College Hoops Player of the Day for Saturday, March 9, 2013
With regular seasons ending in some of the major conferences and a couple of minor conferences hailing tourney champions and the first entrants into the NCAA field, Saturday was a huge day for college hoops.
In the Big East, Georgetown took a share of the regular season title with Marquette and Louisville - both winners on the day - with a stunning, 61-39 rout of Syracuse, finishing up their conference schedule at 14-4. The Hoyas, Cardinals, Golden eagles and Pitt Panthers will get first round byes in the upcoming conference tourney.
Miami captured the ACC title outright with a signature 62-49 home win over Clemson to wrap up the regular season with a 15-3 mark (24-6 overall), a game better than Duke, which hammered North Carolina, 69-53.
Miami was led by Kenny Kadji, who scored 23 points and ripped down 12 boards for his third straight double-double and seventh on the season. Kadji was 6-for-11 with four three-pointers and went 7-for-9 from the stripe.
Miami and Duke head to the ACC tournament the #1 and #2 seeds, setting up a possible finals match-up that could determine a #1 seeding in the NCAAs.
Three conferences crowned champions on Saturday, the first going to Florida Gulf Coast, as they topped Mercer, 88-75, capturing the Atlantic Sun tourney and grabbing the first automatic bid to March's Big Dance.
In an ironic twist, Belmont, last season's winner of the Atlantic Sun with a victory over Florida Gulf Coast, took down Murray State in overtime, topping the Racers in overtime, 70-68, to win the Ohio Valley Conference their first year in the league.
Harvard won the Ivy League, winning their final game against Cornell, 65-56, to post an 11-3 record, but the Crimson had to wait until later in the evening to celebrate their second straight Ivy title, when Brown upset Princeton, 80-67, leaving the Tigers at 9-4 with a game yet to play, Tuesday night against Penn at Philadelphia's Palestra.
NOTABLE: Kentucky likely salvaged their season and might have possibly earned an at-large bid with a 61-57 victory over #11 Florida, the Gators having already wrapped up the SEC regular season title. The Wildcats had dropped two straight before entering Saturday's game and a win over a ranked opponent was just the tonic needed to revitalize the program.
Creighton will play Wichita State in the Missouri Valley Conference tourney final Sunday, the Blue Jays hammering Indiana State, 64-43, while the Shockers took a 66-51 decision over Illinois State in the other semi-final.
A slew of other minor conference title are up for grabs on Sunday, and a huge game is on tap for 4:00 pm EDT at Ann Arbor, Michigan, as the #7 Wolverines host #2 Indiana. A Hoosier win would give them the Big Ten title outright, while a victory by Michigan could produce a four-way tie at the top of the conference between Michigan, Indiana, Ohio State and Michigan State.
#1 Gonzaga turned a one-point half time lead into a 66-48 win in a WCC semi-final. The Zags will meet St. Mary's for the West Coast conference tourney title and the automatic NCAA bid at 9:00 pm EDT Sunday night.