Starting with some News & Notes…
- Big news from UConn that starting guard Jerome Dyson may be out for the rest of the year with a torn meniscus in his knee. UConn has sufficient depth in the backcourt to weather this hit, but Dyson has had a great season and he will be missed.
- Knees are the news tonight, as Dayton’s third leading scorer, Rob Lowery, will also miss the rest of the year with a knee injury.
- John Pelphrey’s season at Arkansas just got worse, as he suspended his freshman starting PG, Courtney Fortson, indefinitely.
- This POY straw poll shows that Blake Griffin is running away with it at this point.
- Athletic departments around the country are feeling the economic pinch as well as the rest of us.
- Jonathan Xavier: Time Served.
Tonight’s Big Games.
- Notre Dame 90, Louisville 57. Hey T-Will, maybe you were right… some of the worst teams in the Big East can beat some of the best teams in the… Big East. You should recall that Carolina handled the very same team that just pasted you with your worst loss in BE history tonight. The same team that had just lost its last seven games. The same team that absolutely had no recourse other than to win this game (and damn near every other game) to try to get back into the NCAA Tournament this season. The opportunity is there – out of the Irish’s final seven games, only the game at UConn is probably unwinnable. 4-7 in the Big East could turn into 8-7 if they simply handle their remaining home games (USF, Rutgers, Villanova, St. John’s). Split the two roadies at WVU and Providence (+ the UConn L) and they can get to 9-9. That’s why tonight’s game was such a must-win. The Irish lit Louisville up for ten threes and 54% shooting behind Gody’s 32/17 while holding Louisville to 39% on the other end and a mere 16 pts from T-Will and Earl Clark. Pitino said his team was embarrassed, and they should be – this humiliating loss more or less ensures that the Cards won’t be winning the 2009 national title – teams that lose by 30+ never win it all. Go ahead, look it up.
- Arizona St. 74, UCLA 67. Apparently UCLA can beat everyone in the Pac-10 except for Herb Sendek’s Sun Devils. This game was back and forth until a late block/charge call on Darren Collison went ASU’s way, essentially ensuring ASU’s second victory over UCLA this season. Surprisingly maybe to people who haven’t watched much of UCLA this season but ASU shot 60% and hit eleven threes to keep the game competitive throughout; the Bruin offense is quite a bit further along than its defense this season, which is odd for a Ben Howland team. Five Sun Devils ended up in double figures, but none more than 15 pts (James Harden and Derek Glasser). This loss by UCLA really tightens up the top of the Pac-10, with five teams now within one game of first place.
- Gonzaga 72, St. Mary’s 70. We checked into this one to see if St. Mary’s could parlay its raucous home crowd into an upset over Gonzaga without their star, Patty Mills, on the floor. The answer was no, but one thing is fairly clear to us – St. Mary’s is the best team in the WCC with Patty Mills, and it’s really not close. The Gaels were unbeaten and whipping Gonzaga when he was injured in Spokane, and the fact that they were this close at home with the mercurial Mills playing announcer (still can’t get over that accent…), convinces us that SMC is the better team. Gonzaga has better individual talent in our eyes, but for some reason, they’re just not maximizing their potential this season (or any season). Josh Heytvelt had 20/10 but it was his three missed FTs down the stretch that kept the door open for St. Mary’s, who had two possessions in the last ten seconds to win the game. Keep an eye on SMC in the NCAAs, but forget about the Zags.
Other Games Heading into the Weekend…
- Illinois 60, Northwestern 59. Utterly heartbreaking loss for NW and inspirational comeback win for Illinois in Evanston. NW led 57-43 with 5 mins to go, but could only manage two more points as Demetri McCamey’s shot with 2.9 seconds hit bottoms for the Illini win.
- Temple 61, St. Joseph’s 59. Ahmad Nivins had 21/6 in this Big 5 matchup that resulted in St. Joe’s taking its second A10 loss of the year. Dionte Christmas had 19/11 for Temple.
- Davidson 78, Wofford 61. Steph Curry Watch – 39/5/3 assts on 14-24 FGs (5-8 3FGs).
- Washington St. 67, Oregon 38. Please tell us Ernie Kent is gone after this season.
- Arizona 83, USC 76. The winner of this one was going to have a definite bubble advantage going into the last few weeks of the season, and both teams seemed to know it. Arizona used a late 6-0 run fueled by USC turnovers to win its sixth in a row and go to 7-5 in the Pac-10. Nic Wise had 27 pts and Chase Budinger had 25 pts in the win.
- Utah St. 62, Idaho 53. USU struggled for a while in this one, but pulled away late to go to 24-1 (12-0) on the season. Gary Wilkinson had 17/10.
- Washington 79, Oregon St. 60. No letdown for the Huskies at home tonight, as Justin Dentmon had 28/7 assts to go to 8-3 in the Pac-10 (tied with UCLA).
On Tap Friday (all times EST). Actually, another fairly good Big East game on Friday this week…
- Villanova @ West Virginia (ESPN) – 9pm. Villanova’s been hot, having won its last six games, but WVU sorta needs this one. Should be an interesting environment on a Friday night in Morgantown.