Blogging Championship Week: Thursday

Bookmark this page and check back periodically for my thoughts as I watch the scores roll in on Thursday. There are at least 10 bubble teams in action today, starting with Providence/Louisville in the Big East quarterfinals.

1:32 AM:
I’m going to hit the hay. I’ll be back tomorrow at 12 PM ET to start this all again. New Mexico is currently down seven to Wyoming with two minutes to play, so their bubble might be bursting tonight. It was a great day of basketball capped by one of the best games I’ve ever seen.

1:25 AM: The Orangemen finally prevailed, 127-117 (6 OT). Syracuse plays a ton of zone and I think that gave them an advantage in a game of this length. When you’re playing man to man, you have to go from side to side (of the half court) to cover your guy. When you’re in a zone, you just cover an area, so there’s less running involved. Over the course of a regular 40-minute game, it doesn’t make that much of a difference, but if you give a player the choice of playing 70 minutes of man-to-man or 70 minutes of zone, they’ll pick zone. Zone simply requires less effort, and I think the Orangemen had more in the tank at the end. I’m exhausted and I didn’t play a minute. What a great game…

1:07 AM: This is insane. This UConn/Syracuse game just went to a 6TH OVERTIME! Forget about the winner having any gas left in the tank for tomorrow night. Hell, they might not even show up to play.

12:57 AM: Bill Rafferty with the line of the night, “These guys are so tired they’re going to need cabs to get to the other end of the court.” A.J. Price has been great in the last two OTs.

12:47 AM: Wow, what a game in New York. UConn and Syracuse are in a 5TH OVERTIME. My TiVo ran out of space at the end of the second overtime, so I checked the internet to see who won and I saw that the game was still going on. So I flipped it on and watched the 4th OT. Hasheem Thabeet just fouled out, but Syracuse couldn’t finish at the rim with time winding down. Five more minutes.

11:06 PM:
USC just beat Cal in a tight one, so the Trojans are still alive for an NCAA berth. Mizzou is controlling its game against Texas Tech as is Boston College in its game versus Virginia. UConn and Syracuse are battling with about nine minutes left on ESPN. The Huskies are up two and probably need the win if they hope to secure a #1 seed next week.

10:00 PM: USC is beating Cal by 15 at halftime. The Trojans are a team that could play their way into a bid with a few wins in the Pac-10 tourney. Their RPI (61) and SOS (27) aren’t bad, but they’re 0-4 against Top 25 RPI teams.

9:17 PM: Down goes Pitt! Down goes Oklahoma! The Panthers lost to a very good West Virginia team that was helped by DeJuan Blair’s foul trouble. Watch out for the Mountaineers in the tourney. Meanwhile, Oklahoma State nipped Oklahoma in a great game, which means that the top two seeds in the Big 12 tourney have been knocked out (and Missouri has yet to play). OSU was already in, but now the door is open for a team like Baylor or Texas Tech to get a bid by winning the tourney. The other three teams still alive – OSU, Mizzou and Texas — are already in. In the ACC, Maryland beat NC State to keep the Terps’ slim NCAA hopes alive. They really need to win another game or two to have a legit shot.

7:39 PM: West Virginia is giving Pitt a tough game, but if you believe Ken Pomeroy’s rankings, the Mountaineers are the #9 team in the nation. Washington beat Stanford, San Diego State put away UNLV (bad news for the other bubble teams), Maryland is in a tight game against NC State (a game that they MUST win) and Oklahoma State is giving Oklahoma a good run.

6:36 PM: Stanford is giving #10 Washington a good game. The Huskies lead by three at halftime. Also, San Diego St. is up 15 on projected #10-seed UNLV, so a win might put them in.

6:26 PM: It looks like the three Big Ten teams on the bubble took care of business today. Penn State is currently blowing out Indiana, while Michigan and Minnesota both won earlier today. Does this mean that the conference will get eight bids? Well, Joe Lunardi had them projected to get eight before today’s action, so you’d have to believe that it’s an even better bet now. As for that Wisconsin/Ohio State game tomorrow, Lunardi had them both projected to be #9 seeds, so the loser should still be safe. Minnesota has Michigan State, Michigan faces Illinois and Penn State will go on to face Purdue. Will the committee hold it against any of these teams if they lose to that kind of competition? Maybe they just need to show up and play a good game. Time will tell.

There’s a lull in the games here as the Big East and ACC take a break for the news on the East Coast. Things will pick up in a half hour or so.

5:18 PM: Well, KSU fell to Texas down the stretch and the Wildcats are out.

5:06 PM: Texas and Kansas State are in a dogfight. They’re tied with 2:20 to play. The game is on ESPN2 (as a part of its bonus coverage). The Wildcats really need a win to get back in to the bubble conversation.

4:46 PM: Great finish in New York! Villanova’s Reggie Redding drove into the lane and Jerel McNeal completely lost track of Dwayne Anderson who snuck behind him and caught the feed from Redding for the game-winning buzzer-beater. McNeal also made a mental error on Marquette’s previous possession. His team was up one and there was a four second difference between the shot clock and the game clock. He took the ball to the hole with 0:17 remaining and took a shot with 15 ticks left on the game clock. In that situation you have to let the clock run down as much as possible. With the missed shot, he gave Nova an opportunity to get the ball up court and get a good shot. Meanwhile, Arizona is down eight with under two minutes to play. Things are looking rough for the Wildcats. They are really on the hot seat with a loss.

4:38 PM: We had some technical problems for a bit — sorry. In the meantime, Marquette climbed back into the game and has tied it with 2:13 to play (on ESPN). ASU holds a six-point lead over Arizona with eight minutes to play.

3:02 PM:
Michigan has jumped all over Iowa, 25-15, midway through the first half. Villanova leads Marquette by 12. The Eagles just aren’t the same team without Dominic James, though that’s not a big surprise.

2:34 PM: Well, Baylor just beat Kansas. I don’t think the Jayhawks are a legit Final Four team. Bracket-wise, I wouldn’t feel good about having them go that far. They’ve lost two of their last three and, although they beat Oklahoma in late February, the Sooners were without Blake Griffin. Michigan/Iowa is about to tip off on ESPN2. Marquette/Villanova is early in the first half as well.

2:14 PM: Wow, Minnesota closed with a 16-4 run to get past Northwestern. I think that win will be enough to get the Gophers in barring a surprise. Joe Lunardi (ESPN Bracketologist) had Minnesota as an #11 seed before the win. Meanwhile, Kansas is in a dogfight with Baylor on ESPN2.

2:05 PM: Digger Phelps said on the pregame show that UConn is a “lock” for a #1 seed and I disagree. Oklahoma already has a better RPI (and a tougher schedule), and Michigan State is just behind the Huskies (with a MUCH tougher schedule). Obviously, if UConn wins the Big East Championship, they’ll get a #1 seed, and they might move ahead of Pitt with a potential win over the Panthers in the semis, but if they lose to Syracuse or Pitt, I think they end up as a #2 seed, especially if the Sooners and/or the Spartans win their conference tournament.

1:48 PM:
Providence didn’t really come out to play, and Len Elmore just said the same thing about yesterday’s game against DePaul. Down 14 with under four minutes to play. Good news for the other bubble teams. Minnesota is in a tight one against Northwestern (50-49, 3:46 to play), and the Gophers are really going to be on the hot seat if they lose that one. Miami is just getting spanked by Virginia Tech. I think the Hokies will get a bid if they beat North Carolina tomorrow.

1:34 PM: Kansas is struggling with Baylor but has made a run. It’s tough to get a read on the Jayhawks. They had great back-to-back wins against Oklahoma and Missouri, but then they go and lose to Texas Tech and now they’re trailing Baylor. We’ll see if they can get it straightened out in the second half.

1:27 PM: It was a really sloppy first half in the Providence/Louisville game — 25 combined turnovers. Still, the Friars had to be happy to be in the game after giving the ball away 15 times in the first 20 minutes. Providence really needs this one to get a bid. Luckily for the Friars, Terrence Williams has not played well.

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