Friday, March 7, 2014

Xavier Stumbles, Sparty Redeems Itself, Harvard Can Clinch

Thursday saw some solid hoops action. No one fell out of the field, but one team is moving closer to the cut line. More on that after the bracket.

Last Four Byes: Oregon, Stanford, Pittsburgh, Dayton
Last Four In: BYU, Xavier, Providence, Tennessee
First Four Out: Georgetown, Missouri, California, Nebraska
Next Four Out: Florida State, Minnesota, St. John's, Southern Miss

Conference Rundown:
7: Big 12
6: Atlantic 10, Pac-12
5: ACC, American, Big Ten
4: Big East, SEC
2: Mountain West, West Coast
22 one-bid leagues

Xavier missed a golden opportunity to pick up a late quality win before the Big East tournament, losing at home to Villanova by seven, giving the Big East championship to the Wildcats. X is still in the field today, among the last four in, projected to play BYU .

Is Sparty finally back? Tom Izzo's team posted a ten-point victory over Iowa in East Lansing to complete the season-sweep and currently sits on the five-line. When healthy, Michigan State is a very dangerous team and if they get it together, can make a Final Four run. The Hawkeyes fell to the nine-line with this loss. Iowa is 5-9 against the top-50 and 6-10 versus the top-100. However, they have no bad losses, the worst coming at Indiana. Fran McCaffery and crew will be just fine on Selection Sunday.

Cincinnati put up 97 points in their win over Memphis Thursday, moving back to a tie with Louisville atop the standings. The Bearcats also have a huge schedule advantage on the final day, as they visit Rutgers Saturday, while Louisville hosts Connecticut. Should both teams win, then the SMU-Memphis game becomes important.

If Louisville, Cincinnati and SMU all win, the Cardinals would get the top seed in the American Athletic tournament. If UL, UC and Memphis win, then a coin-flip will decide the top seed in Memphis. If both UL and UC lose and SMU wins, Louisville is the top seed, while the Bearcats get the top seed if they both lose and Memphis wins.

LSU kept their slim at-large hopes alive, winning at Vanderbilt. The Tigers need a good showing in the SEC tournament to have hope. VCU all but ended Richmond's chances, winning on the road by six and UCLA avoided a slip-up at Washington, winning 91-82.

Conference USA ended in a four-way tie, with Louisiana Tech, Tulsa, Middle Tennessee and Southern Mississippi all claiming a share of the championship. However, it's the Bulldogs getting the top seed for the tournament in El Paso, Texas, an advantage for No. 5 seed UTEP, who finished just one game back of the pack.

Fairly light schedule tonight, but one that may feature the first official NCAA Tournament ticket being punched, as Harvard visits Yale. A Crimson win clinches the Ivy League title and a tournament bid for Harvard. Yale must win tonight, defeat Dartmouth tomorrow, hope Harvard loses at Brown, then win a one-game playoff to claim the Ivy. The team meet at 7:30.

More conference tournament action tonight. Here is the rundown.

Southern Conference First Round (all games in Asheville, NC)
No. 9 Appalachian State vs. No. 8 Samford, 11:00, ESPN3
No. 10 Furman vs. No. 7 Georgia Southern, 1:30, ESPN3
No. 11 Citadel vs. No. 6 UNC-Greensboro, 4:00, ESPN3

Big South Quarterfinals (all games in Conway, SC)
No. 4S Winthrop vs. No. 1N High Point, 12:00, ESPN Full Court
No. 3N Radford vs. No. 2S UNC-Asheville, 2:00, ESPN Full Court
No. 5S Charleston Southern vs. No. 1S Coastal Carolina, 6:00, ESPN Full Court
No. 3S Gardner-Webb vs. No. 2N VMI, 8:00, ESPN Full Court

Missouri Valley Quarterfinals (all games in St. Louis)
No. 9 Evansville vs. No. 1 Wichita State, 1:05, ESPN Full Court
No. 5 Illinois State vs. No. 4 Missouri State, 3:35, ESPN Full Court
No. 10 Loyola (IL) vs. No. 2 Indiana State, 7:05, ESPN Full Court
No. 6 Southern Illinois vs. No. 3 Northern Iowa, 9:35, ESPN Full Court

Horizon Quarterfinals (all games in Green Bay, WI)
No. 6 Oakland vs. No. 3 Wright State, 7:00, ESPN Full Court
No. 5 Milwaukee vs. No. 4 Valparaiso, 9:30, ESPN Full Court

Colonial First Round (in Baltimore)
No. 9 UNC-Wilmington vs. No. 8 Hofstra, 7:00

Ohio Valley Semifinals (all games in Nashville)
No. 4 Morehead State vs. No. 1 Belmont, 7:30, ESPNU
No. 3 Eastern Kentucky vs. No. 2 Murray State, 10:00, ESPNU

Plus, two games in the MAC, as Kent State visits Akron at 7:00 on ESPN2 and co-leader Western Michigan visits Central Michigan at 7:00.

Today is the calm before the storm that is the final Saturday of the regular season. Gear up, my friends. Can Wichita State keep rolling? We'll find out. Until then, take care and I'll see you tomorrow.

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