#6 Louisville 62, West Virginia 59
Getting a little help from Pitt, which knocked off Connecticut, the Louisville Cardinals took the opportunity to take the Big East regular season championship with a spirited effort at West Virginia.
The Cardinals enjoyed the luxury of playing UConn and Pitt just once each this season, splitting those games (lost to UConn, beat Pitt) and losing just once more (at Notre Dame) to finish 16-2, a game better than the 15-3 records posted by the Panthers and Huskies.
Senior forward Terrence Williams had one of his best games of the season, scoring 20 points, grabbing 6 rebounds, handing out 7 assists and pulling off 6 steals.
The win gives Louisville byes in the first two rounds of the Big East tournament, meaning they will next see action on Thursday, March 12. Winning the Big East tourney will certainly result in a #1 seed for the NCCA tournament, but the Cardinals are likely to have to face either Pitt or UConn in the finals.
There is now talk of 3 #1 seed coming out of the Big East, though that seems unlikely, since either North Carolina or Duke will get one, as will the winner of the Big 12 tournament, plus, Memphis made their case by completing their thrid straight undefeated Conference-USA season with a 74-47 thumping of Tulane, and are carrying the nation's longest win streak at 22 straight.
The PAC-10 is also being overlooked, even though last season, PAC-10 teams compiled the best record for a conference in the NCAA tourney. It might be a mistake to relegate #16 Washington (which took the conference with a 67-60 win over Washington St. Saturday) to a #2 seed and drop UCLA and Arizona St. to #3 or #4 spots.
While the PAC-10 may have had a down year, the conference as a whole may have simply been exhibiting better balance. Washington was 14-4, UCLA went 13-5 and Arizona State was 11-7. Those top three teams lost just 6 out-of-conference games and the most recent of those was on December 4, ancient history in college hoops.
It will be interesting to see how many PAC-10 teams make the field of 65 (Cal also finished 11-7; Arizona and USC were both 9-9.) and how high they will be seeded. The tournament could provide a relatively easier path to the elite 8 level for a number of PAC-10 squads.