Friday, March 11, 2011

The Real March Madness: Day 10

Everyone loves the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament. Four straight days jam-packed with 12 hours of do-or-die college hoops is more than most people can handle.

But for junkies like us, the next 13 days are just as good, for it is when the true Madness takes place. Over the course of these two weeks, we whittle some 347 teams down to 30 conference champions (the Ivy doesn't have a tournament). Auto-bids will be won. Bubbles will be burst. Buzzers will be beaten. And most importantly, a 68 team bracket will be made.

For a comprehensive listing off all the conference tournaments, follow this link or click the "Complete Conference Tournament Schedules" page at the top of the screen. To become more acquainted with the teams that have already sealed up auto-bids, follow this link.

Here is what happened on Thursday:
Kemba Walker had the most vicious buzzer-beater you will ever seen, Colorado gets off the bubble, and a few teams got theirs busted.

Game of the Day: UConn 76, Pittsburgh 74

And to think, there is a coach out there that doesn't believe Kemba Walker was good enough to make the Big East All-Conference First-Team. Walker scored 24 points including a step-back game-winning buzzer-beater to defeat top-seed Pittsburgh in the Big East Quarterfinals. On the final possession, Walker got the ball at the top of the key, burned the clock, and set up for a final drive. What happened next was instant-YouTube-gold:

The final play was designed for Walker to take the final shot. He had the option to pass it up to Jamal Coombs-McDaniel, but Walker had done so against Notre Dame, and Donnell Beverly could not handle the pass, and the Huskies lost 67-70. This time, Walker kept the ball and criss-crossed Gary McGhee like a new pair of shoelaces. Along with his 24 points, Walker also contributed five assists, grabbed five rebounds and had two steals. Pittsburgh led for most of the first half, getting up by as many as 12, but the Huskies clamped down on defense in the second and forced the Panthers to lose composure.

Alex Oriakhi was a big contributor in the second half. He sat during most of the first due to foul trouble, but was able to grab five of his seven rebounds in the second half. But the story of the game was Walker's shot. The whole sequence, Walker slicing-and-dicing McGee, taking a monster-step-back jumper to win the game, was one of the prettiest end-of-game sequences we may ever see.

They were good too:

- Miami (Fl) 69, Virginia 62 OT: Neither of these teams are going to the tournament unless they win the ACC tournament. But Miami put on a comeback of March Madness magnitude. The two teams were tied at 39 with six minutes to go when the Hurricanes hit a cold-streak. They went roughly five minutes, and by the time they scored their next point, they trailed 50-40. That's when The Cavaliers fell apart at the seems and Miami scored 10 points in just under 50 seconds.

The Hurricanes had scored only 12 second-half points up until that point. In overtime, Miami hit all five of their shots and was able to pull away for a seven point win.

- Norfolk State 55, Coppin State 53: Rob Hampton hit a layup with 2 seconds remaining to lift No. 6 Norfolk State over No. 3 Coppin State 55-53 in the quarterfinals of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament. Coppin State rallied back from an 11-point first half deficit, and took the lead with eight minutes left in the game. Norfolk State trailed 51-44 with six minutes left before scoring seven unanswered points, tying it at 51 with less than four minutes to go. Coppin State missed the potential go-ahead jumper with 48 seconds left, and Kyle O'Quinn grabbed the rebound, setting up the final possession. O'Quinn, the six-foot-ten center for the Spartans, led the way with 10 points, 13 rebounds and 5 blocks.

Team of the Day: Colorado Buffaloes

The Buffs locked up an at-large bid with their huge win over No. 4 Kansas State in the quarterfinals of the Big-12 tournament. Kansas Stat was riding a six-game win streak coming into the game, but the duo of Alec Burks and Cory Higgins were too much for the Wildcats. The two wings combined for 52 points of the team's 87 points, and Andre Roberson grabbed 14 rebounds to go along with his 11 points (Roberson also threw down a filthy dunk). With the win, the Buffs complete the season sweep of Kansas State.

They were good too:

- East Carolina Pirates: The No. 8 Pirates defeated top-seeded UAB in the quarterfinals of the Conference-USA tournament, 75-70 in overtime. The Pirates had lost both regular season games against the Blazers, but were able to outscore the No. 1-seed in overtime 18-15. UAB's Aaron Johnson scored a career-high 39 points on 12-22 shooting. But the rest of UAB shot a combined 9-43. East Carolina bursted UAB's bubble, and the Pirates will have the chance to do it to another bubble team, when they face No. 4 Memphis in the semifinals on Friday.

Player of the Day: Devin Gibson, Texas-San Antonio

A day after Gibson logged a career-high 28 points en route to his second triple-double of the season, the senior guard was just four assists shy of doing it again. Gibson finished with 26 points, 11 rebounds and 6 assists as the No. 7 UT-San Antonio Roadrunners upset No. 3 Sam Houston State in the semifinals of the Southland Conference tournament. Gibson was 6-12 from the field and 11-15 from the charity stripe. UTSA will now face top-seeded McNeese State in the championship game.

They were good too:

- Michael Thompson, Northwestern: John Shurna, the Wildcats leading scorer had only two points, but Michael Thompson made up for it by providing a Big Ten tournament-record 35 points, as No.8 Northwestern defeated No. 9 Minnesota in the first round of the Big Ten tournament 75-65. Thompson was 11-22 from the field including 5-12 from behind the arc. He also made all eight of his foul shots. His previous scoring high was 23 points, which he scored against American back in December.

- Klay Thompson, Washington State: The Washington Huskies avoided being swept by the Cougars in the first round of the Pac-10 tournament, but they could not stop Klay Thompson, who recorded a tournament-record 43 points. Thompson sat out the last game of the regular season due to a suspension related to a marijuana arrest. Thompson was 15-29 from the field, including 8-17 from behind the arc.

Bubble Banter

- Boston College took care of business against Wake Forest, and if they can defeeat Clemson, another bubble team, BostoN College would probably secure one of the last at-large bids.

- Colorado did what they needed to do, as they beat Kansas State 87-75. If bid-theives stay at bay, Colorado is likely to lock up one of the final at-large bids. A semifinal win over Kansas would almost guarantee them a spot in March Madness.

- Colorado State's bubble is officially busted. They lost to New Mexico in the first round of the MWC tournament. The Rams would have had an outside shot at an at-large bid, but that is no longer the case.

- Georgia defeated Auburn in the first round of the SEC tournament, setting up a BubbleBuster match up against the Alabama. a win would likely put the Bulldogs in the "last four in" and a lost will send them packing for the N.I.T.

- Marquette was blown out by Louisville in the quarterfinals of the Big East torunament, but are probably safe. They got the win they needed on Wednesday night when they defeated West Virginia.

- Memphis' tournament hopes remain alive for now. They defeated No. 5 Southern Miss in the quarterfinals of the C-USA tournament. Memphis now faces No. 8 East Carolina in the semifinals. They will need to beat the Pirates in order to strengthen their chances at an at-large bid.

- Michigan State survived a scare against No. 10 Iowa in the first round of the Big Ten tournament. Despite the win, the Spartans have still lost five of their last ten games. They will now face No. 2 Purdue, and a win on Friday would almost guarantee them a spot in the tournament.

- Any outside shot that Oklahoma State may have had is now gone, thanks to a missed game-winning shot in their 63-62 loss to Kansas in the Quarterfinals of the Big-12 Tournament. Their bubble is officially busted.

- UAB, the top-seed in the C-USA tournament was considered on the bubble. But not anymore. They lost to No. 8 East Carolina in overtime and are now N.I.T-bound.

- UCLA's tournament status is now up in the air thanks to a head-scratching 17-point loss to Oregon. The Bruins last three losses have all come against non-tournament teams.

- USC beat Cal 70-56 to reaffirm their bubble-status. Another win for them would be ideal. But I think barring a bid-theft or two, the Trojans will get in.

- Everybody''s favorite bubble team, Virginia Tech, moved step closer to finally locking up an at-large bid by defeating Georgia Tech in the first round of the ACC tournament. A win today against Florida State would make them a near-lock.

- Washington would have been bubble-bound with a loss to Washington State, but the Huskies escaped 89-87, and wil now have a chance to cement their tournament spot with a quarterfinal win over No. 7 Oregon.

- If Washington still has a shot at an at-large bid, then Washington State definitely doesn't. A win last night would have given the Cougars three wins over Washington this season, and would have given them an outside-shot. But now, the NCAA tournament is out of reach.

Thursday Results

Atlantic Coast Conference First Round

#9 Miami 69, #8 Virginia 62
#5 Boston College 81, #12 Wake Forest 67
#7 Maryland 75, #10 NC State 67
#6 Virginia Tech 59, #11 Georgia Tech 43

Big East Conference Tournament Quarterfinals

#9 UConn 76, #1 Pitt 74
#4 Syracuse 79, #5 St. John's 73
#2 Notre Dame 89,. #7 Cincinnati 51
#3 Louisville 81, #11 Marquette 56

Big-Ten Conference Tournament First Round

#8 Northwestern 75, #9 Minnesota 65
#7 Michigan State 66, #10 Iowa 61
#6 Penn State 61, #11 Indiana 55

Big-12 Conference Tournament Quarterfinals

#1 Kansas 63, #9 Oklahoma State 62
#5 Colorado 87, #4 Kansas State 75
#2 Texas 74, #10 Oklahoma 54
#3 Texas A&M 86, #6 Missouri 71

Big West Conference Tournament Quartefinals

#1 Long Beach State 79, #8 UC Irvine 72
#5 UC Santa Barbara 79, #4 Pacific 67
#7 UC-Riverside 70, #2 Cal Poly 66 OT
#3 CS-Northridge 75, #6 Cal St. Fullerton 54

Conference-USA Tournament Quarterfinals

#8 East Carolina 75, #1 UAB 70 OT
#4 Memphis 66, #5 Southern Mississippi 63
#3 UTEP 77, #6 Marshall 65
#2 Tulsa 81, #10 Rice 72

Mid-American Conference Tournament Quarterfinals

#2 Western Michigan 67, #7 Bowling Green 56
#6 Akron 82, #3 Miami(OH) 75 2OT
#1 Kent State 73, #8 Buffalo 62
#4 Ball State 76, #5 Ohio 73 OT

Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference First Round

#6 Norfolk State 55, #3 Coppin State 53
#4 Morgan State 77, #5 North Carolina A&T 59

Mountain West Conference Tournament Quarterfinals

#1 BYU 64, #9 TCU 58
#5 New Mexico 67, #4 Colorado State 61
#2 San Diego State 64, vs. #7 Utah 50
#3 UNLV 69, #6 Air Force 53

Pac-10 Conference Tournament Quarterfinals

#4 USC 70, #5 Cal 56
#1 Arizona 78, #9 Oregon State 69
#7 Oregon 76, #2 UCLA 59
#3 Washington 89, #6 Washington State 87

Southeast Conference Tournament First Round

#4E Georgia 69, #5W Auburn 51
#3W Ole Miss 66, #6E South Carolina 65
#5E Tennessee 74, #4W Arkansas 68
#3E Vanderbilt 62, #6W LSU 50

Southland Conference Tournament Semifinals

#7 Texas-San Antonio 79, #3 Sam Houston State 70
#1 McNeese State 91, #4 Texas State 83

Southwestern Athletic Conference Tournament Quarterfinals

#4 Alabama State 81, #5 Alabama A&M 61
#6 Grambling State 65, #3 Mississippi Valley State 62

Western Athletic Conference Tournament Quarterfinals

#8 San Jose State 74, #4 Idaho 68
#3 New Mexico State 66, #6 Nevada 60

Friday Slate of Games

Patriot League Tournament
Finals (at higher seed)
4:45PM - #6 Lafayette at #1 Bucknell

Southland Conference Tournament
Finals (Katy, TX)
3:00PM - ESPN2 - #1 McNeese State #7 Texas-San Antonio

ACC Tournament
Quarterfinals (Greensboro, NC)

12:00PM - #1 UNC vs. #9 Miami
2:30PM - #4 Clemson vs. #5 Boston College
6:30PM - #2 Duke vs. #7 Maryland
9:00PM - #3 Florida State vs. #6 Virginia Tech

Atlantic-10 Conference Tournament
Quarterfinals (Atlantic City, NJ)

12:00PM - #1 Xavier vs. #9 Dayton
2:30PM - #4 Duquesne vs. #12 St. Joseph's
6:30PM - #2 Temple vs. #10 La Salle
9:00PM - #3 Richmond vs. G#6 Rhode Island

Big East Conference Tournament
Semifinals (New York City, NY)

7:00PM - #4 Syracuse vs. #9 UConn
9:30PM - #2 Notre Dame vs. #3 Louisville

Big Ten Conference Tournament
Quarterfinals (indianapoli, IN)

12:00PM - #1 Ohio State vs. #8 Northwestern
2:30PM - #4 Michigan vs. #5 Illinois
6:30PM - #2 Purdue vs. #7 Michigan State
9:30PM - #3 Wisconsin vs. #6 Penn State

Big-12 Conference Tournament
Semifinals (Kansas City, MO)

7:00PM - #1 Kansas vs. #5 Colorado
9:30PM - #2 Texas vs. #3 Texas A&M

Big West Conference Tournament
Semifinals (Anaheim, CA)

6:30PM - #1 Long Beach State vs. #5 UC-Santa Barbara
9:00PM - #3 CS-Northridge vs. #7 UC-Riverside

Conference-USA Tournament
Semifinals (El Paso, TX)

3:00PM - #4 Memphis vs. #8 East Carolina
5:30PM - #2 Tulsa vs. #3 UTEP

Mid-American Conference Tournament
Semifinals (Cleveland, OH)

7:00PM - #2 Western Michigan vs. #6 Akron
9:30PM - #1 Kent State vs. #4 Ball State

Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Tournnament
Semifinals (Winston-Salem, NC)

6:00PM - #1 Bethune-Cookman vs. #4 Morgan State
8:30PM - #2 Hampton vs. #6 Norfolk State

Mountain West Conference Tournament
Semifinals (Las Vegas, NV)

9:00PM - #1 BYU vs. #5 New Mexico
11:30PM - #2 SDSU vs. #3 UNLV

Pac-10 Conference Tournament
Semifinals (Los Angeles, CA)

9:00PM - #1 Arizona vs. #4 USC
11:40PM - #3 Washington vs. #7 Oregon

Southeast Conference Tournament
Quartefinals (Atlanta, GA)

1:00PM - #1W Alabama vs. #4E Georgia
3:30PM - #2E Kentucky vs. #3W Ole Miss
7:30PM - #1E Florida vs. #5E Tennessee
10:00PM - #2W Mississippi State vs.#3E Vanderbilt

Southwestern Athletic Conference Tournament
Semifinals (Garland, TX)

2:30PM - #2 Jackson State vs. #6 Grambling State
8:00PM - #1 Texas Southern vs. #4 Alabama State

WAC Tournament
Semifinals (Las Vegas, NV)

8:00PM - #1 Utah State vs. #8 San Jose State
10:30PM - #2 Boise State vs. #3 New Mexico State

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