Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Calm Before the Storm

I’ve been waiting for a game I am watching to come down to the final shot. And while Providence, Cincinnati, and Seton Hall played close for 35 minutes, all of the underdogs failed in the final minutes. But out west Cal and Washington delivered a classic back-and-forth battle.

The Huskies fell 3 points short when Venoy Overton’s 3 pointer was partially blocked as time expired. The play of the game came at the hands of Ryan Anderson, (who else), just moments earlier. With 41 seconds left on the game clock and his team nursing a 1 point lead, Anderson caught the ball and drained a 3 as the shot clock expired. Anderson had 22 points and 16 rebounds and Cal gets UCLA tomorrow afternoon.

Looking back, the last two days have been very quiet. Syracuse officially punched a ticket for the NIT today, but I had them out already. I’m projecting Arizona as the winner against Oregon St., so they’ll live to fight another day. Amazingly, my projected NCAA field has stayed the same for two straight days.

But I doubt it will stay the same again on Thursday. Just look at these match-ups:
(You can take the first round of the NCAA tournament if you want, but I’ll take this Thursday and Friday of conference tournament action any day.)

12pm – Villanova vs Georgetown – Villanova’s victory over Syracuse may have earned a bid, but this would eliminate any doubt.

12pm – Xavier vs Dayton – If Dayton is going to prove that they are a better team now that Chris Little is healthy (and Chris Wright is healthy enough to put on a uniform), they have to win this game.

12pm – Wake Forest vs Florida St. – The way things are breaking, these teams probably don’t have any at large chances. But Wake Forest beat Duke and Florida St. took North Carolina to overtime earlier in the year. So it will still be interesting to see which of these teams gets another shot at UNC.

12:30pm – Texas Tech vs Oklahoma St. – Texas Tech and Oklahoma St. have already proven they can beat Texas and Kansas. So who gets another shot at Texas?

1pm – UAB vs Tulsa – I don’t really think UAB can earn an auto-bid at this point, but because they probably have the best chance of beating Memphis, it is worth keeping an eye on them.

2:30pm – Connecticut vs West Virginia – I’m not buying that West Virginia is still a bubble team. This is just a game between two teams that want to earn better NCAA tournament seeds.

2:30pm – St. Joe’s vs Richmond – A loss officially eliminates St. Joe’s from the equation.

2:30pm – Miami vs NC State – Miami doesn’t want to lose the opening game after finishing 8-8 in conference. And NC State has beaten enough top 100 teams to make the Hurricanes nervous.

3pm – Baylor vs Colorado – Baylor rebounded after a poor start to February. But another loss in the final 12, especially to Colorado, could be costly.

3pm – USC vs Arizona St. –It isn’t that I don’t believe in Arizona St., but almost every year one team gets singled out and left out because of a weak NCSOS. Arizona St. needs this game a lot more than USC.

3pm – BYU vs Colorado St. – Colorado St. won zero games against MWC teams until they beat Wyoming on Wednesday. Do they have an encore? And what about the winless Colorado St. women’s team beating a Utah team that went undefeated in MWC play. Anything can happen.

3:30pm – Vanderbilt vs Auburn – Vanderbilt has the quality wins to get a high seed, but Pomeroy’s rankings says they have been very lucky. Does the luck end here?

5:30pm – UCLA vs California –After last year, no one is taking this game for granted. Heck, after Saturday, no one is taking this game for granted.

6:30pm – Temple vs La Salle – Temple has a win over Xavier and a second place finish, but they still need a deep tournament run to have any hope at an at-large bid.

7pm – Pittsburgh vs Louisville – A lot of people think Louisville is the best team in the Big East, but if they are going to win the Big East tournament, they’ll have to earn it.

7pm – Kent St. vs Toledo – Bubble teams can’t take any more stress. Kent St. better not lose.

7pm – Memphis vs Tulane – There is no chance Memphis goes down early. But I’ll still check the box score.

7:30pm – Florida vs Alabama – Can Richard Hendrix make it official and end Florida’s hopes?

9pm – Washington St. vs Oregon – Will the Pac10 really get seven teams? I think they should but Oregon wants to make sure they don’t get left out of the equation.

9pm – UNLV vs TCU – The Running Rebels need to keep winning, and the home crowd should help.

9pm – UMass vs Charlotte – Charlotte has been a very inconsistent team. They’ve lost some very questionable games but they also have a lot of wins against the RPI top 100. That’s dangerous for UMass.

9:30pm – Maryland vs Boston College – Maryland has fallen out of the field. Another loss here is the final nail in the coffin.

9:30pm – Notre Dame vs Marquette – Marquette has the perimeter players to shut down Notre Dame’s shooters, but do they have the inside play to contain Big East POY Luke Harangody?

9:30pm – Texas A&M vs Iowa St. – When you finish 8-8 in conference, you better win this game.

10:00pm – Ole Miss vs Georgia – Ole Miss has the quality wins to stay on the bubble. Now they just need the thing they were missing, wins against SEC teams.

11:30pm – Stanford vs Arizona –Arizona probably has enough quality wins to make it in, but with an 8-10 record, why leave anything to chance?

11:30pm – New Mexico vs Utah – Not only does New Mexico have to play in Vegas and try to steal a bid from UNLV, they open against Utah.