ATB: Not Michigan State, Villanova or Tulsa? What?Posted by rtmsf on March 3rd, 2010
Feeling Title-y. There were three conference championships won tonight around the nation, and you can count the number of people on one hand who had these three picks back in November.
- #7 Ohio State 73, Illinois 57. Evan Turner put in his usual work (16/12/5 assts) for the Buckeyes and Jon Diebler rained seven threes as OSU pulled away in the second half to win at least a share of the Big 10 regular season title. Both Purdue and Michigan State will need to win both of their remaining games this week to tie the Buckeyes at the top of the standings, but regardless, OSU will be the top seed in next week’s Big 10 Tournament. If you’re looking for a darkhorse Final Four candidate, look no further than this Buckeye team with NPOY Turner leading the charge. We heard that they RTC’d tonight in Columbus to celebrate the championship, but we’ve yet to have visual confirmation of this.
- #1 Syracuse 85, St. John’s 66. Newly-minted #1 Syracuse put five players into double figures in an easy win that captured the Big East regular season title outright tonight. The Orange were led by Arinze Onuaku’s 21/8 as the senior played in front of his mother for the first time in his career. SU will now travel to Louisville for a Saturday matchup against one of the two teams that has beaten them this year, while the presumably-motivated Cards will be playing for their postseason lives as they simultaneously close down Freedom Hall. Will Jim Boeheim’s kids have the focus needed to overcome the expected Cardinal surge with their top seed in the Big East Tournament already sewn up?
- #21 UTEP 80, Marshall 76. The Miners clinched the CUSA regular season title with a strong second half showing led by star Randy Culpepper, who poured in 22 of his 31 points after the break. UTEP has now won thirteen in a row and they’re doing it with great defense and balanced scoring from the aforementioned Culpepper and big men Derrick Caracter (14/9 on the year) and Arnett Moultrie (10/7 on the year). Marshall’s Hassan Whiteside threw up another ridiculous line (20/14/6 blks), but it wasn’t enough for the Herd, who now drop to 10-5 in the conference. UTEP is ranked #50 in the RPI, but you’d have to believe a strong showing in next week’s CUSA Tourney will get them in.
Teams That Helped Themselves. There were a lot more teams that seemed more interested in hurting themselves than helping themselves this evening.
- Clemson. The Tigers guaranteed themselves a winning ACC record with tonight’s win over Georgia Tech, in so doing also likely cemented a spot in the NCAA Tournament. With a win on Saturday at Wake Forest, Clemson will also earn a first-round bye into the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament next week.
- Marquette. The Golden Eagles were already in the NCAA Tournament, but their win tonight solidifies things and also gives MU a shot at the prestigious double-bye in the Big East Tourney next week. Now at 11-6 in conference, they need Pitt to lose twice this week, but at worst with this win Marquette will end up with the #5 seed.
- Missouri. Mizzou played with fire in allowing its game with Iowa State to go into overtime, but Zaire Taylor’s driving two at the buzzer gave them the escape they needed to make a claim on third place in the Big 12 standings. Taylor essentially won the game for the Tigers, with three clutch shots in key situations. They’ll have an opportunity to make some noise on Saturday when they host Kansas in Columbia.
Teams That Hurt Themselves.
- Minnesota. The Selection Committee will say that a loss to Michigan where the Gophers were completely embarrassed (83-55) is no worse than any other loss, but they’d be lying. When it comes down to the final analysis, this abomination will stick in the minds of the committee members. And why shouldn’t it? It was Michigan’s second-largest D1 win of the year (they beat Coppin State by 30), and we don’t even want to hear the word Gopher unless “NIT” is also nearby.
- Georgia Tech. The Jackets went 1-7 in the ACC on the road this year, which doesn’t inspire much confidence given that they have two first round picks in their starting lineup. Another loss tonight means that GT will have to beat Va Tech at home on Saturday to get to .500 in the conference. If not, does 7-9 with one quality win over Duke get the Jackets in?
- Louisville. Louisville laid an egg in Milwaukee, and although they’re probably still NCAA-worthy at 10-7 in the Big East and a #32 RPI, the Cards surely could use a marquee win against #1 Syracuse on Saturday to close down Freedom Hall after 54 years.
- Florida. The Gators, with a #46 RPI and a game looming at Kentucky on Sunday, are fast-tracking their way back to the NIT for the third consecutive season. This is a tough team to figure, but their two best wins occurred in November (Michigan State and Florida State) and how many times can you claim that beating the likes of Tennessee, Ole Miss and Mississippi State are quality wins?
- Illinois. The Illini have now lost four of five and are teetering toward the edge with their loss tonight. The problem is their RPI in the 70s, which means that the home game against Wisconsin this weekend and the Big Ten Tournament are going to have to produce wins for Bruce Weber’s team.
- Cincinnati. UC’s bubble was already in serious trouble, but an upset home win against Villanova would have gone a long way toward getting the Bearcats back in the discussion. Didn’t happen. Cincy will have another shot at a quality win this weekend at reeling Georgetown, but it’ll take more than that to get back into the picture.
Conference Tourneys. We started things off with a couple of minor upsets in our first three tournaments tonight, with the Atlantic Sun and the Patriot on tap to begin tomorrow.
- Big South. The four higher seeds (Coastal Carolina, Radford, Winthrop and UNC Asheville) all advanced to Thursday’s semifinals though #2 seed Radford took the biggest scare, requiring overtime to defeat Charleston Southern, 64-61. Last year’s conference champion survived behind Artsiom Parakhouski’s 24/13, and the Highlanders will play #3 seed Winthrop, whom they just beat last Saturday by two points in Virginia. Top seed CCU will battle #4 seed UNCA, whom they defeated twice this season.
- Horizon. There was one mild upset as visiting Detroit knocked out Valparaiso behind Eli Holman’s 24/15 to move into the quarterfinals on Friday. The other higher seeds — #3 Green Bay, #4 Milwaukee and #5 Cleveland State — all advanced at home. Each team will now move to Indianapolis where UD will take on Green Bay and Milwaukee will battle Cleveland State. Those two winners will face Butler and Wright State in Saturday’s semifinals.
- Ohio Valley. The top two seeds, #1 Murray State and #2 Morehead State moved into the semifinals easily, while #3 Austin Peay wasn’t so lucky. Despite playing at home, the Govs lost out on the chance to continue playing in Nashville for a shot at the Big Dance this weekend, losing to #6 Tennessee Tech by three. Eastern Illinois moved on to play Murray while Morehead will take on TTU on Friday.