MARCH IS HERE! How do we know? Well, because my phone says it is March 1st, but also because it is tourney time. The Horizon League and Big South Conference Tournaments tip-off tonight and in just 12 days, the NCAA Tournament brackets will be filled out. (Be sure to check out my updated bracketology by the way.)
If you are unfamiliar with College Hoops 101, it is a weekly feature here at The Sports Bank that runs every Monday (Tuesday this week) and breaks down everything you need to know going on in the world of college basketball. I will look back at the previous week and peak ahead to some of the key match-ups in the next seven days.
By: David Kay
Games watched in 2008-2009: 275
Games watched in 2009-2010: 327
Games watched in 2010-2011: 221
Games watched last week: 12
Teams I saw play in 2009-2010: 125
Teams I have seen play this season: 110
(Home teams in CAPS)
Syracuse 69, VILLANOVA 64
Another late season swoon by the Wildcats as two Philly kids, Rick Jackson and Scoop Jardine, help the Cuse pick up an important road win.
Wisconsin 53, MICHIGAN 52
It was one of the ugliest looking game-winning shots ever, but freshman Josh Gasser banks in the three at the buzzer to give the Badgers a nice road win in a shot that was very similar to Brian Butch’s game-winner at Indiana two years ago. The Wolverines bubble all but burst in this one.
MISSOURI 77, Baylor 59
The Bears have to be one of the most disappointing teams in the country along with Michigan State. This loss does not help their at-large chance.
Marquette 74, UCONN 67 OT
I still cannot figure out how the Golden Eagles came back to win this game after holding an 11-point halftime lead. Whatever the case may be, this is a HUGE road win that Marquette was lacking on their NCAA Tournament resume.
SYRACUSE 58, Georgetown 51
No Chris Wright; no sweep of ‘Cuse this season for the Hoyas. I know Wright is supposed to be back before the end of the season, but I just cannot see that happening. This injury of G-Town losing their senior starting point guard this late in the game is eerily similar to when Marquette lost Dominic James near the end of the 2008-2009 season.
St. John’s 81, VILLANOVA 68
The Storm might be the hottest team in the country and this road win should be a major confidence booster even though it came against a scuffling Nova team. Dwight Hardy continues to light it up and improved his Big East Player of the Year candidacy by dropping a career-high 34 points.
BYU 80, SAN DIEGO STATE 67
The Jimmer show pretty much clinched the Mountain West title even though he only scored 25 points which pales in comparison to the 43 he poured in against the Aztecs earlier this season in Provo. Yes, expectations are now that high when Fredette scores 25 and the word “only” comes before it.
LOUISVILLE 62, Pitt 59 OT
Did you see the end of this game where the Card cheerleader pre-maturely ran on the court and threw the ball in the air? As a result, he got a technical foul for L-Ville which gave Pitt two free throws and pulled them within three and chance for a last second heave to possibly tie up the game. Could you have imagined what would have happened had the Panthers hit the shot, forced a double overtime, and ended up winning the game? Rick Pitino would have for sure put a hit out on the kid.
MARQUETTE 86, Providence 62
The Junior Cadougan coming out party… the Golden Eagle sophomore point guard had 10 points, 10 assists, 6 rebounds, and only two turnovers. What impressed me most about his performances was his assertiveness in attacking the basket or driving deep to the hole and setting up his teammates; something we have yet to see from Cadougan during his collegiate career.
WISCONSIN 78, Northwestern 63
Question worth debating: JaJuan Johnson, E’Twaun Moore, Jared Sullinger, Jon Leuer, Jordan Taylor, and Talor Battle are all worthy of Big Ten All-First Team honors… so who do leave off?
NOTRE DAME 93, Villanova 72
Tim Abromaitis and Ben Hansbrough were a combined 16-23 from three. I am not sure there is any team in the country that can beat the Irish when those two guys are that hot from three. I am also not sure how Nova allows two hot shooters to fire up that many attempts from three. Wildcats have early exit written all over them.
Kansas State 75, TEXAS 70
Don’t look now but K-State is playing like the team that everybody expected them to play like at the start of the season. They have won five straight and Jacob Pullen is averaging 27 points during that stretch. Wildcats could be a tourney sleeper while the ‘Horns just look like they are falling asleep as the calendar turns to March.
TERRIBLE ANNOUNCER LINE OF THE WEEK:
There were a few of them this week, but it really drives me nuts when a play-by-play guy announces a player by the wrong name. One of your few responsibilities is to know the pronunciation of every player’s name. Reason #5,639 why ESPN needs to hire me as a play-by-play guy.
RIDICULOUS STAT LINE OF THE WEEK:
Purdue’s JaJuan Johnson vs. Michigan State: 20 points, 17 rebounds, 7 blocked shots
Providence’s Marshon Brooks vs. Notre Dame: 52 points (20-28 FG, 6-10 3-PT FG)
Vanderbilt at Kentucky, Tues 8:00, ESPN
The ‘Cats won at Vandy a couple of weeks ago and while revenge will be on the Commodores’ minds, this game could be a battle for a 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Drink on this for a second; if the Big Blue lose this game and then fall at Tennessee on Saturday, that would give them a SEC record of 8-8 for this season.
Villanova at Pitt, Sat 3:00, CBS
Nova is struggling more than Lady Gaga would trying to walk down the red carpet dressed as an egg, but that would never happen…. If they lose, the ‘Cats would end up 9-9 in the Big East and possibly the 11th seed heading into the conference tournament. NOBODY saw that coming a month ago. As for Pitt, they likely clinch the outright league title with a win.
Princeton at Harvard, Sat 6:00
Since the Ivy League does not have a post-season tournament, it is the only conference in America where the regular season champion receives the league’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. This game will likely decide just that as Harvard is currently a half-game back of Princeton in the standings.
Duke at North Carolina, Sat 7:00, CBS
The ACC title on the line… plus CBS has decided to put this game on during primetime television which I cannot remember happening in recent years. The best part of that decision? No Dickie V.!!!!!!
Texas at Baylor, Sat 8:00, ESPN
Two weeks ago, everybody was hopping on the Longhorns bandwagon as the sexy pick to win the NCAA Tournament. Now Texas has lost three of their last four and is looking for some positive momentum heading into tourney time. Meanwhile, a Baylor victory could be the win they need to get them off the bubble and into the field of 68.
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and former contributor for The Washington Times Communities. You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.
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