Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Real March Madness: Day 11

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 Friday:
Kemba Walker had the most vicious buzzer-beater you will ever seen, Colorado got off the bubble, and a few teams got their bubbles busted.

Game of the Day: North Carolina 61, Miami (Fl) 59

North Carolina played so poorly in the first half that head coach Roy Williams yanked all five starters in favor of walk-ons. The Tar Heels had committed 14 first half turnovers and scored only two field goals in the first four minutes. But the starters eventually found their game and battled back. Miami led by 19 points with 9:56 remaining in the game, but Carolina closed the game on a 27-6 run. The Tar Heels' only lead came when there was no time remaining on the clock, which was a result of this great finish:

They were good too
- UConn 76, Syracuse 71 OT

This was the first time these teams have played in the Big East tournament since the six-overtime game in 2009, UConn and Syracuse picked up where they left off. Kemba Walker scored 33 points, and filled the stat sheet with 12 rebounds, 5 assists and six steals to lead the Huskies to their fourth win in four days. Scoop Jardine had 20 points to lead the Orange, including a pair of 3-pointers at the end of regulation to bring Syracuse back from the dead, and force overtime. Alex Oriakhi was dominant down low for for the huskies and reserve forward Tyler Olander had a career-night. Follow the link to read more about the magic that took place at the Garden on Friday night

Team of the Day: St. Joseph's Hawks

The Hawks pulled off the upset of the night, defeating No. 3 Duquesne in overtime of the Atlantic-10 quarterfinals. They won just four games during conference-play, but have now strung together three straight wins, two coming in the post-season. Duquesne rallied from an eight point deficit with seven minutes to play. For the final five minutes of regulation, it was a back-and-forth battle. Ronald Roberts scored on a slam-dunk with 1.5 seconds left to send the game into overtime. In the extra frame, the Hawks scored five quick points and kept the Dukes at bay. Sophomore guard Carlton Jones led the Hawks with a career-high 28 points.

They were good too

- Clemson Tigers

The Tigers win the award for "Most impressive victory in a must-win situation". Clemson destroyed fellow bubble-dweller Boston College 70-47 in the ACC quarterfinals. Boston College was never allowed to make this a competitive game. The Tigers never trailed and in the second half had a double-digit lead for all but about 2 minutes. Their longest scoring drought was just under 50 seconds. Demontez Stitt led the way with 20 points, 8 rebound and 4 assists. The Tigers now must face No. 2 North Carolina in the ACC semifinals.

Co-Player of the Day: Kemba Walker, UConn

"...Most valuable player in America, bar-none. You cannot question it." That's what Jim Calhoun had to say about his superstar guard after UConn's 76-71 overtime game in the Big East semifinals. UConn has now won four games in four days. In those four games, Walker has played 157 of 165 minutes and has scored 111 points. The 111 points has broken the previous Big East tournament record, the 84 set by Eric Devendorf in 2008. But Walker didn't just score points last night. He grabbed 12 rebounds, dished out five assists and had six steals. He didn't hit a game-winning buzzer-beater, but he did just about everything else.

Co-Player of the Day Jimmer Fredette, BYU

Imagine if a team had two players of Jimmer Fredette's caliber. Then imagine  those two Jimmers merging into one, forming a super-mega-Jimmer. Sounds a bit ridiculous, right? Well, that's essentially what happened last night in Las Vegas.

BYU had lost four straight games against New Mexico, and it was clear that Fredette wasn't going to let it happen again. Jimmer scored a career-high (and tournament-record) 52 points on 22-37 (59%) shooting, including 7-14 (50%) from behind the arc.  His 52 points accounted for 59% of his of his team's overall output.

Consider this: by halftime Fredette had scored 33 points, the same amount of points it took Wisconsin an entire game to score. In fact, Fredette outscored seven D-I programs last night. Jimmer may actually get an at-large bid all by himself.

They were good too

- Kalin Lucas, Michigan State

The senior leader rolled his ankle in the Spartans first round game against Iowa, and his availability for last night's game was uncertain. Not only did he play, he dominated. The guard scored a career-high 30 points in the Spartans must-win game over No. 2 Purdue, 74-56. He was8-15 from the field including 4-6 from behind the arc.

Bubble Banter

- Alabama beat fellow bubble-sitter Georgia in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament. You would think this would have solidified Alabama's tournament status, right? Well their work isn't done. If they can beat Kentucky in the SEC semifinals, then the committee will have no choice but to let them in.

- The last thing Boston College needed was to suffer a 23-point defeat to another bubble team, and that's exactly what they did. The 70-47 loss to Clemson will likely burst the Eagles' bubble.

- Beating Boston College was big. But beating them convincingly was even bigger. Clemson is right there on the cusp of a bid, and unlike Boston College, they still have a chance to improve their status.

- Colorado got out to a big lead, then blew it, then got down big, then fought back, but ended up running out of time. But despite the 90-83, the Buffs should end up in the Big Dance.

- Georgia needed to beat Alabama and they didn't. But losing is overtime isn't as bad as it could have been. But now they are forced to sit and wait, and that's not what they wanted to do. They are looking like part of the "last four out" right now.

- Illinois needed to beat Michigan, and they didn't. I'm not sure if their bubble is completely busted or if they still may have an outside chance. but nonetheless, it's not up to them any more.
- No team has improved their bubble status in the past month as well as Michigan has. With the win over Illinois yesterday, it is likely that Michigan will get a bid come Sunday.

- Did you really think Michigan State would fold and force the committee to leave them out of the tournament for the first time in decades? The Spartans punched their dance ticket last night by throttling No. 2 Purdue 74-56.

- The good news for Penn State is that they won the game. The bad news is that the final score was 36-33. For now Penn State just needs to continue winning.

- USC was on the wrong side of the bubble entering last night's semifinal game against Arizona. Without the services of their head coach, the Trojans put up a valiant effort but ultimately lost, ending any hopes they had of making the tournament.

- Virginia Tech is in a sticky situation. Yes, they did get the win they needed, beating Florida State in the ACC quarterfinals, but the game was decided by a razor-thin overturned video-review. But with the win, they get to continue playing, and they face a Duke team may not have their best player. For the Hokies, it's simple: win, and you're in.

Friday Results

Patriot League Finals
#1 Bucknell 72, #6 Lafayette 57

Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament Quarterfinals
#1 North Carolina 61, #9 Miami 59
#4 Clemson 70, #5 Boston College 47
#2 Duke 87, #7 Maryland 71
#6 Virginia Tech 52, #3 Florida State 51

Atlantic-10 Conference Tournament Quarterfinals
#9 Dayton 68, #1 Xavier 67
#12 St. Joseph's 93, #4 Duquesne 90 OT
#2 Temple 96, #10 La Salle 76
#3 Richmond 55, #6 Rhode Island 44

Big East Conference Tournament Semifinals
#9 UConn 76, #4 Syracuse 71
#3 Louisville 83, #2 Notre Dame 77 OT

Big Ten Conference Tournament Quarterfinals
#1 Ohio State 67, #8 Northwestern 61 OT
#4 Michigan 60, #5 Illinois 55
#7 Michigan State 74 #2 Purdue 56
#6 Penn State 36, #3 Wisconsin 33

Big-12 Conference Tournament Semifinals
#1 Kansas 90 #5 Colorado 83
#2 Texas 70, #3 Texas A&M 58

Big West Conference Tournament Semifinals
#1 Long Beach State 74, #7 UC-Riverside 63
#5 UC-Santa Barbara 83, #3 CS-Northridge 63

Conference-USA Tournament Semifinals
#4 Memphis 76 #8 East Carolina 56
#3 UTEP 66, #2 Tulsa 54

Mid-American Conference Tournament Semifnals
#6 Akron 79, #2 Western Michigan 68
#1 Kent State 79, #4 Ball State 68

Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament Semifinals
#4 Morgan State 61, #1 Bethune-Cookman 48
#2 Hampton 85, #6 Norfolk State 61

Mountain West Conference Tournament Semifinals
#1 BYU 87, #5 New Mexico 76
#2 San Diego State 74, #3 UNLV 72

Pac-10 Conference Tournament Semifinals
#1 Arizona 67, #4 USC 62
#3 Washington 69, #7 Oregon 51

Southeast Conference Tournament Quarterfinals
#1W Alabama 65, #4E Georgia 59
#2E Kentucky 75, #3W Ole Miss 66
#1E Florida 85, #5E Tennessee 74
#3E Vanderbilt 87, #2W Mississippi State 81

Southwestern Athletic Conference Tournament Semifinals
#6 Grambling State 81, #2 Jackson State 75 OT
#4 Alabama State 73, #1 Texas Southern 66

Western Ahtletic Conference Tournament Semifinals
#1 Utah State 58, #8 San Jose State 54
#2 Boise State 81, #3 New Mexico State 63

Saturday Slate of Games

America East Conference Tournament
Finals (at higher seed)

2:02 pm: #5 Stony Brook at #2 Boston

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

9:00PM - ESPN - #3 Louisville vs. #9 UConn

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

6:00PM - ESPN - #1 Kansas vs. #2 Texas

Big West Conference Tournament
Finals (Anaheim, CA)

8:00PM - ESPN2 - #1 Long Beach State vs. UC-Santa Barbara

Conference-USA Tournament
Finals (El Paso, TX)

12:30 PM - CBS - #3 UTEP vs. #4 Memphis

Mid-American Conference Tournament
Finals (Cleveland, OH)

6:00PM - ESPN2 - #1 Kent State vs. #6 Akron

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

2:00PM - ESPN2 - #2 Hampton vs. #4 Morgan State

Mountain West Conference Tournament
Finals (Las Vegas, NV)

10:00PM - VERSUS - #1 BYU vs. #2 San Diego State

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

9:00PM - CBS - #1 Arizona vs. #3 Washington

Southland Conference Tournament
Finals (Katy, TX)

5:00PM - ESPN2 - #1 McNeese State #7 Texas-San Antonio

Southwestern Athletic Conference Tournament
Finals (Garland, TX)

8:30PM - ESPNU - #4 Alabama State vs. #6 Grambling State

WAC Tournament
Finals (Las Vegas, NV)

12:00PM - ESPN - #1 Utah State vs. #2 Boise State

ACC Tournament
Semifinals (Greensboro, NC)

1:00PM - #1 North Carolina vs. #4 Clemson
3:30PM - #2 Duke vs. #6 Virginia Tech

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

1:00PM - #9 Dayton vs. #12 St. Joseph's
3:30PM - #2 Temple vs. #3 Richmond

Big Ten Conference Tournament
Semifinals (indianapoli, IN)

1:40PM - #1 Ohio State vs. #4 Michigan
4:00PM - #7 Michigan State vs. #8 Penn State

Southeast Conference Tournament
Semifinals (Atlanta, GA)

1:00PM - #1W Alabama vs.#2E Kentucky
3:30PM - #1E Florida vs. #3E Vanderbilt

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