With all conferences now finished with their regular seasons (except for a Big 12 makeup game - Ok. St. at Nebraska), tournaments to determine automatic bids are underway in some smaller conferences with the majors to begin on Wednesday as we creep closer to Selection Sunday.
Recaps from Sunday, March 3:
#5 Florida 85 Kentucky 72 - After a halftime tie at 43, the Gators got their game on in the second half and ripped the Wildcats by 13, to end the regular season on a winning note. Florida's big men got the job done inside, as Joakim Noah and Al Horford scored 17 and 14, both of them grabbed 10 rebounds. Taurean Green also threw in 17 points in the home win.
The rebounding edge for Florida - 35-23 - was enhanced as Kentucky's Randolph Morris was saddled with fouls and saw just 18 minutes of floor time. The Gators finished at 13-3, atop the SEC East and 26-5 overall. Kentucky ended at 9-7, 4th in the SEC East and 20-10 overall. Florida will get a bye in the opening round of the SEC tournament.
#8 North Carolina 86 #14 Duke 72 - The Tar Heels captured a share of the ACC championship with Virginia, finishing the season 11-5 as Virginia Tech lost to Clemson and Boston College was unceremoniously dispatched at Georgia Tech and finished in a tie for 3rd place. Duke finished an uncharacteristic 6th in the ACC at 8-8, ties with Georgia Tech.
Tyler Hansbrough had a monster game for North Carolina, leading all scorers with 26 points while also hauling down 17 rebounds. Hansbrough missed the final seconds of the game as he was hacked on his nose by Duke's Gerald Henderson, and left the floor bleeding profusely. Henderson was called for a flagrant foul, ejected and suspended for Duke's next game. Henderson scored 16 for the Blue Devils, who were swept for the first time in 11 years by North Carolina. The Tar Heels will be the #1 seed in the ACC tournament.
Creighton 67 #11 Southern Illinois 61 - The Creighton Bluejays rose to the occasion and captured the Missouri Valley Conference championship. Ranked as high as 10th in some preseason polls, the Bluejays dropped out of the Top 25 early on, following losses at Nebraska, Dayton, Fresno St. and Hawaii. They finished the regular season in the MVC at 13-5, behind the 15-3 Salukis, but swept their tournament games to grab the NCAA Tournament automatic bid.
Southern Illinois will no doubt get an at-large bid. Yesterday's loss ended a 13-game win streak. The Salukis are 27-6 overall and may be joined from the MVC by Missouri State (12-6, 22-10).
#16 Louisville 86 Seton Hall 71 - Rick Pitino has the Louisville Cardinals ready for the Big Dance. On Sunday, the Cardinals won their 6th straight and grabbed a share of 2nd place in the Big East with Pitt at 12-4. Freshman guard Edgar Sosa led the way with 18 points. David Padgett and Terrence Williams each added 15 points as the Cardinals played their third straight game without starting forward Juan Palacios who has been suffering from back spasms.
Clemson 75 #21 Virginia Tech 74 - Despite playing at home and Zabian Dowdell's 25 points, the Virginia Tech Hokies were denied by Clemson and win and a share of first place in the ACC. The Hokies will have to settle for a 3rd place tie with Boston College, who also lost on Sunday.
Mississippi St. 91 Alabama 67 - The Bulldogs won at home, putting 6 players in double figures as they dismantled the Crimson Tide and earned a share of the SEC West title with Mississippi. Both teams finished conference play at 8-8. Alabama ended their regular season at 7-9 and will likely not receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Georgia Tech 74 Boston College 60 - Boston College turned the ball over 20 times and the Georgia Tech took advantage at home to finish up ACC play at 8-8 and deny the Eagles a share of first place. The Yellow Jackets got points from 9 different players as they improved to 20-10 overall and kept hopes alive for a ticket to the Big Dance. Should the Yellow Jackets win two games in the conference tourney, they should receive an at-large bid. They open with Wake Forest on Thursday night.