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Tag:big east conference
Posted on: March 14, 2010 1:07 am
 

West Virginia claims Big East title

MIKE RUTHERFORD

The Big East Tournament is the crown jewel of Championship Week, and this year showcased exactly why. 

West Virginia's 60-58 title game victory over Georgetown Saturday night marked the seventh game in the tournament (out of 15) that was decided by three points or less. It also highlighted one of the most underrated players in all of college basketball: tourney MVP Da'Sean Butler. 

Butler scored 20 points on the night, none bigger than a gritty runner in the lane with 4.2 seconds remaining that would ultimately prove to be the deciding bucket. It was just the latest heroic effort in a season chock-full of them for Butler, who banked home a three-pointer at the buzzer to beat Cincinnati in the quarterfinals on Thursday night. 

"We ran the same play we did against Cincinnati," Butler said after the game. "I scooped the layup off the glass, and it fell."

The play, termed by head coach Bob Huggins as "get the ball to Da'Sean and let him make a play," earned the Mountaineers their first Big East Tournament title and almost certainly locked up at least a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

More notes from the night:

--It's still weird for me to see Huggins as vulnerable and emotional as he was after the game. This is Bob Huggins. Bob Huggins doesn't cry. Bob Huggins coaches the scariest human beings in the world at Cincinnati and he's so intimidating that somehow guys like Kenyon Martin actually listen to him. 

--Da'Sean Butler's highlight reel from this season is truly unbelievable. How a guy that good on a top-ten team from the Big East can go that overlooked is mind-boggling. 

--I can see both Georgetown and West Virginia going to the Final Four and I can also see them both losing in the second round. The talent and coaching are definitely there for a run, but their styles of play just aren't as conducive to tournament success as Syracuse or Villanova's are. 

--The grease board in the West Virginia locker room after the game reportedly read: "6 more, 240 minutes."

--The things that Greg Monroe can do at his size are remarkable, but at what point is someone going to finally try and force him to dribble with his right hand? 

--Chris Wright inexplicably fouling with the score tied and less than 30 seconds to play would have been the story of the night had he not come down and made a sensational offensive play to tie it back up on the other end of the floor. I'm glad things ended up playing out the way they did. You'd hate to see a tournament as tremendous as this one be decided by something like that.

--I'm inviting Bilas, Raftery and McDounough to my wedding. 

--Poor officiating has been one of the biggest themes of the 2010 Big East season, but there really wasn't a great deal to complain about over the past week. The stripes may have taken up a bit too much air time during the second half on Saturday, but there certainly wasn't anything as egregious as some of the stuff we saw during the regular season.

--Hearing "Country Roads" blaring inside Madison Square Garden was surreal. 

--Georgetown was the eight seed in this tournament but will almost certainly have a number at least half that size (four...math...simplify and divide, baby) by its name on Selection Sunday. 

--After the game, Bob Huggins made his case for the Mountaineers snagging the last No. 1 seed that appears to be floating around:

"We have 18 Top 100 wins. We have nine Top 50 wins. The 18 is the most of any team in the country. Our non-league RPI was second. Our strength of schedule is going to be one. We're going to end up in the top two or three in the RPI. They say, 'Do those things' and we've done those things. That being said, we're going to enjoy this. We're going to get together tomorrow and watch the selection show, find out where we're going to go and who we're going to play."

--This was WVU's first Big East Tournament title, but they won the A-10 Tournament title back in 1984. 

--All five of West Virginia's starters are from the New York area. That's pretty cool. 

--A bit overlooked tonight is that Butler became just the third player in Mountaineer history to top the 2,000-point plateau, joining Hot Rod Hundley and Mr. Jerry West. 

--Great night, great tournament...the Butler did it. 

Posted on: March 12, 2010 10:17 pm
Edited on: March 12, 2010 10:19 pm
 

Friday night highlights

MIKE RUTHERFORD

See, it's clever because there was this book...

ACC

photo

Georgia Tech all but solidified its spot in the field of 65 by topping second-seeded Maryland, 69-64 in an ACC quarterfinal Friday night.

The Yellow Jackets led by 19 in the first half and 16 at the break, but a furious rally by the Terrapins in the opening minutes of the second-half left things nip-and-tuck from the ten-minute mark on. 

With Tech up 67-64 and under 15 seconds to play, ACC Player of the Year Grievis Vasquez pulled up for a potential game-tying three-pointer but had the ball stripped by Iman Shumpert. Vasquez then committed an intentional foul and Shumpert buried a pair of free-throws to seal the deal. 

Georgia Tech negated 26 turnovers by shooting a season-best 56% from the field. Shumpert led the Jackets with 14 points while freshman star Derrick Favors added 11 points and 11 rebounds. 

BIG TEN

E'Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson combined for 50 of Purdue's 69 points as the Boilermakers overcame an early 11-point deficit and then held off a furious late Northwestern run to advance to Saturday's Big Ten semifinal against either Michigan State or Minnesota. 

Following the game, Purdue fans said they didn't care which team they faced tomorrow night, just as long as the entire nation is still aware that Robbie Hummel is out for the season. 

BIG EAST

Georgetown and Marquette built upon a dazzling three days of Big East Tournament basketball by wowing the Garden crowd and a primetime ESPN audience with an 80-57 dud. 

Not for your fault, Hoyas. 

Georgetown, the No. 8 seed, advanced to the title game for the third time in four years. The storied program has brought the tournament title back to D.C. seven times. 

Greg Monroe continued his campaign for tournament MVP by scoring 23 points, grabbing 13 rebounds and handing out seven assists. Not that the Hoyas needed it all. Jason Clark and Chris Wright both scored 15 points and Austin Freeman added 12. 

Coming into the night, Marquette hadn't lost a game by more than nine all season. They fought to get it within five midway through the second half, but were outscored 24-6 from that point on. Jimmy "Jimmah" Butler led the Golden Eagles with 17 points. 

Georgetown awaits the winner of tonight's West Virginia/Notre Dame clash. 

SPOILER ALERT: They're going to lose to either one. 

ATLANTIC-10

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Down two with the ball and under 40 seconds to play, Dayton point guard Rob Lowery signaled for, and was granted, a timeout. Should've been the end of the story, but if it was it probably wouldn't have been the lead sentence. Xavier's Terrell Holloway slapped the ball out of Lowery's hands, an action the Flyer floor general apparently deemed worthy of punishment by half-hearted right cross. 

Lowery received a technical, Holloway knocked down four straight free-throws and the Musketeers moved onto the A-10 semis. 

Not that it should have ever come down to that.

UD led 61-46 with ten and-a-half minutes to play before they went ice cold from the field and turned to an ultra-conservative style of play. Xavier promptly went on a 19-3 run to claim a lead they wouldn't relinquish.

Dayton will not dance (figuratively...and literally, I guess) in large part because of nine losses that were decided by five points or fewer. 

SEC

Jarvis Varnado blocked 52 shots and Florida may or may not have seen its bubble burst.

Only facts you need.

Posted on: March 12, 2010 10:58 am
Edited on: March 12, 2010 11:09 am
 

Big East Day 3 Recap

MIKE RUTHERFORD

A tremendous day of basketball capped by the first major buzzer-beater of Championship Week. Three of the four double-bye top seeds go down, including No. 1 Syracuse and No. 2 Pitt, and 11th-seeded Cincinnati nearly causes bubble teams across the country to lose control of their bowels. 

If you picked this final four then you can have my envy...and a roll of smarties...send me your address. 

RESULTS

8) Georgetown 91, 1) Syracuse 84
5) Marquette 80, 4) Villanova 76
7) Notre Dame 50, 2) Pittsburgh 45
3) West Virginia 54, 11) Cincinnati 51

GAME OF THE DAY

Since this is going to be posted on the website of CBS Sports, home of the Jim Nantz, I'm contractually obligated to start this blurb with "The Butler did it." I'd rather not do it, but I seriously have no choice. This is just a precursor to the blurb, not the actual blurb itself. The blurb starts now. 

The Butler did it.

Da'Sean Butler banked home a deep and heavily contested three-pointer at the buzzer to lift third-seeded West Virginia into the Big East Tournament semifinals and end the improbable run of No. 11 Cincinnati. 

"When I got the ball, (UC freshman Lance Stephenson) kind of pressed up on me. So I kind of lost my balance, and by the time I squared up, I only had time to take one dribble instead of two or three. And when I took the one dribble, I put it up," said Butler.

Da'Sean Butler nails a shot beyond the arc, giving West Virginia a quarterfinal win over Bearcats.

Cincinnati, which trailed for the vast majority of the night, had a shot to win it with 6.4 seconds to play and the length of the court to go, but Dion Dixon, who had just been brought into the game by UC head coach Mick Cronin, mishandled the ball and lost it out-of-bounds. That set the stage for Butler, who finished the night with 15 points. 

The Mountaineers, the only one of the Big East's top four seeds still alive in the tournament, will face No. 7 Notre Dame in tonight's second semifinal. 

TEAM OF THE DAY

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Since the team of the day is Georgetown, I'm contractually obligated by CBS to start this blurb with a mention of the old saying about beating the same team three times in one season. I actually don't believe in the validity of the adage at all, but what can you do? I also prefer other car rental services to Enterprise. Blurb starts now.

You know what they say about beating a team three times in one season. 

Georgetown avenged a pair of regular season losses to arch-rival Syracuse by stunning the top-seeded Orange, 91-84 in Thursday's first Big East Tournament quarterfinal. 

Adding injury to insult for 'Cuse was senior center Arizne Onuaku hitting the floor and clutching his knee late in the game. His status for the NCAA Tournament is still unknown. 

Chris Wright led the Hoyas with 27 points, while sophomore center Greg Monroe added 15 more to go with ten rebounds and seven assists. 

"It's definitely a confidence boost," Wright said. "I don't think this team lacks confidence. I just think we're ready to play."

The loss was the second straight for regular season champion Syracuse, which entered the postseason coming off a loss at Louisville. The Orange still appear to be in good shape to capture a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, if only because they didn't have much competition for the spot heading into this week. 

DUD OF THE DAY

Pitt could only muster a season-low 45 points against the 1986 Chicago Bears Notre Dame in a 50-45 loss. The Panthers, who could have made a move to rename this thing the P.I.T. (Pittsburgh Invitational Tournament) after advancing to the title game in four straight seasons, lost in their tourney opener for the second straight year. 

"Right now we don't feel good," said Panthers head coach Jamie Dixon. "I think this will be a good learning lesson for us."

Luke Harangody and Tory Jackson each scored 12 point for Notre Dame, which has come out-of-nowhere to win six straight. 

STARS OF THE DAY

--Chris Wright (Goergetown) - 27 points

--Da'Sean Butler (West Virginia) - 15 points, game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer

--Greg Monroe (Georgetown) - 15 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists

--Wesley Johnson (Syracuse) - 24 points, seven rebounds

--Darius Johnson-Odom (Marquette) - 24 points, five assists

--Corey Stokes (Villanova) - 22 points

--Lance Stephenson (Cincinnati) - 19 points, seven rebounds

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"I think that’s what is great about tournaments. You don’t have to worry when they say you have to prepare one day after, it’s not a big deal. We’ve all played each other.We know each other. I think that’s what makes these games great. It’s been great games throughout the tournament. Our familiarity with each other is, it makes it tough beating any team." --Jay Wright

THE DAY AHEAD

Semifinal time...

#5 Marquette vs. #8 Georgetown (7 p.m.)
#3 West Virginia vs. #7 Notre Dame (9:15 p.m.)

Posted on: March 11, 2010 9:47 pm
Edited on: March 11, 2010 9:48 pm
 

Bizarro Day in the Big East Continues

MIKE RUTHERFORD

BIG EAST

Luke Harangody and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrate bouncing the Seton Hall Pirates.

Upset Thursday continued in the Big East as No. 7 Notre Dame eliminated second-seeded Pittsburgh, 50-45. Tory Jackson hit 4-of-6 threes to score 12 points and Luke Harangody came off the bench to add 12 more as the Fighting Irish won back-to-back games in the Big East Tournament for the first time in program history. 

The loss dropped teams which had earned double-byes into the quarterfinals to 0-3, with only third-seeded West Virginia left to take the court. 

After advancing to the championship game in four straight seasons, the loss marked the second straight one-and-done tournament for the Panthers, who were also the No. 2 seed in 2009. 

Notre Dame's newfound commitment to defense was on full display again, as they held Pitt to their lowest point total of the season. The Irish have now held five of their past six opponents to 54 points or fewer. They've won all six games over that span and leapt from NIT-bound to single-digit NCAA Tournament seed. 

ACC

Georgia Tech went ahead and put the bullet in the head of the gravely injured animal that was North Carolina's 2009-2010 season, knocking the Tar Heels out of the ACC Tournament by a final score of 62-58.

The Yellow Jackets, playing with their season on the line, trailed by ten at the break but a monster second half by star freshman Derrick Favors helped keep them (most likely) in the dance for the time being. Favors finished with a game-high 18 points. 

BIG 12

Kansas State began its three-day case for a one seed by completely humiliating Oklahoma State, 83-64 in a game they led by as many as 33. Jamar Samuels scored 21 of his career-high 27 points in the first half.

The Cowboys are still almost certainly in the field of 65, but the loss - which came just a day after an impressive rout of rival Oklahoma - may have knocked them down a seeding row or two. 

OTHER MAJOR CONFERENCE GAMES I WATCHED ZERO SECONDS OF

Elsewhere, Minnesota beat Penn State by 21 in a game I thank every possible religious deity that I wasn't forced to watch, and Florida at least momentarily speared itself from the knowledge of having a stressful Sunday on the horizon by knocking off Auburn, 76-55. 

Posted on: March 11, 2010 7:57 pm
 

Some Thoughts on the Day So Far

MATT JONES

8:00 PM



We are a little over halfway through the busiest day of the college basketball season.  The action has been crazy all over the place and the March field has been shaken up a bit.  Here is where we are:

1.  Big East Wackiness

Two games in New York and two very surprising results.  The Syracuse loss to Georgetown may or may not be important longterm but the statistic that no team has won a national championship after losing in the first round of their conference tournament has to be at least a bit troubling.  Luckily for the 'Cuse, the news on Onauku early is positive and it looks as if the injury might not have been as bad as early feared.  What is bad is the Orange's ability to guard anyone...after Louisville shredded the zone defense in the last regular season game, Georgetown did the same in the first in the postseason.  They look to potentially have the mantle of weakest of the #1 seeds as of this moment.

2.  Bubble Teams Dont Come Through

Three teams came into winnable games on Thursday afternoon with a chance to come close to securing an NCAA berth.  All three choked.  Two of the worst offenders were in Conference USA where Memphis and UAB both went down.  For the Tigers, there is proof that Calipari is not walking through that door, as they fell to a weak Houston team in Tulsa.  Memphis would have potentially locked up a berth wiith just one win, now they will sweat all the way through Selection Sunday.  UAB then could have taken advantage of the Tigers' fall with a victory over Southern Miss, but instead got blown out, scoring only 44 points along the way.  Mike Davis will be seeking NIT validation for yet another season.  And Paul "I cant coach my way out of a paper bag, even if Jamie Dixon were in it with me" Hewitt, saw his Rambling Wreck of a team fall to the weakest group in the ACC, the Sylvan Landesburg-less UVA Cavaliers.  I would leave all three of these teams out just on prinicple.

3.  Kansas Continues to Survive

If the mark of a great team is winning close games at the end, Kansas is trying to reach that plateau one sweaty palmed victory at a time.  This time the victim was Texas Tech, but in recent weeks nearly every team in the Big 12 could have been inserted in their place.  The Jayhawks are experienced and it shows at the end of games, but they are prone to playing way below their level and one cant help but wonder if it will catch up on a Sweet 16 Thursday or Friday night in the Big Dance.

All six major conferences are in action tonight....stay tuned.

Posted on: March 11, 2010 12:54 pm
 

What to Watch For in the Early Games

MATT JONES

12:30 PM



Today is one of the best days of the year for college basketball...all the major conferences have begun and action will come fast and furious from every direction.  I am here live in Nashville for the SEC Tournament, but we have people following all the leagues to give you the action as it happens.  Sort of like a Netflix for basketball, but you dont have to fight with your wife when she wants to put that awful Ryan Reynolds/Sandra Bullock movie at the top of your list.  Here is what to watch for in the early games:

Will Kansas stay on track for the #1 Overall Seed?

The Jayhawks open up Big 12 Tournament play with a battle against Texas Tech, who barely broke a sweat yesterday in dispatching Colorado back to Boulder for what should be an offseason of irrelevance.  Cole Aldrich and company told me on my visit to Lawrence that the conference tournament was important to them and Sherron Collins said, "we want to cut down every net that we can."  That process starts today as they try to avoid a loss that could have a major seeding regional location effect.

Georgetown and Syracuse Renew a Rivalry

If you watched basketball in the mid 1980s, you know that (a) your hair is going grey and (b) Georgetown and Syracuse hated each other.  With the elder John Thompson and Jim Boeheim roaming the sidelines, there was no more exciting game than the battle of the DC and Upstate New York powers.  The Thompson quit, a guy with a moustache took over and things quit being fun.  But Mr. Moustache has left and the youngest Thompson is back to make it heated again.  Madison Square Garden will be rocking today as the Orange and Hoyas renew acquaintances once again.  Watch this game if you do nothing else.

Also you have the ACC UVA vs Boston College "battle" (more like tickle fight) and the SEC kicks off with South Carolina and Alabama played before my very eyes.  I will try not to sneak into the back to watch the 'Cuse and the Hoyas, but I cant promise anything.  Darrin Horn's hair can only entertain me for so long.
Posted on: March 11, 2010 9:42 am
Edited on: March 11, 2010 1:38 pm
 

Big East Day 2 Recap

MIKE RUTHERFORD

RESULTS

5) Marquette 57, 13) St. John's 55
11) Cincinnati 69, 6) Louisville 66
7) Notre Dame 68, 10) Seton Hall 56
8) Georgetown 69, 9) South Florida 49

GAME OF THE DAY

We probably should just go ahead and hand this award to whichever game Marquette is playing in for the rest of the tournament. 

An amazing 12 of the Golden Eagles' 19 games against Big East opponents have been decided by three points or less. Twelve one-possession games out of 19. That's unreal. 

After suffering close defeat after close defeat in the early part of the season, Marquette has now won six of the last seven games decided by a possession, including yesterday's second round Big East Tournament triumph over de facto host St. John's. 

"We were 2-5, and since that time we've been in one- and two-possession games," Marquette coach Buzz Williams said. "... Everything has changed. The whole deal is this, our margin of error has never changed. The games that we lost, the lessons we learned, are just as important as the games we won by one or two possessions as well."

Spurred on by the New York crowd, the Red Storm, ahem, stormed back from a 14-point first half deficit to take a 53-52 lead with a little over two minutes to play. But David "Call Me Daveed" Cubillan's three-pointer with 1:11 to play gave Marquette a 55-53 lead they wouldn't relinquish. 

The Golden Eagles move on to face No. 4 Villanova, a squad that twice beat them by two points in early January. St. John's, conversely, moves into an offseason that will - at least early on - be dominated by talk of head coach Norm Roberts' future. 

TEAM OF THE DAY

In one performance Notre Dame silenced both those who feel they don't belong in the NCAA Tournament and those who feel they're better off without Luke Harangody. 

Behind 'Gody's 20 points and 10 rebounds, the Irish dominated a desperate Seton Hall team from start-to-finish. Though Notre Dame's teams in the Mike Brey era have been mostly defined by their offense, this squad has played its way into the field of 65 with its defense. The latest evidence of the shift in philosophy came last night as the Pirates, who had dropped 109 in their tournament opener, managed just 56 points.

"We prided ourselves on being one of the leading scoring teams - a real fun team to watch when we're running and firing," Brey said of his old Notre Dame teams. "Those days are over. We had to do something different. We couldn't run it up and down the floor anymore."

The Fighting Irish will play second-seeded Pitt at 7 p.m. on Thursday night. 

DUD OF THE DAY

Louisville continued its quest to refuse any and all possible momentum by following its emotional victory over No. 1 Syracuse up with a lackluster loss to 11-seed Cincinnati.

From left, Jaquon Parker, Lance Stephenson and Ibrahima Thomas lead the Cincinnati Bearcats past the Louisville Cardinals.

The Cardinals led by nine at the half but were outhustled, out-scrapped and out-rebounded in the second 20 minutes and fell in their tournament opener for the third time in five years. U of L was outrebounded 28-9 on the offensive glass and 54-33 overall. 

STARS OF THE DAY

--Luke Harangody (Notre Dame) - 20 points, 10 rebounds

--Edgar Sosa (Louisville) - 28 points

--Lazar Hawyward (Marquette) - 20 points, 9 rebounds

--Dominique Jones (South Florida) - 21 points

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"We didn't rebound the ball, so we go home early and waste a lot of boosters' money." --Rick Pitino 

THE DAY AHEAD

Ladies and gentlemen, your top seeds: 

#1 Syracuse vs. #8 Georgetown (Noon)
#4 Villanova vs. #5 Marquette (2pm)
#2 Pittsburgh vs. #7 Notre Dame (7pm)
#3 West Virginia vs. #11 Cincinnati (9pm)

Posted on: March 11, 2010 12:57 am
 

Wednesday Wrap of a Crazy Night

MATT JONES

12:30 PM



Now that was we have been waiting for!  A great finish to a day full of games that would have excited even the most passive of fans.  We punched two more tickets to the NCAA Tournament, saw one major conference upset and saw Rick Pitino and his merry bunch of Cardinals have a quick exit from Madison Square Garden.  A quick overview:

BIG SKY CONFERENCE FINAL:  Montana 66   Weber State 65

The game of Championship Week happened in, of all places, Ogden, Utah where Montana rose from the ashes on the back of the new Harold "The Show" Arceneaux, Anthony Johnson of Montana, who scored a Big Sky Tournament record 42 points, leading the Grizzlies to an unbelievable comeback against Weber State on their home floor.  Johnson had eight points at halftime and then exploded for 34 in the second half, causing Bob Valvano to utter so many words of amazement that he forgot to plug his radio show and drop names of his famous friends.  The Grizzlies were down 20 points at half and those of us watching at home (at the time me, Seth Davis, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson and the old guy who wears sweatpants to all of the high school games in your town), were ready to put the game to rest and go to bed.  Johnson however took over, scoring on a variety of circus shots and making himself unstoppable in a 20 minute display that was as good of a performance as you will see in a major college basketball game.  The Grizzlies now make their 8th trip to the NCAA Tournament and the boys from Weber State have to deal with the dual heartache of losing a game they should of won AND living in Ogden, Utah.  Pray for them.

NORTHEAST CONFERENCE FINAL:   Robert Morris 52  Quinniapac  50

Montana was not the only school to win on the road however, as Robert Morris made the trip to Quinniapac University and took out another conference favorite, 52-50.  The game was a nailbiter throughout and came down to a late basket by Robert Morris that brought the masses to their feet and made them forget about the fact that they had no idea where they were or what a "Quinniapac" actually is.  For Quinniapac, it was their chance to make the first NCAA Tournament in school history, and the loss ends one of the most successful seasons since the school went Division I.  True story about Quinniapac.  I once bet a girl I was dating in college whether or not "Quinniapac" was a real name of a college in the United States.  She insisted it was not, we bet and I won.  It was a great prize and one that I still remember fondly....making Quinnipac a secret favorite of mine for years to come.  For Robert Morris, a loss to a #2 seed awaits.

TWO MAJOR CONFERENCE UPSETS:  Missouri and Louisville

Two of the more perplexing teams in college basketball went down on Wednesday, as #5 seed Missouri was beaten by woeful Nebraska and Louisville lost to Cincinnati.  For Missouri, the loss was more embarassing than hurtful, as they are safely in the tournament and Mike Anderson's moustache still has a chance to create postseason havoc.  But the Tigers had dreams of making a run in the Big 12 Tournament and improving their seeding in the NCAA, and those dreams have been husked by the fighting Tommie Fraziers.  As for Louisville, it was a tale of two halves, mirroring the sporaticness of the season thus far for the Cards.  Louisville led by 11 at the half and seemed to have the game under control, when Cincinnati began a second-half offensive board domination that allowed it to take the lead and hold on down the stretch for the three point victory.  The Cards only had 2 points scored in the second half from players not named Edgar Sosa or Samardo Samuels, and key missed free throws cost them the game and their pride.  For the Bearcats, an NCAA berth likely requires a tournament win and their next task will be a battle against West Virginia and Bob Huggins' tracksuit.

Most of the other games held to form, with the best team winning and setting up a great day of Thursday action.  A little peak ahead:

Big Day in the Big East

There are no finals in any conference on Thursday, which means it is all big boys going at each other in the beginnings of major conference tournaments.  The biggest of the big will be in New York, where a great day of basketball is headed to the Garden.  Georgetown and Syracuse renew their age-old rivalry to start the day, followed by Marquette vs Villanova, Pitt vs Notre Dame and West Virginia vs Cincinnati.  If you could be anywhere in America to watch basketball on Thursday, you would choose New York City.

Tournament Play Kicks off in the SEC, ACC and Big Ten

Patiently waiting their turn after the start of all the other conference championships, the last three major conferences tip off on Thursday.  Duke and Maryland are the favorites in the ACC Tournament, although teams like Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech need to quietly make a run to ensure their NCAA standing.  Kentucky will bring its Big Blue powers to Nashville for a ticket that may be the toughest in the Tournament's recent history.  While Ohio State and Michigan State will be attempting to create another rematch in the Finals in Chicago for Big Ten glory. 

All told, Thursday will be the busiest of all days of Championship Week, with every major conference in action, and games coming from secondary conferences like the Atlantic Ten, WAC, Mountain West and Conference USA as well.  We will have every moment covered here, and after Thursday's action, the entire scene for Selection Sunday will become much clearer.



 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com