Friday, March 22, 2013

NCAA Tourney: Thursday Second Round Late Games Results; Harvard Ousts New Mexico

Midwest Region

(1) Louisville 79 (16) North Carolina A&T 48 - As expected, the tournament's top seed, Louisville, had few problems taking out the Midwest region's 16 seed, North Carolina A&T, which advanced from the first four with a one-point win over Liberty on Tuesday. The Cardinals hammered the Aggies to advance to the next round where they meet Colorado State. The combination of pressure defense and red-hot shooting by the Cardinals produced 25 turnovers, a 56% shooting percentage and s decisive victory.

Coach Rick Pitino emptied his bench, playing 12 players, nine of which scored, led by Russ Smith, who pumped in a game-high 23 points on 10-for-16 shooting. Aggies' starters scored just 16 points.

(8) Colorado St. 84 (9) Missouri 72 - Missouri scored the first basket of the game and it was the only time they led the entire game. Colorado State established an early lead and never let the Tigers get any closer than four points in the second half.

Dorian Green pushed in a game-high 26 points, making 11 of 12 from the charity stripe.

South Region

(3) Michigan 71 (14) South Dakota State 56 - The two Michigan players with NBA pedigrees, Glenn Robinson III and Tim Hardaway Jr., each scored 21 points to lead the Wolverines to a solid win over the Jackrabbits. Hardaway was 8-for-13 and 5-for-7 from three-point range, while Robinson soared at 8-for-9 from the field, making all three of his shots from outside the arc.

(5) VCU 88 (12) Akron 42 - Taking a cue from Louisville, VCU pummeled an out-manned Zips squad which lost two starters to the flu. Nine different players scored for the Commodores, led by Troy Daniels' 23 points.

West Region

(6) Arizona 81 (11) Belmont 64 - Belmonth put three players in double figures but they were no match for the Wildcats, who led from the first bucket until the final buzzer. Mark Lyons led the Wildcats with a game-high 23 points on 8-for-15 shooting including three bombs from three-point land. Arizona shot 57% for the game and will meet Harvard in the next round.

(14) Harvard 68 (3) New Mexico 62 - The Harvard Crimson pulled off the upset of the day, knocking off a highly-regarded Lobos team for the Crimson's first-ever win in the NCAA tournament. Harvard shot 52% for the game and held New Mexico to just 37.5%. The Crimson was 8-for-18 from the three-point line, five of those coming off the hand of Laurent Rivard, who finished with 17 points. Sophomore Wesley Saunders led the Crimson with 18 points.

East Region

(12) California 64 (5) UNLV 61 - Like a pair of heavyweights, the Golden Bears and Runnin' Rebels went toe-to-toe from start to finish,

Cal missed eight of 12 free throws in the final minute to allow UNLV to draw to within one, but Allen Crabbe, the PAC-12's leading scorer, made two crucial ones to put the Bears ahead by three and seal the win, avenging a one-point loss to the Rebels earlier in the season. Crabbe was the game's high scorer with 19.

Just as Oregon did earlier in the day, a #12 seed from the PAC-12 knocked off a #5, something the selection committee may want to take a closer look at next season.

(4) Syracuse 81 (13) Montana 34 - In what has to be considered the most complete mismatch of the tourney, Syracuse led all the way, going up 20-4 early and extending their lead over the smaller, slower Grizzlies. Brandon Triche led all scorers with 20 points. Montana shot a mere 20% (11-for-54) for the game; no Montana player scored more than five points.

The 47-point win was one better than VCU's win over Akron. Ouch!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

NCAA Tourney: Thursday Second Round Early Games Results

Midwest Region

(3) Michigan State 65 (14) Valparaiso 54 - Widebody Derrick Nix led the Spartans with game highs in scoring and rebounds, with 23 and 16, respectively.

Michigan State had a huge rebounding edge of 44-20, including 17 on the offensive end, nine of which were hauled in by Nix. After Michigan State took a 35-18 lead into the half, the contest was never in doubt.

(4) St. Louis 64 (13) New Mexico State 44 - Dwayne Evans scored a game-high 24 points as the Billikens easily outpaced the Aggies, advancing to play the Oregon Ducks on Saturday.

(6) Memphis 54(11) St. Mary's 52 - The Tigers dodged a bullet, beating the Gaels by a bucket. St. Mary's Matthew Dellavedova hoisted a three-point shot as time expired, but missed, advancing the only entrant from conference USA onto the next round. Memphis will face Michigan State on Saturday.

(12) Oregon 68 (5) Oklahoma State 55 - This is technically an upset (12 beating a 5), though it's difficult to comprehend how the Ducks, who won the PAC-12 tournament, were seeded so low, while the Cowboys, respectable at 13-5 (third) in the Big 12 got a 5-seed.

No matter, the Ducks dominated the proceedings, opening up an 11-point lead at the half and never being challenged, eventually leading by as many as 15. Arsalan Kazemi scored 11 points and was a monster on the glass with 17 rebounds. The Ducks had a massive rebounding edge of 45-29. Damyean Dotson led the scoring parade with 17.

East Region

(6) Butler 68 (11) Bucknell 56 - Bucknell actually out-shot Butler by a smidge - 37.1-36.4% - but the Bulldogs took better care of the rock, turning it over just four times, and had a slight rebounding edge, 36-30. Center Andrew Smith was a powerhouse, with 14 points and 16 rebounds. Butler will face Marquette in the third round on Saturday.

(4) Marquette 59 (13) Davidson 58 - Miraculously, Marquette ended the nation's longest winning streak at 17, coming from seven points down with 1:33 to play, to narrowly oust the Wildcats from the tournament. Down the stretch, Vander Blue made a pair of free throws, then made a three bracketed by a pair of three-pointers by Jamil Wilson to draw to within one.

Davidson threw away an inbounds pass with 6.7 seconds left, giving Marquette a final chance and Vander Blue made a running layup with one second on the clock to escape the possible 14-3 upset. Blue (16 points) was just 5-for-15 from the field, but he and Wilson (4-for-13, 14 points) made the shots when they counted.

West Region

(8) Wichita State 73 (9) Pittsburgh 55 - The first team from a major conference has fallen, and it didn't take long, happening on the first full day of the tournament, Wichita State, out of the Missouri Valley, topped Pitt from the Big East in a result that wasn't even close. The Shockers went on a 15-8 run to close out the first half and the Panthers were never able to cut the lead to less than four.

Malcolm Armstead and Cleanthony Early lead the Shockers in scoring with 22 and 21, respectively. Three-pointers came at a premium, with the Panthers hitting just one of 20 and Wichita State making two of 20. Pitt committed 27 fouls, sending the Shockers to the line 41 times, where they made 33. The Shockers face #1 seed Gonzaga in round three.

(1) Gonzaga 64 (16) Southern 58 - The Jaguars threw quite a scare into the top-seeded Bulldogs. Southern tied the game at 54 with just over four minutes left, but couldn't connect down the stretch and Gonzaga played cool under pressure. Derrick Beltran scored 21 for Southern, but was equalled by Kelly Olynyk, who scored 17 of his 21 in the second half to go with 10 rebounds.

Despite a huge, 36-20, edge in rebounding, Gonzaga shot only 42%, which kept the Jaguars in the game.

First Four: Tyrone Garland Leads LaSalle over Boise State; James Madison Advances

College Hoops Player of the Day for Wednesday, March 20, 2013

First Four Play-in Games

James Madison 68 LIU-Brooklyn 55 - Advancing to the second round to meet Indiana, the top seed in the East region, James Madison won a tournament game for the first time in 30 years, topping the MEAC tourney champion Blackbirds.

AJ Davis led the Dukes with 20 points. In a true team defensive effort, James Madison held LIU-Brooklyn to just 35% from the field and a woeful 3-for-16 (19%) from three-point range. The Blackbirds were out-rebounded, 35-30, and the Dukes blocked 10 shots, five by freshman Andre Nation.

LaSalle 80 Boise State 71 - Taking an 8-6 lead four-and-a-half minutes into the game, the LaSalle Explorers never looked back, shooting an incredible 63.3% for the game - making 11 of 21 from the three-point line - to send Boise State back to Idaho after a quick trip to Dayton, Ohio.

The Explorers, one of five teams in the tournament from a powerhouse Atlantic 10 conference, advanced from the First Four to face Kansas State, the #4 seed in the West, the most heavily-stocked region in the tournament.

Junior guard Tyrone Garland had an outstanding game from off the bench, scoring 22 points in 30 minutes to lead LaSalle on 9-for-11 shooting, with a pair of treys, two rebounds, three assists and a steal.

The Explorers meet Kansas State on Friday.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Matthew Dellavedova Leads St. Mary's over Middle Tennessee; NC A&T Advances

College Hoops Player of the Day for Tuesday, March 19, 2013

All of those analysts lobbying for the inclusion of Middle Tennessee to be admitted to the field of 68 got their wishes on Sunday, when the Blue Raiders were paired with St. Mary's for a Tuesday night "first four" game, but they had to be embarrassed by the effort as the Gaels punished Middle Tennessee in a 67-54 runaway.

The Gaels led most of the game, taking the lead for good after an 18-all tie when Stephen Holt made one of two free throws and Beau Levesque turned in a three-point play on a layup, foul and subsequent free throw.

After that, it was the Matthew Delladevoda show, the four-year point guard pumping in a game-high 22 points on 7-for-14 shooting, with a 5-for-7 mark from beyond the arc. When he wasn't scorching the Blue raiders with threes, Delladevoda was hitting the boards, playing tight defense and helping out teammates. He finished with six boards and four assists.

St. Mary's defense was so good that Middle Tennessee players only went to the line seven times, making six. And, while the shooting was nearly even - 45% for St. Mary's; 42% for the Blue Raiders - it was outside the three-point line that made the difference. St. Mary's was 8-for-14 (57%). Middle Tennessee managed only 4-for-12 (33%).

The Gaels advance to the second round, where they will face Memphis, the #6 seed in the Midwest region, on Thursday.

In the other first four meeting, North Carolina A&T held on for a 73-72 win over a gritty Liberty squad, advancing to play the tournament's #1 seed, Louisville, on Thursday.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Play-in Tourney Games and a Final Four Prediction

The 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship gets underway tonight in Dayton, OH, when the North Carolina A&T Aggies tip off with the Liberty Flames, surprise winner of the automatic bid from the Big South after going 6-10 in conference and 15-20 overall. Opening tip is set for 6:40 pm EDT.

Liberty won three tournament games to reach this spot; their ascent into the NCAA tourney their second chance in nine years. In 2004, they lost an opening round game to St. Joe's.

The game figures to be close, though NC A&T has a distinct height advantage which could prove fatal to the Flames.

Like Liberty, the Aggies won their conference tourney, winning four straight to advance. The problem with A&T is that they rank 317th in shooting percentage, which is pretty poor, and Liberty plays sound defense.

Look for the Flames to advance, possibly via the foul line, to play Louisville on Saturday.

In the late game (9:10 pm EDT), St. Mary's, which, besides West region top-seed Gonzaga, is the only entrant from the West Coast Conference. The Gaels face a solid, yet unappreciated squad from the Sun Belt, the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders, who posted a 19-1 record in conference and boast a 28-5 record overall.

Despite those gaudy numbers, the Blue Raiders lost to Florida International in their conference tournament, but received a gift vote from the selection committee. They'll have to prove they belong against St. Mary's, and they should advance to a second round game with Memphis. If so, they'll have a big opportunity to post an early upset.

Final Four Prediction

Picking the Final Four usually involves more luck than predictive skill, and this season is no different. In fact, this is one of the most competitive fields ever presented by the NCAA, with at least ten teams with a legitimate shot at capturing the championship.

Fearless Rick's best guess at who emerges from each region goes like this:
East: Miami (2)
West: Ohio State (2)
Midwest: St. Louis (4)
South: VCU (5)

OK, maybe that's a bit optimistic, with no #1 seeds reaching, but, this is tough field and upsets are nothing new at the Big Dance.

In the semi-final, Midwest plays West and East plays South, so look for the Buckeyes of Ohio State to advance over the Billikens, and Miami to to the Commodores.

The final goes to Ohio State, in a close, 67-63 win over the Hurricanes.

Good luck to everybody with their bracket picks.

Monday, March 18, 2013

March Madness: NCAA Tournament Observations

Just some off-the-cuff commentary on the field of 68 set on Sunday for the NCAA Men's National Basketball Championship:

Oregon, despite winning the PAC-12 tournament was seeded #12 in the Midwest, while UCLA (which the Ducks beat in the tourney final) and Arizona received 6-seeds.

CBS, on their tournament seeding show Sunday evening, flashed "Weakest Region" on the West, which includes top-seeded Gonzaga, #2 Ohio State, #3 New Mexico and #4 Kansas State along with #5 Wisconsin and Notre Dame, seeded 7th. The truth of the matter is that the West is far and away the most competitive of the regions, not even close to the weakest, which would likely be either the South (Kansas #1, Georgetown #2, Florida #3) or the Midwest, which has the woeful Duke squad implanted at #2 and Louisville, #1. The best team in the that region might be the aforementioned Oregon, or #4 St. Louis, champions of the Atlantic 10 (regular season and tournament), #3 Michigan State or #7 Creighton, out of the Missouri Valley.

Miami, which won both the regular season and conference tourney in the ACC, was posted as a #2, in the East region, on a collision course with #1 Indiana. Various bodies on the selection committee must have liked Kansas better than the Hurricanes, or preferred Duke, because, in reality, the Hurricanes got a raw deal, though they will likely waltz through their sub-region.

In the play-in games, there are actually two different flavors. The winner of the North Carolina A&T-Liberty meeting is nothing but cannon fodder for Louisville, as is the LIU-Brooklyn-James Madison match-up, the winner of which will certainly fall to Indiana.

The other two are more compelling, as Middle Tennessee plays St. Mary's (a solid game), the winner advancing to the second round against Memphis, the Conference USA champion which has proven, thus far, nothing. Look for an upset, with Memphis taking it on the chin. Boise State plays LaSalle in the other play-in, the victor moving on to a round two meeting with Kansas State, another vulnerable team. At least the tournament committee has created some excitement in expanding the field and getting teams from smaller conferences.

Key second round games include all of the 8-9 match-ups, which could actually be called toss-ups. Try picking between Missouri and Colorado State in the Midwest, NC State and Temple in the East, Pitt and Wichita State (take the Shockers) in the West, or North Carolina and Villanova (leaning toward the Tar Heels) in the South.

Bracket busters appear all across the landscape. While there's likely little chance that a #1 seed will fall in their opening game, it's bound to happen some time. The best shot at it this year would be Western Kentucky, a team with plenty of experience and tournament savvy (they won four straight games to get in, for the second year in a row, out of the Sun Belt) against the #1 seed in the South, Kansas.

A number of people have mentioned Florida Gulf Coast, the Atlantic Sun champion, as a possible winner over #2 Georgetown in the South, though only because they've been noticed, their chances are diminished.

Sorry, Duke haters, but Albany is not going to knock off Duke, though seven-seed Creighton might in the following round. If the Blue Devils advance to the regionals, look for either Michigan State or Valparaiso to end their 2013 tournament in a hurry. The third round game between Michigan State and Valpo could be a good one to watch as well, and a Spartan win is by no means guaranteed. A 3-seed has fallen to a 14 in each of the last four tournaments, a trend which fits the Valpo-Michigan state scenario.

In the East, #14 Davidson could easily top #3 Marquette. The Golden Eagles were knocked out of the Big East tourney early on and are over-seeded at #3.

Sorry, Ivy Leaguers, but #14 Harvard isn't going to get past #3 New Mexico in the West.

Syracuse, another overseed victim at #4 in the East, may have problems with #13 Montana. As it is, Syracuse is still searching for identity, especially after the 56-point explosion by Louisville in the second half of the Big East final. They, like Michigan and Michigan State, are enigmas which could be gone early or proceed possibly to an unlikely Final Four.

Streakers: The highest-quality streak coming in belongs to the Ohio State Buckeyes, who have won eight straight, including the Big Ten championship with a final win over Wisconsin (the team which last beat them, on February 17), a semi-final win over Michigan State, and regular season wins over Indiana and the Spartans. They are the #2 seed in the rough West region, but any slip up could derail their championship run.

In any case the Buckeyes are hailing from the region which just may produce the overall champion, be it themselves, New Mexico or Gonzaga, the top seed.

The longest streak coming in belongs to Davidson, regular season and tourney champs of the Southern League, at 17 straight, which spells real trouble for Marquette. Interestingly, their closest game during their winning run was a 93-87 overtime win against Montana, at home, no less. Look out, Syracuse.

More tomorrow...

Shane Larkin Leads Miami to ACC Title; Hurricanes Shunned by Tourney Committee

College Hoops Player of the Day for Sunday, March 17, 2013

Of the four conference championships decided on Sunday, the ACC contest brought out the best shooters, and, for those who have been screaming about the lack off offense in the college game this season, the highest score.

The Hurricanes' 87-77 victory over North Carolina was the icing on the cake that saw Miami wqin its first regular season ACC title, followed up by confident victories in the tournament and a first outright title in the nine years in which its been a member of the ACC.

The game saw 25 of 51 three-point shots find their marks. Both PJ Hairston of the Tar Heels and Miami's Trey McKinney-Jones made six, but it was the small ball of Hurricane point guard Shane Larkin that carried the day. Larkin matched Hairston with 28 points, sealing the deal with six consecutive free throws without a miss in the final minute.

Larkin also made four three pointers on 8-for-15 shooting overall, was a perfect 8-for-8 from the foul line, dished seven assists, collected five rebounds and made a pair of steals. He was also the only player from either team to play all forty minutes.

While the great accomplishments of the Hurricanes this season cannot be overstated, they still did not measure up to the NCAA tournament committee's standards which saw fit to put them in as a #2 seed, albeit in the East Region, which will provide them with some semblance of court familiarity.

With the brackets set for the Big Dance, later today, College Basketball Daily will post a breakdown of some of the key first and second round games, insights into the overall tournament and picks for the Final Four and National Championship.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Ohio State Wins Big Ten; All 31 Automatic Bids Allotted

College Hoops Player of the Day for DAY, Month, 2012
Ohio State held Wisconsin scoreless for the final seven minutes to capture the Big Ten championship, 50-43, the fourth under head coach Thad Motta.

The Buckeye victory completes the 31 automatic bids to the NCAA tournament for conference champions.

2013 NCAA Tournament Bids by Conference

Harvard Ivy League
Belmont Ohio Valley
Florida Gulf Coast Atlantic Sun
James Madison Colonial Athletic Association
Creighton Missouri Valley
LIU Brooklyn Northeast
Western Kentucky Sun Belt
Liberty Big South
Gonzaga West Coast
Davidson Southern
South Dakota State Summit League
Valparaiso Horizon League
Bucknell Patriot
New Mexico Mountain West
Memphis Conference USA
Albany America East
Northwestern State Southland
Pacific Big West
Chicago State Great West
Montana Big Sky
Southern SWAC
North Carolina A&T MEAC
New Mexico State WAC
Akron MAC
Louisville Big East
Oregon PAC-12
Kansas Big 12
Miami ACC
Mississippi SEC
St. Louis Atlantic 10
Wisconsin/Ohio St. Big Ten

30 of 31 Automatic Bids In: Mississippi, Miami, St. Louis Punch Tourney Tickets

With all the tournaments finished except the Big Ten, the field is nearly set for the 2013 NCAA Championship.

Today's results:

ACC Final: Miami 87 North Carolina 77 - In a championship game that more resembled a 3-point shooting competition, Miami's Trey McKinney Jones made six of nine from beyond the arc (7-for-11 overall) for 20 points to lead the Hurricanes to their first ACC championship, following up on their regular season title.

Game high scorers were Shane Larkin for Miami and PJ Hairston for North Carolina, each of whom tallied 28.

SEC Final: Mississippi 69 Florida 66 - Murphy Holloway scored 23 points and hauled down 11 rebounds, and Marshall Henderson scored 21 as the Rebels roared back from a 36-24 half time deficit to win their first SEC championship since 1981. With that result, Mississippi gets the automatic NCAA bid, while Florida, the regular season conference champ, will wait until later in the day to see where they are seeded.

Atlantic 10 Final: St. Louis 62 VCU 56 - The Billikens followed up their regular season championship with a win over VCU to capture the A-10 tourney. Kwamain Mitchell came off the Billiken bench to score 19 points. Treveon Graham scored a game high 20 for the Commodores, who are almost certain to receive an at-large bid.

That leaves only the Big Ten to complete the 31 automatic bids.

Below is a chart of the automatic bids so far, with Wisconsin-Ohio State in progress. The tournament selection process concludes with the reveal of the seedings and brackets beginning at 6:00 pm EDT, live on CBS.

2013 NCAA Tournament Automatic Bids by Conference

Harvard Ivy League
Belmont Ohio Valley
Florida Gulf Coast Atlantic Sun
James Madison Colonial Athletic Association
Creighton Missouri Valley
LIU Brooklyn Northeast
Western Kentucky Sun Belt
Liberty Big South
Gonzaga West Coast
Davidson Southern
South Dakota State Summit League
Valparaiso Horizon League
Bucknell Patriot
New Mexico Mountain West
Memphis Conference USA
Albany America East
Northwestern State Southland
Pacific Big West
Chicago State Great West
Montana Big Sky
Southern SWAC
North Carolina A&T MEAC
New Mexico State WAC
Akron MAC
Louisville Big East
Oregon PAC-12
Kansas Big 12
Miami ACC
Mississippi SEC
St. Louis Atlantic 10
Wisconsin/Ohio St. Big Ten

Miami's Durand Scott Player of the Day; 8 More Conferences Crown Champions

College Hoops Player of the Day for Saturday, March 16, 2013

Miami's Durand Scott turned in the performance of the day, leading the Hurricanes into Sunday's ACC final, seeking the championship for the first time in the nine years Miami has been a member of the conference.

Scott dazzled NC State defenders with 12-for-18 shooting, making five of eight from outside the 3-point line, for a game-high 32 points. Scott was also active elsewhere, with three boards, four assists and a pair of steals. Miami's 81-71 victory was one in which they led almost the entire game.

In the final, the #9 Hurricanes will face North Carolina at 1:00 pm EDT Sunday. Miami won both meetings with the Tar Heels during the regular season and a win could result in a #1 seeding.

Recapping late action:

Louisville shredded Syracuse's vaunted 2-3 zone defense with 56 second half points, upending a 35-22 deficit to win the Big East championship going away, 78-61. The dominant win will likely land Louisville the #1 seed in the East region of the NCAA tourney.

Oregon grabbed the auomatic bid from the PAC-12, thumping UCLA, 78-69, in the conference final. The Ducks struggled though the latter half of their conference schedule, losing three of their last five, but regained their swagger in the tourney and hopefully will carry their confidence into the NCAAs.

Other conference winners (all receive automatic NCAA bids:

Chicago State 75 Houston Baptist 60 - 11-21 Cougars win Great West title.

Northwestern State 68 SF Austin 66 - Southland championship.

Montana 67 Weber State 64 - Big Sky

Pacific 64 UC Irvine 55 - Big West

New Mexico State 64 Texas-Arlington 55 - Western Athletic Conference (WAC) title.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Kansas Takes Big 12; New Mexico Wins Mountain West; Akron, Southern, NC A&T Go Dancing

#15 New Mexico followed up its Mountain West regular season title by winning the conference tournament, 63-56, over UNLV.

Tony Snell led all scorers with 21 points, nailing five three-pointers and scoring 13 straight points for the Lobos in the waning minutes of the game.

Kansas easily topped #11 Kansas State, 70-54, to take the Big 12 tourney championship. Jeff Withey led the Jayhawks with 17 points and nine boards.

The win puts #7 Kansas in a solid position to be the #1 seed in the Midwest region of the NCAA tourney.

Other conference tourney winners this afternoon included Southern, topping Prarie View A&M, 45-44, for the SWAC championship and North Carolina A&T, a 57-54 winner over Morgan State, to clinch the MEAC title.

Akron took the MAC championship, romping, 65-46, over Ohio.

SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Atlantic-10 Semi-Final Results, Highlights

Conference Tournament Updates:

Big Ten Semi-Finals

Wisconsin 68 Indiana 56 - The Badgers beat Indiana for the 12st straight time and third time this season, something to keep in mind should the two meet again in the NCAA tournament.

Ohio State 61 Michigan State 58 - Arron Craft scored 20 points, had three rebounds, nine assists and four steals to lead the Buckeyes past the Spartans and into the Big Ten final.

Ohio State and Wisconsin will duel for the Big Ten championship Sunday afternoon.

ACC Semi-Finals

Miami 91 NC State 81 - Durand Scott pumped in 32 points as the Hurricanes blew past the Wolfpack, advancing to the Sunday tourney final.

North Carolina 79 Maryland 76 - North Carolina held on against a determined Maryland team to advance to the ACC final. With the loss, Maryland will have to wait until Sunday afternoon to determine their post-season fate, though any team that beats Duke twice in a season deserves a good, hard look.

Sunday's ACC final features the tournament's top-seeded team, the Miami Hurricanes, against the Tar Heels from North Carolina.

SEC Semi-Finals

Florida 61 Alabama 51 - The Gators broke open a close game with a 15-point, second half run and cruised to the win. Kenny Boynton led all scorers with 16 points.

Mississippi 64 Vanderbilt 52 - Ole Miss likely played themselves into the NCAA tourney with this semi-final win, turning a 26-all tie at the half into a solid victory and a shot at Florida in the conference final on Sunday.

Atlantic-10 Semi-Finals

St. Louis 67 Butler 56 - 16th-ranked Billikens whipped Butler for the third time this season, advancing to the A-10 final. Dwayne Evans scored a game-high 25 and scored a double-double with 11 rebounds. St. Louis boasts a 26-6 record and a 13-3 mark in conference.

VCU 71 Massachusetts 62 - Troy Daniels came off the bench to score a game-high 20 points and Juvonte Reddic scored 18 with 12 rebounds to lead the Commodores into the A-10 Final.

VCU faces St. Louis in the tourney final Sunday. The Billikens took a 76-62 victory at home over VCU during the regular season.

Great Danes and Tigers Capture Conference Titles, Go Dancing

The Albany Great Dames became the first team this Saturday to punch their ticket to the NCAA tourney with a 53-49 victory over the Vermont Catamounts. Albany won the America East conference tourney and the automatic bid.

In Tulsa, it took two overtimes, but the Memphis Tigers grabbed their seventh Conference-USA championship and third in a row, topping Southern Miss, 91-79.

More scores and highlights as the big day of conference championships develops...

Dez Wells Pumps in 30 as Maryland Ousts Duke in ACC Tourney

College Hoops Player of the Day for Friday, March 15, 2013

On a night of heavy conference tournament action, the upset of the night was produced by the Maryland Terrapins, who whipped the 2nd-ranked Duke Blue Devils for the second time this season, 83-74, advancing to the semi-finals to face North Carolina Saturday afternoon.

The Terps led the entire game, though Duke cut the lead to one point midway through the second half, but Dez Wells, who pumped in a career high 30 points for Maryland, would not allow his team to fail in what some considered a must-win for the Terrapins' tournament hopes.

Wells was 9-for-13 from the field, including 2-for-2 from outside the arc and made all 10 of his chances at the foul line. He added six boards, three assists and a steal in 32 minutes.

Maryland topped the Blue Devils back on February 8th, 83-81, at the Verizon Center in Washington DC, and proved it was no fluke as they dominated Duke and sent them packing in a one-and-done tournament appearance, out-rebounding Duke, 36-26, and had 18 assists to the Blue Devils' 10.

The Terps were just 8-10 in ACC play, but 22-11 overall, stringing together 11 straight wins prior to conference action. Their match-up with the Tar Heels may be a troublesome one, as North Carolina topped the Terrapins twice during the regular season.

Elsewhere, Georgetown and Syracuse met for the third time this season, and this time the Orange avenged their previous two losses to the Hoyas with a 58-55 OT win, advancing to the Big East final against Louisville, a 69-57 victor over Notre Dame.

The Cardinals and Orange tip at 8:35 pm EDT at Madison Square Garden.

The Big 12 will also crown a champion Saturday night, when #7 Kansas meets #11 Kansas State for the tourney title.

Also on Saturday, UCLA faces Oregon for the PAC-12 championship.

It will be a busy weekend for crowning, as the Mountain West, Conference USA, America East, Southland, Big West, Great West, Big Sky, SWAC, MEAC, WAC and MAC all play tournament finals on Saturday. The ACC, SEC, Big Ten, and Atlantic-10 each have championship games on Sunday.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Olivier Hanlan Sets ACC Frosh Record in Boston College Win over Georgia Tech

College Hoops Player of the Day for Thursday, March 14, 2013

With a 16-16 record and a 7-11 mark in conference, the Boston College Eagles are likely headed to the NIT rather than the NCAA tournament, but freshman Olivier Hanlan made certain that he'd leave a permanent mark on the ACC tournament.

Hanlan scored a career-high 41 points in the Eagles' 84-64 win over Georgia Tech in the opening round of the ACC championship, the most ever scored by an ACC freshman in the history of the conference, post-season or otherwise.

Hanlan had a nice season for the Eagles, scoring at a 15.4 ppg clip, but his performance on Thursday afternoon was one for the ages, making 14 of 18 shots, including eight of 10 from beyond the arc, adding five of six from the foul line.

In his 36 minutes of floor time, Hanlan also collected five boards, make three steals and dished a pair of assists. BC will play top-seeded Miami at noon EDT on Friday.

Elsewhere, the Big East tournament produced a pair of semi-final match-ups as Syracuse topped Pitt, 62-59, and Georgetown cruised past Cincinnati, 62-43. Georgetown and SU will meet for the third time this season at 7:00 pm EDT Friday night. Georgetown won the previous two meetings handily.

On the other side of the bracket, #4 Louisville overwhelmed Villanova, 74-55, and Notre Dame stopped Marquette, 73-65, setting up a 9:00 pm EDT meeting between the Cardinals and the Fighting Irish.

Conference tournament action heats up this weekend as all conferences will crown champions prior to the NCAA committee selections on Sunday at 6:00 pm EDT.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Jahii Carson Lifts Arizona State over Stanford in OT; Bucknell Bison Earn a Bid

College Hoops Player of the Day for Wednesday, March 13, Month, 2013

Conference tournaments spanned the countryside on Wednesday with action from the Big East to the PAC-12 on tap.

In one of the most hotly-contested battles of the night, Arizona State's Jahii Carson scored the first five points for the Sun Devils in overtime on a three-pointer and a layup and teammate Evan Gordon sealed the 89-88 ASU victory, making five of six free throws to close out Stanford in the first round of the PAC-12 championship.

Carson, a 5'10" freshman who led the Sun devils in scoring at 18.2 points per game, topped the scoring charts with a career-high 34 points on 14-for-22 shooting, including three of four from three-point range. The diminutive guard was a perfect 3-for-3 from the foul line and added a steal, three rebounds and four assists.

Also in the PAC-12, Colorado advanced with a 74-68 win over Oregon State, Washington edged Washington State, 64-62 and Utah slipped by USC, 69-66.

In the Big East, Syracuse, Villanova, Notre Dame and Cincinnati advanced in second round games.

A full slate is set for Thursday, with the Big 12 and Big Ten opening tourney play. There are 53 games on the college hoops schedule for Thursday.

Bucknell captured the Patriot League title and received the automatic bid with a 64-56 win over Lafayette in the league final.

The Bison were led by Mike Muscala's double-double: 20 points and 11 boards.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Valparaiso, South Dakota State Make Tourney Field; CJ Garner Leads LIU-Brooklyn with Career Effort

College Hoops Player of the Day for DAY, Month, 2012

LIU Brooklyn defeated Mount St. Mary's for the Northeast conference championship and an invitation to their third straight NCAA tournament, with a 91-70 victory.

Trailing by eight points midway through the first half, LIU head coach, Jack Perri, switched from man-to-man to a 2-3 zone on defense and his players responded, taking a 35-31 lead by half time and pulling away in the second half.

The Blackbirds were led by C.J. Garner, who scored a career-high 31 points on 13-for-17 shooting, adding five of seven from the foul line. LIU-Brooklyn shot 61% for the game, making five of nine from three-point range.

South Dakota State returned to the NCAA tournament for the second straight year, winning the Summit League tittle with a 73-67 win over North Dakota State.

Nate Wolters led all scorers with 27 points for the Jackrabbits, to go with six assists and six rebounds.

Valparaiso won the Horizon League championship, topping Wright State in the tournament final, 62-54. Erik Buggsled three Crusaders in double figures with 22 points.

13 teams have now qualified for the NCAA tournament by winning their league championships.

Harvard - Ivy League
Belmont - Ohio Valley
Florida Gulf Coast - Atlantic Sun
James Madison - Colonial Athletic Association
Iona - MAAC
Creighton - Missouri Valley
LIU Brooklyn - Northeast
Western Kentucky - Sun Belt
Liberty - Big South
Gonzaga - West Coast
Davidson - Southern
South Dakota State - Summit League
Valparaiso - Horizon League

Monday, March 11, 2013

Kelly Olynyk Leads Gonzaga into Tourney; Iona Takes MAAC

College Hoops Player of the Day for Monday, March 11, 2013

Gonzaga defeated St. Mary's in the West Coast conference tourney final to stamp their ticket to the NCAA tournament with emphasis, winning by a decisive, 65-51, score.

It was the third time Gonzaga had defeated St. Mary's this season; the Gaels will have to wait until selection Sunday to see if they receive an at-large invitation.

The Bulldogs were led by center Kelly Olynyk, who topped the scoring charts with 21 points and added 12 rebounds. Olynyk was 7-for-12 from the field and made seven of nine from the foul line.

Ranked #1 in the nation, Gonzaga completed a 16-0 season in conference and has the best overall record in the college ranks at 31-2.

Iona defeated Manhattan, 60-57, to take home the Metro Atlantic Athletic conference championship. Tre Bowman came off the bench for the Gaels to lead all scorers with 20 points, making seven of nine from the field and all four of his free throw attempts.

Davidson, Western Kentucky, James Madison Are In

The Davidson Wildcats extended the nation's longest winning streak to 16 games, capturing the Southern conference championship with a 74-55 victory over the College of Charleston in the tourney final. De'Mon Brooks led all scorers with 24 points and added eight rebounds.

Davidson the nation's top free-trow shooting team, made only 14 of 21 line attempts, but shot 55% from the floor while holding the Cougars to 30% shooting.

Western Kentucky took the Sun Belt title, winning four games in four days for the second straight season to earn the automatic invitation to the NCAA tourney.

The Hilltoppers outlasted a game Florida International squad, coached by Richard Pitino, son of Louisville coach Rick Pitino, by a 65-63 score.

Center George Fant scored 17 points on 7-for-14 shooting and snagged 13 rebounds to pace Western Kentucky.

A.J. Davis led all scorers with 26 points to lead James Madison to the Colonial Athletic Conference championship with a 70-57 victory over Northeastern.

The Dukes led early, took a commanding 40-18 lead into the break and coasted to the easy win.

Five More Dance Tickets to Be Punched Tonight

With five teams already in the tourney (Harvard, Florida Gulf Coast, Belmont, Creighton and Liberty) five more conference champions will be crowned tonight, pushing the number of automatic bids handed out to ten.

The Southern conference starts the evening's action when Charleston 24-9 (Conf: 14-4) faces #1 seed, Davidson 25-7 (Conf: 17-1) at 7:00 pm EDT.

At the same time, James Madison 19-14 (Conf: 11-7) takes on Northeastern 20-11 (Conf: 14-4) for the Colonial conference championship and the Sun Belt final pits Western Kentucky 19-15 (Conf: 10-10) against Florida International 18-13 (Conf: 11-9).

At 9:00 pm EDT, the Metro Atlantic tourney concludes when Manhattan 14-17 (Conf: 9-9) faces
Iona 19-13 (Conf: 11-7) and the West Coast conference will crown a champion when St. Mary's battles #1 Gonzaga.

All games will be carried live on ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Cody Zeller Leads Indiana to Big Ten Title in Win over Michigan

College Hoops Player of the Day for Sunday, March 10, 2013

Indiana scored the last six points of the game to capture the Big Ten championship with a 72-71 win over Michigan.

After Glenn Robinson III made one of two free throws to give the Wolverines a five-point lead with 1:03 to play, Indiana took advantage of two missed front ends of one-and-one free throws by Michigan - one each by Tim Hardaway Jr. and by Trey Burke - scoring on each of their final three trips down the floor.

The win gave the Hoosiers the outright regular season title in a hotly contested Big Ten, with a 14-4 record. With a win tonight against Northwestern, Michigan State can finish tied with Ohio State for second place at 13-5.

With the loss, Michigan fell to 12-6, tied with Wisconsin for fourth place.

Cody Zeller tallied a game-high 25 points to go with ten rebounds, four on the offensive end. Victor Oladipo also had a double-double with 14 points and 14 boards.

Zeller was 10-for-19 from the field and 5-for-8 from the foul line.

Creighton Wins MVC with 68-65 Win over Wichita State

Even though All-American Doug McDermott was saddled with fouls and was held well below his average, his teammates shouldered the load and defeated Wichita State, 68-65, to capture the BlueJays second straight Missouri Valley conference tournament.

Creighton will get the automatic bid to the NCAA tourney for the second straight season. The Shockers, which finished up with a solid 26-7 mark - identical to Creighton - is likely to receive an at-large invite.

Creighton joins Belmont, Florida Gulf Coast, Harvard and Liberty as early recipients of automatic bids to the NCAAs.

Liberty Starts Season 0-8, Heads to NCAA Tourney from Big South

After starting the season 0-8, even the players of Liberty couldn't have imagined this.

The Liberty Flames won their fourth straight tournament game, topping Charleston Southern, 87-76, to capture the Big South tourney and punch their ticket to the NCAA tournament.

Liberty beat Coastal Carolina, High Point and Gardner-Webb to reach the final and achieve the dream. The 15-20 Flames were 6-10 in conference play, but put it all together when it counted.

It's Liberty's third trip to the NCAA tournament and first since 2004.

Next up: Missouri Valley conference final, Creighton vs. Wichita State, underway at 2:05 pm EDT.

At 4:00 pm EDT, Michigan hosts Indiana in a contest that will determine the Big Ten regular season title.

Kenny Kadji Leads Miami to ACC Title; Florida Gulf Coast, Belmont, Harvard Earn NCAA Berths

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.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Tyler Brown Keep Illinois State Alive in Missouri Valley Tourney

College Hoops Player of the Day for Friday, March 8, 2013

Here come the bracket busters, the teams which can only hope to get an invitation to the NCAA Tourney by winning their conference tournaments.

With post-season tourneys already underway in eight conferences - Metro Atlantic, Sun Belt, Horizon, West Coast, Missouri Valley, Ohio Valley, Atlantic Sun and Southern - there are a number of hopefuls still in the mix.

Illinois State downed Northern Iowa, 73-65, in the quarter-finals of the Missouri Valley tournament, possibly ending the Panthers' chances of making it any further toward March Madness.

The Redbirds, 8-10 during the regular season, were led by Tyler Brown's 28 points and nine rebounds, the senior guard taking charge with 11-for-17 shooting from the field with six of eight from three-point range. The Redbirds avenged a season-ending loss to UNI just six days ago, and have the opportunity to turn the Missouri Valley into a scramble.

Illinois State faces Wichita State in the semi-final at 5:05 pm ET Saturday, the winner advancing to the final to face the winner of Creighton vs. Indiana State.

NOTABLE: The Ivy League is one conference that doesn't hold a post-season tourney, and Friday's results put the ball back in the hands of the Harvard Crimson for the NCAA invite, as they slipped past Columbia, 56-51. With Princeton losing at Yale, 71-66, Harvard only has Cornell in their path to the tourney. The Crimson host Cornell at 5:30 pm ET Saturday. A win puts them into the NCAA field unless Princeton can win on the road at Brown on Saturday and at Penn on Tuesday.

In the case that Princeton and harvard tie for the title, there will be a one-game playoff, but Harvard has already beaten the Tigers twice this season.

In the Ohio Valley, Belmont, the new kid on the block after exiting the Atlantic Sun last year after three straight conference championships, will play in the tourney final against Murray State on Saturday. The Tigers, a fixture in the NCAA tourney recently, knocked off Tennessee state, 82-73, making the final on Saturday. Murray State, the #2 seed, defeated Eastern Kentucky, 81-73.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Lead Georgia over Kentucky

College Hoops Player of the Day for Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Kentucky Wildcats may have finally played themselves right out of the NCAA tournament, losing badly in a critical spot, at unranked Georgia, 72-62.

The Wildcats dropped their second straight game and fourth of their last seven. Beyond Thursday night's loss, they host #11 Florida as they wrap up their regular season. Kentucky is 11-6 in the SEC, but sinking fast.

From the opposite perspective, the Bulldogs have been playing better of late, winning three of their last four, their only loss a 63-62 defeat at Vanderbilt last week.

Georgia's fate may be improved or denied dependent on how they fare in their season finale, when Alabama comes calling on Saturday, and how well they perform in the SEC tourney. The Bulldogs have reached respectability with a 9-8 conference mark, but a couple of wins in the post-season would go a long way toward receiving an NCAA bid as the selection committee will be taking five - possibly six - teams from the SEC.

Georgia was led by 6'5" sophomore, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who didn't shoot very well, making just six of 19 shots from the field, including going 2-for-7 from the three-point line, but he made up for his misses at the foul line, where he was 10-for-11. He also was a major factor on the boards, where he swiped 10 rebounds, three on the offensive end. His 24-point, 10-rebound effort was Caldwell-Pope's sixth double-double of the season.

NOTABLE: When a team wins by 15 points and shoots 37%, there's a good bet that the game was a Big Ten match-up, and an even better chance that the winner was Michigan State, where toughness and defense are core principles of coach Tom Izzo's success. The #10 Spartans absolutely spanked #22 Wisconsin, 58-43, holding the Badgers to just 29% from the field and 17% (4-for-23) from beyond the arc.

The game wasn't even as close as the score indicates. after 30 minutes of play, the Badgers were still in the 20s, and only Michigan State relaxing with a huge lead made the score respectable.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Travis Taylor, Xavier End St. Louis' 11-Game Win Streak with 77-66 Victory

College Hoops Player of the Day for Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Upsets were everywhere in the college hoops universe Wednesday night, as five ranked teams went down to defeat.

The biggest surprise of the evening came from Philadelphia, where the Villanova Wildcats knocked off #5 Georgetown, 67-57, ending the Hoyas' 11-game winning streak and throwing next week's Big East tourney into a condition f total chaos.

Louisville, Marquette and Georgetown are tied for the regular season lead at 13-4, with one game remaining. Georgetown faces Syracuse on Saturday to close out the season. The Wildcats improved to 10-8 in the conference and have now defeated three different Top 5 teams this season, Georgetown joining Syracuse and Louisville on the victim list.

In the Big Ten, Iowa State downed #13 Oklahoma State, 87-76; the ACC suddenly became more competitive as Georgia Tech won at #6 Miami, 71-69; and the PAC-12 saw Washington State defeat UCLA, 73-61.

But there may be no more competitive a conference than the Atlantic-10, where Xavier took out #16 St. Louis in overtime, 77-66, as 6'8" senior forward Travis Taylor pumped in 19 points and ripped down 19 rebounds in one of the top efforts of the season.

Taylor was 6-for-11 from the field and 7-for-9 from the charity stripe, getting all of his points inside, punishing the Billikens on both ends of the court. Four of his 19 boards came on the offensive end in a game that was a total war in the paint. St. Louis record 16 offensive boards to Xavier's 11, but the Billikens could only must a 30% shooting mark for the game, getting off 19 more shots than the Musketeers, who hit at a 42% rate.

The win ended an 11-game St. louis winning streak and left the Billikens tied with VCU (a 93-82 winner over Richmond) atop the A-10 standings at 12-3. Xavier, keeping alive hopes for an NCAA bid, improved to 9-6 in the conference and 17-12 overall.

The Billikens close out their regular season at home vs. LaSalle on Saturday, while #21 VCU travels to Temple for their last A-10 game.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Missouri Hammers Arkansas, 93-63, Behind 24 and 11 from Laurence Bowers

College Hoops Player of the Day for Tuesday, March 5, 2013

#11 Florida may have already wrapped up the SEC regular season title, but that has not deterred other teams chasing the Gators from getting in valuable playing time down the stretch, leading to the conference tournament.

Missouri is one of those pursuing teams that appears to be peaking at the right time, dusting Arkansas in a big way, with a 93-63 victory over the Razorbacks at Mizzou Arena Tuesday night.

Senior forward, Laurence Bowers, led the Tiger romp with 24 points and 11 rebounds, scoring the first five points of the game, helping the Mizzou to an unassailable 48-22 halftime lead.

Bowers was simply unstoppable on senior night in Columbia, knocking down 10 of 13 shots from the floor and crashing the boards hard on both ends. Four of his rebounds were on the offensive end, leading to second-chance points for the Tigers.

It was Bowers' seventh double-double of the season and second in a row. He had 23 and 10 Saturday against LSU.

The Tigers have won three straight and four of their last five. They are 11-6 in the conference with the regular season finale at Tennessee on Saturday. Florida has two games remaining and are in the lead with a 13-3 mark.

NOTABLE: Winning on the road is huge in any conference, but it is especially tough in the Big Ten, but the Ohio State Buckeyes made their trip to Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Indiana, a memorable one, keeping alive their hope of sharing the Big Ten title with a 67-58 win over the #2-ranked Hoosiers.

The result left the Big Ten race still undecided, with Indiana leading with a 13-4 mark, followed by the Buckeyes at 12-5. Both Ohio State and Indiana have just one regular season game left. Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin are all tied at 11-5, each with two more games to play, the most important being Indiana's trip to Michigan on Sunday. The race is so tight, four teams could claim a share of the crown. Michigan State hosts Wisconsin on Thursday night, the game will eliminate one of the two from title contention.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Jeff Withey Leads Kansas to Rout of Texas Tech, 79-42

College Hoops Player of the Day for Monday, March 4, 2013

Texas Tech got a stark reminder of what happens when Kansas gets into its offense early and their perimeter players allow seven-foot Jeff Whithey to get loose inside.

Layups and dunks are the usual results... and a lopsided, 79-42 victory for the Jayhawks.

Withey led all scorers with 22 points, making seven of eight from the field, mostly in so close to the bucket that it would have been harder to miss than make the shots, and converted eight of nine from the charity stripe, a solid showing and a big asset for a big man.

The senior center also stepped outside for one three-point attempt and it too found the bottom of the net. It was his first and only three-point shot of the season, and probably his last, keeping his perfect record from beyond the arc intact.

Withey also grabbed nine boards, falling just short of what would have been his 13th double-double of the season.

The Jayhawks shot 53% for the game, holding the Red Raiders to just 26% on 14-for-53 shooting. Texas Tech also hit just one of 15 three-point shots.

Kansas, 14-3 in Big 12 play, has just one game left on their regular season schedule. They are home against Baylor this Saturday and can capture another conference title if second place Kansas State (13-3) stumbles at home against 1-15 TCU (unlikely) or loses at Oklahoma State this Saturday. The Cowboys will be looking to overturn an earlier, 73-67, Kansas State win.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Michigan's Trey Burke Makes Key Plays in Win over Spartans

College Hoops Player of the Day for Sunday, March 3, 2013

After losing at Penn State on Wednesday, the Michigan Wolverines knew they'd need a much better, more focused effort to defeat #4 Michigan State when the Spartans came calling Sunday afternoon in Ann Arbor.

Trailing by three at the half, Trey Burke and his Michigan teammates surged to a ten-=point lead with just over four minutes left to play, but saw the Spartans knaw into the lead and eventually tie the game at 56-all. Michigan State had the ball with the shot clock off and a chance to win when Burke came up with the play of the game - and maybe the season - stealing the rock from Spartan point guard Keith Appling at mid-court and taking it in for a go-ahead dunk with 22 seconds left.

Derrick Nix made one of two free throws with 8.8 seconds left to make it 58-57, and, after Mitch McGary missed the front end of a one-and-one, the spartans still had life with 4.7 seconds. As the Spartans tried to get a look, Burke again stole a pass as the clock went to all zeroes, the game over, victory assured, the final: 58-57.

A leader all season long, Burke ended with a game-high 21 points, eight assists, five steals four rebounds and a blocked shot.

The result left four teams in the Big Ten - Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin (a 69-56 loser to Purdue Sunday) - tied for second place at 11-5. They are all chasing 13-3 Indiana. The Hoosiers have their final two games Tuesday and Sunday, when they meet the Buckeyes at home and head out on the road to finish up at Michigan.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Ryan Kelly Returns with 36 to Lead Duke Past Miami

College Hoops Player of the Day for Saturday, March 2, 2013

When Duke was blistered at Miami, 90-63, back on January 23, Ryan Kelly was wondering when he'd be back in the Blue Devil lineup as the 6'11" forward sat helplessly on the bench nursing a foot injury that had already sidelined him for two games.

On Saturday, Kelly returned to the Duke starting lineup. Most observers thought he could add some scoring, help the Blue Devils spread the floor and provide some minutes of solid defense. What they got from the senior was an effort for the ages, as Kelly responded with his best game as a collegian, scoring a career-high 36 points, leading Duke to a payback, 79-76, win that evened the score between the top two teams in the ACC.

For a player that hadn't seen game action in nearly two months, Kelly proved deadly accurate from anywhere on the floor, hitting 10 of 14 shots, including an incredible 7-for-9 mark from beyond the arc. He also canned seven of nine from the foul line and collected seven rebounds, an assists, a blocked shot and two steals, playing 32 minutes.

Beyond his scoring outburst being more than double his seasonal average, to do it with only a few days of practice and at the end of the long layoff speaks volumes about the senior's work ethic and coach Krzyzewski's fluid offensive system.

Miami did not make it easy on the Blue Devils, however, rallying late in the game to close the gap to three points, ending with a desperation heave from the corner by Rion Brown that would have tied the game, but clanged off the rim as the final horn sounded.

The result left the Hurricanes still comfortably atop the ACC standings with a 14-2 record - two better than Duke's 12-4 mark - but plenty to think about heading down the stretch and into the conference tourney. The Hurricanes need only to win one of two remaining games - both at home - to capture their first ACC regular season title. They face Georgia Tech this Wednesday and close out the schedule on Saturday against Clemson.

Duke hosts Virginia Tech on Tuesday before closing out their season at North Carolina on Saturday, March 9.

NOTABLE: Look for #12 Syracuse to continue sliding in the polls, losing their third straight game in a 58-53 home loss to #10 Louisville. The Orange had previously lost to Georgetown and Maquette in the past week.

#19 Memphis captured another Conference USA title, winning 76-67, at UCF to run their conference record to 14-0, three games better than second place Southern Miss (11-3) with just two games left to play. The Tigers had their 18-game winning streak - then the longest in college hoops - snapped this past Tuesday when Xavier got the better of them in a 64-62 upset.

The Atlantic-10 continues to be a hotbed of activity, though St. Louis seems to be above all of it, winning their 11th straight and maintaining their lead in the conference at one game with a 66-58 win at George Washington. The Billikens are being pursued by VCU, who hammered Butler on Saturday, trouncing the Bulldogs, 84-52, to remain just a game back. The Billikens have two tough contests remaining: at Xavier on Saturday and home against LaSalle - currently in third place, at 10-4 - on Saturday.

Life in the PAC-12 got even screwier on Saturday, as the UCLA Bruins upended #11 Arizona, 74-69. That sent the Wildcats tumbling to fourth place in the standings with an 11-6 record. UCLA tied Oregon at 12-4 to lead the conference with just two games left for both teams. Cal is squeezed into third place, at 12-5. They host Stanford on Wednesday to finish up their regular season.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Princeton Shoulders Up to Harvard as Ian Hummer Leads 58-53 Victory

College Hoops Player of the Day for Friday, March 1, 2013

For the Princeton Tigers, the objective was apparent: beat Harvard for the 24th straight time at home, then win out the remaining four games of the regular season, force a playoff or win the Ivy League - and a trip to the NCAA tournament - outright.

Thanks largely to a huge effort from senior forward, Ian Hummer, the Tigers took the first step with a 58-53 nail-biter win over the Crimson.

Hummer registered his first double-double of the season, going 8-for-14 from the field and a perfect 7-for-7 from the line for a game-high 23 points, adding a season-high 14 rebounds, four on the offensive end.

The win left the Tigers at 8-2 in the conference with four games left to play, right behind 9-2 Harvard, which has only three games left on the regular season schedule.

In the case the two titans of the Ivy League end up tied, as has occurred in two of the last three seasons, a single-game playoff will determine which squad gets the automatic NCAA bid.

The contest was marked by solid defense, with both teams held to under 41% shooting. Princeton made the only three-pointer of the game - on ten attempts. Harvard was 0-for-8 from outside the arc. Both teams displayed proficiency at the foul line. The Tigers made 19 of 22 free throws; Harvard was 22-for-25 from the stripe.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Joe Harris Bombs Duke with 36 Points as Cavaliers Triumph, 73-68

College Hoops Player of the Day for Thursday, February 28, 2013

A golden opportunity staring them in the face, the #3 Duke Blue Devils could not contain Virginia's Joe Harris, the junior guard scoring a career-high 36 points en route to a 73-68 Cavalier upset in Charlottesville, VA.

Harris, who averages more than 17 points per game, outdid his previous career mark by 10 points. The Cavaliers took a five-point lead into the half and played the Blue Devils even up in a wide open second half, each team scoring 45 points.

Joe Harris poured in 12 of 20 shots from the field and added 10 more points (on 12 attempts) from the foul line, disrupting Duke's plans and practically handing the conference title to the 14-1 Hurricanes in the process. Harris also ripped down seven rebounds and had a pair of assists, two blocks and a steal before fouling out late in the contest, which Virginia led throughout.

Virginia out-rebounded Duke, 36-25, with Akil Mitchell snagging 12 boards to go with his 19 points, his ninth double-double of the season.

Duke entered the game with an 11-3 conference mark, trailing Miami, whom they host this Saturday, by two games, so the opportunity to narrow the gap in the ACC was present, though predicated on winning at Virginia.

With a three-game lead in the standings, the Hurricanes have only to win one of their remaining three games. Following this Saturday afternoon's tilt at Cameron Indoor, the Hurricanes close out the season at home against Georgia Tech and Clemson. Those teams have identical 5-10 ACC records.

20-8 Virginia is poised for a nice post-season run. They are tied with North Carolina four third place in the ACC with a 10-5 record.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Penn State drops Michigan, 84-78, Behind Jermaine Marshall's 25 Points

College Hoops Player of the Day for Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Somehow, we all knew it was going to happen sooner or later. The cocky - and often sloppy - attitude of the Michigan Wolverines would catch up to them, and, on Wednesday night, it finally did, as Penn State took advantage of home court and 15 Michigan turnovers to upend the Wolverines, 84-78, shining a very bright light on star point guard Trey Burke, who committed six turnovers himself and made just one of four shots from outside the three-point arc.

Michigan took a slim, three-point lead into the break, but the Nittany lions simply outplayed them in the second stanza, making three-pointers and trips to the foul line as they pressured the Michigan defense on each possession. Leading the charge was junior guard Jermaine Marshall, who led all scorers with 25 points on shooting of 8-for-17, nailing six of ten from downtown.

Marshall, the Lions' second-leading scorer among active players at 15.4 ppg (Tim Frazier has an average of 16.3, but has played just four games this season), also grabbed six rebounds, had three assists and a couple of steals in the upset victory.

With nothing to lose, the Penn State players made the most of their opportunity to make headlines. They are 9-18 overall, and, up until Wednesday night, were 0-14 in Big Ten play.

NOTABLE: Still receiving far too little acclaim, the St. Louis Billikens won their tenth straight game, whipping St. Joseph's, 70-53, maintaining their one-game lead in the Atlantic-10 over 10-3 VCU with an 11-2 conference record.

The Billikens haven't lost since back-to-back defeats at Temple and against Rhode Island, back on January 12 and 19 and need to forge wins at George Washington and Xavier before their season finale at home against LaSalle in order to take the conference title outright.

There will be plenty of hand-wringing come selection Sunday for all the teams in the PAC-12 other than the one which wins the post-season conference tournament. That's because the contenders in the conference haven't done much in the way of presenting a strong case by which the committee can single them out for an at-large bid. Currently, Oregon and UCLA lead the standings at 11-4, followed by Arizona and Cal at 11-5 and 10-5, respectively. Colorado is 9-6; Arizona State is 9-7 and USC improved to 8-7 after dropping Arizona Wednesday night, 89-78.

Winning records have been achieved by these seven - each of which believe they are worthy of at-large tourney selections - largely at the expense of Utah, Oregon State and Washington State, the conference cellar-dwellers with a combined conference record of 8-36.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Minnesota Dumps #1 Indiana as Trevor Mbakwe Outplays Zeller

College Hoops Player of the Day for Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Big men in the Big Ten play important roles in their teams' successes, but none was bigger than Minnesota's 6'8" senior, Trevor Mbakwe, as he powered the Golden Golphers to a 77-73 defeat of top-ranked Indiana Tuesday night.

Mbakwe posted his ninth double-double of the season with 21 points and 12 rebounds, significantly outplaying Indiana's Big Ten player of the year candidate, Cody Zeller, who was held to just nine points on 2-for-9 shooting and a mere seven rebounds before fouling out late in the second half.

Mbakwe's prowess on both ends of the floor were evident as Minnesota dominated the boards, out-rebounding the Hoosiers, 44-30, and snaring an incredible 23 offensive rebounds. Mbakwe was 8-for-10 from the field and 5-for-7 from the foul line, completing what was surely one of his best effort as a collegian.

Indiana's loss is college basketball's gain. It's the seventh time this season a #1-ranked team has tasted defeat, setting up an exciting, unpredictable NCAA tourney, which commences in just three weeks. It also gives hope to the chasers in the Big Ten, as Indiana drops to 12-3 in the conference. Michigan State and Wisconsin are tied for second at 11-4; Michigan is 10-4 and Ohio State is 10-5.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Michigan Hammers Illinois Behind Trey Burke's 26 Points

College Hoops Player of the Day for Sunday, February 24, 2013

Battling in the Big Ten has become something akin to sumo wrestling at times this season, with heavyweights taking each other up and off the court in a manic scramble to the top spot in the standings.

Currently, top-ranked Indiana holds sway in the conference with a 12-2 mark, with Michigan State, Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio State - all ranked - playing catch-up.

On Sunday, Trey Burke provided ample offense for the Wolverines to tear up overmatched Illinois - a solid team that despite a 7-8 record in the conference still stands a good chance of receiving an at-large invitation to the national tournament - with a game-high 26 points in a 71-58 laugher that didn't seem very funny when the Illini took a three-point lead into intermission.

Michigan scored 43 second half points, limiting Illinois to 27, to run away for the home win. Burke proved quite the marksman, making eight of 11 shots, including 2-for-3 from beyond the arc. He also nailed eight of 10 free throws and added eight assists while committing just one turnover.

The win left the 10-4 Wolverines two games back of the Hoosiers with one more crack at them in the regular season finale - a mark 10 home game.

Adding to the mix was Ohio State, which did its part to keep the Big Ten the most fascinating conference in the country, with a 68-60 win over Michigan State. The 10-5 Buckeyes have just three games left on their conference calendar, one of them a trip to Indiana on March 5.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Otto Porter Jr. Leads Georgetown over Syracuse with 33 Points

College Hoops Player of the Day for Saturday, February 23, 2013

With just five days left in the month of February, college hoops is being taken to a new level. Upcoming conference closeout games and tournaments await, with the victors getting the all-important post-season tourney invitations.

The most anticipated game of the day was at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, as the Orange hosted Georgetown, a game that produced a college record crowd for an on-campus meeting of 35,012.

For the locals, the outcome was disappointing, as Georgetown's Otto Porter Jr. proved nearly unstoppable, scoring a career-high 33 points on the Orange in a 57-46 Hoya win, a victory which will forever stand as a testament to one of college hoops' greatest rivalries, one which is ended as Syracuse departs the Big East for the ACC next season.

In a game in which the winners shot just 35% (SU was held to 34%), Porter was like a blazing supernova, making 12 of 19 shots from the floor, including five of 10 three-pointers and canning all four of his free throws.

When he wasn't killing the home team with relentless scoring, the 6'8" sophomore from Missouri was hitting the boards hard, collecting eight of Georgetown's 34 rebounds. He played all forty minutes, the second time he's done so this season.

The win was Georgetown's ninth straight, and resulted in giving them sole possession of first place in the Big East with a 11-3 mark, as Marquette fell to Villanova, 60-56 and Louisville defeated Seton Hall, 79-61, producing a three-way tie for second place, with the Orange, cardinals and Golden Eagles all at 10-4.

There are still four regular season games left for each of the Big East contenders, so the regular season race is far from concluded.

Elsewhere, the ACC got a little more interesting, as Wake Forest upset Miami, 80-65, the first Hurricane loss in conference play. The 13-1 Hurricanes have four more conference games remaining, three of them at home, against Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Clemson, though next Saturday's meeting at 10-3 Duke looms large.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Mike McCall Jr. Has 19 as St. Louis Whips Butler for 9th Straight

College Hoops Player of the Day for Friday, February 22, 2013

The St. Louis Billikens set a school record Friday night when they beat #15 Butler, 65-61, their fourth win of the season over a ranked opponent.

In control of the Atlantic-10, the Billikens have a 10-2 conference mark, one better than 9-3 VCU, whom St. Louis bettered, 76-62, this past Tuesday.

Mike McCall Jr. notched a season-high 18 points to lead all scorers, going 5-for-10 from the field with a pair of three-pointers, canning six of eight from the foul line. McCall also grabbed three boards and had an assist and a steal, helping the Billikens overcome a five-point half time deficit to take control early in the second half and never relinquish the lead.

St. Louis has topped Butler twice this season en route to a 21-5 record overall, the best in the A-10 and a mark that should surely catch the eyes of the tourney selection committee come March. They've won nine in a row after starting out the conference schedule with a 1-2 mark.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Connecticut Previals in OT over Bearcats as Shabazz Napier Drops 27

College Hoops Player of the Day for Thursday, February 21, 2013

Only two top 25 teams were in action on Thursday; #6 Duke trampled Virginia Tech, 88-56, and, #22 Oregon was upended on a buzzer-beater by Cal's Justin Cobbs, 48-46, sending the Golden Bears to their fourth straight win and leaving them, at 9-5, a game behind PAC-12 co-leaders Oregon and Arizona - both 10-4.

With UCLA at 9-4 and Arizona State posting a 9-5 mark, the conference title is still up for grabs and the post-season tournament should prove to be a wide open affair.

The tightest game of the night ended in overtime, when Connecticut's Shabazz Napier took over the game and scored 11 of his game-high 27 points for the 73-66 victory over Big East rival, Cincinnati.

UConn took a three-point lead into intermission, scored just 18 points in the second half, but then equalled that total in overtime as Napier drove the Huskies to their third win in their last four games. The win sent Connectivut to a 9-5 record and dropped the Bearcats to a pedestrian 7-7, endangering their acceptability as an NCAA tourney at-large invitee.

Napier - UConn's leading scorer at 16.7 ppg - was 7-for-14 from the field, going 6-for-9 from beyond the arc, adding seven of eight from the charity stripe.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera's 33 Points leads Georgetown; Showdown at Carrier Dome Looms

College Hoops Player of the Day for Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Big East will break apart at the end of this season, but there's no lack of enthusiasm as old foes meet for what may be the last times.

Upcoming is an epic meeting between Syracuse and Georgetown, a rivalry that dates back decades, including the likes of coaches John Thompson and Jim Boeheim (still coaching) and players as diverse as Patrick Ewing, Carmello Anthony, Rony Seikaly and many others.

Both teams were in action Wednesday night, tuning up for the showdown for first place this Saturday at the Carrier Dome.

The Orange rode 20 points and 11 rebounds by C.J. Fair to an 84-59 rout of Providence, improving the Syracuse mark to 10-3 in the conference.

Georgetown was also on the winning end, whipping DePaul, 90-66, behind D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera's 33 points, a career high for the freshman guard.

Smith-Riavera came off the bench, as he has in all of Georgetown's games this season, to hit 10 of 12 from the field, including a 5-for-6 mark from three-point range. He also canned eight of 10 from the foul line and added three rebounds, an assist and a steal.

The Hoyas improved to 10-3 in conference play, tying Syracuse and Marquette for the top spot in the Big East.

Saturday's contest in Syracuse may be the last meeting between the two for some time, as Syracuse will move to the ACC next season. The game, which tips off at 4:00 pm, is already a sell-out, and will likely set a record for the largest crowd ever to witness an on-campus, regular season NCAA game, estimated at 35,012. The Hoyas are ranked #11 in the AP Poll; Syracuse checks in at #8.

NOTABLE: The Big 12 has heated up, as #9 Kansas valiantly tries to record its ninth straight regular season title. On Wednesday, the Jayhawks had to go to double overtime to defeat #14 Oklahoma State, 68-67, tying them with Kansas State at 10-3, for the conference lead. Kansas has already beaten the Wildcats twice and has a chance of running the table, with five regular season games remaining.

#21 Memphis was an 81-74 winner over Houston, extending the nation's longest winning streak to 17 games and a 12-0 mark in Conference USA. The 23-3 Tigers haven't felt the sting of defeat since a 87=78 loss at Louisville on December 15.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Indiana Tops Michigan St.; Jordan McRae's 34 Leads Tennessee to 4th Straight SEC Victory

College Hoops Player of the Day for Tuesday, February 19, 2013

As hotly anticipated was the Big Ten showdown between top-ranked Indiana and #4 Michigan State, the result was hardly a shock, even though Indiana hadn't come away with a win from East Lansing in 17 years, but the Hoosiers - and especially Victor Oladipo - had more game down the stretch and cemented their #1 status with a 72-68 victory.

Oladipo finished with nine boards and 19 points, including the final six points on a stick-back, a dunk and a pair of clutch free throws. The win put the Hoosiers on a direct path to the regular season conference title and a possible #1 seed in the NCAA tournament. They are 12-2 with the win, dropping the Spartans to 11-3. The Hoosiers have just four games left, though the last two will be testers as they face Ohio State at home and go on the road to Michigan for the final contest.

A couple of upsets marked Tuesday night's action, as Missouri stunned #5 Florida, 63-60 and St. Louis routed #24 VCU, 76-62.

#2 Miami topped Virginia, 54-50, to remain unbeaten in the ACC (13-0), but the team to keep an eye on is Tennessee, which won its fourth straight with an 82-72 win over LSU.

Junior Jordan McRae poured in a career-high 34 points for the Vols, making 13 of 18 shots from the field, including a perfect 6-for-6 from three-point land. The 6'5" swingman also grabbed six boards and snatched a trio of steals. At 7-6 in the SEC, the Volunteers have a good shot at getting a bid to the big dance. With just five games remaining - including home tests against Florida and Missouri - the Vols aren't likely to win the conference, but may make enough of a late season showing to impress the selection committee.

Also making noise is Northern Iowa, winners of six straight in the Missouri Valley Conference after their 69-63 road win at Missouri State. The Panthers are two games behind conference leader Wichita State and a game back of Creighton, neither of who are on the Northern Iowa schedule down the stretch. A good showing in the conference tourney should get the Panthers an invite to the NCAAs.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Fred Sturdivant Leads Texas Southern to 8th Straight Win

College Hoops Player of the Day for Monday, February 18, 2013

Seldom getting any press, the SWAC has turned into a three-way dogfight for the regular season title with Southern University, Texas Southern and Arkansas Pine Bluff all within a game of the top spot, currently held by 13-2 Southern, Texas Southern 1/2 game back and the Pine Bluff Golden Lions a full game out.

All three were in action Monday, each posting a win. Texas Southern put on a second half thumping of Mississippi Valley State, outscoring the Delta Devils, 38-16, after heading into the half down six points. The 73-57 victory was the eighth straight for the Tigers, last tasting defeat at Pine Bluff on January 19.

Fred Sturdivant posted his tenth double-double of the season, scoring 21 points with 17 rebounds, the 6'7" senior absolutely controlling the paint with eight blocked shots.

Sturdivant was 8-for-13 from the field, but needs some work on his free throws, going just 5-for-18 from the stripe. On the season, he's a 60% shooter from the field, while just 48.5% from the line.

The win puts the Tigers in a position to capture the SWAC title. They have just four games left, one of them a home contest with Southern, in which they plan to avenge a 63-57 road loss with which they opened conference play.

The regular season crown may well be worth the fight, but everyone knows that winning the conference tournament is what it's all about, as that team gets the automatic nod to the NCAA tourney.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Trey Burke, Glenn Robinson III Lead Michigan to Win at Penn St.

College Hoops Player of the Day for Sunday, February 17, 2013

With #2 Duke losing to Maryland on Saturday, a few of the highly-ranked teams figure to move up when the new poll is released Monday.

For #3 Miami, their meteoric rise in the rankings nearly came to an abrupt halt at Clemson as one of the more defensive-oriented games of the season came down to the final seconds as Kenny Kadji nailed a long three-pointer with 36 seconds left to give the Hurricanes a 45-43 victory and keep their ACC record unblemished at 12-0.

#4 Michigan had an easier time of it, whipping the Penn State Nittany Lions, 79-71, behind Trey Burke's 29 points and Glenn Robinson III's double-double.

Burke, the Wolverine point guard, took matters more into his own hands, dishing just five assists, but hitting nine of 16 shots, including three 3-pointers. He was nearly flawless at the line, make eight of nine.

Robinson was perfect from the field, going 6-for-6, adding 9-for-11 from the stripe for 21 points to go with his 10 boards.

The win was important for Michigan, coming off consecutive road losses to Wisconsin and Michigan State. At 9-4, Michigan is tied with Wisconsin for third place in the Big Ten, behind co-leaders Indiana and Michigan State, both with 11-2 marks.