Michigan, Ohio State help NCAA Tournament causes
LAS VEGAS (AP) Michigan could not afford a loss in its opening game of the Big Ten Tournament and expect to get an NCAA Tournament invite.
The Ohio State Buckeyes were in the same situation, though with even less leeway.
Both took care of the first step in rebuilding their NCAA Tournament resumes on Thursday, but still have some work left if they want to be in the big bracket.
Michigan has to play No. 10 Indiana while the Buckeyes have to get through No. 2 Michigan State.
''We had a good win today, but we can't enjoy it for too long because we know we have IU tomorrow,'' Michigan's Zak Irvin said.
The Wolverines (21-11) had to rally to keep their NCAA hopes alive.
Duncan Robinson hit a 3-pointer with 46 seconds left to tie it, then Irvin drained a jumper from the wing with 3.3 seconds left to give Michigan a 72-70 win over Mississippi.
Find a way to beat the Hoosiers and Michigan should have its ticket punched.
Ohio State (20-12) rallied with a late 7-0 run to knock off Penn State 79-75, setting up the showdown with the Spartans.
Michigan State won both meetings during the regular season in routs, so the Buckeyes will have their hands full if they want their season to continue.
''We're trying to get these guys to understand, they've never been in this situation before in a conference tournament,'' Ohio State coach Thad Matta said after the win over Penn State.
''You're playing Michigan State for the third time in two weeks, they're a great basketball team. We have to play better than we've played the last two games. We've been working on a game plan and hopefully we can get this in in the next 24 hours.''
ON THE RISE
Florida. The Gators (19-13) enhanced their NCAA chances with a 68-61 win over Arkansas in the SEC Tournament. Beating No. 17 Texas A&M on Friday would be a bigger boost and a loss to the Aggies will leave them squirming on the bubble.
San Diego State. The Aztecs (24-8) took a necessary step by beating Utah State in the Mountain West Conference quarterfinals. They'll likely still need to do more, starting with Friday's semifinal against Nevada.
George Washington. The Colonials (23-9) won a can't-lose game against Saint Louis in the Atlantic 10 Tournament, but still could use some resume padding. GW faces St. Joseph's in the third round on Friday.
Alabama. The Crimson Tide (18-13) needed a deep run in the SEC Tournament to boost its NCAA prospects and got off to a good start, knocking off Mississippi 81-73. The next one will be tougher. Alabama faces No. 2 seed Kentucky Friday in the quarterfinals.
Vanderbilt. The Commodores (19-13) did what they could not do in the SEC Tournament: Lose to Tennessee. Now Selection Sunday will be much more tense.
Washington. The Huskies (18-14) needed to at least reach the Pac-12 Tournament title game and lost in the quarterfinals to No. 8 Oregon in the quarterfinals. NIT time.
Pittsburgh. The Panthers (21-11) have a solid record and beat Syracuse in the ACC opener. A rout at the hands of No. 7 North Carolina will at least make them sweat a bit on Selection Sunday.
Oregon State. OK, fading might be a strong way to put it. The Beavers (19-12) were in decent shape heading into the Pac-12 Tournament and beat Arizona State in the second round. A loss to No. 24 California in the quarterfinals may at least give them pause while waiting to find out if their 26-year NCAA Tournament drought will end.