Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Real March Madness: Day 12

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 Saturday:

Game of the Day: Washington 77, Arizona 75 OT

Arizona leading for most of the first half, Arizona had to play catchup in the second half, using an 8-0 run to turn a 59-55 deficit into a 63-59 lead with just under two minutes left in the game. Isaiah Thomas hit a three to cut the lead to one with 32 seconds on the clock, but Derrick Williams answered with an and-one in transition at the other end. After Terrence Ross hit a three to once again cut the lead to one, Momo Jones knocked down two free throws before CJ Wilcox got open for a three in the corner that tied the game with 10 seconds left. Jones missed a prayer at the buzzer, and we were headed to overtime.

In the extra frame, Arizona got a three from Kevin Parrom to tie the game with 20 seconds left setting up this final play, which only took place because Thomas waved off his coach when he wanted to call a timeout:

More on Thomas in a bit.

They were good too

- Akron 66, Kent State 65 OT: As you might imagine, a game between two rivals for a championship came down to the wire. After a wild sequence that ended regulation -- Kent State missed a jumper with six seconds left, but as Akron was pushing the ball the other way, it was stolen allowing KSU another shot -- the game headed to OT. In the extra frame, Kent State took an early three point lead, and after the teams traded basket, Brett McKnight hit two game-winning free throws with 13 seconds left and Zeke Marshall got his ninth block, a game-saver, as the Zips held on to win.

- UNC 92, Clemson 87 OT: North Carolina got 40 points out of Harrison Barnes as they came back from 14 points down and seven points down with three minutes left. Tyler Zeller hit a game-tying jump hook with 30 seconds left, and after Demontez Stitt failed to get off a good shot, UNC put the game away by scoring the first nine points of overtime.

Team of the Day: Penn State Nittany Lions

Penn State came very close to locking up an NCAA Tournament bid with their third straight win in the Big Ten Tournament. Talor Battle scored 25 points and hit 6-8 from three as the Nittany Lions knocked off Michigan State 61-48, a day after beating Wisconsin 36-33. If I'm Penn State, I want to beat Ohio State in the Big Ten finals to eliminate any doubt of getting into the dance, but it may be a moot point.

They were good too

- San Diego State Aztecs: San Diego State may have locked up a two seed in the tournament by beating BYU 72-54. The Aztecs have just two losses on the season (both the BYU) and are without a ton of good wins, so there may be some controversy if they do end up sneaking into a two seed.

Player of the Day: Harrison Barnes, North Carolina

The freshman phenom scored a career-high 40 points in the Tar Heels come-from-behind overtime victory over Clemson in the ACC quarterfinals. Barnes was 12-17 from the field including 6-8 from behind the arc and converted on 10 of 11 attempts from the foul line. Barnes was the first freshman in NCAA history to be named a pre-season All-American, and while he struggled early in the season, he has certainly lived up to the hype as he continues to progress. His 40 points set an ACC tournament record for freshman and scored the most points in a tournament game since 1995 when Randolph Childress of Wake Forest did it against Duke.

They were good too

- Isaiah Thomas, Washington: Thomas scored 28 points and handed out seven assists in Washington's overtime win against Arizona in the Pac-10 finals, but perhaps more importantly, he hit the buzzer-beating game-winner that gave the Huskies the tournament title.

- Nolan Smith, Duke: So much for that toe injury, right? Smith had 27 points and six assists as Duke knocked off Virginia Tech and moved on to face North Carolina in the ACC Tournament final.

- Talor Battle, Penn State: Battle scored 25 points in Penn State's win over Michigan State, hitting four threes on four straight possessions at one point in the game.

Bubble Banter

- Alabama must now play the waiting game. Their 72-58 loss to Kentucky means they can do nothing more to persuade the committee to give them a bid. Right now, they are either "last four in" or "first four out".

- Clemson blew a 12-point lead and collapsed in overtime against North Carolina in the ACC semifinals. The Tigers will now have to hope no bid-theft takes place in order to get is as an at-large.

- I don't want to say that Penn State is a lock to make the Big Dance, but with the semifinal win over Michigan State, the Nittany Lions have put themselves into solid position for this afternoon.

Saturday Results

America East Conference Finals

#2 Boston 56, #5 Stony Brook 54

Big East Conference Tournament Finals

#9 UConn 69, #3 Louisville 66

Big-12 Conference Tournament Finals

#1 Kansas 85, #2 Texas 73

Big West Conference Tournament Finals

#5 UC-Santa Barbara 64, #1 Long Beach State 56

Conference-USA Tournament Finals

#4 Memphis 67, #3 UTEP 66

Mid-American Conference Tournament Finals

#6 Akron 66, #1 Kent State 65 OT

Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament Finals

#2 Hampton 60, #4 Morgan State 55

Mountain West Conference Tournament Finals

#2 San Diego State 72, #1 BYU 54

Pac-10 Conference Tournament Finals

#3 Washington 77, #1 Arizona 75 OT

Southland Conference Tournament Finals

#7 Texas-San Antonio 75, #1 McNeese State 72

Southwestern Athletic Conference Tournament Finals

#4 Alabama State 65, #6 Grambling State 48

Western Athletic Conference Tournament Finals

#1 Utah State 77, #2 Boise State 69

Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament Semifinals

#1 North Carolina 92, #4 Clemson 87 OT
#2 Duke 77, #6 Virginia Tech 63

Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament Semifinals

#9 Dayton 64, #12 St. Joseph's 61
#3 Richmond 58, #2 Temple 54

Big Ten Conference Tournament Semifinals

#1 Ohio State 68, #4 Michigan 61
#8 Penn State 61, #7 Michigan State 48

SEC Tournament Semifinals

#2E Kentucky 72, #1W Alabama 58
#1E Florida 77, #3E Vanderbilt 66

Sunday Slate of games

ACC Tournament
Finals (Greensboro, NC)

1:00PM - ESPN - #1 North Carolina vs. #1 Duke

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

1:00PM - CBS - #3 Richmond vs. #9 Dayton

Big Ten Conference Tournament
Finals (Indianapolis, IN)

3:30PM - ESPN - #1 Ohio State vs. #8 Penn State

Southeast Conference Tournament
Finals (Atlanta, GA)

1:00PM - ABC - #1E Florida vs. #2E Kentucky

1 comment:

Steve said...

There's so much I could say, but I'll limit my comments to two games. First, congratulations to the Washington Huskies on winning the Pac-10 Tournament! That was an amazing conference championship game, capped by a fantastic shot by Isaiah Thomas!

About the Clemson-UNC game, how about the huge game from Harrison Barnes? Big game from a freshman! I’m really looking forward to today’s ACC Championship game to see if Barnes can repeat his performance from yesterday. Regardless of how he plays, it will be interesting to see just how far North Carolina can advance in the NCAA Tournament.