Monday, February 26, 2007

Ohio State Stakes Its Claim

Sunday's battle between #1 Wisconsin and #2 Ohio State resulted in a 1-point win for the Buckeyes. Being that the game was played on Ohio State's home court, the win was not surprising. It's tough to win on the road, but Ohio State's win could literally not have been by any smaller margin. So, Ohio State's #1 ranking should include an asterisk with the note, "at home."

#2 Ohio St. 49 #1 Wisconsin 48 - The Buckeyes captured the Big Ten title with a win over their closest rival and a 14-1 record with just one conference game remaining and a 2-game lead over the Badgers (12-3). Mike Conley Jr. hit the game-winner for Ohio State with 4 seconds left and Kammron Taylor's desperate jumper at the buzzer was swatted away by Greg Oden and Ron Lewis. Ohio State still has some unfinished business at Michigan, but the result of the game won't change the standings. The Buckeyes are likely to be named #1 in both the AP and ESPN/USA Today polls later today.

Maryland 89 #5 North Carolina 87 - Just when everyone had counted Gary Williams and the Maryland Terrapins out, they go nose-to-nose with the Tar Heels and pull out a surprise win. Senior guard D. J. Strawberry lit it up with 27 points and led the host Terps into a tie for 5th place in the ACC with Duke at 8-6. The Tar Heels' loss also produced a three-way tie for 1st place in the conference with Virginia Tech and Virginia, all at 10-4. It will all shake out in the coming week. Most of the contenders have 2 games left, except 10-5 Boston College, which closes out the regular season on Sunday, March 4 at Georgia Tech.

#7 Memphis 77 Houston 64 - The Tigers extended the nation's longest winning streak to 17 with another home win. Ho-hum. Conference-USA. No big deal.

#17 Vanderbilt 67 Kentucky 65 - Derrick Byars scored 26 points and Shan Foster chipped in 21 to lead the Commodores to their 9th SEC win against just 5 losses. The effort solidified Vanderbilt's position for an at-large bid to March Madness. Vandy has just two conference games left, at South Carolina and at home against Arkansas. Winning either should be enough to get to the field of 65.

Meanwhile, Kentucky dropped into a three-way tie for 3rd place in the SEC East with Tennessee and Georgia. The Wildcats could be the odd team out as they host Georgia on Wednesday and close out the season at Florida on Sunday. They could also win them both or split and get an invitation to the Big Dance.

#18 Duke 67 St. John's 50 - The Blue Devils won on the road in a rare non-conference tilt, holding St. John's to just 10 points in the first half and have a tough week ahead. On Wednesday, they host Maryland and close out the regular season at North Carolina. Tournament invitations are on the line for 22-7 Duke.

#20 Louisville 76 Connecticut 69 - The Cardinals spread the scoring out among 10 players and cruised to their 5th straight win and 6th Big East road win. Louisville is now a solid 3rd in the Big East standings at 11-4 and play patsy Seton Hall (4-10 Big East) on Sunday to end their regular season.

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