Well, now that I'm on Spring Break with lots of free time, I'll update on some Championship Week happenings. I'll begin with a look at how the major conference tournaments look from here for Saturday and Sunday.
This has been THE best ACC tournament ever. Simply amazing. No higher seed wins on Thursday, as Florida State squeaks by Clemson, Miami surprises Maryland, State roughs up Duke in overtime, and Wake guts out a double-overtime win over Georgia Tech. On Friday, UNC powers past FSU despite looking out of focus for much of the game (credit Wayne Ellington for keeping Florida State out of the running for much of it), BC barely manages to get past Miami in overtime, NC State rides 74% shooting in the second half to make up for an abysmal 33% field-goal percentage in the first half in its upset over Virginia, and Wake's late Thursday night comes home to roost against Virginia Tech, in which they just tanked in the second half. On Saturday, UNC plays Boston College. Neither team looked very focused on Friday, so look for both coaches to have really dug into their players in preparation for this one. In the nightcap, Virginia Tech plays a suddenly frisky NC State team. If the Pack shooters heat up, watch out. Costner has dominated in his first two games and will match up well with the athletic Hokie forwards. If Atsür continues shooting well, as he did in the second half versus Virginia, and State can get a good night from McCauley, it shouldn't be too difficult to get to the finals. The most important thing to be wary of is depth, as State has not gotten anything out of its bench players, per the regular season. How long can the Pack ride its five starters? We'll find out. It's been a great ride, regardless.
In terms of bids, Florida State didn't show well against UNC, which I thought they needed to do, and Georgia Tech lost to Wake, even though it was in double overtime. This could be trouble for both, but I think ultimately Georgia Tech will be dancing, while Thornton & Co. watch from Tallahassee.
We're in the finals now for the Big East. All four top seeds advanced to the semifinals, and Georgetown and Pittsburgh have advanced to the finals. Look for Roy Hibbert & Co. to pick apart Pitt. Yawn.
Well, Michigan kept it close, but couldn't seal the deal against Ohio State, the team that looks like it's the only lock for a #1 seed at this point in the NCAA Tournament. Purdue and Wisconsin freaking crushed Iowa and Michigan State, respectively, and Illinois got by Indiana in overtime. Matchups for the semifinals are Ohio State-Purdue and Wisconsin-Illinois. I think both Purdue and Illinois are dancing after their wins today, but beating one of the top two seeds in the Big Ten certainly wouldn't hurt. Michigan is likely out after falling to Ohio State.
In the quarters, Oklahoma chokes against Kansas, Texas Tech gets EMBARRASSED by Kansas State (66-45), Oklahoma State topples Texas A&M by one (?!?!?), and Texas manages to stave off Baylor by five. Matchups for the semis are Kansas-Kansas State and Oklahoma State-Texas. Not too thrilled with these matchups, but Kansas State and Oklahoma State are likely still fighting for their NCAA Tournament lives, so we could have two upsets on our hands if Kansas and Texas are at all lackadaisical.
In the quarters, Oregon spanks Arizona (the most mysterious team, in my opinion, as to how they will perform in the Tournament), Cal upsets UCLA in OT, Washington State handles a likely-out Washington team, and my beloved Cardinal loses by four in OT to SoCal. Oregon is in the finals after destroying California. They face SoCal, which won by nine versus Washington State tonight.
The SEC, which doesn't know how to properly fill out a conference tournament bracket, has had some funky finishes. In the quarters, Kain'tuck lost to Mississippi State on a weird lane violation, Arkansas squeaked by an overrated Vanderbilt team by one, and Florida and Ole Miss annihilated Georgia and LSU, respectively. An underrated Mississippi State team faces a ho-hum Arkansas squad in the semis opposite a Florida-Ole Miss matchup. Can Ole Miss keep the West Side mojo going?
NCAA Tournament look
At this point, it looks as though no one but Ohio State is a lock for a #1 seed. Contenders still are UNC, Kansas, Texas A&M, Florida, Georgetown, UCLA, and Wisconsin. Texas A&M lost to Oklahoma State tonight, which won't bode well with the Selection Committee, so I'd say they're a #2 seed. Even though UCLA lost to Cal, they should still be getting heavy consideration for a #1 seed. All other contenders are still alive in their respective conference tournaments, so it's really too close to call at this point. We'll take a look back as the tournaments finish up tomorrow and on Sunday.
In bubble news, Xavier loses to Rhode Island tonight (?!?!?), so that will take a spot from the at-large pool (Xavier is certainly worthy of one). Nevada also lost to Utah State (again), removing one other spot. I take now a selection from the most recent installment of Bubble Watch:
"If you believe Nevada and Xavier are in (which is a very safe bet), and you believe Purdue, Illinois and Kansas State are now likely to get there (which is pretty reasonable), that leaves only one at-large spot for the rest of the pool -- and that assumes that Memphis doesn't lose in the C-USA final Saturday.
Here's the pool of teams that appear to be in contention for that spot:
Air Force, Stanford, Florida State, West Virginia, Old Dominion, Drexel, Missouri State and Appalachian State."
I don't think Kansas State is in at this point, so I'm going to put them in the second list, with two to choose from. At this point, I'd have to give the nod to West Virginia and Missouri State. If Kansas State beats Kansas, that obviously punches their ticket, and I'd go with West Virginia over Missouri State if that's the case. Another "last one out" scenario for Missouri State this year, which really sucks for them. Also, I'd like to point out that the CAA sucks balls this year. This clearly means that if any of them gets a bid alongside VCU, they'll wreck my bracket, because there's no way I'm picking either Old Dominion or Drexel to win a game in the Tournament. Unless they play UNLV or BYU.