Saturday, March 17, 2012

Kyle O'Quinn, CJ McCollum Lead Norfolk State, Lehigh Past #2 Seeds, Missouri, Duke

College Hoops Player of the Day for Friday, March 16, Month, 2012

Norfolk State's enormous, 86-84, upset over Missouri, the number two seed in the West region, was a monumental achievement that hasn't occurred since 2001, when Hampton defeated Iowa State, 58-57, in 2001.

Prior to Friday, a 15 seed beating a number two had only happened four times in the history of the NCAA tournament since expanding to 64 teams (now 68) in 1985. To get some perspective, that's four times in 28 years, out of a total of 112 2-15 match-ups.

Through Friday's games, mark that number up to six times in 116 2-15 meetings, because the Lehigh Mountain Hawks turned the trick on the Duke Blue Devils, knocking the #2 seed in the South region - along with coach Mike Krzyzewski, the winningest college basketball coach of all time, and all of Duke's storied history - out of the 2012 tournament with a smashing, 75-70, victory.

Never mind that sportswriters and sport bloggers won't have to scramble to rediscover how to spell coach K's name for the duration of the tourney; Lehigh's win was monstrous, and to think that two 15 seeds would beat two number two's in the same tournament, on the same day, well, that's one for the history books, an eventful day that may never happen again.

The tin-foil hat brigade will point to the unusual feat as a precursor to the Mayan calendar's prediction that the world will end on December 21, 2012, an omen of sorts, along with the record-setting warm winter and other assorted oddities and anomalies.

Whether or not the wins by the Spartans and Mountain Hawks (formerly the Engineers) have predictive or astronomical or numerological value can be debated another time. For now, the dual triumphs for the "little guy" remind us that anything is possible when men or women act together and execute on a plan.

The stars of the two games, Norfolk State's Kyle O'Quinn (St. Patrick's Irish eyes must surely be smiling today) and Lehigh's CJ McCollum, the co-players of the day, may have to share the spotlight for now, and the pair will be forever linked within the lore of collage basketball.

The two share some similarities and some differences. Both are big time scorers for little colleges, but McCollum is a 6'3" guard from small town Canton, Ohio while O'Quinn is a 6'10" center from big city Jamaica, New York, part of the New York City metropolis.

McCollum is more the run-and-gun type, as evidenced in his 30 point, 9-for-24 shooting spree against the Blue Devils, which included two three-pointers in seven attempts. But he also played the complete game, dishing six assists and grabbing six rebounds. McCollum also was 10-for-16 from the foul line.

O'Quinn did his work mostly around the rim, scoring 26 points for the Spartans against the undersized Tigers, powering inside for 10 buckets on 16 attempts, with a three-pointer (only his sixth of the season) in two attempts from outside the arc. O'Quinn had 14 rebounds for his 20th double-double of this season, was 5-for-9 from the stripe, blocked two shots and had a pair of assists.

When the celebration and laudatory remarks begin to fade sometime on Saturday, McCollum and O'Quinn will get back together with their teammates and coaches and start planning to see if they can write a little more history into this tournament. No #15 which had defeated a #2 has ever won their following game. On Sunday, the Mountain Hawks will face Xavier, the #10 seed, and the Spartans will go after Florida, a mere 7-seed.

Win or lose, Mayan predictions or otherwise, Friday, March 16 was a day for the record books.

Here are the previous 15-over-2 wins in NCAA history:

#15 Richmond beat #2 Syracuse 73-69 in 1991
#15 Santa Clara beat #2 Arizona 64-61 in 1993
#15 Coppin State beat #2 USC 78-65 in 1997
#15 Hampton beat #2 Iowa State 58-57 in 2001

NCAA Tournament Opening Round Late Games Results and Recaps

West Region

Michigan State 89 LIU-Brooklyn 67 - Michigan State led by five at the break and expanded their advantage into double digits in the second half, Draymond Green, Derrick Nix and Adrelan Payne plundered the interior for 24, 18 and 16 points, respectively. Green recorded the first triple double of the tourney with 11 rebounds and 10 assists. The top seeded Spartans easily advanced to face 9th seed St. Louis on Sunday.

South Region

Xavier 67 Notre Dame 63 - Tu Holloway scored 25 points to lead the 10 seed Musketeers to a win over 7 seed Notre Dame, advancing to the round of 32 to play Lehigh, the #15 seed that upset Duke earlier in the day, on Sunday. Holloway was 10-for-15 from the field with two three-pointers.

Midwest Region

South Florida 58 Temple 44 - South Florida trailed 19-8 during the first half and missed 22 straight fild goal attempts at one point, but rallied back to take a commanding lead as the game wore on.

Victor Rudd and Anthony Collins each scored 17 points for the Bulls in the 12 over 5 seed victory. The Bulls will face another upset winner, Ohio, the 13 seed in the region.

Kansas 65 Detroit 50 - The Kansas Jayhawks broke open a close game late in the first half and rolled to victory behind a game high 16 points from Thomas Robinson and 15 by Elijah Johnson, who was 6-for-8 from the field and 3-for-4 from three-point range. Kansas advances to face #10 seed Purdue in the next round.

Friday, March 16, 2012

NCAA Round of 64 Results & Recaps; Duke, Michigan Ousted

West Region

St. Louis 61 Memphis 54 - Kwamain Mitchell scored 22 points off the bench for the Billikens as St. Louis downed Memphis in a mild 9-8 upset. St. Louis held Memphis to 39% shooting and had a five rebound edge on the boards. Mitchell was 9-for-14, making 4 of 7 three-pointers.

South Region

Lehigh 75 Duke 70 - Lehigh's CJ McCollum threw up 22 shots, made nine of them, including two three pointers and was 10-for-16 from the foul line for a game high 30 points as the Mountain Hawks upset #2 seed Duke. It was the third major upset of the day, after #2 Missouri was knocked out of the West region by Norfolk State and Michigan, the #4 seed in the Midwest went down to Ohio.

Midwest Region

Ohio 65 Michigan 60 - Ohio took it to the Wolverines early and late, taking an early lead and maintaining it throughout. The Bobcats shot 51% from the field, while Michigan registered just 41% shooting. Ohio's DJ Cooper had the whole game on, leading all scorers with 21 points on 7-for-11 shooting (3-6 on threes) and four of five from the line with five assists and a couple of rebounds.

Purdue 72 St. Mary's 69 - The Boilermakers led the entire game, except for a few brief seconds late in the game when St. Mary's took a 69-68 lead with 44 seconds left. But Purdue scored the final four points of the contest to seal the win and move to the next round. Purdue guard Terone Johnson had a game high 23 points on 10 of 14 shooting with four rebounds and five assists.

NCAA Tournament, Round of 64 Early Games Results & Recaps; #2 Missouri Dumped by Norfolk State

East Region

Cincinnati 65 Texas 59 - The Longhorns dug themselves a very deep hole, scoring just two points in the opening 12:30 of the first half, but they clawed back to tie the game at 52-all on a put-back by Johnathan Holmes at 3:45 in the second half. Cincinnati squandered a 19-point lead, but regained their composure and the lead on three consecutive baskets - one by Cashmere Wright, sandwiched between a pair of Yancy gates buckets. Texas could get no closer than four as time wore down. Gates recorded another double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

Florida State 66 St. Bonaventure 63 - The Bonnies, a 14 seed which got into the big dance by winning the Atlantic-10 tournament, proved their value by taking it to the Seminoles for most of the game and even had a chance to tie the contest when they had the ball with 8 seconds left. To avoid the major upset, 3-seed Florida State needed a 16-2 run to take its first lead with 5:15 left on a 3-pointer by Ian Miller.

The battle in the paint was ferocious. St. Bonaventure's Andrew Nicholson scored 19 points with seven reounds and two blocks, matched by the Seminoles' Bernard James, who scored 19 points on 8 of 11 shooting, with nine boards and three blocked shots. Florida State moves on to a match-up with 6-seed Cincinnati.

Midwest Region

North Carolina St. 79 San Diego St. 65 - 11th-seeded NC State put a whipping on the #6 seed San Diego State, out of the Mountain West conference, dominating inside and shooting a blistering 58.5% from the field. The Aztecs' Jamaal Franlin led all scorers with 23 points, but Wolfpack forward Richard Howell made 10 of 12 shots for 22 points to lead his winning squad.

Creighton 59 Alabama 58 - Led by Doug McDermott's 16 points and 10 rebounds, Creighton, the number 8 seed in the Midwest, held on for the win against #9 seed Alabama. The Bluejays took the lead for good with just over five minutes left to play, but were inefficient at the line, allowing the Crimson Tide a chance for the win, down just one point with 2.4 seconds to play, but Trevor Relaford's three-point heave was partially blocked by Josh Jones.

Georgetown 74 Belmont 59 - Jason Clark had his jumper working as he poured in 23 points for the 3-seed Hoyas, making none of 12 overall and three of five 3-pointers. The Hoyas easily handled the 14-seed Bruins, as they shot 61% and had a 30-22 rebounding edge.

North Carolina 77 Vermont 58 - Even without John Henson - who sat out again with a bruised wrist - the Vermont Catamounts were no match for the mighty Tar Heels, the region's #1 seed. Henson's replacement, James Michael MacAdoo, and Tyler Zeller each scored 17 points to pace the Heels. Zeller also had a game high 15 rebounds.

West Region

Florida 71 Virginia 45 - Billy Donovan's Gators dominated the game from start to finish, taking an eight-point lead into half time and expanding it through the remainder of the game. Florida shot 53% for the game and out-rebounded Virginia, 36-21. The Gators will face Missouri on Sunday, the winner going to the Sweet Sixteen.

Norfolk State 86 Missouri 84 - It's official. March Madness has arrived, as the 15 seed Norfolk State Spartans upset the #2 seed and #3 ranked Missouri Tigers. Missouri, which shot 52%, could never shake free in a game that saw numerous lead changes and ties. The Spartans led by two at the end, but Phil Pressey's desperation three-pointer at the buzzer clanged off the rim and Norfolk State became just the fifth #15 seed to defeat a #2 seed in tournament history. The Spartans got a huge effort from center Kyle O'Quinn, who led all scorers with 26 points and hauled in 14 rebounds.

NCAA Tourney: Big Ten Unbeaten in Opening Round

Ohio State, Wisconsin and Indiana each won their opening games of the 2012 NCAA Men's College Basketball Championship Tournament for a perfect 3-0 record in the round of 64.

Includes games through Thursday, March 15.

Conference W L
Atlantic-10 - -
ACC - -
Big East 4 2
Big Ten 3 -
Big 12 3 1
Conf-USA - 1
Missouri Valley - 1
Mountain West 2 1
Ohio Valley 1 -
PAC-12 1 1
SEC 2 -
West Coast 2 1
All others 3 12

Rodney MaGruder's 30 Points Key to Kansas State Victory over Southern Miss

College Hoops Player of the Day for Thursday, March 15, 2012

Kansas State surged past Southern Miss late in the second half, advancing to the round of 32 against East region #1 seed, Syracuse with a 70-64 victory over the Golden Eagles.

Point guard Angel Rodriguez scored seven of his 13 points in the final 2:10 of regulation, but it was Rodney McGruder, who scored 18 of his game high 30 points in the first half that kept the Wildcats in the game.

McGruder was 11 of 16 from the field with two 3-pointers and 6-for-8 from the charity stripe. McGruder's pair of treys were the only shots the Wildcats made from beyond the arc, going just 2-12 as a team. The team's high scorer throughout the season, McGruder added four rebounds and four steals for the Wildcats, who won the game at the free throw line, canning 26 of 34 freebies to Southern Miss' 12 of 17.

NCAA Round of 64 Results & Recaps: Late Games

South Region

Kentucky 81 Western Kentucky 66 - Anthony Davis scored 16 points with nine rebounds three assists, a steal and seven blocked shots. Terrence Jones led all scorers with 22 points on 9-for-13 shooting. Jones added ten rebounds.

VCU 62 Wichita State 59 - Bradford Burgess, who played on last year's Final Four VCU squad, hit a key 3-pointer late in the game, propelling the Rams to the 12-over-5-seed victory. VCU held a sizable advantage most of the game, but the Shockers cut into the lead late and took a two point lead late in the game. The resolute Rams were not to be denied, however, moving onto the next round with a solid victory over a worthy opponent. Burgess finished with a game-high 16 points.

Baylor 64 South Dakota State 60 - Baylor did just enough to topple the 14 seed Jackrabbits. Perry Jones III had just two points on 1-for-6 shooting.

Iowa State 77 Connecticut 64 -Defending champions taken out to little fanfare by a rugged Iowa State squad. Iowa State faces Kentucky, Saturday.

Indiana 79 New Mexico State 66 - JOrdan Hulls was 4-for-6 from 3-point distance and 8-for-12 overall for a game high 22 points, leading Indiana over the Aggies and onto a match-up with VCU on Saturday. Three other Hoosiers scored 14 points each in the runaway victory.

Colorado 68 UNLV 64 The region's 11-seed, Colorado, kept PAC-12 hopes alive with an upset win over 6-seed UNLV. Reserve guard Askia Booker paced the game's scoring with 16 points. The Buffaloes are the only remaining PAV-12 team after Val was bounced by South Florida Wednesday night in a First Four meeting. Colorado committed 23 turnovers but outscored the Rebels 17-9 at the foul line.

East Region

Gonzaga 77 West Virginia 54 - Seventh-seeded Gonzaga throttled West Virginia, shooting 56% as 11 different players scored for the Bulldogs. Gonzaga's bench was responsible for 49 of the team's total. The Zags were 9-for-17 from three-point range as compared to 3-for-17 for the Mountaineers.

Ohio State XX Loyola (MD) XX - Deshaun Thomas was the game's high scorer with 31 points, adding 12 rebounds, as the Buckeyes made quick work of the Greyhounds. Ohio State had a huge, 45-23 rebounding edge and move on to the next round, where they will meet 7th seeded Gonzaga.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

NCAA Round of 64 Results & Recaps: Early Games; Syracuse Escapes; Murray State, 31-1

West Region

Murray State 58 Colorado State 41 - Murray State employed an 18-2 run to open the second half, erasing a 1-point deficit from the break. The 31-1 Racers were out-rebounded 38-32 and shot just 36% but got 15 and 13 points, respectively, from guards Isaiah Caanan and Donte Poole. They advance to meet Marquette.

Louisville 69 Davidson 62 - Louisville led almost the entire game and got 14 points and 11 rebounds from freshman Chane Behanen to punch their ticket to the next round.

Marquette 88 BYU 68 - Marquette, the #3 seed in the East region, had few problems getting past the Cougars, winners of a Tuesday play-in game over Iona. The Golden Eagles were led by Jae Crowder's 25 points and 20 from Darius Johnson-Odom.

New Mexico 75 Long Beach State 68 - Behind 18 points and 15 rebounds from Drew Gordon, the Lobos advanced to the round of 32 with a win in which they handled a slim lead throughout most of the contest. New Mexico shot 51% from the field and had a 10-point edge at the foul line, where they made 18 of 24. As the 5 seed, their win sets up a 5-4 matchup with Louisville in the next round on Saturday.

East Region

Kansas State 70 Southern Miss 64 - Rodney McGruder scored a game-high 30 points as the Wildcats prevailed in a closely-played contest. Even though Kansas State hit 50% from the field to Southern Miss' 36% the Golden Eagles made eight three-pointers to just two by the Wildcats, keeping them in the game. Kansas State advances to the round of 32 for a likely meeting with #1 seed in the region, Syracuse.

Syracuse 72 UNC-Asheville 65 Asheville led by as many as seven points and took a 34-30 lead into the half as Syracuse made just one of 13 three-point attempts in the first half. The Orange escaped thanks to some sharp-shooting from James Southerland, who led the Orange with 15 points and three of five 3-pointers.

Syracuse was aided by two of the most horrible calls ever seen on national television, a missed goaltending call and an inbounds pass that clearly was off Syracuse point guard Brandon Triche but ruled out against Asheville.

Whatever can be said of the Syracuse program, it is becoming a national nightmare for major college athletic programs - as in the case of Penn State - that have entrenched coaches and institutions. Under such structures, much is taken for granted as business as usual and serious transgressions are swept under the rug in order to protect what has been built and accomplished.

The off-court issues facing Syracuse will certainly have repercussions going forward, but for now, this looks like a team without much cohesion at exactly the wrong time.

Wisconsin 73 Montana 49 - The Big Ten Badgers easily dispatched with Montana, taking a 10-point lead into the half and cruising to one of the easier wins of the day.

Vanderbilt 79 Harvard 70 - John Jenkins scored 26 points with six rebounds as the Commodores held off the gritty Crimson. Vanderbilt shot 54% for the game and maintained a double-digit lead throughout most of the contest. Next up for #5 Vanderbilt is #4 seed, Wisconsin.

Quick Takes on Opening Games, Potential Bracket Busters

From the Better-Late-Than-Never Department

Those of you scrambling to fill out your brackets might want to take note of these regional openers and a few picks for bracket busters.


Top seed Syracuse, without Fab Melo, will be an even worse rebounding team than they already were. They'll likely get past NC-Asheville in their first game, but Kansas State - which should devour Southern Miss - will be a problem for the Orange because they are big and rebound the ball well. Syracuse probably won't reach the Final Four, so that bracket is already partially busted.

If K-State doesn't dump Syracuse, Vanderbilt (24-10) very well might. The Commodores knocked off Kentucky in the SEC final and are primed for a solid run.

On the other side, Ohio State should have its hands full with either West Virginia or Gonzaga, a team that always comes to play. Florida State, the #3 seed gets an easy win over St. Bonaventure, and then will cruise past either Cincinnati or Texas (probably Cincy).

All of this sets up a regional final of Vanderbilt or Kansas State vs. Florida State, after the Seminoles drop one on Ohio State, if the Buckeyes get that far. Look for the 'Noles to reach the Final Four.


There's a real problem for every team in this bracket and its called Missouri. There are a lot of folks projecting Marquette to reach the regional final, but the Golden Eagles will struggle, if not lose, against the resolute BYU Cougars, who came from 25 down against Iona to capture their play-in game.

Vastly underrated, BYU could be the ultimate sleeper for a bracket buster, though 6-seed Murray State might also pose problems on that side of the draw. Still, Missouri looks like a lock to reach the regional final no matter who they face.

Opposite them, Michigan State probably has one of the easier paths to the regional final than any team in the tourney. LIU-Brooklyn won't last long, and the next game against probably Memphis, should also go to the Spartans.

The potential dark horse in this draw is either New Mexico or Long Beach State, who face each other in the toss-up opener and could easily be seen to advance past the winner of the Louisville-Davidson tilt, another opener that could go either way.

Michigan State's third game could be their undoing, but even if they make it through, look for Missouri to overcome in the regional final. The Mizzou are a match-up nightmare and have statistical advantages nearly across the board on every team in the entire field, except for rebounding. See our previous post for ten ten statistical leaders in the tourney.


Kentucky sure looks good, and it's a good chance that they'll make the regional final if not the Final Four. Other games which are contestable in the opening round are all on the Wildcats' side of the draw. UConn will probably be favored over Iowa State, but the Cyclones had a good season and are formidable inside. They might actually upset Kentucky in their second game.

If not them, then the winner of VCU-Wichita State - a very tough 5-12 match-up for two quality teams could be a bracket killer, beating the winner of #4 Indiana and #13 New Mexico State, another who knows? kind of game.

The other side of the draw is a little easier. UNLV should beat Colorado, making the PAC-12 a miserable 0-2 and out of the tournament, Baylor over South Dakota St. looks easy, Notre Dame should finish off Xavier in their opener and Duke is a near-certainty to glide past Lehigh.

After that, though, Duke, the likely choice to get through to the regional final, could easily lose to any of the forementioned teams, though only Baylor seems capable of beating Kentucky to reach the Final Four.


No surprise who represents this region. It will be North Carolina, which has the easiest path of all the #1 seeds. See our breakdown of this region in our Road Map to the Final Four.

So, there you have it. The Final Four will feature two #1 seeds (North Carolina and Kentucky, though maybe Baylor), a #2 (Missouri) and either a 3 (Florida State) a 5 (Vanderbilt) or an outside 8 (Kansas State). Sorry, Buckeye fans, but Jared Sullinger takes too many plays off for our liking.

In the Final Four, Missouri shocks Kentucky, which really shouldn't be a shock, as the Wildcats are young and undisciplined compared to the experienced Tigers. North Carolina should handle whomever they face, but they too will be no match for the lightning-quick, accurate-shooting Missouri Tigers, your 2012 National Champions.

Good luck to all college hoops fans and even casual observers with your brackets. May your picks be pure and your upsets thrilling.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Four McGlynn Leads Vermont Over Lamar; South Florida Advances Past Cal

College Hoops Player of the Day for Wednesday, March 14, 2012

First Four game 3: Vermont 71 Lamar 59 - The Catamounts of Vermont were workmanlike and disciplined in their rather one-sided win over favored Lamar, advancing to play the North Carolina Tar Heels in the opening round of the Midwest regional. Vermont took an early lead and were never headed, aided by freshman Four McGlynn, who came off the bench to score a game-high 18 points on 5-for-9 shooting, including three of five three-pointers.

Brian Voelkel was a key contributor for the Catamounts with 12 rebounds and seven assists.

First Four game 4: South Florida 65 California 54 - South Florida's defense-to-offense approach lived up to its billing, as the Bulls completely dominated their PAC-12 rivals, holding Cal to 13 first half points, taking an insurmountable 23-point advantage into the break. While the final score turned out to be much closer, the outcome was never in doubt. Contesting every possession, South Florida forced the Golden Bears into 36% shooting for the game, including a 3-for-15 output from the 3-point line.

Scoring consistently inside, the Bulls shared the ball well, going for 15 assists on 28-49 shooting, a 57% pace. South Florida advances to the Midwest regional as a #12 seed, where they will face #5 Temple on Friday.

Victor Rudd Jr. exemplified the efficiency of the South Florida offense, going 7-for-10 for a team-high 15 points. Cal's Harper Kemp was the game's high scorer with 19.

Western Kentucky, BYU Advance; Top East Seed Syracuse Loses Fab Melo for Tourney

Tournament Update & College Hoops Player of the Day for Tuesday, March 13, 2012

First Four, Game 1: Western Kentucky 59 Mississippi Valley State 58 - The Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky have made a habit of rallying from sizable deficits through the latter half of the season and did it again to open the 2012 NCAA tournament in style, rallying from 16 points down in the final 4:30 to overtake the Delta Devils and advance to play #1 seed Kentucky in the South region.

The game was sloppy, but nonetheless, entertaining. Mississippi Valley State led 54-37 with under four minutes left to play, but turned the ball over repeatedly as the Hilltoppers stepped up the defensive pressure. Western Kentucky turned the ball over 29 times, but out-rebounded their opponents, 60-32. Shooting was horrendous, as neither team shot better than 36 percent. The Devils' Kevin Burwell led all scorers with 20 points.

First Four, Game 2: BYU 78 Iona 72 - Iona shot 57% and led by as many as 25 points in the first half, but BYU cut the lead to 15 at the break, down 55-40 and wore down the Gaels in the second half for the win. Brandon Davies scored 18 points with 15 rebounds and teammate Noah Hartsock dropped in a game high 23 points on 10-for-14 shooting, including a decisive three-pointer which gave the Cougars the lead for good with about two minutes to play. The Cougars held Iona to just 17 second half points.

Tourney Notes: In an unprecedented development, Syracuse center Fab Melo was ruled ineligible for the NCAA tournament by the school, throwing a serious wrench into the Orange plans. Syracuse was named the #1 seed in the East region on Sunday. Details are uncertain, though a number of media outlets are reporting that the issue is with Melo's schoolwork, which was a reason for his suspension for three games during the regular season. Syracuse faces UNC-Asheville in an East regional opener Thursday afternoon.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

NCAA Tourney: Handicapping the Play-in Games; Road Map to Final Four

Four play-in games - kindly hooked with the moniker "First Four" by the NCAA spin-masters - will usher in the 2012 NCAA tournament, and while many bracket contests don't require actual picks for these games, some do, and, let's not forget that one of the play-in teams from last season - VCU - made it all the way to the Final Four, so these games could be important.

Game 1 (March 13, 6:40 pm ET): Mississippi Valley Delta Devils (21-12) vs. Western Kentucky (15-18) - Both teams are long shots to win anything other than this game because the winner faces #1 Kentucky in the South region in the next round. Current betting line has the Hilltoppers by three points over the Delta Devils, who have a wealth of NCAA experience behind them with 22 NCAA appearances dating back to 1940. Conversely, Mississippi Valley State will be playing in just their fifth tourney, the most recent appearance in 2006. They are 0-4 all-time in the NCAAs.

However, the Delta Devils are a red hot team at this juncture, having won the SWAC outright with a 15-1 record and then taking the conference tourney with three straight wins. After a 1-11 start, nobody gave these guys much attention, but they played avery tough non-conference schedule with losses to Notre Dame, North Carolina, Northwestern, Wisconsin, Florida and Iowa State among others. Their 22-1 record against their SWAC foes has them ready for this match-up and they should prevail.

Game 2 (March 13, 9:10 pm ET): BYU Cougars (25-8) vs. Iona Gaels (25-7) - BYU is a 2-point favorite here with the winning moving on to face Marquette in the West region. The Gaels were something of a surprise selection, having been bounced from their conference tourney by Fairfield after winning the regular season with a 15-3 record, though they are the #1 team in the field in scoring (83.3 ppg), assists (19.3), third in field goal percentage (.567) and sixth in 3-point shooting (.393).

BYU is a solid opponent, finishing third in the WCC behind St. Mary's and Gonzaga, though their only quality win was an 83-73 win over Gonzaga on February 2. If Iona plays their game and point guard Scott Machado distributed the ball well, the Gaels will be a tough out, not only for the Cougars, but for Marquette, next up.

Game 3 (March 14, 6:30 pm ET): Vermont Catamounts (23-11) vs. Lamar Cardinals (23-11) - A 3 1/2 point favorite, Lamar is one of the less-well-known teams in the tourney, coming out as the Southland conference champions. Neither of these teams can expect much with a win, except to be bludgeoned by North Carolina in the Midwest conference. Lamar is pretty shaky with an 8-9 road record and their longest win streak of the season capped at four. The Catamounts will give them plenty to handle, especially from one-man-gang, Brian Voelkel, who leads the team in rebounds, assists and steals.

Vermont won 10 in a row down the stretch and 13 of their last 14, took the America East Tourney with a win over regular season champ, Stony Brook and appear as poised as any 16 could be.

Game 4 (March 14, 9:10 pm ET): South Florida Bulls (20-13) vs. California Golden Bears (24-9) - This will be a solid game, as it is for a #12 seed in the Midwest and the winner could advance past a shaky Temple team in the next round. While Cal is the designer pick as a 2 1/2 point favorite, South Florida has the kind of team that could produce multiple upsets in the tourney. The Bulls are not flashy, but they do play great defense, whereas Cal played in the shadowy PAC-12, finishing second behind Washington and losing in the conference final to Colorado, their second straight double-digit loss to the Buffs, the only other PAC-12 team in the tourney.

Looks like a quick exit for the dancing Bears, who may not get their offense untracked against the raging Bulls.

Road Map to the Final Four

Of all the #1 seeds - Kentucky, Syracuse, Michigan State and North Carolina - the Tar Heels seem to have the easiest path to reach New Orleans unscathed, especially if they have big John Henson back from the wrist injury that sidelined him in the ACC tournament. All indications that the big swatter will be a go when they toss it up on Friday night in Greensboro, practically a home game for the Carolinians.

Taking a look at the other regions before getting back to North Carolina, there are potential minefields for the three other #1s. In the East, where Syracuse got the top nod, the Orange could find trouble as early as their second game, presumably against a very physical and strong-rebounding Kansas State squad. Further along they may have either Vanderbilt, a real trouble-maker, or Wisconsin, with three-point shooters that can nullify the Orange zone defense. If they get to their regional final, take your pick from Cincinnati (who beat them in the Big East tourney), Ohio State, Florida State or Gonzaga. Any of them could pull off an upset.

In the West, #1 Michigan should get past LIU-Brooklyn, but then may run into Memphis, the Conference-USA champion and a very overlooked entity. After that, maybe Louisville or New Mexico, also an unknown quantity. But, if the Spartans reach their regional final, they could face Florida, Marquette or most likely, Missouri, who can beat anyone in the field, as they proved throughout the season. Good luck with Michigan State getting to New Orleans.

Down South, Kentucky will probably have to defeat a rugged Iowa State squad, who may surprise the overrated Huskies from UConn. Even if UConn beats the Cyclones, they too could prove a tough out. On the other side of the sub-regional draw is #12 VCU, #5 Wichita State, #4 Indiana and #13 New Mexico State. The Hooisers beat Kentucky earlier in the season and the match-up is a natural rivalry. VCU may have the best defensive five in the tournament and they lead all entrants in steals at 10.68 per game. The regional final may actually be easier for Kentucky, though either Baylor or Duke should emerge from that side. Baylor is as good as it gets, and Duke, well, they're Duke.

That leads us back to the Midwest and North Carolina. First, two of the spots in their sub-region will be occupied by winners of the "First Four" play-in games, and there's no real competition outside of Creighton on their side of the draw. Other the opposite side of the region are Purdue, North Carolina State, #2 Kansas and Georgetown, but the sleeper is that the Jayhawks have a very tough Detroit squad in their opening game, and could be upset. If Kansas does get through, the Tar Heels should win with superior depth and talent. They appear to be the one team with a road map that doesn't include a lot of dead ends, potholes and road-blocks.

Tomorrow: Some select picks for opening round games, now called the second round by the tourney people. Please. How do they come up with this stuff? The play-in games should be called "play-in games" and the opening round for 64 teams, the first round. Get it?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Better Know Your Brackets: Stats, Info and Free Contest Links

Bracket Facts and Key Stats

As avid fans of the NCAA tournament, College Basketball Daily is happy to provide readers with a kind of "cheat sheet" on the tournament field.

While we don't offer many specific game picks, the stats, data and information below may provide some help in determining the best way to play your office or work bracket pool, which is, after all, all that's important for the month of March (and first week of April).

First, the basics (which everyone should already know):

The #1 seeds, by region are: South: Kentucky (32-2) (also the overall #1 seed); West: Michigan State (27-7); East: Syracuse (31-2); Midwest: North Carolina (29-5).

In the Final Four, South plays West, East plays Midwest. All Final Four games are at the Superdome, New Orleans, LA on March 31 (semi-finals) and April 2 (championship).

Of the 68 tourney teams, only one has a losing record, that being 15-18 Western Kentucky, which faces 21-12 Mississippi Valley State in Tuesday's play-in game at 6:40 pm ET. The other Tuesday game is BYU vs. Iona at 9:10 pm ET. Wednesday's play-in games are Lamar vs Vermont, 6:40 pm ET and California vs South Florida at 9:10 pm ET. All play-in games will be played in Dayton, Ohio and broadcast live on truTV.

What used to be called the opening round (round of 64) is now known (stupidly) as the second round, and all subsequent rounds are moved up one, accordingly, because of the play-in games. (That's probably more information than anyone needs)

A #1 seed has never lost to a #16, but #15s have beaten #2s, four times.
#15 Richmond beat #2 Syracuse, 73-69, in 1991
#15 Santa Clara beat #2 Arizona, 64-61, in 1993
#15 Coppin State beat #2 USC, 78-65, in 1997
#15 Hampton beat #2 Iowa State, 58-57, in 2001

STATS (all stats are for the 2011-12 regular season and do not include conference tournaments)

Top Ten Scoring teams in tournament:
1 Iona 83.3
2 North Carolina 82.0
3 LIU Brooklyn 81.9
4 Belmont 81.5
5 UNC-Asheville 81.2
6 Missouri 80.3
7 Creighton 80.0
8 New Mexico State 78.5
9 Davidson 78.4
10 Brigham Young 78.2

Top ten Rebounding teams in tournament:
1 North Carolina 45.2
2 New Mexico State 40.3
3 Lamar 39.6
4 Kentucky 39.2
5 Davidson 38.9
6 LIU Brooklyn 38.6
7 Brigham Young 38.5
8 West Virginia 38.4
9 Michigan State 38.2
9 Louisville 38.2

Top ten teams in tournament by field goal percentage:
1 Creighton .583
2 Missouri .578
3 Iona .567
4 Belmont .560
5 Murray State .548
6 Florida .547
7 Indiana .547
8 Wichita State .547
9 Saint Mary's .544
9 Memphis .544

Top ten teams in tournament by 3-point shooting percentage:
1 Indiana .433
2 Creighton .425
3 Murray State .406
4 Temple .402
5 Missouri .395
6 South Dakota State .393
6 Iona .393
8 Vanderbilt .391
9 Florida .390
10 New Mexico .385

Top ten teams in tournament by free throw percentage (very important):
1 Colorado State .769
2 Missouri .766
3 Davidson .764
4 Indiana .762
4 UNC-Asheville .762
6 St. Bonaventure .756
7 Baylor .751
7 Wichita State .751
9 California .746
9 Harvard .746

Top ten teams in tournament by assists per game:
1 Iona 19.3
2 Creighton 17.9
3 UNLV 17.7
4 North Carolina 17.6
5 Belmont 17.4
6 Brigham Young 17.0
7 Marquette 16.8
8 UNC-Asheville 16.6
9 New Mexico 16.4
10 Missouri 16.2

Top ten teams in tournament by steals per game:
1 Virginia Commonwealth (VCU) 10.68
2 Syracuse 9.61
3 Ohio 9.38
4 Louisville 9.31
5 Marquette 8.81
6 Mississippi Valley State 8.74
7 UNC-Asheville 8.48
8 Brigham Young (BYU) 8.45
9 Murray State 8.42
10 UNLV 8.38

Top ten teams in tournament by blocked shots per game:
1 Kentucky 8.79
2 Syracuse 7.09
3 Connecticut 6.91
4 Florida State 5.94
5 North Carolina 5.79
6 Memphis 5.68
7 Kansas 5.64
8 Louisville 4.86
9 Baylor 4.82
10 Georgetown 4.81

Finally, here are links to some FREE tournament bracket contests:
Actually, our friends (and football picks sponsor) Bankroll Sports has a comprehensive list of totally free online bracket contests.

On Tuesday morning, College Basketball Daily will break down the 1st round play-in games and some of the key second round match-ups. More on Wednesday, plus a roadmap to the Final Four, and, our Tournament Conference Scorecard will be updated regularly throughout the tournament.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Bonnies' Andrew Nicholson Leads St. Bonaventure to A-10 Championship, NCAA Tourney

College Hoops Player of the Day for Sunday, March 10, 2012

Atlantic-10 Player of the Year Andrew Nicholson's performance in St. Bonaventure's, 67-56 victory over Xavier in the conference championship capped a remarkable season for the 6'9" senior forward from Canada.

Nicholson averaged 18.2 points and 8.6 rebounds per game, scored 30 or more points five times and recorded eight double-doubles. To go with his game high 26 points in Sunday's win, Nicholson dominated the glass with 14 rebounds, blocked eight shots and was a perfect 10-for-10 from the foul line.

The Bonnies earned an NCAA bid and will face SEC tourney champion Florida State in their opening round game, Friday.

Big Ten Completes Automatics as Michigan State Gains Big Ten Title

Big Ten Final: Michigan State 68 Ohio State 64 - Dramond Green's first bucket of the second half - a 3-pointer with 1:26 left to play - put Michigan State ahead, 67-62, and all but sealed the win for the Spartans. With the last of the conference tournaments in the books, it's on to the selections for the field of 68. Brandon Wood led all scorers with 21 points, including four 3-pointers.

The win may have pushed Michigan State into a #1 seed. We'll know shortly.

Tournament selections and seedings are just moments away, being broadcast live on CBS at 6:00 pm EDT.

The Madness is about to begin, bay-bay!

Upsets Rule Selection Sunday: UNC, Kentucky, Xavier Defeated

ACC Final: Florida State 85 North Carolina 82 - Luke Loucks wasn't supposed to outplay Kendall Marshall, UNC's record-breaking point guard, but he did, scoring 10 points with nine assists and six rebounds, en route to Florida State's first ACC tournament championship since joining the conference in 1991. Under coach Leonard Hamilton - who was named ACC coach of the year - the Seminoles split two games with perennial powerhouse Duke and pummeled North Carolina, 90-57, during the regular season, then went out and beat them both in the conference tourney.

The Seminoles beat Duke, 62-59 in the semi-final Saturday, setting up their conquest of the Tar Heels and a potentially high seed (2 or 3) in the upcoming NCAA tourney.

SEC Final: Vanderbilt 71 Kentucky 64 - After losing twice to Kentucky during the regular season, the Commodores of Vanderbilt turned the tables on the Wildcats, winning the SEC tournament for the first time since 1951. Jeffery Taylor led all scorers with 17 points. Festus Ezile and John Jenkins each chipped in with 16 points.

Vandy's and Florida State's wins completed a weekend in which the improbable became reality, as the the four teams most likely to earn number one seeds in the NCAA tournament were defeated in their conference tourneys. On Friday, Kansas was taken to task by Baylor in the Big 12 semis and Syracuse was dumped by Cncinnati in the Big East semi-fianls.

Atlantic-10: St. Bonaventure 67 Xavier 56 - perhaps the most improbable victors of the day were the Bonnies, who knocked off an undisciplined Xavier squad to capture the A-10 championship. The Bonnies won four of their last five regular season games to finish 10-6 in the conference, then beat St. Joseph's, UMass and Xavier to grab its first Atlantic-10 title and the automatic seeding in the NCAA tourney, their first trip to the big dance since 2000. Conference Player of the Year Andrew Nicholson had 26 points, 14 rebounds and eight blocked shots as he dominated the interior.

Wendell McKines Leads Aggies Back to NCAA Tourney

College Hoops Player of the Day for Saturday, March 10, 2012

New Mexico State's senior forward Wendell McKines led the Aggies to their with an 82-57 victory over Louisiana Tech in the WAC tournament final.

It's the second time in three years that the Aggies will represent the WAC in the NCAA tourney, and the 19th tournament appearance in school history.

McKines led the way - as he usually does - with his 21st double-double of the season, scoring a game high 27 points with 14 rebounds.

After taking an early 14-4 lead, New Mexico State maintained their dominance and never looked back. McKines was 12-for-16 from the field, including 3 of 4 from 3-point range. Six of his 14 boards were on the offensive end as the Aggies pounded Louisiana Tech in rebounding, 46-27.

New Mexico State enters the big dance with a 26-9 record after finishing second to Nevada in the conference regular season standings at 10-4.

Conference tournaments UPDATE, late, late games, 3/10/12

Big East: Louisville 50 Cincinnati 46 -In a game that more resembled a rugby scrum than a basketball tournament final, Louisville narrowly prevailed over a Cincinnati team that scored just 14 first half points but managed to slice into the Cardinals' ten-point half time lead to make the game close. The final score was the lowest point total for a Big East final ever, but Louisville claimed its second title in four years, the last coming in 2009.

Both Louisville and Cincinnati are all but guaranteed at-large NCAA bids, the focus being on how high they are seeded and to which regions they will be assigned.

Mountain West: New Mexico 68 San Diego State 59 - The Lobos get the automatic invitation, but the Aztecs, along with UNLV and possibly Colorado State will represent the Mountain West conference in the tourney.

PAC-12: Colorado 53 Arizona 51 - Thier first year in the conference, Colorado receives the bid to the NCAA tournament from the feeble PAC-12, which may only send two teams to the dance.

Mid-American: Ohio 65 Akron 64 - Point guard DJ Cooper scored 23 points for the Bobcats (27-7), which set a school record for wins, capping its season by getting the MAC’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament for the second time in three years.

SWAC - Mississippi Valley State 71 Texas Southern 69 - Texas Southern's Omar Strong pumped in a game high 30 points, but the Delta Devils get the automatic bid and go dancing in the NCAAs.

Big West - Long Beach State 77 UC Santa Barbara 64 - Casper Ware dropped in 33 points for the 25-8 49ers, which also won the regular season outright with a 15-1 conference record.

WAC - New Mexico State 82 Louisiana Tech 57 - Senior forward Wendell McKines had another one of his routinely spectacular performances, leading the Aggies to the WAC championship with 27 points and 14 rebounds.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Mizzou Go Dancing; Romp in Big 12 Final

Kim English led all scorers with 19 points and added six rebounds as the #5 Missouri Tigers knocked off Baylor, 90-75, capturing the Big 12 tournament title. The Tigers had five players in double figures and shot 54% for the game.

With North Carolina, Kentucky and Syracuse likely grabbing three of the #1 seeds in the NCAA tourney, the only question the committee should have before them is whether the winner of Sunday's Big Ten championship - Ohio State or Michigan State - or Missouri deserves the last remaining #1 seed.

Conference Tournaments UPDATE, late afternoon games, 3/10/12

ACC: Florida State 62 Duke 59 - Florida State advanced to the ACC tourney final to face North Carolina Sunday afternoon. The Seminoles held on desperately as Seth Curry's potential game-tying heave at the buzzer clanged off the rim. The battle was a defensive one, with both teams shooting under 40% from the field. Michael Snaer led Florida State with 16 points on 7 of 12 shooting. Austin Rivers had 17 for the Blue Devils.

SEC: Vanderbilt 65 Mississippi 53 - The Commodores will play Kentucky Sunday in the SEC tourney final after handling Mississippi in the second semi-fianl of the day. John Jenkins led all scorers with 23 points and five three-pointers.

Big Ten: Ohio State 77 Michigan 55 - The Buckeyes romped to an early lead and never looked back, completely out-playing Michigan. Ohio State advances to the Big Ten final against Michigan State on Sunday. Jared Sullinger and DeShaun Thomas led the way for the Buckeyes with 24 and 22 points, respectively.

Lamar won the Southland conference tourney with a 70-49 win in the tournament championship over McNeese State and Xavier advanced to the A-10 final against St. Bonaventure Sunday with a solid 71-64 win over St. Louis in the semi-final.

Conference tournaments UPDATE, afternoon games, 3/10/12; Norfolk State Reaches first NCAA; Kentucky, Tar Heels Prevail

SEC: Kentucky 74 Florida 71 - It was a struggle for the #1 Wildcats, but they outlasted a determined Gator team to advance to the SEC tourney final. Kentucky will face the winner of the Mississippi-Vanderbilt semi-final game on Sunday.

ACC: North Carolina 69 North Carolina St. 67 - Playing without center/forward John Henson, North Carolina trailed early, built a six-point second half lead but gave it up down the stretch to the Wolf Pack, a team they've beaten 12 straight times. Kendall Marshall's banked shot with 10.2 seconds remaining provided the slim winning margin for the #4 Tar Heels who will face the winner of the today's Duke-Florida St. game on Sunday.

Mid-Eastern: Norfolk State 73 Bethune-Cookman 70 - Winning their way to the school's first ever NCAA tournament, Norfolk State's Spartans held on for a game win in the conference tourney final and get the automatic bid. Kyle O'Quinn led the way with 18 points and 7 boards.

Big Ten: Michigan State 65 Wisconsin 52 - Draymond Green scored 14 points and ripped down 16 rebounds to lead the Spartans to the Big Ten final. On Sunday afternoon, Michigan State will face the winner of today's Ohio State-Michigan semi-final.

In the Atlantic-10 semi-finals, St. Bonaventure held on against UMass for an 84-80 victory. They will face either Xavier or St. Louis in Sunday's championship game.

Tickets Punched: Memphis Captures Conference-USA; Vermont grabs America East Title

America East: Vermont 51 Stony Brook 43 - The Catamounts reached the NCAA tournament for the 5th time in the last ten years by winning the America East conference tournament over a determined Stony Brook squad, holding the Sea Wolves to just 29% shooting. Brian Voelkel took just one shot, made it, added three free throws for five points, but hauled in 15 rebounds for Vermont. Four McGlynn, the only Catamount in double figures, scored 14 points with four 3-pointers. Vermont will likely be a 15 or 16 seed.

Conference USA: Memphis 83 Marshall 57 - The Memphis Tigers returned to the NCAAs, capturing the Conference-USA championship and automatic bid with a wide-open win over Marshall, which had made an unpredicted run to the tourney final. The Tigers took an 18-point lead into the half and expanded it in the second period. Will Barton led all scorers with 18 points and 13 rebounds to pace unranked, 26-8, Memphis, which has won the conference tourney six times in the last seven years.

Jared Sullinger, Trey Burke and Rob Wilson Each Score 30 in Big Ten Wins

College Hoops Players of the Day for Friday, March 9, 2012

Three players - all from the Big Ten - scored 30 points in Friday's tournament action, each richly deserving of Player of the Day honors, so as the number of teams in conference battles continues to be pared down, we salute their efforts.

In Michigan's 73-69 victory over stubborn Minnesota, whose NCAA tourney life was on the line, freshman guard Trey Burke continued to dazzle with his rapidly-developing skill set, scoring 30 points on 11 of 14 from the field with three 3-pointers.

Burke was on the money from start to finish. He scored 11 of Michigan's first 12 points and had seven of his career high effort in overtime, including the final dagger, a long-range three. The #10 Wolverines face #7 Ohio State in one of a pair of Big Ten semi-final games at 4:05 pm ET Saturday.

The Buckeyes rolled to an 88-71 quarter-final win over Purdue behind Jared Sullinger's 30 points and 12 rebounds, his third straight double-double and 14th of the season.

Sullinger nailed 12 of 17 shots, including a three-pointer and was 5-for-5 from the foul line. Three of his rebounds were on the offensive end and he had two assists and blocked three shots.

On the other side of the Big Ten bracket, #14 Wisconsin led the entire game in a 79-71 win over #15 Indiana. The unlikely scoring leader was senior Rob Wilson, who scored a career high 30 points on 11-for-16 shooting, including an amazing 7 of 10 from beyond the arc.

Wilson, primarily a bench-rider, had a previous high of just 11 points this season and throughout his career with the Badgers averaged 9.5 minutes and 2.6 points per game.

Wisconsin faces Michigan State in semi-final action at 1:40 pm Saturday.

NOTABLE: The Big East and Big 12, along with a number of smaller conferences will crown champions on Saturday, as Louisville matches up with Cincinnati at 9:00 pm ET inside Madison Square Garden. Prior to that contest, #5 Missouri will battle #12 Baylor for the Big 12 title at 6:00 pm ET. The 27-6 Bears lost both regular season meetings with the Mizzou, losing by a point at home and by 15 at Missouri.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Conference tournaments UPDATE: late, late games, 3/9/12

Big 12: Baylor 81 Kansas 72 - #12 Baylor upset #3 Kansas to advance to the Big 12 final on Saturday to face the winner of Texas-Missouri. The Bears ut six players in double figures, throwing the Midwest and West NCAA #1 bids up for grabs.

Big Ten: Ohio State 88 Purdue 71 - #7 Ohio State had few problems eliminating Purdue from the Big Ten tourney. Jared Sullinger's 30 points and 12 rebounds led five Buckeyes in double figures. Ohio State faces Michigan in a semi-final match-up Saturday.

Big East: Louisville 64 Notre Dame 50 - Peyton Siva continued to shine for the Cardinals, scoring 13 points with 9 assists and 8 rebounds, leading Louisville to the Big East final Saturday night against Cincinnati.

ACC: Florida State 82 Miami 71 - Florida State led the entire game, ousting Miami from the ACC tourney and setting up a semi-final showdown Saturday with #6 Duke.

Conference tournaments UPDATE, late games, 3/9/12, Cincy Upsets Syracuse

Big East: Cincinnati 71 Syracuse 68 - Cincinnati turned in the biggest upset of championship week, knocking off #2 Syracuse, handing the Orange just their second loss of the season. The Bearcats built a big, early lead and held on in the final minute against a furious Syracuse rally which cut the lead to one, but a run-out off a made Dion Waiters free throw sealed the victory. Waiters led all scorers with 28 points, but Yancy Gates and Sean Kilpatrick each had 18 for the Bearcats, who will play in the tournament final against the winner of tonight's Louisville - Notre Dame game.

Big Ten: Michigan 73 Minnesota 69 OT - Michigan outlasted Minnesota in overtime to advance in the Big Ten tourney. Minnesota's chances of making the NCAA's field will be in the hands of the selection committee. Wolverine freshman guard Trey Burke paced all scorers with a career high 30 points on 11 of 14 shooting with three trifectas. Michigan is looking like a 3 or 4 seed in Sunday's selection process.

Conference USA: Marshall 73 Southern Miss. 62 - Continuing to thunder though Conference USA, the Herd used Damier Pitts' 24 points and five rebounds to advance to Saturday's conference tourney final against regular season champion Memphis, which reached the final with an 83-52 rout of UCF.

In the ACC, Duke advanced against Virginia Tech with a 60-56 win.

Conference Tournaments UPDATE afternoon games, 3/9/12

Big Ten: Wisconsin 79 Indiana 71 - The 14th-ranked Badgers took an early lead and were never headed, advancing to a Big Ten semi-final meeting with Michigan State on Saturday. Wisconsin got a career high 30 points from senior Rob Wilson, who was on fire from beyond the arc, making seven of 10 three-pointers. Indiana's Verdell Jones, who left Thursday's game with a knee injury originally described as a sprain by the Hoosier staff, has been ruled out for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL.

ACC: North Carolina State 67 Virginia 64 - Taking a 36-33 lead into the half, NC State played Virginia even in the second stanza to advance in the ACC tourney. The Wolf Pack will face #1 seed North Carolina on Saturday. CJ Leslie led the way with 19 points and 13 boards. The win may be just enough to get NC State into the big dance. Virginia is virtually assured of a spot in the tournament.

Atlantic-10: St. Bonaventure 71 St. Joseph's 68 - Upsets seem to be the order of the day in the A-10, as the Bonnies advance to a semi-final match-up with Massachusetts, Saturday afternoon. 20-13 St. Joseph's may be on the outside looking in, in terms of an NCAA bid.

SEC: Kentucky 60 LSU 51 - The Wildcats were hardly impressive, beating LSU in their first tournament action of the month, though Kentucky did manage to hold the Tigers to 29% shooting. The top-ranked Wildcats were just 1 of 9 from 3-point range and committed 18 turnovers.

Conference Tournaments UPDATE early games 3/9/12

Big Ten: Michigan State 92 Iowa 75 - Shooting 70%, the Spartans led by as many as 19 in the first half, and 28 in the second half, easily dispatching the Hawkeyes in a Big Ten quarterfinal contest. Draymond Green had his usual all-around game, leading the scoring column with 21 points and hauling in nine rebounds.

Atlantic 10: Massachusetts 77 Temple 71 - UMass erased a five point halftime deficit with an early second half burst and outplayed the Owls down the stretch, pulling off one of the bigger upsets of the conference tourney week. Jesse Morgan led the scoring parade with 21 points, while Chas Williams had 20 points and 10 assists for the 22-10 Minutemen. After going 9-7 in A-10 play during the regular season UMass advances to the tourney semi-final . Temple, which won the conference with a 13-3 record (24-6 overall), probably will still get an NCAA bid, but they'll be on pins and needles until shortly after 6:00 pm ET Sunday.

ACC: North Carolina 85 Maryland 69 - The #4 Tar Heels had little trouble taking out Maryland, but got a bit of a scare when forward John Henson landed hard and suffered a wrist injury to his non-shooting hand. Henson returned for a bit, but played only seven minutes overall, though the injury did not appear to be serious. Kendall Marshall went for 13 points and 15 assists, breaking the all-time ACC single season assist record in the process.

Perry Jones III Scores 31 with 11 Boards as Baylor Advances

College Hoops Player of the Day for Thursday, March 8, 2012

Of all the fine individual performances on a day full of conference tournament play, the work of Baylor's budding superstar, Perry Jones III, stood out.

Jones led the Bears to an 82-74 win over Kansas State, setting up Friday's semi-final meeting with Kansas in the Big 12 tourney. Jones scored 31 points on 11 of 14 shooting, going 2-for-2 from the 3-point line, making seven of nine free throws. The sophomore forward - who most expect will make the jump to the NBA after the NCAA tourney - added 11 rebounds for his third straight double-double and eighth of the season.

Conference Tournaments UPDATE (late, late games):

Big East: Notre Dame 57 South Florida 53, OT - Determining the final entrant into the Big East semi-finals took overtime, as #23 Notre Dame outscored the Bulls in the extra session, 12-8, setting up a Friday night meeting with Louisville. Despite the loss, it's probably not the end of the road for South Florida. With a 12-6 mark in the conference, a 20-13 record overall and a win over Villanova in the opening round of the tourney, the Bulls should be one of the seven or eight teams from the 16-team Big East to receive an invitation on Sunday.

Big 12: Texas 71 Iowa State 67 - Even though J'Covan Brown missed all five of his three-point attempts, he still managed to lead all scorers with 23 points as the Longhorns advanced to the Big 12 tournament semi-final match-up with Missouri Friday night. The Longhorns may have needed the win over the Cyclones to qualify for the NCAAs, as they went through the conference regular season with a 9-9 mark and are now 20-12 overall. Iowa State (20-10, 12-6) is also projected to receive an at-large bid.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Conference Tourneys UPDATE: Key LATE games, 3/8/2012

Big Ten: Minnesota 75 Northwestern 68 OT - With both teams fighting for their NCAA tournament lives, it was Minnesota prevailing in overtime, in an opening round Big Ten tourney tilt. Even though Minnesota advances and can pad its resume with another win, they are still in doubt for the big dance due to their sub-par 6-12 conference record. Northwestern can now only sit and wait for selection Sunday to see if the committee deems their 8-10 conference resume as sufficient to make the field of 68. Could Northwestern or Minnesota end up in a play-in game? Stranger things have happened. Minnesota's Andre Hollins led all scorers with 25 points, making 10 of 18 shots, including five of 10 from 3-point range.

Conference USA: Marshall 105 Tulsa 100 3OT - The 20-12 Thundering Herd kept its slim tournament hopes alive with a triple overtime victory in the conference tournament quarterfinals. Though the Herd is still not guaranteed anything, the win over Tulsa probably got them on a short list for the NIT, but they can now aim higher, with a Friday meeting with Southern Miss, with whom they split a pair of games during the regular season. DeAndre Kane went 15-35, for a career high 40 points to pace Marshall.

Big East: Louisville 84 Marquette 71 - In one of the more stunning upsets thus far, Louisville upset #9 Marquette in a Big East quarterfinal game, leading all the way, getting 18 points, 8 assists and 8 rebounds from point guard Peyton Siva. Kyle Kuric led the Cardinals with 20 points, despite a 7-for-19 shooting effort. Louisville led the entire game and dominated the glass, with 48 rebounds to Marquette's 35.

Big 12: Missouri 88 Oklahoma St. 70 - Kim English scored a game high 27 points and Marcus Denman poured in 24 as the #5 Missouri Tigers advanced to the semi-finals of the Big 12 tournament. The Tigers will face the winner of the Texas-Iowa State game with an eye toward playing Kansas in the tourney final and possibly earning a #1 overall seed in the NCAAs. The Jayhawks and Tigers split a pair of regular season games, each team winning on their home court.

Conference Tourneys UPDATE: Key games, 3/8/2012

Big Ten: Indiana 75 Penn State 58 - While the Hoosiers won this one easily, it was not all fun and games as senior guard Verdell Jones crashed to the floor, screaming and clutching his right knee with 5:45 left in the first half. Team officials say Jones suffered a sprained knee, but it sure looked worse than that. Will update as better information becomes available.

Big 12: Kansas 83 Texas A&M 66 - The #4 Jayhawks got 26 points from Elijah Johnson, built a 12-point lead at the half and expanded it in the second. The Jayhawks, ranked 3rd nationally, will face #12 Baylor on Friday at 7:30 pm ET.

Big East: Cincinnati 72 Georgetown 70 - Yancy Gates led all scorers with 23 points and had eight rebounds as the Bearcats eliminated the #13 Hoyas and will face #2 Syracuse in a semi-final game at 7:00 pm ET Friday.

Mountain West: San Diego State 65 Boise State 62 - The #18 Azetcs weren't supposed to be tested in the opening round of their conference tournament, but they managed to squeak past Boise St. on Jamaal Franklin's buzzer beating three-pointer as time expired. Franklin finished with 19 points. Teammate Chase Tapley led all scorers with 20, on 8 of 14 shooting with four threes. San Diego State shot 51% to Boise's 43%, but were out-rebounded 31-22.

Conference Tournaments UPDATE: Syracuse Ousts UConn; Baylor Drubs K-State

Big East (3rd round): Syracuse 58 Connecticut 55 - Syr: Dion Waiters, 18 points; James Southerland, 10 points, 4 rebounds, 2 blocks.

Big 12 (2nd round): Baylor 82 Kansas State 74 - Bay: Perry Jones III, 31 points (11-14), 11 rebounds. Baylor, 53% from field.

ACC (1st round): Maryland 82 Wake Forest 60 - Terrell Stoglin, 8-14, 25 Pts, 7 Rebs, 4 Assists. Maryland, 54% from field.

Shabazz Napier, Jeremy Lamb Lead Huskies to Big East Meeting with Syracuse

College Hoops Player of the Day for Wednesday, March 7, 2012

It may not have been the prettiest of performances, but Connecticut's 71-67 overtime win against West Virginia was the 13th straight post-season victory for Jim Calhoun's Huskies.

UConn, the reigning national champion, won all five of their Big East games last season, six NCAA tourney tilts and now have won two straight in the current Big East feast.

The Huskies (20-12, 8-10) trailed the Mountaineers late in the second half by nine points, but that's whenShabazz Napier- who scored a game high 26 points, went off, scoring nine straight points to bring UConn even at 63-all. Throughout the game, Napier was aided by timely buckets from Jeremy Lamb,who went 9-for-18 with three triples for 22 points and added six rebounds.

Napier was not sharp from the field, making just seven of 22 shots, but that included four three-pointers and he was 8 of 9 from the foul line and dished six assists.

Connecticut shot just 40% for the game, but their defense held West Virginia to 28% from the field.

Connecticut's win - their second in as many days - put them into a third round match-up with second-ranked Syracuse, which took the Huskies' measure on February 25 with a 71-69 win. Tip time at Madison Square Garden is noon ET on Thursday.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Montana Moves On; South Florida Advances in Big East

Damian Lilliard scored 29 points for the Wildcats, but Kareem Jamar and Mathias Ward each dropped in 23, propelling Montana to the Big Sky conference title and a chance to dance in the NCAA tourney with a resounding, 85-66, victory.

Jamar keyed a second half rally by the Grizzlies, making 8 of 12 shots, with 5 of 8 from three-point range.

In the Big East second round, South Florida may have punched its own ticket with a 56-47 win over Villanova. The Bulls went 12-6 in conference play and, with Wednesday's win, are 20-12 on the season.

UPDATE: LIU, Lehigh Earn NCAA Invites; UConn, Louisville, Hoyas Advance in Big East

Long Island University-Brooklyn took its second straight Northeast conference title and another NCAA invite with a 90-73 victory over perennial contender Robert Morris. CJ Garner came off the LIU bench to lead all scorers with 21 points. Teammate Julian Boyd dropped in 18 with 10 boards. LIU topped the conference with a 16-2 record and are 25-8 overall.

The Patriot League tourney championship was a 82-77 shootout won by Lehigh. Bucknell center Mike Muscala scored 30 points and grabbed 14 boards, but CL McCollum scored 29 and Gabe Knutson added 23 for the Mountain Hawks.

Bucknell won the regular season title with a 12-2 record, splitting a pair of games with 13-3 Lehigh.

In Big East second round action, the Connecticut Huskies took out West Virginia in overtime, 71-67, and Louisville held off Seton Hall, 61-55. If any team is on the bubble, it is the Seton Hall Pirates, who won one tournament game and went through the conference with an 8-10 record. Their loss to the Cardinals should result in an NIT invite, at best.

Georgetown put away Pittsburgh, 64-52. Bye, bye, Pitt. NIT, maybe.

Teeng Akol Sends 15-18 Hilltoppers Dancing; Harvard Snags Bid

College Hoops Player of the Day for Tuesday, March 6, 2011

Western Kentucky completed their assault on Sun Belt opponents with their fourth straight tournament win, a 74-70 victory over North Texas in the conference tournament championship.

6'11" junior Teeng Akol led all scorers with 23 points, a career high for the import from Sudan. Akol also had five rebounds and blocked four shots.

The Hilltoppers were left for dead on January 5 when a loss to Louisiana Lafayette left the team with a 5-11 record and coach McDonald was fired. Ray Harper was named interim coach at that point, but the team lost three more games in a row. The Hilltoppers then began winning a little bit, taking six of their last 10 conference games, but still finishing the regular season with an 11-18 record and a 7-9 mark in the conference.

With nothing to lose in the conference tourney, the Hilltoppers beat Florida International, Arkansas Little-Rock (West division champion) and Denver before Tuesday's triumph in the final.

At 15-18, Western Kentucky becomes the first team with a losing record to qualify for the NCAA tournament since 16-20 Coppin State qualified out of the Mid-Eastern conference in 2008.


South Dakota State 52 Illinois State 50 - The Jackrabbits of South Dakota State snatched away an important automatic NCAA bid with their win over the Leathernecks of Illinois State in the Summit conference tournament championship. Senior Griffan Callahan made a pair of free throws to force overtime as the Jackrabbits rallied from a four-point deficit at the half and then made the game-winning three-pointer in overtime for the win.

The 'Rabbits were the fortunate beneficiaries of Illinois State's largesse, because the Leathernecks were the ones to knock off regular season champ, Oral Roberts, in one of the semi-final games, 54-53, Monday. South Dakota State's win leaves Oral Roberts in hoops limbo, hoping to get an at-large seeding from the tournament committee on Sunday. The Golden Eagles won the conference with a 17-1 record and are 27-6 overall, their biggest win a 64-42 win over Xavier in December. Losses at West Virginia, Oklahoma and Gonzaga will work against them.

Detroit 70 Valparaiso 50 - Valparaiso took the regular season title in the Horizon League with a 14-4 record, but could not deliver the goods when it mattered most. Against a Detroit team they beat twice during the season, the Crusaders made just 2 of 18 three-pointers and shot 34% for the game, missing out on their opportunity to go to the big dance.

Instead, the Detroit Titans proved their mettle, taking the tournament championship and the automatic bid, despite an 11-7 record in the conference and a 22-13 record overall. Ray McCallum led all scorers with 21 points, adding six rebounds in the victory. Detroit shot 58% in the second half and ran away with the win. This will be the Titans first appearance in the NCAA tournament since 1999.

Elsewhere, Princeton defeated Penn, 62-52, leaving the Quakers a game behind Harvard in the Ivy League. A Quaker win would have forced a one-game playoff with the Crimson, but the loss gives Harvard, which finished conference play with a 12-2 record, the automatic bid.

There are 27 games on tap for Wednesday, including second round games in the Big East and opening rounds in the PAC-12, Big 12 and Conference USA tournaments. A few ore tickets will be punched when Lehigh faces Bucknell in the Patriot League tourney final and Robert Morris and Long Island battle for the Northeast championship. Both championship games are at 7:00 pm ET. Weber State and Montana duel for the Big Sky tourney title at 9:00 pm ET.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Rob Jones, Matthew Delladevoda Lead St. Mary's over Gonzaga; Four More Teams Win Bids to Tourney

College Hoops Player of the Day for Monday, March 5, 2012

St. Mary's upended #24 Gonzaga in overtime, 78-74, taking home the West Coast Conference tournament trophy and earning the automatic bid to the NCAA tourney.

Senior forward Rob Jones scored 18 points, pulled in nine rebounds and had three steals for the Gaels, who will be making their second trip to the big dance in the past three years. Matthew Delladevoda pumped in 22 points and dished four assists in the victory.

St. Mary's (27-5, 14-2) also won the conference regular season title. It's the first time in school history that they've captured both championships in the same season. For the 25-6 Bulldogs, who finished the WCC regular season at 13-3, in second place, the loss means waiting until Selection Sunday to see if they've done enough to win over the committee for an at-large invitation.


Davidson 93 Western Carolina 91 - Davidson (25-7) was pushed to overtime by the Catamounts, but prevailed to capture the Southern Conference Tournament championship and secure an automatic bid to the NCAA tourney. Western Carolina and its 17-16 record will likely end up in the NIT.

Loyola (MD) 48 Fairfield 44 - The game wasn't exactly a sprint, but the Greyhounds of Loyola, Maryland took the final of the MAAC conference tournament after finishing second to Iona in the regular season standings. The Greyhounds (13-5, 24-8) will be making their first appearance in the NCAAs since 1995, when the team was coached by Skip Prosser. Loyola overcame a 30-26 half time deficit with an 11-1 run to open the second half and held the Stags to just 14 second half points.

VCU 59 Drexel 56 - Virginia Commonwealth ensured a return trip to the NCAA tourney with a 59-56 win over Drexel in the Colonial Athletic conference championship game. The Rams reached the Final Four last season and will have the opportunity to reprise their epic run when the madness ensues next week at locales across the country.

VCU built a 16 point lead early in the second half, but had to hold off a furious rally from Drexel, which entered the game on a 19-game winning streak, the second longest in the country behind Kentucky. The Dragons won the Colonial conference regular season with a 16-2 record. At 27-6 overall, they appear headed to the NCAA tournament despite their loss in the final.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Creighton Wins MVC Tourney on Doug McDermott's 33 Points; William Buford Leads Buckeyes to Win, Three-way Tie in Big Ten

College Hoops Player of the Day for Sunday, March 4, 2012

There were two really big games on Sunday that mattered in terms of upcoming seeds n the NCAA tournament. The first was a barn-burner of a Missouri Valley tournament final and the other resulted in a three-way tie for the Big Ten regular season championship.

In St. Louis, #25 Creighton was pushed to overtime by a stubborn Illinois State squad intent on winning their way into the NCAAs. In the end, however, it was the Bluejays chasing off the Redbirds, 83-79 in OT behind likely MVC player of the year, Doug McDermott who paced all scorers with 33 points on 12 of 18 shooting, including three 3-pointers and a perfect 6-for-6 from the line. Creighton's leading scorer also grabbed six rebounds in his 41 minutes of floor time.

Illinois State had knocked off Wichita State on Saturday to get to the final, but fell just short. Creighton takes the automatic bid, while #15 Wichita State will have to be patient for a week to find out where they are seeded.

With a win at home against #10 Ohio State in their final regular season game, the 5th-ranked Michigan State Spartans could have claimed the Big Ten title outright, and the Spartans built a 15-point lead midway through the first half as the Buckeyes struggled to find their marks.

Despite the struggles of their star, Jared Sullinger, who was just 5-for-17 from the field and spent much of the last eight minutes on the bench with four fouls but still finished with a double-double (14 points and 10 rebounds, the Buckeyes never quit and eventually got the go-ahead bucket on a long jumper by William Buford with one second remaining in regulation.

Buford finished with one of his best games of the season, fitting for the only senior on the Ohio State squad, scoring a game-high 25 points on 8 of 14 shooting with three boards, three steals and an assist.

The Spartans had one last fling at the basket as time expired, but the ball never went near the hoop, as Ohio State took the 72-70 decision.

The result tied the Buckeyes with Michigan State and Michigan - who had topped Penn State earlier in the day - for the conference regular season lead, all three teams finishing with identical 13-5 records.

Michigan State will be the top seed in the Big Ten tournament which opens Thursday, with Ohio State #2 and Michigan the #3 seed.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Jamaal Franklin's 35 and 13 Lead Aztecs to Share WCC Title; Three NCAA Seeds In, More, Sunday

College Hoops Player of the Day for Saturday, March 3, 2012

As expected, Saturday turned out to be a monster day in college basketball, with three teams clinching spots in the NCAA tourney - UNC Asheville (Big South), Belmont (Atlantic Sun) and Murray State (Ohio Valley) - and #6 North Carolina dusting #4 Duke on the Blue Devils' home court, 88-70, to capture the ACC regular season title, a #1 seed in the conference tournament and a probable shot at a #1 seed in the NCAAs.

With the PAC-12 sublimated to the role of bystander this season, the neighboring West Coast conference has picked up the slack, producing four tournament-eligible teams, each of which produced wins on Saturday.

Colorado State and #17 UNLV beat Air Force and Wyoming, respectively, while New Mexico and San Diego State ended up sharing the regular-season title at 10-4, after splitting their two games during the season. New Mexico topped Boise State, 76-61, while the #20 Aztecs blew an 18-point lead but eventually turned back TCU in overtime, 98-91.

Sophomore guard Jamaal Franklin was 9-for-18 from the field with three 3-pointers and 14-17 from the line for a game high and career high 35 points, to go with 13 rebounds and five assists. It was Franklin's third straight double-double and fifth this season.

While the top four teams in the WCC have the resumes to reach the field of 68, the conference is guaranteed only one automatic bid, to the team that wins the upcoming conference tourney, though all four have a reasonable chance of heading to the Big Dance.

Elsewhere in the Top 25, Iowa State cemented their claim as a tourney team with an 80-72 win over #9 Baylor and #3 Kansas looked the part of a #1 tournament seed, taking apart Texas, 73-63, in the Big 12 regular season finale.

#7 Missouri easily dispatched Texas Tech, 81-59. #20 Temple took care of Fordham, 80-60.

In the Big East, #8 Marquette took care of business against #11 Georgetown, 83-69, earning themselves some time off with a double bye in the conference tourney which begins Wednesday at Madison Square Garden. Georgetown, with the loss, will have to play an extra game in the tourney, finishing tied for 4th place in the standings with South Florida and Cincinnati, at 10-6, though the Bearcats held the tie-breaker and will get the double bye after dusting Villanova, 72-68, coupled with West Virginia's 50-44 win over South Florida.

#20 Notre Dame, third in the standings and #2 Syracuse hold the other two double byes. The Orange finished up their regular season undefeated at home with a 58-49 win over #19 Louisville that wasn't nearly as close as the final score indicates.

The bracket buster of the day belonged to Illinois State, who upended #15 Wichita State in the Missouri Valley Conference semi-final, 65-64. The Rewdbirds will face #25 Creighton in the final on Sunday, the winner receiving the automatic bid. Creighton pasted Evansville, 99-71, in the other semi-final.

Sunday's biggest game will be in the Big Ten, where #10 Ohio State invades #5 Michigan State, each team seeking a share of the regular season title. Opening tip is set for 4:00 pm ET.

NOTABLE: Besides the Atlantic Sun, Big South and Missouri Valley, the other remaining conferences outside the majors which will get one automatic bid are America East, Big Sky, Ivy, Horizon, Metro Atlantic, Mid-American, Mid-Eastern Athletic, Northeast, Patriot, Southern, Southland, Southwestern Athletic, Summit, Sun Belt, Western Athletic. Most of these will be decided by tournament play. The Ivy League champion may be decided Sunday when Penn plays Princeton. The Quakers are 1/2 game behind Harvard in the standings and would tie the Crimson for first place in the conference with a win, forcing a one-game playoff.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Jack Cooley Leads Irish over Providence with 27 Points and 17 Boards

College Hoops Player of the Day for Friday, March 2, 2012

The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame assured themselves of a double bye in the upcoming Big East tournament with a timely, 75-69, win on the road at Providence in their final regular season game.

Finishing with a regular season mark of 13-5 in the conference (21-10 overall), the Irish are in third place, with Georgetown and South Florida a half game back. The Hoyas and Bulls both play Saturday, but the Irish and Hoyas get the tie-breaker in case both teams win as they've both beaten South Florida during the regular season.

If South Florida wins their noon game vs. West Virginia and the Hoyas lose at Marquette, the Bulls would finish fourth and receive the automatic double bye.

For #20 Notre Dame, the win was essential after dropping back-to-back road games last week at St. John's and Georgetown, capping a remarkable mid-season turnaround. The Irish were just 3-3 in Big East games before embarking on a nine-game winning streak which included handing #2 Syracuse their only loss of the season.

In Friday's victory, center Jack Cooley was the unstoppable force in the middle, scoring 27 points with 17 rebounds, his tenth double-double of the season and a career high in scoring. Cooley was 10-for-15 from the field and 7-9 from the foul line. Seven of his rebounds came on the offensive end.

NOTABLE: Conference tournaments got underway in many of the smaller conferences Friday. The Horizon, Colonial, West Coast, Ohio Valley, Missouri Valley and Southern conferences all had opening round battles. Three ranked teams - Murray State, Creighton and Wichita State - each advanced in their respective tourneys.

Saturday offers a loaded slate of games, with more conferences starting tournaments and many ranked teams playing in their final regular season contests. The most-anticipated games will be at Syracuse, where the Orange host #19 Louisville at 4:00 pm ET, and at Durham, NC, where the #4 Duke Blue Devils host the #6 North Carolina Tar Heels, the winner to take possession of the ACC regular season title and a #1 seed in the upcoming conference tournament. Opening tip is 7:00 pm ET.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Tim Hardaway Jr. Scores 25 to Lead Wolverines Over Illinois

College Hoops Player of the Day for Thursday, March 1, 2012

When they needed his scoring the most, Tim Hardaway Jr. came through for Michigan in a big way.

Hardaway was a perfect 4-for-4 on three-pointers and finished with a game high 25 points, going 6-for-7 from the field and making 9 of 10 free throws as the Wolverines won at Illinois for the first time since 1995, topping the Fighting Illini by a 71-62 score.

#22 Michigan led the entire game, opening a 35-27 lead by half time and extending their edge through the second half on 47% shooting from the field while making 21 of 23 free throws.

Hardaway was also an effective rebounder, wiping the glass with 11 boards for his second double-double of the season.

The Wolverine win put them in a position to share the Big Ten title if they can win at Penn State this Sunday and Ohio State whips Michigan State in their season finale. The Spartans are 13-4, while the Buckeyes and Wolverines share second place with identical 12-5 conference records.

Illinois, losers of 10 of their last 12 - all within the Big Ten - probably have played their way out of an NCAA invitation and may be costing coach Bruce Weber his job.

Elsewhere around the Top 25, top-ranked Kentucky tore apart a hopelessly overmatched Georgia squad, 79-49, for their 21st straight victory, the longest winning streak in the nation.

#22 Florida State used a late 16-2 surge to overtake #24 Virginia, 63-60.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Cincinnati Shreds Marquette Behind Jaquon Parker's 28 Points

College Hoops Player of the Day for Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Cincinnati's junior guard, Jaquon Parker, is a tough guy to figure. A lean and lanky 6'3", he's either a tallish guard or a smallish forward, but whatever the case, the Marquette five couldn't manufacture a means to keep him away from the tin as Parker scored a career high 28 points, leading the Bearcats to a 72-61 upset win over the 8th-ranked Golden Eagles.

Parker, who scored just six points in a road loss to South Florida on Sunday and none in 14 minutes last week in a win over Louisville, was in his element Wednesday, hitting 10 of 18 shots, including 2 of 4 from outside the arc and 6 of 8 from the foul line, adding seven rebounds and a pair of assists in 35 minutes, the second most minutes he's played all season.

The Bearcats opened an early lead and were never seriously challenged after a late first half spurt put them up 42-26 at the break.

Cincinnati has won four of their last five in a late-season surge, upping the record to 20-9 and a respectable 11-6 in Big East play. With only Villanova left on the regular season schedule (March 3), the Bearcats appear to be peaking at the right time, as the Big East tournament begins next week.

NOTABLE: #6 North Carolina won their fifth straight, an 88-64 road thrashing of Maryland, setting up Saturday night's rematch at Duke which will determine the ACC regular season champion. The two long-standing rivals are tied atop the conference standings at 13-3.

The Terrapins couldn't handle the Tar Heel big men. John Henson tallied 19 points to go with 9 rebounds, while Tyler Zeller was putting up 30, making 20 of 23 free throws.

#10 Ohio State survived a scare at Northwestern, winning 75-73, keeping their hopes alive for a share of the Big Ten championship when they travel to Michigan State on Sunday.

#23 Temple maintained its one-game lead over St. Louis in the A-10. The 12-3 Owls can wrap up the regular season title with a win Saturday at 3-12 Fordham.

South Florida kept its tournament hopes alive with a nifty, 58-51, road win over #19 Louisville. Likewise, Colorado State improved its chances of dancing into the tournament with a 66-59 home win over #17 UNLV.

#7 Missouri topped Iowa State, 78-72. Michael Dixon paced all scorers with 21 points.