Monday, March 31, 2008

College Basketball 3/31 - Final Four History

GAME OF THE WEEK
Xavier 79, West Virginia 75 OT
Xavier built a huge first half lead, going ahead by as much as 18, before the Mountaineers were able to get into a rhythm offensively. West Virginia cut the lead to 32-25 at the half, and finally took their first lead at 51-50 on a Da'Sean Butler jump shot with 9:41 left. After five more leads changes and three ties, Xavier's Josh Duncan had a three-point play to tie it, then hit two more free throws with 1:28 left to give Xavier a 64-62 lead. No one scored until Joe Alexander was fouled on a jumper with 14 seconds left. He missed the free throw, sending the game into OT. WVU scored the first 6 points of overtime, but Xavier stormed back. With 1:18 left, BJ Raymond hit a three from the top of the key to give Xavier their first OT lead. 40 seconds later, on a sideline inbounds with 3 seconds left on the shot clock, Raymond found himself open and knocked down another triple to give Xavier a four point lead and the win.

Kansas 59, Davidson 57
Stephen Curry didn't have any more tricks left up his sleeve. Being chased by a combination of Russell Robinson, Mario Chalmers, Sherron Collins, and Brandon Rush for 40 minutes took a toll on Curry's legs as he missed 9 of his last 10 shots, including 7 from deep, as Kansas hung on to reach the Final Four. Up six with under a minute left, Thomas Sander was fouled. He hit one of two free throws, but the second bounced out of bounds off of Kansas, setting the stage for a Curry triple. Davidson got a stop and the ball back with 16 ticks on the clock. Bob McKillop put the ball in Curry's hands in the backcourt, but he was double teamed as he dribbled off his screens. He found PG Jason Richard open from 25 feet, but he rushed the shot at the buzzer and it hit the left side of the backboard.


PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Derrick Rose, Memphis
Rose had a great weekend as the Tigers, leading them to the Final Four. In Memphis' two blowout victories, Rose averaged 24 points, 5 rebounds, and 7 assists while shooting 65% (17-26) from the field and only turning the ball over three times. Rose also had numerous highlight reel plays en route to winning the South Region's most outstanding player award. The freshman also proved his toughness - during the first half he got hit in the face and needed a glue and tape job to close up a gash above his eye he got earlier in the tournament.

Tyler Hansbrough, UNC
Hansbrough averaged 23 points and 11 rebounds for the week and the Tar Heels advanced to the Final Four for the first time since their 2005 championship. The East Region's most outstanding player had his entire game on display in the Elite 8 against Louisville, going for 28 points (on 12-17 shooting), 13 boards (7 offensive), and hit big shot after big shot. After the Heels blew a 12 point halftime lead when Louisville tied it at 59, Hansbrough scored the next 7 points for UNC. With just over three minutes remaining and UNC up 5, Hanbrough hit back to back 18 foot jumpers, the second of which he pump-faked Earl Clark and took one dribble to his left where knocked down the shot with David Padgett's hand in his face, to put the game away.

Kevin Love, UCLA
The West Region's most outstanding player averaged 24 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 blocks and shot 68% (17-25) from the field. Love's big game came against Western Kentucky when he scored 29 points, had 14 boards, blocked 4 shots, and had 4 assists. Oh, and he can also do this.


TEAMS OF THE WEEK
Four #1 Seeds
For the first time since the NCAA started seeding the Tournament, all four #1 seeds have reached the Final Four. In a year where throughout a large part of the season, it seemed as if everyone knew who the four best teams in the country were - and all four ended up in the Final Four. Hopefully, the three games in San Antonio will be as great as the four teams competing there. Continue reading...

Sasha Kaun of Kansas catches an oop from Mario Chalmers on Andrew Lovedale




Continue reading...

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Two More Great Dunks From The Sweet 16

Brandon Rush of Kansas catching an oop off the backboard.




Derrick Rose of Memphis doing his best Dominique Wilkins impression. Wait until the 20 second mark.


Continue reading...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Awards for the Tourney's First Weekend

BEST INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE:
Stephen Curry, Davidson

For the weekend, Curry averaged 35 ppg, 3 rpg, 3.5 apg, and 4 spg while committing just 2 turnovers. He shot just over 50% from the field, including a scalding 52% (13-25) from 3. More impressive was the fact that Curry twice led his team back from double digit second half deficits. In the opening round, Curry scored 30 in the second half to lead Davidson back from down 11, including a three with a little more than a minute left that broke a 74-74 tie. He hit 5-6 free throws down the stretch to seal the victory. The deficit was even greater against Georgetown, where Curry scored 25 of his 20 points in the second half, and sparked an 18-2 run with a four-point play, another three, and two assists that all but erased a 17 point Hoya lead. Tied at 60 with less than four minutes left, Curry drove and hit a tough scoop shot and on the next Davidson possession hit a three pointer to give the Wildcats a 65-60 lead that Georgetown wouldn't come back from.

The most impressive part of Curry's weekend was both Gonzaga and Georgetown (especially the Hoyas after Curry lit up gonzaga for 40) were gearing their entire defense towards shutting him down. The Hoyas and the 'Zags are both very good defensive teams and very well coached, and even with the defensive game plan geared towards him, Curry still put up huge numbers. Wisconsin, Davidson's sweet 16 opponent, is another very good defensive team. Can they slow this kid down?

One last thing about Curry - despite his small stature (although he has gone from a 5'10" HS senior to 6'2" now, and his father, NBA sharpshooter Dell Curry, has been quoted as saying doctors say he may an an inch or two left in him), this kid can have a long and successful NBA career IF he ends up in the right situation. He will never be able to play the point in the NBA, but if you can put him on a team with a big point guard (i.e. Monta Ellis with Baron Davis) that can guard an NBA 2-guard and let Curry slide over and defend the point, why can't he average 15 a game and shoot 45% from deep?


BEST PERFORMANCE BY A TEAM
Washington State

A team known for their defensive prowess, the Cougars set a new standard of excellence for themselves by holding Winthrop and Notre Dame to 27% shooting from the floor and a COMBINED 81 points. In the opening round against Winthrop, the game was tied at 29 heading into halftime. The second half was a completely different story, as Wazzu jumped out on a 23-4 run and never looked back. For the half, the Golden Eagles were outscored 42-11 as the Cougars held them to 16% (4-24) shooting from the floor. In their second game of the weekend, the Cougars shut down a formidable Notre Dame offense, holding them to a season low (actually 23 points below their previous season low) 41 points and 24.5% (13-53) shooting. Despite grabbing a season-high 22 boards, Big East player of the year Luke Harangody might have played his worst game of the year. He scored just 10 points, less than half his season average, while shooting a miserable 3-17 from the floor. Kyle McAlarney didn't do much better - scoring just 12 points on 5-13 shooting while committing 4 turnovers.


BIGGEST CHOKE JOB BY A PLAYER
DeMarcus Nelson, Duke

While sitting in the Verizon Center watching West Virginia manhandle Duke in their second round matchup, my buddy Ross, quite possibly the biggest Duke fan in the world, put it best: "I hope DeMarcus Nelson made a lot of money betting on West Virginia". That's how bad he was in the two games in this year's tournament. He averaged 4 ppg, shot 3-17 from the floor and 2-5 from the line, had as many turnovers as rebounds (6) and was stuffed emphatically by Joe Alexander from West Virginia on consecutive possessions (the second of which resulted in a WVU bucket and subsequent timeout by Duke allowing the replay of the block to be shown on the Jumbotron. What the entire crowd, and I'm assuming national TV audience, saw was Alexander block him, knock him to the ground, and stand over him yelling something very similar to "Get that shot outta here". Ouch.)

Nelson picked the worst time of year to have his two worst games. The ACC's Defensive player of the year could not guard anyone. He got beat time and time again off the dribble and on backdoor cuts. He missed countless open shots that could have helped bring the Dukies back. He even clanged the front end of a 1-and-1 that gave Belmont a chance to win the game - a half-court heave that bounced off the rim. Nelson led the Devils in scoring and rebounding, and all in all had a great year and career. With the national spotlight that Duke's tournament runs carry, it's a shame to see Nelson end his career like this.


BIGGEST CHOKE JOB BY A TEAM
Clemson

This was a tough decision given the number of upsets and blown leads (Georgetown, Vanderbilt, UConn, Duke). I decided to go with Clemson based on the hype surrounding them coming into the tournament. They had just made a run to the ACC tourney final, where the gave UNC everything they could handle for the third time this season. A lot of people were predicting them as sleeper picks for the Final Four. They looked every bit like that team to start their first round matchup with Villanova, jumping out to a 36-18 lead with 5 minutes left in the first half. But the hot shooting of Scottie Reynolds led the Wildcats back. He hit his first three 3's of the second half, including the biggest shot of the game. With just under 12 minutes left in the game, Reynolds banked in a three and was fouled, giving Villanova their first lead of the game at 50-49. After a Clemson lay-up, the Wildcats went on a 13-4 run that put the game away. Clemson was done in by their second half shooting, going 7-29 from the floor and 14-23 from the line.


BEST COACHING PERFORMANCE
Jay Wright, Villanova

This Villanova has not looked like a sweet 16 team all season. They are very small up front even when all their bigs are healthy (Shane Clark has battled exhaustion, and Casiem Drummond had a stress fracture in his ankle, and broke that same ankle on Sunday). Corey Fisher, Malcolm Grant, and Corey Stokes has been inconsistent all season playing along side Scottie Reynolds. The Wildcats may have been the last team put into the tournament field, and found themselves down 18 to Clemson in the first half. Wright did not let his players quit however, leading them to a 75-69 comeback victory. Against Siena, Reynolds was too much as the Wildcats won 84-72 as they advanced to their third sweet 16 in four years to face top seed Kansas. Kudos, Mr. Wright, on a fine coaching performance.


UNSUNG HERO
Mitch Johnson, Stanford

The saying goes "a point guard needs to be a coach on the floor". In Stanford's second round game against Marquette, that saying rang true for Mitch Johnson on a whole new level as Cardinal head coach Trent Johnson got tossed with 3:36 remaining in the first half for arguing a foul call. Mitch Johnson responded by playing his best game of the season. He only scored 9 points, but played an incredible floor game dishing out 16 assists while turning the ball over just once and playing 44 of a possible 45 minutes. He came up especially big in overtime, dishing out three assists and hitting a big three-pointer.


BEST GAME
Western Kentucky 101, Drake 99 OT

Drake had been outplayed by Western Kentucky as the Hilltoppers built a 74-59 point lead with just eight minutes left in regulation. Drake would make a comeback, led by some timely hot shooting. Drake hit four 3's in the last four minutes, spurring them to a 29-14 run to end regulation, capped by a Jonathon Cox three that tied the game at 88 with 35 seconds left. In OT, Drake built an early four point lead thanks to two Josh Young triples, but Western Kentucky tied it up on a free throw and a three from Tyrone Brazelton. After trading free throws, Drake was up 99-98 with 5.7 seconds left. Brazelton brought the ball up quickly and handed it off to Ty Rogers, who hit a 26 footer from the right wing as time expired. The three was also the 30th of the game, which set an NCAA tourney record for most three's in a game.

Drake did good job containing WKU's Courtney Lee, holding him to 15 points (6-16) and 9 rebounds, but they allowed Tyrone Brazelton to explode for a career-high 33 points, to go a long with 5 assists, 5 rebounds, and 6-10 shooting from beyond the arc. Drake had five players hit double figures, led by 29 points and 16 rebounds from Jonathon Cox and 11 points and 14 dimes from Adam Emmenecker.


WORST CALL
Texas A&M vs. UCLA

UCLA has been getting a multitude of close calls recently, and all of the seem to be deciding the outcomes of games (Cal and Stanford). This game was no different. Darren Collison hit a tough lay-up off the glass with 9.5 seconds left in regulation to give UCLA a 51-49 lead. The Aggies put the ball in the hands of Donald Sloan, who drove the lane and had the ball knocked out of his hands, sealing the UCLA victory. Take a look at the picture. No foul there?


WORST BREAK
UConn

Eight minutes into their first round game against San Diego, UConn's pg AJ Price tore his acl when he landed awkwardly on a jump stop during a fast break. You can call me a homer if you want, but this injury was devastating to the Huskies. Not only was Price their best player, and most important player, but he was their leader - the heart and soul of that team. UConn proved that they could beat anyone in the country during the regular season. After they overcame such a tough season in '07, it's a shame this team had to lose because of an injury. Continue reading...

Monday, March 24, 2008

Will Bike For Food

A couple of friends of mine from college have teamed up with the United Way to raise money for our nation's poor through a cross-country bike trip they have dubbed Will Bike For Food - click here for a link to their website.

The trip was written about in an article from Sunday's Poughkeepsie Journal. If your interested, check it out - a couple of good guys doing a good thing. Continue reading...

Best Plays From The NCAA Tournament's First Weekend

Tim Rogers buzzer beating three for Western Kentucky to beat Drake



De'Jon Jackson of San Diego, jumper to beat UConn



Darren Collison of UCLA hits a tough lay-up to beat Texas A&M



Derrick Brown of Xavier catches an alley-oop on an out-of-bounds play. I was sitting five rows behind the basket on this one.



Brook Lopez of Stanford hits a leaner to beat Marquette



Leonard Houston of Drake with a huge lefty tomahawk dunk on Western Kentucky.



Gerald Henderson of Duke goes coast-to-coast to beat Belmont



Greg Paulus with an alley-oop to Gerald Henderson. Again, I was sitting five rows behind this basket.




Continue reading...

College Basketball 3/24

GAMES OF THE DAY
Davidson 74, Georgetown 70
Davidson was down as much as 17 in the second half as their star Stephon Curry struggled, shooting 2-12, but they were able to come back and were against Big East juggernaut Georgetown. Georgetown shot 63% from the field for the game, but they turned the ball over 20 times. Roy Hibbert never found a rhythm, ending with just six points and taking only three shots for the game. He fouled out in 16 minutes. Davidson's comeback was a 16-2 run early in the second half to trim a 16 point lead down to 2, and from that point on Curry took over, scoring 20 of the Wildcat's last 26 points.

PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Courtney Lee, Western Kentucky
Lee scored 29 points, 7 rebounds and 3 steals as Western Kentucky was able to hold on after blowing another big lead to send the Hilltoppers to a sweet 16 matchup with UCLA. Lee was 4-5 from deep, including one with 6:17 left in a tie game that gave WKU the lead for good after San Diego went on an 18-2 run to take their first lead since the first half.


Scottie Reynolds, Villanova
Reynolds was fantastic on Sunday, leading the Wildcats with 25 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists as Villanova advanced past Siena 84-72 to face Kansas in the sweet 16. Villanova reached the second weekend on the tourney for the third time in four years, but this was the most unlikely as 'Nova was one of, if not the last team invited. Siena never led in this game, as Reynolds scored 17 of the first 30 for the Wildcats.

Honorable Mention
AJ Abrams, Texas (26 pts, 4 asts, 6 3's), Stephon Curry, Davidson (30 pts, 5 asts, 3 stls, 5 3's), Joey Dorsey, Memphis (13 pts, 12 rebs, 6 blks), Jamont Gordon, Mississippi State (21 pts, 11 rebs, 5 asts), Damion James, Texas (16 pts, 16 rebs, 3 blks), Gyno Pomare, San Diego (20 pts, 9 rebs, 3 stls), Jason Richards, Davidson (20 pts, 5 asts)

TEAM OF THE DAY
North Carolina
The Tar Heels cemented themselves as the favorite to win the title as they scored over 100 points and won by 30+ for the second straight game, this time against a good Arkansas team. Wayne Ellington led the Heels with 20 points, while Ty Lawson had 19 points and 7 assists and Tyler Hansbrough dropped in 17 to go along with 10 boards. UNC shot over 67% from the floor for the game. Continue reading...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

College Basketball 3/23

GAMES OF THE DAY
Stanford 82, Marquette 81 OT
Things didn't look good for the Stanford Cardinal in the first half. Brook Lopez was not playing well, they were down by 6 at the half, and Head Coach Trent Johnson was ejected for arguing a foul call. But lead by Team Lopez and PG Mitch Johnson, Stanford regrouped and sent the game to OT on a free throw by Robin Lopez with 8 seconds left. Overtime was the Jerel McNeal and Brook Lopez show - with McNeal scoring 9 of Marquette's 10 points and Lopez scoring 8, and assisting on a Mitch Johnson 3 (Stanford's only other basket). The Cardinal pounded the ball inside to Lopez in OT with Marquette center Ousmane Barro fouled, and the last possession was no different. Johnson found Lopez posting up on the right block, and Lopez turned over his right shoulder and hit a tough little baseline leaner with 1.3 seconds left to win it.


PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Darren Collinson/Kevin Love, UCLA
Love and Collinson combined for 40 points in UCLA's 51-49 win over Texas A&M. Love had 19 points, 11 rebounds, and 7 big blocks to help hold Joseph Jones and Deandre Jordan to a combined 12 points. Collinson had 21 points. The two combined to score the last 8 points for the Bruins. Love hit two consecutive turnarounds to tie the game and 45, then give UCLA their first lead in the second half. Collinson kept the Bruins ahead with two tough lay-ups in the lane - the second of which put UCLA up 51-49 with 9.5 seconds left.

Mitch Johnson, Stanford
Johnson scored only 9 points, but he had 16 assists and just 1 turnover as Stanford fought off a tough Marquette team to advance to the Sweet 16, where they will play Texas. Johnson was almost as important to the Cardinal as the Lopez twins, consistently getting the Twin Towers the ball where and when they needed it. Team Lopez combined for 48 points on 17-30 shooting.

Honorable Mention
Joe Alexander, West Virginia (22 pts, 11 rebs, 3 blks, 40 mins), Michael Beasley, Kansas State (23 pts, 13 rebs), Luk Harangody, Notre Dame (10 pts, 22 rebs), Trevon Hughes, Wisconsin (25 pts, 4 3's)Brook Lopez, Stanford (30 pts),Jerel McNeal, Marquette (30 pts, 8 rebs, 2 asts)


TEAM OF THE DAY
West Virginia
The Mountaineers shocked just about every not wearing blue and yellow by beating Duke 73-67 in front of a packed house in Washington DC. The Mountaineers advanced to the sweet 16 for the first time since the Pittsnoggle era. After two quick Duke baskets to start the second half, West Virginia was down 38-29, but they caught fire from that point on. Joe Alexander and Alex Ruoff scored 22 and 17 points respectively, and Joe Mazzula played a great floor game scoring 13 points, grabbing 11 rebounds, and dishing out 8 assists. Seldom used Cam Thoroughman played great minutes down the stretch for the Mountaineers, scoring 4 points and grabbing 4 rebounds (3 offensive) in 9 second half minutes. Continue reading...

Saturday, March 22, 2008

College Basketball 3/22

GAMES OF THE DAY
Western Kentucky 101, Drake 99 OT
San Diego 70, UConn 69 OT
No high seeds are going to want to go to Tampa next year after both UConn and Drake (as well as Clemson and Vanderbilt in the night games) were upset at St. Pete Times Forum. After a Thursday without much excitement, Western Kentucky and San Diego made sure to change that. In the first game, the Hilltoppers built a 16 point lead in the second half with just eight minutes left in regulation, but Drake came all the way back and tied the game at 88 on a Jonathon Cox three with 35 seconds left. In OT, Drake built an early four point lead thanks to two Josh Young triples, but Western Kentucky tied it up on a free throw and a three from Tyrone Brazelton. After trading free throws, Drake was up 99-98 with 5.7 seconds left. Brazelton brought the ball up quickly and handed it off to Ty Rogers, who hit a 26 footer from the right wing as time expired. The three was also the 30th of the game, which set an NCAA tourney record for most three's in a game.

The second game followed the same format. After AJ Price tore his acl landing awkwardly on a fast break lay-up in a tie game, San Diego was able to push the lead to 11 early in the second half. UConn battled back however, playing their typical stingy defense. With 10 seconds left in regulation, Jerome Dyson hit two free throws to send the game in OT. Overtime was a back and forth affair, with UConn taking the lead on two more Dyson free throws with 9 seconds left in the game. But De'Jon Johnson hit a tough, step-back jumper from 18 feet with Stanley Robinson in his face with 1.2 seconds left to win it.

For the record, I think writing about my Huskies losing on a buzzer beater was probably the hardest thing I've ever done. I now not only hate San Diego, but I'm boycotting the entire state of California.


PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Stephon Curry, Davidson
Curry led the Wildcats to a victory over #7 seed Gonzaga with a 40 point night, including an 8-10 shooting night from deep. Curry only had 10 at the intermission, but he exploded for 30 in the second half, including 17 of Davidson's first 18 points. His three with 1:04 on the clock gave Davidson a 77-74 lead and ended up being the game-winner. Davidson advanced to face Georgetown on Sunday.

Charles Rhodes, Mississippi State
The 6'8" forward led the Bulldogs with 34 points and 9 boards as MSU knocked off Oregon in first round play. Rhodes was too much inside for the undersized Ducks, shooting 10-12 from the floor and hit 14-18 from the line.

Jack McClinton, Miami
Jack McClinton scored 38 points, including 32 in the second half, as Miami knocked off St. Mary's 78-64 to move to the second round to face Texas. McClinton scored 10 straight points in Miami's game breaking 25-5 run early in the second half.

Honorable Mention
Tyrone Brazelton, Western Kentucky (33 pts, 5 rebs, 5 asts), Pete Campbell, Butler (26 pts, 5 rebs, 8-10 3's), Garrison Carr, American (26 pts, 6 3's), Jonathon Cox, Drake (29 pts, 16 rebs), Adam Emmenecker, Drake (11 pts, 5 rebs, 14 asts), Jamont Gordan, Mississippi State (8 pts, 11 rebs, 9 asts), Kenny Hasbrouck, Siena (30 pts), Sonny Weems, Arkansas (31 pts, 5 rebs, 12-14 FG)


TEAMS OF THE DAY
12 and 13 seeds
As I've already mentioned, the 12 and 13 seeds with 4-0 in Tampa as all four advanced, guaranteeing at least two double-digit seeds will advance to the Sweet 16. I've talked about the first three games, but in the nightcap Villanova, a team that may have been the last one put into the tournament field, overcame an early 18 point deficit to knock off ACC tournament finalist Clemson to advance. The Wildcats, who will advance to face Siena, was led by 21 point from Scottie Reynolds and 17 points from Corey Fisher. Continue reading...

Friday, March 21, 2008

College Basketball 3/21

GAME OF THE DAY
Duke 71, Belmont 70
By far the best game of the day. #15 seed Belmont, with the urging of the Washington DC crowd, came up just short in their upset of #2 seed Duke. After being down 42-35 at halftime and as much as 10 points in the second half, Belmont, not relying on three's as much as they had during the season, used backdoor cuts and fast breaks to come back and eventually took a 70-69 lead on two Justin Hare free throws with just over two minutes left. Belmont got two stops against Duke, but with 20 seconds left, Gerald Henderson took a rebound coast-to-coast and finished with a finger roll to take the lead. Belmont earned a inbounds from under their own basket with 4 seconds left after a jump ball, but threw the pass away and was forced to foul DeMarcus Nelson. He missed a front end, but Belmont's half court heave at the buzzer bounced off the rim. Alex Refroe led Belmont with 15 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists, all team highs.

This was a unique near-upset in that Belmont didn't hit a ton of three's (they were 8-23, not that many for a team that shoots 29 per game) and Duke didn't hand the game to them - the Devils actually played a pretty solid game. Belmont just played better. The Bruins outplayed Duke - burning them for back door lay-ups all game, and when those weren't there they would hit three's, and when they missed they attacked to offensive glass. Belmont was just the better team, and if they had made some better decisions in transition down the stretch, they could be playing West Virginia on Saturday.


PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Joe Crawford/Ramel Bradley, Kentucky
An overmatched Kentucky team lost to Marquette 74-66, but Joe Crawford and Ramel Bradley did everything they could to prevent that. Crawford scored 35 points on 13-22 shooting, including 5-8 from deep, and Bradley had 19 points and 4 assists, accounting for all but 12 of the Wildcat points (Perry Stevenson had 10 of those 12). This was the last game for these two seniors, and they went out with a bang.

Josh Carter, Texas A&M
Carter had 26 points and 5 rebounds and shot 6-10 from deep as the Aggies held off a scrappy BYU team 67-62 in Anaheim. Carter hit three 3's in the first five minutes, helping A&M to an 11-0 lead. BYU made a couple runs, going back and forth with A&M for a while in the second half, but in the end Carter and the Aggies were too much. They go on to face UCLA on Saturday.

Honorable Mention
Josh Akognon, Cal St. Fullerton (31 pts, 8 rebs, 3 stls), Michael Beasley, Kansas State (23 pts, 11 rebs), Levance Fields, Pitt (23 pts, 4 rebs, 7 asts), Gerald Henderson, Duke (21 pts, 7 rebs, 5 stls), Curtis Jerrells, Baylor (27pts, 8 asts), Will Thomas, George Mason (25 pts, 7 rebs, 3 asts, 3 stls)


TEAMS OF THE DAY
UNLV
In a game where many people thought Kent State was going to win, UNLV came out and gave a record setting performance on the defensive end. They held the Golden Flashes to 10 first half points, tying the mark for fewest in any half in NCAA tourney play. The Runnin' Rebels forced 15 first half turnovers (20 overall), and shot 50.9% for the game, wrapping up a date with Kansas in the second round.

Washington State
Wazzu looked like they were going to be given a game by Winthrop heading into halftime tied at 29-29. But then the Cougars defense woke up, and they held the Eagles to just 11 points in the second half, out scoring them by 31 en route to the blow out victory. Continue reading...

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Bracket Breakdown with Ross Weingarten and Rob Dauster

East and Midwest Regions




South Region




West Region



Players to Watch and Final Four Picks


Continue reading...

Monday, March 17, 2008

Bracket Breakdown - West Region

Team To Beat - UCLA

The Bruins will be looking to make their third straight Final Four - the first team to do so since Michigan State did from 1999-2001. Darren Collinson is healthy and playing his best ball of the season. Hopefully the ankle injury to Luc Richard Mbah A Moute won't keep him out past the first weekend and the back spasms Kevin Love was experiencing won't affect him in the tournament. But with the tournament experience that the Bruins have gained over the last two years, it's not to pick them to reach a third straight Final Four.

Team To Watch - UConn

The Huskies have struggled a bit since Jerome Dyson has come back from his suspension, losing three of their last six, but in their 10 games winning streak they proved that they could beat anyone, anywhere. The Huskies size and athleticism inside and shot blocking ability is very tough to matchup with for smaller teams. AJ Price has continually proven he has one of the biggest hearts in the country with his play late in games. The key for UConn will be whether or not their role players step up. You know what you are going to get with Hasheem Thabeet, Jeff Adrien, and Price, but if Craig Austrie, Stanley Robinson, Dyson, and Doug Wiggins can play tough defense, hit some three's, and get the Huskies some easy buckets, UConn will be a tough team to knock out.

Upsets To Watch For - #11 Baylor over #6 Purdue

Baylor is a team with five very good guards who combine to score 57.5 ppg, the best of which are Curtis Jerrells and LaceDarius Dunn. They like to get out and run, mainly because they don't have an inside presence other than Kevin Rogers. Baylor tends to struggle against teams that slow the game down and pound the ball down low, which is not the way Purdue likes to play. Purdue has had a great season, but they lost the only time they faced a team with Baylor's speed and athleticism (Clemson).

Best Matchups - Chase Budinger vs. Joe Alexander, #3 Xavier vs. #14 Georgia

Budinger and Alexander may be the two most athletic white guys in the country and have similar games, with Alexander doing a little more damage in the post and Budinger spending more time on the perimeter. The normal order of things are switched in the 3-14 matchup out west. Georgia, the team from the SEC, gets a 14 seed after coming out of nowhere to win the SEC tournament while Xavier, the mid-major, was ranked in the top 15 all season and earned a 3 seed. Regardless, Georgia comes into the tournament after winning four games in four days (including two in one day) while Xavier has been struggling of late, losing two of their last four games (both to St. Joseph's).

My Pick - UCLA

I see UCLA squeaking by UConn, and then beating Xavier en route to their third straight Final Four, where they get a rematch of their loss to Texas from early in the season. Continue reading...

Bracket Breakdown - South Region

Team To Beat - Memphis

The Tigers were a turn-around jumper from Tennessee's Tyler Smith away from being undefeated heading into the dance. Led by Derrick Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts, this Memphis team can run-and-gun with the best of them. The biggest question for the Tigers - how will playing in a weak C-USA affect them coming into the tournament?

Team To Watch - Pitt

Pitt is playing as well as anyone in the country right now, after becoming just the second team in Big East tourney history to win four games in four days for the championship. With Levance Fields finally healthy, this team is deep, tough, and experienced. Ronald Ramon and Fields play off each other very well, with Fields being a penetrator and Ramon a dead-eye shooter. Sam Young was the most improved player in the Big East, and maybe the country, developing a very good jump shot and perimeter game to complement his size and strength inside. DeJuan Blair is an animal on the block and maybe the most difficult box-out in the game with his long arms and 270 pound body.

Upsets To Watch For - #6 Marquette vs. #3 Stanford

I don't see any first round upsets happening in this region, which is probably the toughest region this year. I do like Marquette over Stanford, however. The Cardinals tend to struggle against teams with good guard play. Stanford is a very one-dimensional team with Team Lopez inside and not much else. Marquette has struggled a bit on the road, and with this game being played in Anaheim there will probably be a pretty large contingent of Stanford faithful, but I see the five headed monster of Dominic James, Jerel McNeal, Wesley Matthews, Maurice Acker, and David Cubillan being too much for Stanford.

Best Matchups - #4 Pitt vs. #5 Michigan State/#1 Memphis

Tom Izzo has traditionally been one of the best tournament coaches, but no team in the country is playing better than Pitt right now. I like Pitt to win this game. I think they have enough good defenders to slow down Drew Neitzel and Raymarr Morgan, and they may be a better rebounding team than Michigan State is this year. I also like Pitt over Memphis in what would be a phenomenal Sweet 16 game. Pitt is just as athletic and just as tough as Memphis, and the Panther's and have enough experience and guts that they will not be intimidated by the Memphis pressure. The key for Pitt in those two games will be Gilbert Brown. He will draw the defensive matchups of MSU's Morgan and Memphis's Douglas-Roberts, and if he can slow them down, Pitt will have the inside path to the Elite 8.

My Pick - Texas

I think Texas will be too much for Pitt in the Elite 8. DJ Augustin is the best PG in the country, and he has the ability to carry this Longhorns team where Kevin Durant couldn't. The perimeter ability of Damion James and Connor Atchley will offset the interior advantage Pitt has. Continue reading...

Bracket Breakdown - Midwest Region

Team To Beat - Kansas

The Jayhawks are loaded this year. They have a huge front line, they have a group of very good guards, and with Brandon Rush and Sherron Collins healthy, they are deep and talented at every position. If Rush continues to emerge as a go-to scorer (as he did in the Big XII tourney) then the Jayhawks can go a long way.

Team To Watch - Clemson

The Tigers are playing their best basketball of the season after making a run to the ACC tourney finals. Clemson is a pressing team that goes 10 deep, with athletes at every position. Trevor Booker, James Mays, Raymond Sykes, and Sam Perry are all big and athletic, and can play at the top of their 1-2-1-1 press. Cliff Hammonds is their leader and one of the most underrated PG's in the ACC, while KC Rivers is the Tigers leading scorer. Clemson has also proven they are a tough group of kids - Hammonds is currently playing through a fractured wrist suffered while blocking a dunk during their 20-point comeback against Maryland, and James Mays wore a protective brace while taping three fingers together due to a broken bone in his hand for 13 games during the season. Free throw shooting is the Tigers biggest problem, and cost them in their three losses to UNC this season.

Upsets To Watch For - #11 Kansas State over #6 USC, #3 Wisconsin

A lot of people like #13 Siena over #4 Vanderbilt, mainly because Siena as Edwin Ubiles, who is 6'7" and mobile and can stay with 6'7" shooter Shan Foster, but I think AJ Ogilvy will be too tough inside for the smaller Saints. I do like Kansas State over USC, and even making it to the Sweet 16 with a win over Wisconsin. There is a reason Michael Beasley is expected to be the first pick in the NBA draft - he is a phenomenal talent that can go for 40 on any given night. Combine him with for OJ Mayo teammate Bill Walker and streaky shooting PG Jacob Pullen, K-State has the ability to beat anyone when they get hot, and can make a run through the first weekend of the tourney.

Best Matchups - OJ Mayo vs. Michael Beasley/Bill Walker, #7 Gonzaga vs. #10 Davidson

I can't decide what is more interesting here - the matchup between the two of the most talked about freshman in Beasley and Mayo, or the matchup between former high school teammates Mayo and Walker. Gonzaga and Davidson were probably the two mid-majors that everyone would have picked in the preseason to be a sleeper team in the NCAA's. I like Gonzaga in this game - Davidson still hasn't proven they can do more than play the big boys close - but Stephon Curry is good enough to lead the Wildcats past to much bigger 'Zags.

My Pick - Kansas

I think Kansas squeaks by Georgetown in the Elite 8 in what would be a matchup of possibly the two best front-lines in college basketball this year. I think that Kansas's guard play will be too much for Georgetown, with Robinson, Chalmers, and Collins taking the game over. Continue reading...

Bracket Breakdown - East Region

Team To Beat - North Carolina

They won the ACC regular season title. They won the ACC tournament title. They have the favorite for national player of the year. They are the #1 overall seed.Ty Lawson finally looked healthy against Clemson on Sunday. And to top it off, they don't play a game more than two hours from Chapel Hill until the Final Four.

Team To Watch - Louisville

Louisville is a very good defensive team, whether they are in their zone or their press. They have a rotation of four tough guards that play the top of their 2-3 zone and 2-2-1 press, and they have a ton length and athleticism in Terrence Williams and Earl Clark. Louisville runs their offense through center David Padgett, who scores 11.7 ppg but more importantly is a very good passer from the low and high post who can find shooters on the wing and people underneath.

Upsets To Watch For - #13 Winthrop over #4 Washington State

The East Region is the most likely region to see an upset with South Alabama, St. Joseph's, and George Mason all capable of advancing as double digit seeds. However, Winthrop is the most likely upset. They are tourney tested, finally winning a first round game last year against Notre Dame after making the NCAA's 7 of the previous 9 years. Winthrop, like Wazzu, is a team that hangs its hat on defense, but the Eagles are much more athletic. They are led by streaky shooter Michael Jenkins, who averages 14.3 ppg (the Eagles are 15-2 when he scores more than 12 points), and big man Taj McCullough, who averaged 11.3 ppg and 5.6 rpg after a successful transition from the 3 to the 4. I can also see Butler knocking off Tennessee. The Bulldogs can shoot the heck out of the ball, and between AJ Graves and Mike Green, they have two very good senior guards that won't be affected by Tennessee's pressure. If they get hot, Tennessee may not make it out of the first weekend.

Best Matchups - Butler vs. South Alabama, Notre Dame vs. Winthrop, Tennessee vs. Butler

Butler may have been the most talked about mid-major all season, while South Alabama was the most talked about bubble team in the week leading up to Selection Sunday. They play very different styles (Butler is a three point shooting team whereas South Alabama is a very good defensive team that likes to drive), but both have tremendous backcourts that should make this game fun to watch. It will also be interesting to see Notre Dame play Winthrop a year after the Eagles upset the Irish. And if you like three-point shooting, hope that both Tennessee and Butler advance to face each other in the second round.

My Pick - North Carolina

I like North Carolina to get by Louisville en route to San Antonio. UNC probably isn't going to face much of a test until the Elite 8. I really like this Louisville team, and this will be a very exciting game because both teams love to run, but I think UNC has too much talent. Continue reading...

Bracket Thoughts

I usually go into Selection Sunday expecting to have huge problems with who the committee puts in and who they leave out. This year - none. There are really only five teams that can even mount an argument as to being snubbed: Dayton, Virginia Tech, Illinois State, Ohio State, and Arizona State. I think Arizona State is really the only team that has a legitimate gripe. Yes, they blew out Xavier, swept Arizona, beat, USC, beat Oregon, and beat Stanford, but they also were blown out by Illinois and Nebraska and played a horrendous non-conference schedule. They also had an RPI of 82. I know that there are a lot of people out there that have a problem with the RPI, but there is a reason the stat is used. In 1999, New Mexico earned an at-large with the highest RPI (74), and that was when the head of the selection committee was from New Mexico. If the selection process is to have any credibility, then the committee needs to follow the RPI rankings. 82 is simply too high for an at-large team.

Now that's out of the way, let's take a look at the seedings. First of all, how did Butler get a 7 seed? This team has been ranked all season. They won their conference outright, and their conference tournament (last year they didn't do either and earned a 5 seed). And they drew South Alabama in Birmingham, a de-facto home game in the first round. I also think that both Washington State and Oregon got seeded to high, while Kansas State and Baylor got shafted a bit with their 11 seeds.

My only other beef with the bracket is some of the first round match-ups. The committee paired mid-majors with mid-majors (Butler vs. South Alabama, Drake vs. Western Kentucky, Gonzaga vs. Davidson, UNLV vs. Kent State) and high-majors with high-majors (Indiana vs. Arkansas, USC vs. Kansas State, Purdue vs. Baylor, Marquette vs. Kentucky, Clemson vs. Villanova). I realize that this just may be how the committee felt the quality of the teams broke down, but part of the intrigue of the NCAA tournament is the chance for David to take down Goliath. Doesn't this eliminate that somewhat? Continue reading...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

NCAA Tournament Bracket 2008 Released

NCAA TOURNAMENT BRACKET

EAST (Charlotte, N.C.)

Raleigh, N.C.

Friday, March 21
No. 1 North Carolina (32-2)
No. 16 Opening-round game: Mount St. Mary's vs. Coppin State

No. 8 Indiana (25-7)
No. 9 Arkansas (22-11)

Denver

Thursday, March 20
No. 5 Notre Dame (24-7)
No. 12 George Mason (23-10)

No. 4 Washington State (24-8)
No. 13 Winthrop (22-11)

Birmingham, Ala.

Friday, March 21
No. 2 Tennessee (29-4)
No. 15 American (21-11)

No. 7 Butler (29-3)
No. 10 South Alabama (26-6)

Birmingham, Ala.

No. 3 Louisville (24-8)
No. 14 Boise State (25-8)

No. 6 Oklahoma (22-11)
No. 11 Saint Joseph's (21-12)

MIDWEST (Detroit)

Omaha, Neb.

Thursday, March 20
No. 1 Kansas (31-3)
No. 16 Portland State (23-9)

No. 8 UNLV (26-7)
No. 9 Kent State (28-6)

Tampa, Fla.

Friday, March 21
No. 5 Clemson (24-9)
No. 12 Villanova (20-12)

No. 4 Vanderbilt (26-7)
No. 13 Siena (22-10)

Raleigh, N.C.

Friday, March 21
No. 2 Georgetown (27-5)
No. 15 UMBC (24-8)

No. 7 Gonzaga (25-7)
No. 10 Davidson (26-6)

Omaha, Neb.

Thursday, March 20
No. 3 Wisconsin (29-4)
No. 14 Cal State Fullerton (24-8)

No. 6 Southern California (21-11)
No. 11 Kansas State (20-11)

SOUTH (Houston)

Little Rock, Ark.

Friday, March 21
No. 1 Memphis (33-1)
No. 16 Texas Arlington (21-11)

No. 8 Mississippi State (22-10)
No. 9 Oregon (18-13)

Denver

Thursday, March 20
No. 5 Michigan State (25-8)
No. 12 Temple (21-12)

No. 4 Pitt (26-9)
No. 13 Oral Roberts (24-8)

Little Rock, Ark.

Friday, March 21
No. 2 Texas (28-6)
No. 15 Austin Peay (24-10)

No. 7 Miami (Fla.) (22-10)
No. 10 Saint Mary's (25-6)

Anaheim, Calif.

Thursday, March 20
No. 3 Stanford (26-7)
No. 14 Cornell (22-5)

WEST (Phoenix)

Anaheim, Calif.
Thursday, March 20
No. 1 UCLA (31-3)
No. 16 Mississippi Valley State (17-15)

No. 8 BYU (27-7)
No. 9 Texas A&M (24-10)

Tampa, Fla.

Friday, March 21
No. 5 Drake (28-4)
No. 12 Western Kentucky (27-6)

No. 4 Connecticut (24-8)
No. 13 San Diego (21-13)

Washington, D.C.

Thursday, March 20
No. 2 Duke (27-5)
No. 15 Belmont (25-8)

No. 7 West Virginia (24-10)
No. 10 Arizona (19-14)

Washington, D.C.

Thursday, March 20
No. 3 Xavier (27-6)
No. 14 Georgia (17-16)

No. 6 Purdue (24-8)
No. 11 Baylor (21-10) Continue reading...

College Basketball 3/15

GAMES OF THE DAY
North Carolina 68, Virginia Tech 66
Tyler Hansbrough is the player of the year for a reason. Hansbrough rebounded a JT Thompson miss with 20 seconds left in a tie game to set up the winning possession. Ty Lawson drove down the right side of the lane and threw up a floater that bounced off the backboard. The ball bounced around and Hansbrough came from the other side of the court and picked up the loose ball and knocked down a fifteen foot jumper from the baseline with .8 seconds left to win it. Wayne Ellington hit two big threes down the stretch and finished with 15 points and 8 boards. Hansbrough led the Heels with 26 points and 9 rebounds.

Georgia 60, Florida 56 OT
At the end of regulation, Ramel Bradley missed three shots, including a step-back 15 footer at the buzzer that would have won the postponed SEC quarterfinal game. Instead, the game went to overtime where it was tied at 54 when Ramel Bradley hit a pull up 16-footer that rolled around on the rim for about four seconds before finally dropping with 8 seconds left. But at the other end, freshman Zac Swansey hit a turn-around three with 1.2 seconds left. There was some controversy at the end of the game when Billy Gillespie ran an out-of-bounds play where Bradley set a screen on the man guarding the inbounder and was run over but no foul was called. Kentucky's Joe Crawford led all scorers with 24.

Boise State 107, New Mexico State 102 3OT
Reggie Larry scored 31 points and grabbed 16 rebounds as Boise State outlasted New Mexico State in a triple overtime thriller in the WAC Championship game. Boise was up 52-36 with 13:47 remaining, but NMSU chipped away until Jonathan Gibson hit a three with 24 seconds left to put them up one. A BSU free throw sent it to OT at 71-71. Hatila Passos of NMSU had a three-point play with under 6 seconds left at the end of the first overtime to tie it at 80. The third OT was forced when Justin Hawkins of NMSU hit a driving lay-up with 18 seconds left, and BSU couldn't get a shot off. The Broncos pretty much sealed up the victory with 42 seconds left in the third OT when Anthony Thomas split three defenders for an acrobatic reverse lay-up three-point play.


PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Tywain McKee, Coppin State
McKee scored 33 points, tying a season high, including a floater with 2 seconds left the broke a 60-60 tie and sent Coppin State, the seven seed in the MEAC tourney, into the NCAA's with the conference's automatic bid. The Eagles are the first 20-loss team to ever reach the NCAA tournament, but they won 12 of their last 13 games.

Tyler Hansbrough, UNC
As mentioned before, Hansbrough scored 26 points, grabbed 9 boards, and hit the game winning shot in the Heels semifinal win over Virginia Tech. He also grabbed a huge defensive rebound of a JT Thompson miss to set the stage for his last second heroics.

Darren Collinson, UCLA
Collinson scored 28 points to go along with 3 boards and 3 assists (without a turnover) as as UCLA knocked off Stanford 67-64 en route to the Pac-10 tournament title. Collinson dominated the game with his penetration. Stanford had to switch to a zone in both halves to keep the 6 foot point guard out of the lane.

Honorable Mention
Wink Adams, UNLV (23 pts, 4-5 3's), Joe Crawford, Kentucky (24 pts, 6 rebs), Blake Griffin, Oklahoma (20 pts, 13 rebs (6 off), 2 stls), Reggie Larry, Boise State (31 pts, 16 rebs, 4 asts, 2 blks), Drew Neitzel, Michigan State (26 pts), Brandon Rush, Kansas (28 pts), Tyler Smith, Tennessee (24 pts, 6 rebs, 3 asts), Charles Thomas, Arkansas (24 pts, 10 rebs)


TEAM OF THE DAY
Georgia
The Bulldogs didn't let a little storm ruin their postseason. Georgia won two games yesterday, beating both Kentucky, in overtime nonetheless, and Mississippi State, advancing to the finals of the SEC tournament. Before winning three games in three days in the SEC tournament, Georgia had gone 4-12 in SEC play. For the day, Georgia was led by Sundiata Gaines who averaged 18 pts, 4.5 rebs, and 3 asts for the day. By advancing to the SEC finals, Head Coach Dennis Felton seems to have saved his job for the time being. Continue reading...

Saturday, March 15, 2008

College Basketball 3/14

Today at noon Kentucky and Georgia play their SEC quarterfinal game that was delayed due to the storm in Atlanta last night with the winner advancing to play Mississippi State in the second semifinal tonight at 8:30. The remainder of the tournament will be played at Alexander Coliseum on the Georgia Tech campus due to the damage sustained to the Georgia Dome. The SEC was forced to make this decision in order to finish the tournament by 6pm Sunday so they can get their automatic qualifier in to the selection committee before the tournament field is announced. Another tough break for Kentucky in a season filled with them, but if the Wildcats can take care of Georgia, they would probably lock up that at-large bid, especially with how other bubble teams are fairing.


GAMES OF THE DAY
Minnesota 59, Indiana 58
This one was a no brainer. Minnesota, who had been up by as much as 16 in the first half, was up two with 3.4 seconds left when they fouled Eric Gordon. Gordon missed the first free throw, and as a result had to miss the second one. As the ball hung on the rim, DJ White worked his way around two Gophers for a tip-in while drawing a foul. He missed the free throw, but the rebound came back to him and he got fouled again with 1.5 seconds left. White missed the first, then hit the second, giving Indiana a one point lead and setting the stage for Blake Hoffarber's miraculous shot. Minnesota a 23 point, 13 rebound, 4 block performance from DJ White.

Mississippi Stat 69, Alabama 67 OT
Lost amidst all the drama with the storm in Atlanta was the fact that the game being played was exciting. Alabama sent the game into overtime when Mykal Riley hit a three that spun around the rim and off the backboard before finally dropping through. But with 2:11 left in OT the storm hit, delaying the game for an hour and three minutes. When play resume, Mississippi State pushed the lead to five, but it was only two after Ben Hansbrough missed two free throws. Mykal Riley got another look at a three to win it, but it was halfway down and came back out.


PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Roy Hibbert, Georgetown
After not scoring a point in Georgetown's win over Villanova in the Big East quarters, Hibbert exploded for 25 points, 13 rebounds, and 2 blocks yesterday in the Big East semis against West Virginia. 10 of Hibbert's 13 rebounds were on the offensive end. Hibbert just overmatched the soft West Virginia front line. Georgetown has looked very impressive in their two Big East tourney wins, winning by an average of 18 points. They may be the most balanced team in the country right now (sorry Xavier) - they won by 19 against Villanova by hitting 17 three's without Hibbert scoring, then won by 17 against West Virginia with Hibbert going off while hitting just 7 three's. They are getting hot at the right time.

Brook Lopez, Stanford
The short-haired Lopez twin went for 30 points and 12 rebounds, along with 3 steals, in a 75-68 win over Washington State in the Pac-10 tournament. It wasn't only Brook Lopez's performance offensively, but defensively as well - he held Washington State's center Aron Baynes to 2 points and 4 rebounds on just 1-3 shooting in 30 minutes. The Cardinal advance on to the Pac-10 finals where Lopez will match-up against UCLA all-american Kevin Love.

Honorable Mention
Michael Beasley, Kansas State (25 pts, 9 rebs, 3 blks), Wayne Chism, Tennessee (23 pts, 7 rebs, 5 blks), Devon Downey, South Carolina (26 pts, 5 rebs, 5 asts, 5 stls), Demitri McCamey, Illinois (26 pts, 7 rebs, 6-6 3's), Drew Neitzal, Michigan State (28 pts, 5 rebs), Mark Tyndale, Temple (20 pts, 15 rebs), Kyle Weaver, Washington State (25 pts, 12 rebs, 4 asts, 3 stls), DJ White, Indiana (23 pts, 13 rebs, 4 blks)


TEAMS OF THE DAY
Texas A&M
Texas A&M held off Kansas State 63-60 to all but lock up a bid to the NCAA's. Dominique Kirk has 19 points including 5-6 shooting from deep, and Josh Carter knocked down two free throws with 7 seconds left to put A&M up three. The Wildcats missed two three pointers at the end of the game that would have tied it.

Temple, St. Joseph's
Temple knocked off Charlotte and St. Joe's beat Xavier as the two Philly schools advanced to face each other in the finals of the A-10 tourney. Temple was led by 20 points and 15 rebounds from Mark Tyndale as the second seeded Owls look to earn their first NCAA bid since 2001. Pat Calathes led St. Joe's with 24 points and 8 boards as the Hawks used a 15-0 run over the end of the first half and the start of the second half to push the lead to 35-20. Xavier didn't get closer than 5 the rest of the way.

The St. Joe's win probably puts them well into the NCAA's, but Temple probably should earn the automatic bid just to be safe. These teams split their regular season match-ups. Continue reading...

Friday, March 14, 2008

Does Anyone Want To Make The Tourney?

Apparently the answer is no. Let's take a look at how teams playing must-win games fared yesterday:

Miami FL - Won 63-50 against NC State.
Dayton - Lost 74-65 to Xavier.
Baylor - Lost 91-84 2OT to Colorado.
Arizona - Lost 75-64 to Stanford.
Ole Miss - Lost 97-95 OT to Georgia.
UMass - Lost 69-65 to Charlotte.
UAB - Lost 78-68 OT to Tulsa.
St. Joseph's - Won 61-47 against Richmond.
Villanova - Lost 82-63 to Georgetown.
New Mexico - Lost 82-80 OT to Utah.
Oregon - Lost 75-70 to Washington St.
Florida - Lost 80-69 to Alabama.
Maryland - Lost 71-68 to Boston College.
Arizona State - Lost 59-55 to USC.
Houston - Lost 80-77 to UTEP.
Temple - Won 84-75 against LaSalle.

For those of you counting, that means bubble teams went 3-13 yesterday. What does it all mean? Not only do the teams that lost have no chance to improve their overall profile anymore, but it opens the door for teams like Temple, Virginia Tech and Ohio State. If these teams can keep winning games, then teams like Villanova, Arizona State, and Oregon, that are sitting squarely on the bubble, can get forced out.

This year's bubble is very weak, and those teams that can play their way into the dance are not very good. What does this mean? Don't expect too many double digit seeds advancing this year. Continue reading...

College Basketball 3/13

GAMES OF THE DAY
Illinois 64, Penn State 63
With just under five minutes to play, Illinois had a 62-52 lead when Penn State switched from man-to-man to a zone defense. The Nittany Lions stormed back, going on an 11-0 run to take a 63-62 lead. With 7 seconds left, Illinois's Chester Frazier took the ball out under the basket and inbounded it to Trent Meachem. Frazier's man immediately doubled Meachem, who passed it right back to Frazier for a reverse lay-up with 3.5 seconds left. Penn State missed a three at the buzzer, and #10 seed Illinois advanced to face Purdue.

UNLV 89, TCU 88
UNLV survived a barrage of three's from TCU (17-23 from deep), including one from Brent Hackett with thirty seconds left to put TCU up 88-86. After two time outs, with 7.2 seconds left, Wink Adams took an inbounds pass from the top of the key, drove right and into three TCU defenders, and went up and hit a floater and drew a foul, hitting a free throw to give UNLV the win.

Georgia 97, Ole Miss 95 OT
With 6 seconds to play and Ole Miss down three, David Huertas was fouled shooting a three and stepped to the line to knock down all three free throws, sending the game to overtime. Down three with 5.5 seconds left in OT, Chris Warren looked like he was going to do the same thing - he got fouled shooting a three and hit all three free throws. But Georgia inbounded the ball to walk-on Corey Butler (who ironically had fouled Warren), who pushed the ball the length of the floor and found Dave Bliss for a 12 foot bank shot with .4 seconds left to win the game, ending Mississippi's bubble chances.


PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Joe Alexander, West Virginia
Alexander scored a career high 34 points on 12-22 shooting, to go along with 7 rebounds to lead West Virginia over UConn and into the Big East semi's where they will play Georgetown. Alexander was a thorn in the Huskies side all night, creating all sorts of mismatches - when Jeff Adrien guarded him, he took him to the perimeter and dribbled by him; when Jerome Dyson guarded him, he just went into the post and hit turn-around jumper and turn-around jumper; and when they finally put Stanley Robinson on him (the best match-up), they either had to deal with Adrien on a mismatch with a guard or go small and get killed on the glass. They went small, and West Virginia dominated UConn on the boards and get two huge offensive rebounds down the stretch.

Reggie Roby, Colorado
Roby had 32 points and 12 rebounds to lead the #12 seed Colorado over #5 seed Baylor in the Big XII Tournament in double overtime. He scored 8 of his 32 in the second overtime as Colorado withstood a furious second half rally from Baylor, who was down by as much as 15 in the second half.

AJ Ogilvy, Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt shot 67% as a team in defeating Auburn in the SEC Tournament, led by Ogilvy who shot 12-13 from the field enroute to 27 points.

Honorable Mention
Wink Adams, UNLV (29pts, 3asts), Dionte Christmas, Temple (29pts, 5rebs, 4asts), JR Giddens, New Mexico (28pts, 17rebs), JJ Hickson, NC State (27pts, 14rebs), Jerome Jordan, Tulsa (23pts, 17rebs), Reggie Larry, Boise State (26pts, 9rebs), OJ Mayo, USC (23pts, 6asts), Jerel McNeal, Marquette (28pts, 6rebs)

TEAM OF THE DAY
St. Joseph's
St. Joe's was really a pick by default as they were the only team to enhance their bubble status by knocking off Richmond 61-47. The Hawks were led by 16 points (on 6-6 shooting, 3-3 from deep) and 5 boards from Rob Ferguson and 11 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists from Pat Calathes. Continue reading...

Louis Birdsong of George Mason Dunks on Northeastern

Continue reading...

Joe Alexander dunks on Stanley Robinson

This one hurts to post, but it was nasty.

Continue reading...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

College Basketball 3/12

Now that March Madness has officially begun with the Big East Tournament kicking off in Madison Square Garden, I'm going to give a daily review of the tourney games.

GAMES OF THE DAY
Dayton 63, St. Louis 62 OT
Marcus Johnson scored 8 of his 16 points in overtime, including the game winning basket with 32 seconds left, as Dayton, the #8 seed, held off St. Louis, the #9 seed. St. Louis came back from a 49-38 deficit with 6:29 left in regulation, tying the game on a three-pointer with 51 seconds left. In overtime, Danny Brown, who led the Billikens with 24 points, had a three-point play with 50 seconds left in overtime to give St. Louis a one point lead, and setting the stage for Johnson's shot. Brian Roberts, Dayton's leading scorer and 1st team A-10 player, was held to five. Dayton advances to play Xavier.

Charlotte 75, Rhode Island 73
Rhode Island, who took a five point lead into halftime, led for the entire second half until Charlie Coley, a 53% free throw shooter, hit two to tie the game at 73 with 37.7 seconds left. After a moving screen call against Kaheim Seawright with 8.2 seconds left, Charlotte's Michael Gerrity was fouled by Keith Cothran on a questionable call with .3 seconds on the clock. Gerrity hit both, and the #6 49ers knocked off the #11 Rams. Charlotte advances to take on UMass.

PLAYER OF THE DAY
Deonta Vaughn, Cincinnati
Cincinnati lost to Pitt, 70-64, but the game never would have been that close without the phenomenal performance of Vaughn. He went for 30 points and 6 assists, including 23 in the second half. At one point, he scored 20 consecutive points for the Bearcats, keeping them in it down the stretch with a combination of three-pointers and acrobatic shots in the lane. All told, he scored 22 of Cinci's last 24 points.

TEAM OF THE DAY
Villanova
With all due respect to Colorado State's women's team (they were 4-27, 0-16 heading in the quarters of the MWC tourney where they knocked off #1 seed Utah, who was 27-4, 16-0 on the year), Villanova gets the nod for team of the day after they blew out Syracuse in what was essentially a NCAA Tournament elimination game. It looked as if Syracuse would run away with it early, leading 28-19 with just over a minute left in the first half, but Villanova scored the last 8 points of the half, and then proceeded to catch fire in the second half hitting 8 of 10 three's. Scottie Reynolds led the Wildcats with 22 points and 6 assists, and Corey Stokes had a career high 18 on 4-8 shooting from deep, including two from well beyond NBA range. The loss burst the Syracuse bubble, while Villanova looks to avenge a loss to Georgetown on a very questionable call. The Wildcats can take themselves off the bubble with a victory today. Continue reading...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Championship Week Notes

-BUBBLES BURSTING:

VCU's loss in the CAA semi's, South Alabama's loss to Middle Tennessee State in the Sun Belt conference tournament and San Diego's WCC conference tournament championship just cost two bubble teams spots in the NCAA tournament if you believe that South Alabama, St. Mary's and Gonzaga are all in the tournament. Are they in the tournament? Let's take a look.

St. Mary's - RPI 38, SOS 137. The Gaels have some very good wins - Drake, Oregon, Seton Hall, San Diego State - and they have no bad losses - Texas, Southern Illinois, Gonzaga, San Diego X 2, Kent State. Combine that with their non-conference RPI of 17 and SOS of 31, and they're in.

Gonzaga - RPI 30, SOS 94. The same story as St. Mary's. A number of quality wins - UConn, St. Mary's, St. Joseph's, Virginia Tech, Western Kentucky - and no bad losses - Texas Tech, Tennessee, Washington State, Oklahoma, St. Mary's, San Diego, Memphis. Winning a competitive WCC (at least at the top) also will go a long way. Based on name power alone, the 'Zags are in.

South Alabama - RPI 37, SOS 127. They beat Mississippi State and San Diego, which keeps looking better, and swept Western Kentucky. They had close losses to Mississippi (buzzer beater) and Vanderbilt (2OT). Argue all you want about "good" losses helping teams out, but the committee considers it.

Virginia Commonwealth - RPI 54, SOS 155. VCU is in a much tougher spot. They missed against Miami and Arkansas in nonconference play, but they did beat Houston and Maryland. Their only hope was that all the conference tourney favorites win out, and since that didn't happen, it looks like they will be one of the odd men out.

Teams that still needed to play their way into the tourney (Ohio State, Syracuse, Florida, Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon) just had their margin of error erased. Bubble teams better hope and pray that Butler, Memphis, Kent State, and Xavier win their conference tourney's.


-INDIANA:

This is not the same Indiana team that was coached by Kelvin Sampson. They barely beat Ohio State and Northwestern and lost to Penn State and Michigan State (by 30). At least six players, including Big Ten player of the year DJ White, skipped practices after Dan Dakich was named Interim Head Coach (reportedly, the team wanted assistant Ray McCallum to be named interim coach). JaMarcus Ellis was suspended for the Penn State game for mouthing off to coaches. In the last five games, it doesn't even look like Eric Gordon is trying - it seems like he has resigned himself to the fact that he will be leaving Indiana for the NBA after this year and is trying to get there without injury.

The Hoosiers are a shell of their former selves. It's too bad, because this team could have gone a long way riding Gordon and White.


-OFFICIATING:

The terrible season of officiating in college basketball continued this past weekend as UCLA was handed two victories:

Against Stanford:



And against Cal:



Now I understand that, as both Cal and Stanford blew big leads to the Bruins, they shouldn't have been in the position to have a missed call by a ref affect the game this much, but the fact of the matter is that both of these games were decided on very close calls, that easily could have (read should have) gone the other way. Continue reading...