Duke's good fortune, Jimmer's 52-pickup, Big Ten hopefuls rejoice
Notre Dame lost in overtime to Louisville in the Big East semifinals, and now the door may be open for Duke to barge into the 1-seed line -- if the Blue Devils can win two more games and take the ACC tournament. On paper, Notre Dame's profile is stronger, but the Irish won't have a regular-season or tourney title on it. I wouldn't be outraged if the Blue Devils Wally Pipped ND by beating North Carolina in a rubber match. Maybe the committee could find a way to get both teams into the same region.
OK, Jimmer. Sorry to have doubted you. The national player of the year favorite flat-out went off on New Mexico, pouring in a career-high 52 points while setting the BYU all-time scoring record in the process. The win pushes the Cougars into the Mountain West final against either San Diego State or UNLV and adds credence to keeping BYU in the mix for a No. 2 seed.
In other news, Penn State grabbed the ugliest big win of the week, holding off Wisconsin in a 36-33 "barnburner" that now positions the Nittany Lions more closely to the at-large cutline. I think they need to beat Michigan State to have a legit claim, but a lot of other bubble teams got very nervous with this win.
Good news for the bubblers: USC lost to Arizona and Utah State held on in the WAC semifinals.
Anything you can do, I can do better? Michigan State saw Michigan's win over Illinois and one-upped it with a command performance against Purdue that clinches a spot in the NCAAs. Both Michigan schools also now look positioned to avoid a "first-round" First Four game in Dayton. Overall, this is evolving into a very bad day for bubble teams that have finished their seasons. Others are picking up big wins and there are several Bid Thief situations threatening to shrink the bubble further.
If you were excited about an 11-21 team being two wins from the NCAAs (see: next post), how about a 12-20 team with an RPI of 318 now being one win away?
The craziness continues in the A-10, where the lower-seeded team has now won five of six tournament games (including three road wins in the four on-campus, opening-round games). The biggest surprise is Saint Joseph's, now at 11-21 overall, advancing to the semis by
With one comfortable blowout and one huge rally, two bubblers moved much closer to the NCAAs.
Michigan used a huge late run to
It was over. Alabama was down 14 with six minutes left and it seemed safe to step out for a quick haircut. Wait, what? Yup, with a collection of poor possessions, missed free throws and one egregious timeout from head coach Mark Fox that
Meanwhile, Alabama still isn't a lock to dance, but certainly is in far better shape than 30 minutes ago, when the Tide looked headed to the NIT. There are still a lot of flaws to get past. 'Bama has only one nonleague win over a team in the RPI top 200 (over No. 131 Lipscomb) and their RPI would be about 20 spots north of the previous highest RPI to get in (63) since the NCAA adjusted the formula. The Tide now probably a win away from definitely getting in, but even with a semifinal loss, they will be strongly considered -- perhaps at the expense of Georgia?
There's only one point in a game when having the lead matters: at the final buzzer. North Carolina took that to an extreme against Miami, taking its only lead of the game on a Tyler Zeller layup at the buzzer to
Ohio State also tempted fate, but
The top seed in the A-10 went down as Dayton jumped out to a huge lead on Xavier and