Last Update: 10:59 AM
Well, first of all, I need to apologize in advance. I had this post completely written (8,000+ words) – by far the longest post of the two weeks, and, somehow, it all got deleted. It totally sucks, but I guess it’s “just basketball.” So, this is not going to be as in-depth as I want it to be, but I’ll try and get as much as I can.
And, of course, it happens on the biggest day of the whole CTC. 50 games today – a ton of points at stake. But, I guess the bright side is that you all can watch the games instead of reading 8,000 pointless words from some guy. As an insane perfectionist, though, I am going to try and recreate it as much as I can.
BIG EAST QUARTERFINALS (20 points each)
After 8 games in 2 days, the Big East gives us yet another quadruple-header, as the four best teams in the league enter the fray.
#1 Pittsburgh vs. #9 Connecticut
It has been the Kemba show over the past two days, as Kemba’s Huskies have dispatched of DePaul and G’town to get to the quarters here against the league’s best team. Pitt has been great all year. I have heard so many times that this team just isn’t a championship-type team, but I disagree. I can definitely see this team cutting down the nets next month. Ashton Gibbs may not be a superstar, but he can be a real go-to guy. Plus, their size is really intimidating and crippling to smaller teams. J and Gross have both already lost this game, but everyone else has Pitt. 7 people (Doogan, Alexi, Lil Lohse, KA, Scoot, Rikey, and Gersh) have the Panthers winning this tournament.
FINAL SCORE: UConn 76 – Pitt 74
A lot of computer issues here today. Even some updates somehow got deleted. Oh well. This was one of the better games I’ve seen this season, with Kemba Walker hitting the game-winning jumper as time expired. Ashton Gibbs’s career-high 27 points wasn’t enough to avoid the upset. 7 entries lose their champ.
#4 Syracuse vs. #5 St. John’s
After an incredibly controversial win yesterday on their “home” floor, the Johnnies now get the Garden’s other favorite team. It should be interesting to see how the crowd reacts to this game, as St. John’s plays a lot of their regular season home games here, and Syracuse is always a big favorite in the Garden. This Syracuse team has been interesting to me all year. They have a lot of positives and a lot of negatives. Rick Jackson has emerged as a star, which is good because Fab Melo has been more like Barely Serviceable Melo. And, in the backcourt, they have one very good guard and one pretty bad guard. But, it was supposed to be Jardine as the former, Triche as the latter. But, Brandon Triche has been really, really good. And, I think Jardine is pretty terrible. Kris Joseph has been decent. It should be interesting to see how far this team goes. Doogan, Alexi, Waters, Lynch, Cheryl, Dan, Dave, Gersh, and Gross all have SJU here. Dan has them going to the finals and losing, while Waters, Lynch, Cheryl, and Dave all have them winning this tournament. J, Lohse, Teddy, and Primm all have the ‘Cuse winning the tournament, so no matter what, four entries will be without a Big East champion after this game.
FINAL SCORE: Syracuse 79 – St. John’s 73
Barely Serviceable Melo had his best game of the year, with 12 points on 5-5 shooting, and the Orange hold off the upstart Johnnies. Waters, Lynch, Cheryl, and Dave lose their champion.
#2 Notre Dame vs. #7 Cincinnati
The Bearcats hammered USF last night to set up this quarterfinal matchup. But, today the competition steps up, as they get a really, really good Notre Dame team. I have been on this Notre Dame team from the beginning, calling them the Team to Watch in our Big East preview. But, I didn’t think they’d be quite this good. They have a ton of experience and some great long-range shooting all over the floor. And, as good as Ben Hansbrough has been this year, I think their best and most versatile player is the often-overlooked Tim Abromaitis. One issue that might arise is that they are not incredibly deep, so foul and fatigue issues could get them. No one has Cincinnati here, but KA, Teddy, Cheryl, and Dave all had Villanova. Bry, Dan, Gross, and Mac all have ND winning the tournament.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 89 – Cincinnati 51
A nice start to the postseason for the best Irish team in a generation, as this one got really ugly. Hansbrough led a balanced attack with 23.
#3 Louisville vs. #11 Marquette
How great of a job has Rick Pitino done this year? Preston Knowles and Peyton Siva are nice player, but not stars, by any stretch. In fact, this roster is more like 10th place team than a 3rd place team in this league, but Pitino has worked wonders here. We will see, though, if they get exposed in the postseason. They start it tonight against a Marquette team that looked real good in beating West Virginia last night. J, Alexi, Waters, Lil Lohse, Teddy, and Gross have already lost this game with WVU. Cheryl and Gersh have a nice upset pick of Marquette here, with Gersh having the Golden Eagles in the finals. Stri has Louisville winning this tournament. Doogan, KA, Scoot, and Dave all have the Ville in the finals.
FINAL SCORE: Louisville 81 – Marquette 56
Another blowout as the Big East nighttime double-header didn’t exactly give us the drama of the daytime version. Cheryl and Gersh miss a nice upset pick; Stri keeps his champ alive.
BIG XII QUARTERFINALS (20 points each)
Quite the interesting opening round in the Big XII, which saw the complete implosion of Baylor, the end of the great Pat Knight Era, and the disappearance of any tournament shot for Nebraska.
#1 Kansas vs. #9 Oklahoma State
The Cowboys have never lost their first Big XII tournament game, and that trend continues as they send the ‘Huskers to the NIT yesterday. KU rarely loses any games, and this year is no exception. One of the Morris twins would create a matchup nightmare, but they have two of them. Marcus is clearly the better and more versatile player (wouldn’t that be weird to be considerably better than your twin?), but Markieff is no slouch. Add in a freshman PG in Selby who only has two months of play in him and two seniors in Reed and Morningstar who have been dreaming of wearing Jayhawk blue since they could walk. The one thing that could get them is if Ty Taylor actually thinks he’s a star because he is not. Everyone has KU here, with 8 people (Bry, Stri, Alexi, Lohse, KA, Dan, Rikey, and Mac) with KU as their champ.
FINAL SCORE: Kansas 63 – Oklahoma St. 62
Okie State led most of the game, but the Jayhawks manage to pull it out at the end and avoid the big upset. Marcus Morris leads the way with 16 points/11 boards.
#4 Kansas State vs. #5 Colorado
The Buffs avoided an absolutely devastating loss yesterday by edging Iowa State. They now have a shot to play their way into the draw with a win here. But, that’s not easy task. K-State is on fire, playing the kind of ball that everyone thought they would when they were a preseason Top 5 team. Jacob Pullen has found it, and it seems like they finally learned how to play without Clemente. Plus, Rodney McGruder has become a really solid player, and I still think Curtis Kelly is their most important guy. I just can’t wait for the Frank Martin Stare all day. You have to think that the Wildcats are looking ahead to a possible semifinal, in Kansas City, against their domineering big bros, KU. 17 people have K-State here; Lohse, Cheryl, and Dave have the Buffs. Waters, Lynch, Lil Lohse, Teddy, Scoot, and Primm have K-State winning it all. Gross, J, and Doogan have them in the finals, but losing to Texas.
FINAL SCORE: Colorado 87 – Kansas St. 75
Alec Burks scores 24 and gets 28 from backcourt-mate Cory Higgins as Colorado douses the red-hot Wildcats and probably lockup an NCAA bid. An impressive offensive display by the Buffs. Lohse, Cheryl, and Dave hit this nice upset, while 6 entries lose their champion.
#2 Texas vs. #10 Oklahoma
Well, the Longhorns might have just gotten a walkover into the semis, as Baylor completely implodes and rolls over against a pretty bad OU team. The Longhorns, for about two months, looked like the best team in the country. I have always been a Rick Barnes apologist (on which Doogan calls me out quite often), so I guess I overrate this team, but I think they’re fantastic. They seemed to fade down the stretch (as usual), so we will see if Barnes can reverse this alarming trend. KA and Dave had Baylor here; no one has OU. Doogan, J, Gersh, and Gross have the ‘Horns winning it all.
FINAL SCORE: Texas 74 – Oklahoma 54
Texas rolls right through OU into the semis.
#3 Texas A&M vs. #6 Missouri
In the late game last night, Mizzou nearly gave the game away against Texas Tech. They had the game in hand and then just started turning the ball over at will. But, they survived and now get to play a game with a fascinating contrast of styles. You all know my thoughts on Mizzou, and I have similar thoughts about A&M in a much different way. First of all, I think Mark Turgeon is one of the best coaches in the country that no one ever talks about. He just wins – and he does it with defense. Loubou and Middleton are pretty solid offensive players, and B.J. Holmes is decent, but they really don’t have Top 15 talent, but they’ve been there all year – at least until a late-season slide. This team is dangerous in any tournament, so don’t overlook them here or next week. This is a bit of a swing game in the CTC, as most people have the underdog Tigers. Only Bry, KA, Rikey, Dave, and Primm have A&M. KA has A& in the finals; Dave has them winning it all. Alexi, Scoot, Cheryl, and Dan have Mizzou in the finals. Cheryl has them winning it all.
FINAL SCORE: Texas A&M 86 – Missouri 71
A&M, usually a defensive team, pummelled Mizzou in the nightcap, setting up a date with the rival Longhorns. The Aggies shot 57% from the floor and held the Tigers to 33%. A whole lot of people missed this upset pick; Dave kept his darkhorse champ alive.
PAC 10 QUARTERFINALS (20 points each)
The Oregon schools swept the opening round last night, as Stanford and ASU’s seasons come to an end. Now, the Pac-10 really gets going in LA.
#4 USC vs. #5 California
If you told me I had to win one basketball game to save my life, and I could choose anyone in the world to coach for me, Mike Montgomery might be the first guy I call. He is at least on the short list. As much as I like Austin Freeman as a player, that’s how much I like Montgomery as a coach. This team was supposed to be terrible, with massive graduation losses, but he keeps them going. Today they will take on a USC team that has plenty of bubble teams pretty scared. With the wide openness of the Pac-10 tournament, it is not out of the question that a team with the talent of USC can run through the tournament and steal a bid. Nik Vucovic has been on fire, scoring at least 18 points in 11 straight. Bry, both Lohses, Teddy, Cheryl, Dave, and Gross have Cal in the mild upset. Gross and Cheryl have the Bears losing in the finals. Dave has them winning it. Lynch and Dan have the Trojans in the finals, though neither have them winning.
FINAL SCORE: USC 70 – California 56
The Trojans have very little depth, but they have a few guys that can really play, and they get it done here in their tourney opener. 7 entries miss on the mild upset pick.
#1 Arizona vs. #9 Oregon State
If Derrick Williams played in the Big East, people would be talking about him as possibly the best player in the country. But, he is stuck in a bad Pac-10, so his greatness is almost completely overlooked. This ‘Zona team is good. Not title contender good. Not Final Four good. Probably not even Elite Eight good, unless they get a break in a bracket, but they are good. A solid Pac-10 champ that won’t be an easy out this week or next. Oregon State won a rather unexciting opening round game over Stanford last night. Everyone has AZ winning here, with Bry, J, both Lohses, KA, Teddy, Scoot, Rikey, Gersh, and Mac having them win the tournament.
FINAL SCORE: Arizona 78 – Oregon St. 69
Derrick Williams is 6-8 and shooting over 60% on 3’s this year. He had never made more than 3 in a game though, until today. Williams shoots 8-12 from the field and 5-6 from distance, totaling a rather efficient 22 points, to lead the top-seed into the semifinals. Hart to imagine him NOT being a Top-5 pick in June.
#2 UCLA vs. #7 Oregon
The last game of the night last night saw Kyle Singler’s brother dominate Arizona State, marking the end of a great career for ASU point guard, Ty Abbott. Now, the Ducks go up in competition, taking on a surprising UCLA team. Acutally, it shouldn’t be surprising, I mean are there many better coaches than Ben Howland? Is it any surprise that he has this team playing at the highest level their talent will allow. I am very interested to see just how far he can take all this slightly better than mediocre talent. They should be good again next year, though, as Nelson, Lee, and Honeycutt are all pretty good, but not anywhere near good enough to leave early. Everyone has UCLA here, with Doogan, Stri, Alexi, Waters, Cheryl, and Dan picking them to win it all.
FINAL SCORE: Oregon 76 – UCLA 59
A stunner here in LA, as Oregon takes out the #2 seeded Bruins. The less talked about Singler in the country scored 24 for the red-hot Ducks, who are probably scaring some bubble teams right now. No one hit this big upset, but 6 people lose their title pick.
#3 Washington vs. #6 Washington State
I don’t think it’s that much of a surprise that the Huskies of UW have been good, but not great, this year. Yes, the have Isaiah Thomas back and Abdul Gaddy and Matthew Bryan-Amaning have taken that next step. But, people seemed to forget that they lost their heart and soul from last year’s team in Quincy Pondexter. It is hard to replace a guy that means that much. Wazzu, who did not have the expectations of their in-state neighbors, but they did bring back their heart and soul – Klay Thompson – so who knows? Wazzu is a popular upset pick here (Bry, J, Stri, Alexi, Waters, Lil Lohse, Teddy, Primm, and Mac). J, Teddy, and Primm have the Cougars going to the finals. Primm has them winning it. Lynch, Lohse, Gersh, and Gross have UW in the finals. Lynch and Gross have them winning it all.
FINAL SCORE: Washington 89 – Washington State 87
The Huskies comeback and avoid a 3-game sweep at the hands of Wazzu, despite Klay Thompson’s Pac-10 tournament record 43 points. A popular upset pick almost pulls it out. Lynch and Gross barely kept alive their champ, who now has a clearer path the finals with UCLA gone.
ACC OPENING ROUND (10 points each)
I hate the ACC, but I have finally come to grips with why. I am jealous. The best basketball year in and year out is played in the ACC. Yes, they are a bit top-heavy, but only because they have the two best basketball programs of our generation, so any conference would be top-heavy. Listen to some of these facts:
- Following UNC’s 2009 title, the ACC has now had two seperate schools win national championships in successive seasons FOUR times in the last 30 years. The Big East is the only other conference to boast such a feat, having done it twice (Georgetown and Villanova in the mid-80′s and UConn and Syracuse in the mid-00′s).
- The ACC is 347-175 all-time in the NCAA tournament, which is more wins and a higher winning percentage than any other conference in the country – by wide margins.
- The ACC was 153-39 (.797 winning percentage) in non-conference games last year. It was the 8th straight year where ACC teams won at least 75% of their games against non-ACC opponents. Overall, the ACC has a winning record against all 31 other D-I conferences.
- When the New Jersey Nets selected Georgia Tech’s Derrick Favors as the #3 overall pick, it marked the 22nd consecutive season featuring an ACC player chosen in the first round of the NBA draft. Over that span, the conference has had 91 first-round picks, or an average of more than 4 per season.
I hate the ACC. But, they’re good…real good. Except for this year. The two big dogs are fantastic, but after that, it’s actually pretty weak. The only other near-definite tournament team is Florida State, and they lost their best player to injury. Clemson, BC, and Va Tech will get consideration, but still have work to do.
#8 Virginia vs. #9 Miami (FL)
How great of a coach is Tony Bennett? The son of Dick Bennett is following very well in dad’s footsteps. He totally resurrected a down Wazzu program and now it looks like he’s about to do the same at UVa. And, he is doing it the old-fashioned way – by coaching ’em up. Miami, on the other hand, should get some decent talent into their system, but Frank Haith doesn’t exactly seem to possess the in-game coaching ability and/or preparation of Bennett. This Hurricanes team is just okay – and have been for a while now. The winner of this game will get to run-and-gun with the Tar Heels tomorrow afternoon. Most of the field has the Miami upset here, as only Stri, Lil Lohse, Scoot, Cheryl, Dan, and Gersh have the Cavs. Teddy and Dave have the ‘Canes upsetting UNC in the quarters.
FINAL SCORE: Miami 69 – Virginia 62 (OT)
In maybe the most unbelievable finish of a day with a lot of late blown leads, UVa led this game by TEN POINTS with :42 seconds left. But, turnover after turnover after ugly turnover allowed this dream comeback for the ‘Canes. Teddy and Dave keep alive their miracle upset pick of Miami over UNC alive. Most people hit this mild upset.
#5 Boston College vs. #12 Wake Forest
How bad is Wake Forest? Very, very bad. The unfortunate passing of Skip Prosser sent this program into a tailspin and, hopefully for Deacon fans, they have finally hit rock-bottom. For an ACC team to have an RPI of 256 is nearly impossible because of their strength of schedule, but Wake accomplished the feat by going 1-15 in the league and losing non-conference games to the likes of Stetson, UNC-Wilmington, and Presbyterian. Mercifully, the season should end today, as they take on a desperate BC team to whom a loss would be devastating to any tournament hopes for the Eagles. BC probably put themselves on the right side of the bubble after sweeping the Virginia schools and then Wake in the last three games of their season, but they can’t feel safe at all. The Texas A&M win in the Old Spice Classic (one of the ugliest games I have seen all year) back around Thanksgiving is a win that might be keeping them on the right side of the cut line after a mediocre 9-7 ACC season. BC can’t lose this game, but a win here would probably give them a win-and-you’re-in game against #4 Clemson in the quarters. Bry and Cheryl went for the huge upset of Wake Forest. A bunch of entries have BC winning again next round, with Teddy and Dave having them going to the finals.
FINAL SCORE: Boston College 81 – Wake Forest 67
One of the worst seasons in Wake Forest history mercifully comes to an end here in Greensboro. Little know superstar with a familiar name, Reggie Jackson, had 27 for an Eagles team that is playing in a win-and-you’re-in game Friday against Clemson. Bry and Cheryl missed a big upset pick. Teddy and Dave keep alive their finalist.
#7 Maryland vs. #10 N.C. State
Living in Baltimore is not always the easiest thing to do when you think Cal Ripken is the most overrated athlete of all-time and Steve Blake is a close second. But, that is my life. I do have to say, though, that this Justin Williams character is gonna be special. I am not sure if Gary Williams can recruit anyone to play with him (his recruiting record considering the talent of the area around him is almost embarassing), but if so, he’s going to be a stud. And, speaking of studs. Has anyone seen the studs that were supposed to report to campus in Raleigh? If C.J. Leslie was one-tenth as good as he thinks he is, his guarantee of an ACC championship might not look like such a joke. This year – the year of the best recruiting class for a generation in Raleigh, so people thought – will be Sidney Lowe’s last year in the triangle. The winner here will move on to play Duke. Dave, Dan, Cheryl, Stri, J, Doogan, and Bry all have N.C. State in the upset. No one has either of these teams beating Duke.
FINAL SCORE: Maryland 75 – NC State 67
Jordan Williams – the future star of this Terp team – had 16 and 13, as the Terps officially send C.J. Leslie to D-League stardom. Maryland will now get a shot at the Dukies on Friday night. A couple entries miss here on an upset pick. How was the Sidney Lowe Era for you guys?
#6 Virginia Tech vs. #11 Georgia Tech
Can it possibly happen again? Can the Hokies be that last team out for an incredible third year in a row? They shouldn’t be, they have a TON of talent. I thought they might even be a Top 10 team this year with all the talent returning. Malcolm Delaney is a stud and he’s got some big bodies and talented players around him. They are thin, but Greenberg is pretty good at working around that. They better be careful, though. This Georgia Tech team has some talent and can sneak up on people. Shumpert, Oliver, and Glen Rice Jr. are all immensely talented and Paul Hewitt is an underrated coach. The bracket might be open to either of these teams, as FSU awaits them in the quarters, but they are probably going to be without Chris Singleton – their best player. Bry, Doogan, and Scoot all have Georgia Tech in the upset here. J, Alexi, Lynch, Teddy, Cheryl, and Dan all have Va Tech in the semis. Lynch and Cheryl have Va Tech in the finals. Lynch have them winning it all.
FINAL SCORE: Virginia Tech 59 – Georgia Tech 43
43 points? Was this the SWAC or the ACC? An ugly win for the Hokies probably seals their at-large bid, but they would be much safer if they could beat FSU on Friday. Bry, Doogan, and Scoot miss the upset pick. Lynch keeps his champ alive.
SEC OPENING ROUND (10 points each)
The SEC needs to revamp its seeding process. The fact that Tennessee is, in reality, the #8-seed, while Mississippi State is the 3-seed and gets a first-round bye is a joke. Because of that, this tournament is pretty interesting because of all the various big matchups that are coming earlier than they should.
#4E Georgia vs. #5W Auburn
Trey Thompkins is a complete stud, and the UGA team has a shot to make the tournament, they just need to get some things done. A win here will put them in a BIG bubble game against Bama. And, they really should win here because Auburn is absolutely dreadful. Maybe the worst team in SEC history. Check out a recap of their non-conference schedule (scroll down to the SEC part) here. Waters and Teddy have Auburn in the upset. Teddy has Auburn going to the semis. Bry, Doogan, J, Scoot, Primm, Gross, and Mac have UGA in the semis.
FINAL SCORE: Georgia 69 – Auburn 51
The Bulldogs get things kicked off in Atlanta with a rout of Auburn. Thompkins goes for 22 points/10 boards. Waters and Teddy miss on the upset.
#3W Ole Miss vs. #6E South Carolina
Why is Ole Miss not good? They have the resources, the recruiting base and the limelight of the SEC. They should be good, but they’re not. USC was the last place team in the East, but they are a solid team. The winner of this game will take on Kentucky in the quarters. Bry, Doogan, J, Waters, Lynch, Dan, Dave, Gross, and Mac have USC in this upset. No one has either team beating UK next round.
FINAL SCORE: Ole Miss 66 – S. Carolina 55
A back-and-forth game goes to the Rebs with a late 11-1 run to put it away. Despite missing most of his sophomore season, Chris Warren, who had 20 points and 4 assists for Ole Miss, is now only 22 points away from becoming just the 4th player in SEC history to score 2000 points and dish out 400 assists. He will try and do that against Kentucky on Friday afternoon. A lot of people missed out on an upset pick here.
#4W Arkansas vs. #5E Tennessee
I know that the Bruce Pearl debacle has been a huge distraction on the Vols season, but there is a TON of talent here and they have been a complete enigma. Scotty Hopson is an elite player, and Tobias Harris, Melvin Goins, and Cameron Tatum are great college players. Brian Williams is a big body, and this team is dangerous. The Razorbacks have had a pretty disappointing season, it’s hard to know when they will be back. A lot of love for the Vols in the CTC. KA is the only one with Arkansas here. Bry, Alexi, Lynch, Lil Lohse, Teddy, Primm, and Gross all have UT beating Florida in the quarters. Alexi has the Vols reaching the finals.
FINAL SCORE: Tennessee 74 – Arkansas 68
Tennessee blew a 16-point lead to the Razorbacks, but recovered to hold on and advance to the quarters against Florida. With a ton of CTC love for the Vols, this was scary, but they held on, and Alexi kept a finalist alive.
#3E Vanderbilt vs. #6W LSU
Kevin Stallings can flat-out coach. He doesn’t get the players that other SEC teams get, but he just flat-out wins – the old-fashioned way – by coachin’ em up. And, they all seem to get better in the program. Jeffrey Taylor has become a real star, and what can you say about John Jenkins? The guy went from an okay freshman to an SEC POY candidate. LSU? Well, they finish behind Auburn, who is possibly the worst SEC team ever, so that’s all we need to know about them. The winner of this game will play Mississippi State in the quarters. Waters is the only one with LSU in the upset here. Waters, Lynch, Lil Lohse, Dan, Dave, and Primm are the only ones without Vandy in the semis. Bry, Doogan, J, Lohse, Teddy, Gersh, and Gross all have Vandy in the finals. Doogan and J have them winning it all.
FINAL SCORE: Vanderbilt 62 – LSU 50
Without superstar John Jenkins, Vandy turned to other star Jeffrey Taylor to lead them to an uninspired win over a bad LSU team. A lot of people are hoping Jenkins is back quickly, especially Doogan and J, who have the Commodores winning the SEC.
BIG TEN OPENING ROUND (10 points each)
The Big Ten was supposed to be the best conference in America this year, and they have been rather close. They have the best team in the country and two others that are legit Final Four teams. The problem is that some of the teams that were supposed to be good have just not been.
#8 Northwestern vs. #9 Minnesota
It’s funny to me that many of the same people who root for the Cubs also root for Northwestern basketball. Will they ever make the tournament? Not this year, unless they can win four games in four days in, arguably, the best conference in America. Minnesota has completely fallen apart after losing Al Nolen. I know the point guard is important, but with talent like Hoffarber and Mbakwe, they shouldn’t be this bad. Bry, J, Cheryl, Rikey, Dave, Primm, and Mac all have Minnesota in the mild upset. No one has either of these teams beating OSU in the quarters.
FINAL SCORE: Northwestern 75 – Minnesota 65
One of the greatest names in college hoops, Juice Thompson, now has an on-court performance to match the name – scoring 35 in a win over Minnesota. A couple people miss this mild upset.
#7 Michigan State vs. #10 Iowa
So much has been written about this MSU team, that I’ll save mine. I’ll just say one thing: In Izzo I Trust. Fran McCaffery (product of LaSalle High in Philly) has proven, once again, that a good coach can really make a difference. If he keeps going as he has started here in Iowa City, he should bring his amazing fourth different program to the tournament. Bry, Stri, Lil Lohse, Cheryl, Dave, and Gersh all have Iowa in the big upset here. J, Alexi, Dan, Primm, and Gross all have Michigan State in the semis. J and Primm have Sparty in the finals.
FINAL SCORE: Michigan St. 66 – Iowa 61
The Spartans avoid what may have been an NIT-clinching loss to move on to an amazing quarterfinal matchup with Purdue. Matt Gatens had a game-tying three just miss with :06 seconds left that would have probably sent this game to OT. J and Primm keep alive a finalist, while a bunch of people miss a decent upset pick.
#6 Penn State vs. #11 Indiana
The resurgence of PSU? Maybe, except that two-thirds of their scoring is from three seniors, so this might just be an “up” year that probably ends in the NIT. As for Indiana, be patient, Tom Creen can turn this thing around, and he is going to do it right. Gross, Cheryl, Bry, and Doogan all have IU upsetting Penn State. Waters, Scoot, Dave, and Primm have PSU in the semis.
FINAL SCORE: Penn St. 61 – Indiana 55
This senior-laden Lions team can probably be considered a bubble team, as they hold on to beat IU. 4 people missed an upset pick here, while 4 more keep alive a possible upset next round.
MOUNTAIN WEST QUARTERFINALS (16 points each)
The best season of the M-West has the meat of its tournament today, after TCU eliminated Wyoming in the pigtail game last night.
#1 BYU vs. #9 TCU
Was that New Mexcico game a sign of BYU without Davies or just a team in shellshock? I strongly believe it’s the latter. This team is really good and The Jimmer is still there. The one thing it does do is opens up BYU to a possible terrible matchup in the Big Dance. They now are a little more at the wim of the bracket-makers for a good matchup. TCU’s win last night will probably mean they are cannon fodder for the Cougars today. Everyone has BYU here. Stri, Lohse, Teddy, Dan, and Gersh have the Cougars winning it all.
FINAL SCORE: BYU 64 – TCU 58
BYU didn’t look good, but survived-and-advanced here against 1-15 TCU. The Jimmer dropped 24. 5 people keep alive their champs.
#4 Colorado State vs. #5 New Mexico
Colorado State is a very good team that no one really talks about. They really should have been in the tournament mix, but they lost a couple games they shouldn’t have. New Mexico still has Dariese Gary and Drew Gordon is a really good big, but coming off a 3-seed in the NCAA tournament, a 5-seed in the M-West is a bit of a disappointment. Only Waters, Cheryl, Dave, and Gersh have CSU here. The other 16 have NM. Lil Lohse, Rikey, and Mac have NM in the finals.
FINAL SCORE: New Mexico 67 – Colorado St. 61
A double-double for Drew Gordon gives NM a shot at three wins over BYU this year. 4 people keep alive a finalist.
#2 San Diego State vs. #7 Utah
As much as I love The Jimmer (and I do love The Jimmer), I would take Kawhi Leonard on my team before anyoe esle in this conference. Combined with a consummate point guard in Gay (who NEVER turns the ball over) and a freaskish athlete in White, this team is a legit Top 10 team in the country, and I think they should be a #1 seed if they win this tournament. Their one big weakness is outside shooting in the halfcourt set, so James Rahon might be their most important player – even as a reserve – this March. Utah sees that they just can no longer compete in the M-West, so they decided to move down a level to the Pac-10 next year. KA went for the big upset with Utah here. The majority of the field has SDSU winning this tournament.
FINAL SCORE: San Diego State 64 – Utah 50
The Aztecs took care of Utah with their patented halfcourt defensive supremacy, but Kawhi Leonard missed part of the game with a minor injury. If he’s not 100%, this team’s ceiling if much lower. KA missed the big upset here.
#3 UNLV vs. #6 Air Force
I remember in the past, when the A-10 tournament was in Dayton, I was not happy about Temple having to play their most important games on the home floor of the team with the best homecourt advantage in the league. Well, that is what the M-West teams have to deal with by playing this tournament in the Thomas & Mack Center in Vegas. UNLV should be in the tournament, but playing here doesn’t hurt their chances to solidify that bid. Air Force has had a pretty good season this year, but got a tough draw here. Dave is the only one with AF over the Rebels. Lohse has UNLV in the finals; Gross has them winning it.
FINAL SCORE: UNLV 69 – Air Force 53
UNLV handles AF with no problem, much to the delight of Gross, who has them winning this tournament.
(Alright, I did my best. I can’t recreate all this other stuff I did, it’s just too much right now, and I want to actually WATCH these games. So, I’ll just do CTC implications for the rest. I hate computers)
CONFERENCE USA QUARTERFINALS (12 points each)
#1 UAB vs. #8 E Carolina
J, Cheryl, and Dave have all lost this game already with UCF, but the other 17 all have UAB in this one, with 8 people (Alexi, Lohse, KA, Teddy, Dan, Rikey, Gersh, and Mac) having the Blazers winning it all.
FINAL SCORE: E. Carolina 75 – UAB 70 (OT)
UAB gets 39 points from Aaron Johnson, but it’s still not enough to prevent the big upset by the Pirates of E. Carolina. Not a single CTC’er picked this upset and 8 entries see their champ go down here in the quarters.
#4 Memphis vs. #5 S. Miss
This is a big swing game in the CTC. Bry, Doogan, Stri, KA, Teddy, Scoot, Dave, Primm, Gross, and Mac all have S.Miss here. Stri, Scoot, Dave, Primm. and Gross all have them in the finals. Primm has them winning it. J, Waters, Lynch, and Lil Lohse all have Memphis in the finals. J, Waters, and Lynch all have them winning it.
FINAL SCORE: Memphis 66 – S. Miss 63
A great game in C-USA keeps Memphis’s tournament chances alive with a tough win over S. Miss. J, Waters, and Lynch all keep alive their champ. Memphis will now get 8-seed ECU in the semis.
#3 UTEP vs. #6 Marshall
J, KA, Teddy, and Dan all have Marshall in a nice upset here. J, Teddy, and Dan even have them winning again tomorrow, though no one has them taking the title. Bry, Doogan, Lil Lohse, Cheryl, Dave, and Gross all have UTEP winning the title.
FINAL SCORE: UTEP 77 – Marshall 65
UTEP has no problem with the Thundering Herd, as 6 people keep alive their champion hopes.
#2 Tulsa vs. #10 Rice
Bry and Gross have already lost this game with SMU. The other 18 have Tulsa. Stri and Scoot have Tulsa winning it all.
FINAL SCORE: Tulsa 81 – Rice 72
In a close game the whole way through, the Golden Hurricane held on to beat a pesky Rice team that is probably on the rise with sophomore Irani sensation Arsalan Kazemi. Stri and Scoot keep alive their champ.
SOUTHLAND SEMIFINALS (8 points each)
#3 Sam Houston State vs. #UT-San Antonio
No one has UTSA in this one. J, Doogan, Stri, Lynch, Lohse, Teddy, Dan, Gersh, and Primm all have SHSU in this one. J, Doogan, Lynch, Teddy, Dan, Gersh, Primm, and Gross all have SHSU winning it all.
FINAL SCORE: UT-San Antonio 79 – Sam Houston St. 70
And, there goes the whole bottom of the SL bracket, as 7-seed UTSA advances to Saturday’s championship. No one has that.
#1 McNeese State vs. #4 Texas State
Surprisingly, only Stri, Waters, Scoot, Rikey, Dave, Gersh, Primm, and Mac have the 1-seed winning here. Lynch and Lohse have Texas State. Everyone else had SE Louisiana and has already lost.
FINAL SCORE: McNeese State 91 – Texas State 83
Top-seeded McNeese State advances to a First Four play-in game against UTSA with a win over TSU. Stri and Scoot – the only 2 with the top-seed winning this tournament – are the only 2 left that can get the champ right.
MAC QUARTERFINALS (8 points each)
#2 W. Michigan vs. #7 Bowling Green
J has the big Bowling Green upset here. Everyone else has WMU. Lohse, Lil Lohse, Scoot, and Dave have WMU winning it all.
FINAL SCORE: W. Michigan 67 – Bowling Green 56
WMU holds off BG for a nice quarterfinal win. 4 people keep alive their champ. J misses a big upset.
#3 Miami (OH) vs. #6 Akron
A bunch of entries have Akron in this upset (Bry, Doogan, J, Alexi, Lohse, Teddy, Dave, Primm, and Gross). Doogan, J, Alexi, Teddy, and Gross all have Akron in the finals, though no one has them winning it. Lynch, KA, Cheryl, Dan, and Mac all have Miami in the finals. Lynch, KA, and Cheryl all have the RedHawks winning the tournament.
FINAL SCORE: Akron 82 – Miami 75 (2OT)
The best free-throw shooting team in the MAC missed 6 straight free throws in the second OT cost the RedHawks a great comeback victory. Lynch, KA, and Cheryl lose their champ. 5 people keep alive a finalist in Akron.
#1 Kent State vs. #8 Buffalo
Teddy and Lohse have Buffalo in a huge upset here; everyone else has KSU in this one. Teddy went all the way, taking Buffalo to win this tournament.
FINAL SCORE: Kent St. 73 – Buffalo 62
A relatively easy win for the Golden Flashes costs Teddy a repeat incredible MAC performance. Lohse also misses this big upset.
#4 Ball State vs. #5 Ohio
Bry, Doogan, Alexi, both Lohses, Scoot, Dan, Dave, Gross, and Mac all have Ohio in this mild upset. Lohse, Scoot, and Dave have Ohio in the finals. Cheryl has Ball State in the finals. No one has either team winning it.
FINAL SCORE: Ball State 76 – Ohio 73 (OT)
The Bobcats should have won this game in regulation, but costly turnovers and missed free throws got the Cards to OT, and they took advantage, winning in the extra session. Cheryl keeps a finalist alive. Lohse, Scoot, and Dave keep alive their finalist.
WAC QUARTERFINALS (8 points each)
#4 Idaho vs. #8 San Jose State
No one has SJSU here, but KA, Scoot, and Rikey have already lost this game with Hawaii. No one has Idaho going any further than this.
FINAL SCORE: San Jose St. 74 – Idaho 68
Cinderella is still alive in the WAC, as SJSU moves on to face Utah State in the semis. Not an important CTC game in any way.
#3 New Mexico State vs. #6 Nevada
This is a pretty big CTC game. Doogan, Alexi, Cheryl, Gross, and Mac all have Nevada in this one, with Alexi, Gross, and Mac picking them to reach the finals. Bry, J, Waters, both Lohses, Dan, Rikey, and Primm all have NMSU here. A couple people have lost this game with Fresno. J, both Lohses, Dan, Rikey, and Primm all have NMSU in the finals.
FINAL SCORE: New Mexico St. 66 – Nevada 60
The Aggies take out a popular upset pick in Nevada, as both teams get big games from their stars – Story had 22 for Nevada and Gillenwater had 18 for NMSU. 6 people keep a finalist alive here, while 3 lose one.
BIG WEST QUARTERFINALS (4 points each)
#1 Long Beach State vs. #8 UC-Irvine
All 20 entries have LBSU winning this tournament.
FINAL SCORE: Long Beach St. 79 – UC-Irvine 72
The Anteaters gave LBSU a scare, but their incredible trio of juniors (Casper Ware, T.J. Robinson, and Larry Anderson) combine for 56 points. Ya, they’re going to be real good next year, too.
#4 Pacific vs. #5 UC-Santa Barbara
Bry, J, Stri, Lynch, Teddy, Scoot, Dan, Dave, Gersh, and Mac all have UCSB in this minor upset.
FINAL SCORE: UCSB 79 – Pacific 67
The Gouchos, behind 32 from Orlando Johnson, end the Pacific season here and get a shot at #1 LBSU. A lot of people hit this minor upset.
#2 Cal Poly vs. #7 UC-Riverside
J and Waters went for Riverside here in a big upset. J has them in the finals.
FINAL SCORE: UC-Riverside 70 – Cal Poly 66 (OT)
A really promising year for Cal Poly ends in utter disappointment here with an OT loss to UCR. J and Waters hit this big upset, and J keeps alive a finalist.
#3 CS-Northridge vs. #6 CS-Fullerton
This game is very split. Bry, Doogan, J, Waters, KA, Teddy, and Mac all have Fullerton in the upset. Doogan, Waters, and Teddy have the Titans in the finals. Alexi, Scoot, Dan, Dave, and Gross have Northridge in the finals.
FINAL SCORE: CS-Northridge 75 – CS-Fullerton 54
The Matadors hammer Fullerton here to advance to the semis. 5 people keep alive a finalist.
MEAC QUARTERFINALS (4 points each)
#4 Morgan State vs. #5 N.C. A&T
This is a big CTC game. J, Stri, both Lohses, Teddy, Cheryl, Dan, Dave, and Primm all have N.C. A&T in the upset here. J, Lohse, Cheryl, Teddy, and Dave all have A&T in the finals. Cheryl has them winning it. Bry, Doogan, Alexi, Waters, and Lynch all have Morgan in the finals. Alexi, Waters, and Lynch have them winning it.
FINAL SCORE: Morgan St. 77 – NC A&T 59
And easy win for Todd Bozeman’s Bears, as they advance to the semis, trying to win their third straight MEAC tournament. Alexi, Waters, and Lynch keep alive their champ. Cheryl loses hers.
#3 Coppin State vs. #6 Norfolk State
Stri has Norfolk here; everyone else has Coppin. Alexi, Waters, Scoot, Dave, and Gross all have Coppin in the finals. Lohse, Scoot, and Dave all have Coppin going to the Dance.
FINAL SCORE: Norfolk St. 55 – Coppin St. 53
Coppin’s solid season comes to an end on a last-second layup by Rob Hampton, as the Spartans, who overcame a 7-point deficit late, move on to the semis against Hampton. Lohse, Scoot, and Dave lose their champ.
SWAC QUARTERFINALS (4 points each)
#3 Mississippi Valley State vs. #6 Grambling State
Bry, J, KA, Teddy, Cheryl, Dan, Dave, and Gersh all have Grambling in the upset here. KA, Teddy, and Dave all have GSU in the finals. Lohse, Scoot, Primm, and Gross have MVSU in the finals.
FINAL SCORE: Grambling St. 65 – Mississippi Valley St. 62
A pretty big upset here, as Grambling gets 25 points from Justin Patton and takes down the Delta Devils. 8 entries hit the solid upset pick.
#4 Alabama State vs. #5 Alabama A&M
Bry, Alexi, KA, Teddy, Scoot, Dave, Gersh, and Gross have A&M in this mild upset. KA and Gross have them winning it all. Lynch has Alabama State winning it all, while Waters and Lohse have them going to the finals and losing.
FINAL SCORE: Alabama St. 81 – Alabama A&M 61
Alabama State beats up on A&M to advance to the semis against top-seeded TX-Southern. Lynch keeps alive his darkhorse champ. Waters and Lohse lose a finalist.
GREAT WEST QUARTERFINALS (4 points each)
How strange is this conference in its composition? Even though it is called the “Great West,” one of its teams is the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Jersey City, NJ (not even the western part of NEW JERSEY). Two more of the teams are Texas-Pan American in Edinburg, TX, and the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, ND. For anyone who isn’t a geography afficianado (or doesn’t care enough to google it), Edinburg is about 20 miles from the Mexican border, while Grand Forks is about 75 miles from the Canadian border. So, this conference has teams on the easternmost, southernmost, and northermost borders of the United States. In fact, the only “direction” not really covered in the Great West is, well, the west. Utah Valley is actually the only school that could even be considered western at all. Very strange. But, all of this is just sort of distraction from the fact that this is a pretty poor collection of basketball teams. This conference doesn’t provide us with an NCAA team because they haven’t been given an automatic bid (not sure if that’s on the table or not), and, honestly, even me – the ultimate defender or the “little guy” – cannot possibly make an argument that one of these teams should get to play for a national championship. The league had, by far, the lowest conference RPI, and, of the 345 D-I teams, this 7-team league has three teams with RPIs of 339, 343, and 345. So, that means that nearly half of this league is among the SEVEN WORST teams in D-I, including the worst, and third-worst teams in the country. Ya, there won’t be a ton of analysis on these games…sorry.
#2 N.J.I.T. vs. #7 Houston Baptist
No one has HB in this upset here. Waters and Cheryl have N.J.I.T. winning this tournament.
FINAL SCORE: Houston Baptist 72 – N.J.I.T. 70
The worst team in D-I (according to RPI) upset N.J.I.T. in the first-round of the second ever Great West tournament. Waters and Cheryl lost a champ, while no one got this game right.
#3 North Dakota vs. #6 TX-Pan American
No one has UTPA here, but there is a lot of love for N. Dakota. Doogan, J, Alexi, Lil Lohse, Teddy, Scoot, Dan, Dave, Gersh, Primm, and Mac all have ND in the finals. J, KA, Scoot, Dan, Gersh, and Mac all have ND winning it all.
FINAL SCORE: North Dakota 71 – TX-Pan AM 70
The third-worst team in D-I (according to RPI) nearly upset North Dakota in the second game of the day, but the Fighting Sioux held on for a 1-point win to advance to a semifinal against HB. 6 people keep alive their champ.
#4 South Dakota vs. #5 Chicago State
Waters, KA, Scoot, and Dave all have Chicago State in this one. Lohse is the only one with either of these teams beating #1 Utah Valley next round, and he has SD winning it all.
FINAL SCORE: South Dakota 73 – Chicago State 70 (OT)
In the third game in what must have a been a thrilling triple-header in Oren, UT, goes to OT, with SD holding on against the 6th-worst team in D-I. Lohse keeps his rogue champ pick alive.
CTC SNAPSHOT – ACC
- #1 N. Carolina (8) – Stri, Waters, Scoot, Cheryl, Dan, Primm, Gross, Mac
- #2 Duke (11) – everyone else
- #3 Florida State (0)
- #4 Clemson (0)
- #5 Boston College (0)
- #6 Virginia Tech (1) – Lynch
Lowest Seed to Win Earlier Rounds
- OR – #12 Wake Forest – Bry, Cheryl
- QF – #9 Miami – Teddy, Dave
- SF – #6 Virginia Tech – Lynch, Cheryl
Prior CTC Titles:
- ’08 – Bry
- ’09 – Doogan
- ’10 – Stri
CTC SNAPSHOT – BIG TEN
- #1 Ohio State (12) – everyone else
- #2 Purdue (7) – Doogan, Lynch, Lohse, KA, Teddy, Cheryl, Dave
- #3 Wisconsin (1) – Gross
Lowest Seed to Win Earlier Rounds
- OR – #11 Indiana – Bry, Doogan, Cheryl
- QF – #7 Michigan State – J, Alexi, Dan, Primm, Gross
- SF – #7 Michigan State – J, Primm
Prior CTC Titles:
- ’08 – Bry
- ’09 – Bry
- ’10 – Waters
CTC SNAPSHOT – SEC
- #1 Florida (4) – Stri, Waters, Cheryl, Mac
- #2 Alabama (1) – KA
- #3 Kentucky (12) – everyone else
- #4 Mississippi State (1) – Lynch
- #5 Vanderbilt (2) – Doogan, J
Lowest Seed to Win Earlier Rounds
- OR – #12 LSU – Waters,
- QF – #10 Auburn – Teddy
- SF – #9 Tennessee – Alexi
Prior CTC Titles:
- ’08 – Waters
- ’09 – Alexi
- ’10 – Alexi
CTC SNAPSHOT – BIG WEST
- #1 Long Beach State (20) – everyone
Lowest Seed to Win Earlier Rounds
- QF – #7 UC-Riverside – J, Waters
- SF – #7 UC-Riverside – J
Prior CTC Titles:
- ’08 – Doogan
- ’09 – Bry (perfect)
- ’10 – Stri