THURSDAY UPDATE: Miami, Northwestern, Providence out
On Wednesday, coach
Speaking of the Gophers, they used a late 14-0 rally to thwart Northwestern and take an important step toward the NCAAs. They now draw the one-seed Michigan State. Win, and they're in. Lose, and it will be fairly close one way or the other.
In another early knockout game,
The biggest seeding news came from the Big 12, where top-seeded Kansas lost to Baylor in the quarterfinals. Kansas was a three-seed in today's bracket and won't go any higher than that now. Could they drop to a four? Depends on what teams like Washington, Clemson, Missouri, etc. do in their postseasons. Baylor is now two wins away from theiving the auto bid and knocking out a bubble team.
The margin for error in March always is slim, but in the NEC final Wednesday night, the margin was one -- as in one extra player on the court. Late in the first half, Mount St. Mary's was T'd up for inbounding with six men in the game. Robert Morris made both free throws ... and ended up winning the game (and the auto bid) by a deuce on a jumper with 2.5 seconds left.
Speaking of final seconds, Portland State repeated as Big Sky tournament champs by dunking the Cinderella run of under-.500 Montana State with 3.5 ticks left (and Chattanooga fans continue looking for Dayton hotel rooms).
On the flip side, the wait (and the weight) is now on Texas A&M after the Aggies frittered away a 19-point halftime lead and lost to Texas Tech. Significant credit goes to Tech's
Enjoy the bazillion important games today. The picture likely will look quite different tomorrow.
(Records listed are
The loss at Virginia is an absolute killer for
The next three will all be in action on the first day of the Big Ten tourney and will face stern quarterfinal tests should they advance. If any of these teams win two in a row, they're going to get in. Win one, and we'll see. Lose to a bottom-feeder and that's a route to the NIT.
That's rough justice on the Aztecs, who held serve at home to sweep the Rebels, finished ahead of them in the standings, and now have to beat them a third time, on UNLV's home court, but that's the reality now that they drew each other in the quarterfinal. UNLV might need to beat BYU and make the final after finishing fifth in the conference, but first things first.
After beating Utah and escaping at Wyoming,
In what seems to be a growing mid-major plague,
The Gaels, without Mills, beat Utah State (should it need an at-large), so that's a plus, but it likely will come down to whether the committee thought Monday was just a bad night, or that Mills just isn't healthy and SMC just isn't the same team, even with him physically back.
Here are some thoughts on the matter: 1) While I'm all for non-BCS programs sticking up for their scheduling rights and not kowtowing constantly to name programs, it wouldn't kill USU to take an occasional 2-for-1 with someone like North Carolina. Nevada, which has a better recent pedigree in the same league, just finished a series with the Heels and no one thinks less of the Pack's program. That doesn't mean you need to offer that to everyone, but one elite nonleague game to go with BYU and Utah will really help impressions. Alternately (or in addition), get into a decent exempt tournament and play some better teams on neutral floors.
2) USU has already wasted multiple chances to ice a bid. The Aggies went to Saint Mary's (without Patty Mills) and lost. Then they went to Nevada and lost. Now they might have to face Nevada again on its home court, which isn't very fair, but it didn't need to come to this, either.
Even if the Aggies miss on the auto bid, they have a decent chance for an at-large, but this is where the schedule comes in. Whatever the reasons, USU didn't do a good enough job there.
It's hard to say right now that Creighton is going to end up in the NIT, but it's a distinct possibility now after they might have been one win away from an at-large. In their defense, the Jays beat New Mexico and hammered Dayton in non-league play. A comparison with Utah State, should the Aggies need an at-large, would be very interesting.
Because of the SoCon's two divisions and a tiebreaker scenario,