ATB: Ashton Gibbs Had It All Along…Posted by rtmsf on March 5th, 2010
Close Calls. In two closer-than-expected games, #12 Michigan State and #18 Pittsburgh held on to their positions in the Big Ten and Big East, respectively, with quite a bit still on the line. For MSU, it’s a shot at a shared Big Ten regular season title; for Pitt, it was a double-bye in the Big East Tournament next week.
- #18 Pittsburgh 73, Providence 71. In a closely contested game throughout, it was Ashton Gibbs who saved Pittsburgh from what would have been their worst loss of the season at full strength (the IU loss in December was without several players). With 3.5 seconds remaining, Gibbs (25/4/3 assts) received the ball at the right hash mark on the opposite end of his basket, took two dribbles before stopping and pulling up from about 28 feet to drain a game-winning three at the horn. The bucket moved the Panthers to 12-5 in the Big East, and with a win over Rutgers this weekend in combination with a Villanova loss to WVU, the preseason-unranked kids from the Steel City would be the #2 seed in next week’s Big East Tournament. Simply amazing considering the talent in that league this year.
- #12 Michigan State 67, Penn State 65. We’re really not going to fall into this trap that Tom Izzo likes to set for us seemingly every year. His teams always win a bunch of games, but many of those wins seem to come by a mere point or two, and they also lose a few more than you might expect. Then the Spartans get into the NCAA Tournament and the very same players who were somewhat underwhelming during the regular season put it all together for another run to the Final Four. So we’ll reserve judgment on this year’s MSU team until we see what happens later this month. Tonight Penn State had the ball with five seconds remaining but they were unable to get a shot off to win or tie the game. With the win, MSU moves to 13-4 in the Big Ten and the Spartans will host rival Michigan this weekend to try to tie Ohio State (and possibly Purdue) for the top record in the league.
Should Washington Join the Bubble Conversation Along With Ole Miss, Dayton and Arizona State?
- Washington 86, Oregon 72. With an RPI of #53, twenty wins, and a better strength of schedule than its bubble peers Mississippi State and Virginia Tech, shouldn’t the Huskies at least be in the conversation? They’ve beaten Texas A&M, Portland and Cal, which is a resume of quality Ws at least as good as Mississippi State (best win: Old Dominion), Dayton (best win: Xavier) and Virginia Tech (best win: Clemson). We’re well aware how down the Pac-10 has been this year, but just because everyone has already seemed to decide that it’s a one-bid league shouldn’t make it necessarily so. The resumes need to speak for themselves, and we’re having trouble understanding the difference between the above teams. Quincy Pondexter had 34/10/6 assts in tonight’s win.
- Ole Miss 72, LSU 59. Ole Miss notched its twentieth win of the season behind Chris Warren’s 22/5 assts, but what the Rebels are really interested in is securing a first round bye in the SEC Tournament next week. They can do so by beating Arkansas in Fayetteville on Saturday, no small task considering that they already lost to the Hawgs in Oxford earlier this season. The Rebs are #55 in the current RPI and have a blockbuster win over K-State on their resume along with a steadily improving win over UTEP to brag about. However, in the SEC, their best wins are over Alabama (twice). Ugh. We think that Ole Miss still has some work to do, but few teams they’re competing with have such a great resume-enhancing win as that early season victory over KSU.
- Richmond 60, Dayton 56. UR still has a shot at the #2 seed in the A10 Tournament next weekend if the Spiders can win at Charlotte and Temple loses versus GW (not likely). Dayton is getting propped up in the bracketology analysis by a good RPI of #41, but they’ve lost three of four and their resume isn’t exactly popping with quality wins. They did beat Georgia Tech, Old Dominion and Xavier this season, which is just a nice way of saying that there are no marquee wins on their resume. We’re not ripping the Flyers, as their resume is just as good or bad as any of these other teams, but we sometimes feel that there’s a tendency to become wedded to certain teams being in or out early on, making it harder to evaluate them fairly down the stretch.
- Arizona State 59, USC 54. If Herb Sendek’s team planned on remaining in the bubble picture, they knew that they had to win both games against USC and UCLA this weekend. The Sun Devils are halfway there, as Rihards Kuksiks knocked down six treys en route to a 24/5/3 stls night. ASU played some good teams in the nonconference schedule (Duke, BYU, Baylor), but they couldn’t beat any of them and so their best wins are against fellow west coasters San Diego State and Washington. If ASU and Washington both win over the weekend, they’d be situated as the #2/#3 seeds in the Pac-10 Tournament. Could we be looking at a potential knockout semifinal matchup next Friday night?
Conference Tourneys. These things are gearing up, folks. There were ten tournament games tonight over four conferences and there will be twenty-two games on Friday covering eight conferences. One thing we can say with reasonable assurance: whoever comes out of the A-Sun will be a #16 seed in the NCAAs!
- Missouri Valley. Two first round games at Arch Madness tonight, resulting in a couple of good ones! In the #8/#9 game with the winner getting #1 Northern Iowa tomorrow night, Drake’s Josh Young nailed a ten-footer with one second remaining to lift the Bulldogs over Southern Illinois, while in the nightcap, #7 Missouri State edged past #10 Evansville behind Kyle Weem’s 12/11. The Bears will play #2 Wichita State tomorrow night in the quarters, which will be covered on RTC Live.
- Big South. In the Big South semis, #1 Coastal Carolina whomped UNC-Asheville easily for the third time this season to move into Saturday’s championship game. The mild surprise of the night, however, was #3 Winthrop beating #2 seed and defending champion Radford by fifteen points en route to their fifth Big South title game appearance in six years. The Eagles held Radford to 25% shooting and their star player to 3-11 FGs, although he had 18 rebounds. Winthrop and CCU played twice this year, with each home team winning a game.
- Atlantic Sun. This conference is wide open right now. After #1 seed Lipscomb’s upset loss last night, two other high seeds went down this evening. #5 ETSU defeated #4 Campbell behind Micah Williams’ 32/5, and #6 Mercer used its home court advantage to knock off #3 Belmont by six. The only seed remaining of the top four is #2 Jacksonville who will have the honor of playing Mercer in their building in the semis tomorrow. This is always the danger of having member schools host conference tournaments, especially when they’re a lower seed.
- NEC. The NEC quarterfinals were complete chalk tonight, with all four top seeds advancing to Sunday’s semifinal round. The two favorites, #1 Quinnipiac and #2 Robert Morris had nervous first halves followed by stronger second stanzas, and both will need to play better to get past LIU and Mount St. Mary’s, respectively.
On Tap Tomorrow.
- OVC semis – #1 Murray State vs. #4 Eastern Illinois; #2 Morehead State vs. #6 Tennessee Tech
- A-Sun semis – #2 Jacksonville @ #6 Mercer; #5 ETSU vs. #8 Kennesaw State
- Horizon 2d round – #7 Detroit vs. #3 Green Bay; #5 Cleveland State vs. #4 Milwaukee
- MVC quarters – #1 Northern Iowa vs. #8 Drake; #4 Creighton vs. #5 Bradley; #2 Wichita State vs. #7 Missouri State; #3 Illinois State vs. #6 Indiana State
- CAA 1st round – #5 VCU vs. #12 Delaware; #6 Drexel vs. #11 James Madison; #7 Hofstra vs. #10 Georgia State; #8 Towson vs. #9 UNC-Wilmington
- MAAC 1st round – #8 Loyola (MD) vs. #9 Manhattan; #7 Canisius vs. #10 Marist
- SoCon 1st round – #S3 Davidson vs. #N6 Elon; #N4 UNC-Greensboro vs. #S5 Furman; #S4 The Citadel vs. #N5 Samford; #N3 Chattanooga vs. #S6 Georgia Southern
- WCC 1st round – #5 LMU vs. #8 Pepperdine; #6 San Diego vs. #7 Santa Clara