February 24, 2011
With the regular season funneling towards its close, here's a look at who did themselves a favor and who floundered in a packed Wednesday night slate ...
Cincinnatti's non-conference schedule can still make for a good punchline, but the Bearcats have earned their spot in the upcoming NCAA tournament. They've done it by getting their quality wins in Big East play, and now have a potential first round bye in the league tournament within reach. If Cincy shows up and defends in the first round of the NCAA tourney like it did last week against Louisville and on Wednesday night in a 58-46 win at Georgetown, it'll be a nightmare for whoever they draw.
The Hoyas didn't necessarily lose on Wednesday night as much as they hit an unfortunate road block. Unlike Cincinnati, Georgetown has known for a while that it's a shoo-in for the dance. But in the loss to the Bearcats, the their prospects of a deep tournament run may have suffered a major blow. The team's pulse — senior point guard Chris Wright — suffered a broken left hand early in the second half, and it's unknown how long he'll be out. If it means the season, it will be crippling for a team that many believed could be a Final Four dark horse.
Winner: Utah State
The Aggies didn't even play on Wednesday night, but with San Jose State upsetting New Mexico State in overtime behind a ho-hum 36-point effort from Adrian Oliver, Utah State clinched the outright WAC regular season title. That far from guarantees an NCAA tourney bid, but without a marquee win anywhere near the résumé, every little bit has to help at this point, right?
Another day, another road loss in SEC play. This time, it came in overtime at Arkansas, 77-76. For those of you keeping score at home, the Wildcats are now 1-6 away from Lexington in conference games. I'd expand, but it's getting tougher and tougher to find ways to be original on the topic.
Winner: Kansas State
Maybe the Cats really have found something here late in the season. An ugly 61-57 victory at Nebraska marked their third in a row. It's a run that began with last Monday's resounding whipping of top-ranked Kansas. K-State is now 19-9 overall and 7-6 in the Big 12, with winnable home games against Missouri and Iowa State remaining, sandwiched around a trip to face Texas. Ladies and gentlemen, here's your potential 9-seed that no one will want to face in a couple of weeks.
Beating Texas on Saturday got the Cornhuskers onto the bubble. And just as quickly, they may have slid right off. With spring football right around the corner, surely the locals are far from restless.
The Rebels were on the at-large ropes last Wednesday after barely beating Air Force, 49-42. Since then came Saturday's 68-61 win at Colorado State and now a 77-74 overtime victory at New Mexico. Combined with a CSU loss at BYU, the Rebels, on top of all but punching their dance card for the fourth time in five years, are tied with the Rams in the loss column for third in the Mountain West standings. Avoiding that No. 4 vs. No. 5 quarterfinal in the league tourney is crucial for both teams.
Loser: Colorado State
It's hard to call Colorado State a complete loser. Tim Miles' club lost at BYU, which pretty much everyone in the league does. The Rams now likely have to win at San Diego State to keep their tourney hopes alive, but even if they don't, the NIT should be considered an incredible accomplishment for a program that's only three years removed from an 0-16 record in the MWC.
Winner: Marshon Brooks
Providence lost its fifth straight on Wednesday, 94-93 at home to Notre Dame. It's a lost season for the Friars, but at least Brooks is getting something out of it. The 6-foot-5 senior was a ridiculous 20-of-28 from the floor and scored 52 points in the defeat. At this point, he has the never-ending green light and can do what he wants, it seems. Even if Providence is faltering, Brooks is at least keeping the team worth watching, while padding his NBA draft stock one outburst at a time.
Loser: Boston College
A 73-64 loss at home to Miami? Not a good look. None of the bubble teams in the ACC appear to want to make it easy on themselves.