Georgia Tech visited Virginia Tech, the Hokie fans all donned black and red in support of Northern Illinois University, where a deranged shooter opened fire in a classroom, something the Blacksburg campus dealt with last year. Great to see fans and students putting trivialities aside and supporting each other.

Tennessee 66, Memphis 62 - Tennessee ended Memphis' bid to become the first undeafeted team in 32 years by beating Memphis on the road, and earning a #1 ranking in the process. Tyler Smith, who was the best player on the floor for Tennessee finishing with 16 points and 6 rebounds, hit a tough turnaround jumper in the lane with 30 seconds left to give Tennessee a one point lead and the win. The most impressive part about this victory for the Volunteers was how they won - they didn't play the run-and-gun style that has brought them so much success this year. Instead, they gave out muscled Memphis in the paint (46-31 rebound advantage) and played off them on the perimeter and forced the Tigers to beat them with jump shots instead of penetration. The Volunteers weathered Memphis's hot shooting to start (started 7-11 from three, but missed 15 of their last 16) and pulled out a gritty victory that solidified their ranking and all but guaranteed them a #1 seed the in tourney.

Michael Beasley, Kansas State - Despite the Wildcats 0-2 week, Beasley averaged 30.5 points and 11.5 rebounds, including a dominating 44 point, 13 rebound performance against Baylor. It was Beasley's third 40 point game of the season, and second in the last three. He has emerged as the favorite for national Player of the Year, looking to become the second straight freshman from the Big XII to win the award. And to think - Beasley and Kevin Durant played on the same CYO team growing up outside DC. K-State has a huge week next week, with games against Texas and at Kansas.

Miami - The Hurricanes went 2-0 this week, beating both Duke and Maryland to thrust themselves back into the bubble conversation. The ACC is looking more and more like a four-bid league, and with Maryland's loss to Virginia Tech and Wake's loss at North Carolina, Miami is looking like they could be that fourth team with a 6-6 record in league play. With four games left, their only tough one will be at Clemson, which means that Clemson could pretty easily get to 9 or 10 league wins, which should be more than enough to get them an at-large bid.

2/25 Texas @ Kansas State - Texas has positioned themselves nicely to earn a #1 seed in the Tournament, but will have their hands full with the Wildcats and Michael Beasley.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Bill Walker, Kansas State and Damion James, Texas - Everyone knows about All-Americans DJ Augustin and Michael Beasley, but these two athletic forwards are quietly having huge seasons.

2/25 San Diego @ St. Mary's - Gonzaga and St. Mary's are the two schools everyone knows from the WCC, but San Diego is sitting one game behind those two in the conference standings with one game left against both teams. San Diego won the first match-up 63-55.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Patrick Mills, St. Mary's and Brandon Johnson, San Diego - St. Mary's is 11-0 when Patrick Mills scores 15 or more, and Johnson, who is having a great year averaging 16.4 ppg, 3.5 apg and 3.7 rpg, will have the task of slowing him down.

2/25 Marquette @ Villanova - Villanova's 2-0 week put them back into the bubble discussion at 7-7 in the Big East, while Marquette is playing to earn that all-important first round bye in the Big East tournament.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Scottie Reynolds, Villanova and Dominic James, Marquette - Possibly the two best point guards in the Big East.

2/26 Tennessee @ Vanderbilt - After knocking off then #1 Memphis, the Volunteers are looking to crown themselves kings of Tennessee with a win at Vandy. Tennessee won the first matchup 80-60.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: AJ Ogilvy, Vanderbilt and Tyler Smith, Tennessee - Ogilvy is a tough assignment inside against anyone, especially an undersized Tennessee team. Tyler Smith has been playing great the last few weeks, and look for that to continue.

2/26 BYU @ New Mexico - New Mexico is in third place in the MWC, but just a game and a half out of first (BYU). If they win out (UNLV, Colorado State), the Lobos can all but assure an at-large bid. BYU won the first matchup 83-66.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Trent Plaisted, BYU and JR Giddens, New Mexico - Giddens, a transfer from Kansas, has been nothing short of superb for Steve Alford, while Plaisted will create huge matchup problems for the Lobos.

2/28 Wright State @ Butler - Wright State has won the last three games against Butler, including a 43-42 dogfight in December. After losing to Illinois State, Wright State needs this game and a trip to the conference finals for any hopes of an at-large birth.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Scottie Wilson, Wright State and Matt Howard, Butler - Everyone knows about the outstanding guard play for both of these teams, but these two big men have range and perimeter skills, which is part of the reason both teams are able to run effective spread offenses.

2/28 Michigan State @ Wisconsin - While the Spartans have struggled of late, Wisconsin has won four in a row and seven of eight to take a 1/2 game lead in the Big Ten.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Trevon Hughes, Wisconsin and Raymarr Morgan, Michigan State - Raymarr Morgan is one of the most complete players in the Big Ten, while Hughes has been a pleasent surprise at point guard for the Badgers.

2/28 Notre Dame @ Louisville - After UConn's loss to Villanova, these are two of the three teams tied for the Big East lead. Very interesting matchup of pure shooting and raw athletcism.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Terrence Williams, Louisville and Tory Jackson, Notre Dame - Williams is a great all-around player that can help a team in a multitude of ways. He will be a tough matchup for anyone on ND. Tory Jackson will need to be steady running the point against the aggressive Cardinal defense.

3/1 Kansas State @ Kansas - Back in the early season, Michael Beasley said that the Wildcats will beat Kansas at home and on the road. They did the first, with an 84-75 victory in January. The Jayhawks have been underwhelming the last month, losing three of their last seven.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Michael Beasley, Kansas State and Brandon Rush, Kansas - If anyone can slow down Beasley, it is the Jayhawks front line. Rush needs to step up as their best player and leader - the Jayhawks biggest problem of late has been a lack of a go-to scorer down the stretch.

3/1 Washington State @ Stanford - Wazzu has been somewhat disappointing at 9-6 in conference, while Stanford keeps the pressure on UCLA, now only one game back. Stanford won the last one in OT, 67-65.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Brook Lopez, Stanford - Lopez has played his way into a possible All-American and probable lottery pick.

3/1 Georgetown @ Marquette - Two teams with very contrasting styles of play. The Hoyas head to Marquette, where it has been very difficult to win this year (the Eagles are 14-1 at home).
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Jonathon Wallace, Georgetown and Jerel McNeal, Marquette - Both have been playing great as of late. Wallace will need to continue that trend against a loaded backcourt. McNeal's stat line on Satuday vs. Rutgers - 14pts, 7 rebs, 7 asts, 5 stls, and 3 blks.

3/1 St. Mary's @ Gonzaga - A rematch of what was the game of the year out West, when St. Mary's pulled off an 89-85 OT win at home. If St. Mary's gets by San Diego, this game will be for the WCC conference championship.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Jeremy Pargo, Gonzaga and Patty Mills, St. Mary's - They had 27 and 23, respectively, the last time these two teams squared off.

3/2 Indiana @ Michigan State - Indiana's first real test without Kelvin Sampson at the helm. The Hoosiers won 80-61 just two weeks ago.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Eric Gordon, Indiana and Drew Neitzel, Michigan State - There may not be anyone in the country that can get as hot as quick as these two.

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