Tag:notre dame
Posted on: March 16, 2010 11:37 pm
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Getting Ready For Thursday's Games: NEW ORLEANS

MATT JONES



When the NCAA Tournament kicks off Thursday in New Orleans, the feel will certainly be festive.  And by festive, I mean hungover, because for reasons that only the brilliant minds behind the proposed NCAA Tournament expansion to 96 could likely understand, the first round is taking place in New Orleans the night after St Patricks Day.  So in a city where public drunkedness is not only accepted, it is actively encouraged and at times, mandatory, the NCAA is going to place basketball games after the nation's drunkest collective holiday.  Its for the kids ladies and gentlemen.

When the games do actually get started however, there will be a lot to see in James Carville's hometown.  One of the top two teams in the country, an #8 seed that was ranked #1 overall this season, a certain NIT team that played its way into a #6 seed and quite possibly the most athletic team in America are all setting up shop in New Orleans as they hope to advance on in the South and West regions.  Each game has some intrigue, some wackiness and a whole lot of Harangody.  An overview:

NOTRE DAME vs OLD DOMINION  12:25

Most people would claim that the iconic figure in college basketball this year was John Wall, the uber-talented UK point guard who dazzled the country with athleticism, wild dunks and game-winning shots.  They are wrong.  The real icon of college basketball is the man with the worst hair and body in sports, Luke Harangody.  If Harangody were a car, he would be a Kia Rondo, tall and boxy, prone to slow, awkward movements and proportionated in such a way as to seem to make success impossible.  But like the Kia Rondo, Harangody finds a way to get the job done.  When you watch this game today, take a few possessions and simply follow the 'Gody.  Like the fat guy who sweats a lot but still finds a way to get garbage buckets in your church league game, the 'Gody will win no beauty points as he looks to the naked eye as the most unathletic basketball players since the cast of "Hang Time" left the court (still Reggie Theus's best coaching job).  But he will score, rebound and even defend, all without seemingly being able to make one impressive movement.  He is the basketball equivalent to an episode of "Friends," unlikely to leave you feeling the least bit impressed, but garnering solid ratings.

The 'Gody is playing against Old Dominion, a team I actually saw on our Road Trip across America and one that can cause some problems.  ODU is as athletic a small school as you will see in the Tournament.  They are long at every position and their goal is to get every rebound and outwork you, while playing a brand of basketball that can best be labeled as "boring."  Their coach will try to counter the 'Gody's boxcut with his own moustache, a full feathered beauty that is both dark and bushy, a veritable forest under his lip.   With his facial hair mesmerizing, it is easy to forget just how talented this team is and it isnt an exaggeration to say that they will be the more athletic team on the floor. 

Prediction

Notre Dame is full of Irish Catholics and the noon start on the day after St Patrick's Day will ensure a small crowd at the opening tip.  ODU has the players to get out on the Irish three point shooters and Harangody will not be able to impose his will down low.  However the Irish are deeper, have the best player on the floor and by the second half, Johnny O'Malley and the rest of the Irish faithful will stagger into the gym just in time to see the Irish win by 7.

BAYLOR vs SAM HOUSTON STATE 3:00

Every year the NCAA Tournament sees one team develop into a trendy pick to make noise and allows announcers on the Worldwide Leader to get on television and make proclamations that have no real substance but sound important like "I tell you who I like Digger, I like "TEAM X".  The way they shoot the ball, play defense and their great Coach _____, this is a team that can really make some noise. I am not saying I will pick them over (INSERT #1 seed), but it wouldnt shock me if they get hot and cut down the nets to the Final Four.  While the announcer says this, all of the other blow-dryed hairpieces on set shake their head and proclaim that they too like this team and have been on board with them all year.  Inevitably this team is never as good as these paid airbags say they are and often the disappointment starts in game one.

This season that team is most certainly Baylor.  You cant throw a stick without running into someone who has Baylor as their "sleeper team into the Final Four."  The Bears are coached by Scott Drew and have found a way to turn around a basketball program that was long thought to be dead.  However considering the fact tha tmost fans couldn't name one player on the Bears' roster, annoitment as a Final Four team seems a bit premature.  As for Sam Houston State, they are fun to watch.  They bring it up and down quickly, like to shoot a lot of three pointers and try to win by managing the game pace.  Earlier this season they gave Kentucky a run for its money in Rupp Arena and since then, have put up great shooting performances week after week.  Baylor isnt the greatest draw for Sam Houston, because they can match the athleticism that Sam Houston uses to dominate its opponents.  But if they hit threes, then who knows what can happen.

Prediction

 Did you like how I got you excited right there....made you think that I was going to pick the upset upstarts?  Not going to happen.  Had SHS gotten a slow, methodical team, I might pull the shocker.  As is, Baylor moves on and makes pundits shake their head and nod that they are the team to watch in the games ahead.


KENTUCKY VS EAST TENNESSEE STATE  7:00 PM

You know all about Kentucky, Calipari, Wall, Cousins, etc.  They are really good and no group of players since Shane Battier was smiling and going to class every day at Duke have received the consistent national publicity of this group of Kentucky players.  They have been visited by Lebron, Magic, Ashley Judd, Drake, Ben Roethlisberger (pre-college town romp), Mike Tomlin, Charles Barkley and even the biggest star of them all, World Wide Wes.  They have raised over a million bucks for Haiti, talked to the President over the phone and even got to rub on Seth Davis's rosy cheeks.  It has been such a strange, magical journey.  But now it gets real and the games mean more.  All the goodwill of the 32-2 campaign that has won the hearts of Kentuckians is at stake in one three-week period where anything can happen.

Well almost anything.  What can't happen is losing to ETSU in the first round on Thursday night.  ETSU famously was once led by a player that makes the NCAA all "hey I remember that guy but I have no idea where he went to school" list, Keith "Mr." Jennings.  For it was 21 years ago that Jennings took a #16 seeded ETSU team and very nearly pulled the shocker over #1 seeded Oklahoma. They hope to bring that kind of magic back to light again, but this time against a much bigger fish and a much more talented group of players.  Win partor lose, they will probably take solace in the fact that they will head back to Johnson City, Tennessee after the game and be greeted by the hottest group of mountain coeds this side of a very special episode of Hee-Haw.

Prediction

 Kentucky wins by a lot and moves on, much to the delight of the Big Blue nation.  But when ETSU's most famous alum Kenny Chesney sneaks into the building, Jay Bilas becomes so enamored with his soft, beach sounds that he takes off his announcing headset, mumbles something about Baylor being a sleeper to get to the Final Fourand goes on tour with Buffett.

TEXAS vs WAKE FOREST  9:35 PM

What do you get when the two most underperforming participants in a particular endeavor get together to see which can muster up just enough to even showcase a flash of their former brilliance?  No, its not every Pacino/Deniro move of the past ten years, but rather is the Underachievement HEavyweight Championship Title Match when Texas plays Wake Forest.  Over the course of this past season, no two teams have been more baffling and neither has made its fans groan and search out for signs of life from its coach than the Longhorns and Demon Deacons.  Both teams have loads of talent, but both have played so terribly at times that even Mike Dunleavy has asked from afar, "dont you coaches do anything?"

The most egregious offender has been Texas, where Rick Barnes has definitely proven that he is the worst Top 12 program coach in America.  While there is no doubt that Barnes has assembled talent by the boatload in Austin, his team has played as poorly in the last two months as any team in the Tournament and has produced an historically unprecedented waste of talent from one program in one season.  There may be as many as six guys on the Texas roster who could play in the NBA and players one through eleven, they could be the most talented team in America.  But they are stuck floundering around, getting blown out by mediocre teams and backing their way into the tournament on the back of a win against NIT contender North Carolina in December.  Remember, Texas was ONCE #1.  Now they are hideous and absent a miracle turnaround, will finish a season of disappointment like none other.

Prediction

There are those that say March forgives all sins.  If either of these teams can win this game and then upset Kentucky, a season of disappointment can quickly be forgotten.  Both teams have been awful, but in Texas's case there has been the occasional show of life.  Wake Forest has been tuned out for months.  Texas wins a close one in a game that simply frustrates all who watch.

So there you have it, Notre Dame, Baylor, Kentucky and Texas.  Chalk from this guy.  But hey, its New Orleans and the fun will be on the streets anyway.  Enjoy the games and watch out for Harry Connick on the street trying to sing you a song...he does it to all the tourists. 

Posted on: March 13, 2010 12:54 am
Edited on: March 13, 2010 1:00 am
 

Friday Night Drama

Thomas Beisner

12:00 AM


Friday's afternoon and early evening sessions had their fair share of excitement with Evan Turner's buzzer-beater, John Wall's heroics, Lehigh's berth-clinching win and San Diego's upset of New Mexico.  The madness didn't end at sundown, though, and three of the major conferences packed in the drama in their late games.  Here's what you missed:

Minnesota upsets Michigan State
- It took an extra period, but Tubby Smith's team was finally able to put away Michigan State in the Big 10 tournament semifinals on Friday, keeping their NCAA tourney hopes alive.

For the Golden Gophers, taking the lead wasn't the problem.  It was holding on to it and closing out the Spartans that seemed to be difficult.  Minnesota took a 13-12 lead with just under 10 minutes to go in the first half and wouldn't trail again until Michigan State scored the first points of the overtime period.  When Raymar Morgan's bucket fell through the net with a whistle on the play, it seemed as if the Gophers' opportunity was gone.  After all, they were up seven with 3:30 to go and wouldn't score again, missing five shots and committing one turnover in their six possessions down the stretch.  They had their shot and now Michigan State was finally ready to take this game.

But, to their credit, Tubby's troops did not fold and countered Morgan's "And One" and Michigan State's three-point lead with a 10-0 run.  By the time the dust settled, all the Spartans could do was foul and, all of a sudden, Tubby Smith's team looked to have new post-season life.

The Gophers will now take their shot at a Robbie Hummel-less Purdue squad Saturday - the same one they lost to by just one point a couple of weeks ago.  As of now, the Gophers could be in or they could be out.  A win over Purdue would likely lock up an at-large berth for them.

West Virginia holds off Notre Dame - Just 24 hours removed from Da'Sean Butler's buzzer beater saving them from the early tourney exit of their fellow Big East top seeds, West Virginia was almost victimized by a similar shot.

But, when Tory Jackson's three caught rim and bounced around, running out the final four seconds of clock, what is shaping up to be a fairly magical run for Bob Huggins' team stood intact.  The Mountaineers, the only one of the top four seeds to win their first game Thursday, now have only Georgetown, a team they blew out two weeks ago, standing between them and a Big East tournament title.

Saturday's matchup at the Garden will have more at stake than a conference title for the Mountaineers, though.  If WVU beats the Hoyas again and Duke falters in an ACC tournament that's even more pathetic than we thought, they will likely be staring a #1 seed in the face.  Even if the Blue Devils win the ACC, the Mountaineers still have the opportunity to jump them for that top seed.  They just need to make sure they bring their "A" game to the Garden Saturday.  Winning because a buzzer beater catches rim isn't a good way to show it.

Kansas State puts away Baylor - The Big 12 semifinal between Kansas and Baylor didn't have any last possession or overtime drama, but it had the feel for 38 minutes that it would be decided by whoever had the ball last.  But, with two minutes left, Jacobham Pullen eliminated all doubt with a clutch three-pointer.

Baylor looked like they were going to snatch one from the Wildcats after Ekpe Udoh's dunk cut the lead to two with just under four minutes to go.  On Kansas State's next possession, a blocked shot by Quincy Acy got the ball back to Baylor who drew a foul.  Senior leader Tweety Carter, who had an awful game, stepped to the line, down two, and clanked both free throws.  Kansas State came down and Pullen hit the three that sucked the life from the Bears and put them away for good.

The Wildcats will now advance to their first Big XII title game and face off against rival Kansas, who they've both pushed to overtime and been blown out by this year.  Their seedings might already be set for the most part, but you can expect emotions to be very, very high in Kansas City tomorrow.

Drama!
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 12, 2010 12:16 am
Edited on: March 12, 2010 1:17 am
 

Thursday Night Wrap-up

Thomas Beisner

12:00 pm



After what already seems to be four to five weeks of conference tournaments in our rear view mirror, Selection Sunday is now coming up on the horizon and things are starting to sort themselves out a bit.  On Thursday, some teams were relegated to the bubble and prayers (Memphis) while some teams continued their post-season hoops hopes (Notre Dame).  With 27 games on the docket for Friday, including the Patriot League Championship, answers are certain to be headed the way of all college basketball fans.  Before we get started, though, let's look back at what turned out to be a big-time Thursday in the world of college basktball.

Will the Onuaku injury affect seeding? - Perhaps the biggest story on Thursday (besides Syracuse's loss) was the injury suffered by Syracuse big man Arinze Onuaku which, depending on who you talk to, is either major or minor. Onuaku will have an MRI on Friday and the results will be available….probably after the seeding is announced. Especially if it’s serious. Regardless of what the injury turns out to be, you’d have to assume the Orange is fairly safe with their #1 seed. What they need to be more concerned about, however, is how a team that is now essentially only six-deep is going to respond in a two games in three days tournament setting.

The Big Names are Done - It was really only a matter of time until they all bid adieu to this year’s college basketball season, but a trio of big name programs finally had the final nail placed in their post-season coffin on Thursday. North Carolina jumped out to a double-digit lead against Georgia Tech and then came out in the second half looking all North Carolina-like and gave the game away. Tom Crean’s Indiana Revival, still sputtering along in year two, took a thumping at the hands of mighty Northwestern while Arizona’s run of 25 straight NCAA tourney appearances came to an end (after two years of undeserved bids) against another traditional power on life support, UCLA. They say things are going to get better. I say at least they didn’t give up like UConn. I am worried about Sean Miller, though. The losses seem to be taking their toll and he’s gone from looking like a sober Billy Gillispie to Texas A&M Billy Gillispie. That’s not a good trend.

If a tree falls in the Staples Center, does it make a sound? - The national media wrote the Pac-10 off a long, long time ago. Surprisingly, the Pac-10 fans apparently have done the same. Outside of the Salt Lake City's Megaplex 12 during the premiere of I Got the Hookup, it’s possible that no venue has ever been so empty for such a fan-friendly event.  I watched Oregon and Washington’s overtime affair Wednesday night (a great game) while feeding my son and the Staples Center appeared to have about only 7-8 people more than my couch. When UCLA plays in their home city and can’t get fans, you know it’s bad. However, the Pac-10 tournament did introduce me to Rebecca Haarlow, so it can’t be all bad, right?

Coaching redemption in C-USA - With John Calipari gone from Memphis, the national spotlight has dimmed significantly on the only official conference of the United States. UTEP seized the opportunity and grabbed the regular season title with a 15-1 record, but it’s a couple of underdog coaches that are making the most of their chances. Seventh-seeded Houston coach Tom Penders is being reported as a dead man walking whose employment only lasts as long as his team’s season. After an upset of second-seeded Memphis, it lasts another day. His semifinal opponent, Southern Miss, is coached by another recognizable name trying to make the most of his situation. Larry Eustachy, the disgraced former Iowa State coach, has made steady improvements in his sixth season in Hattiesberg and brought home his 20th win in an upset of UAB (and their former big name coach Mike Davis). By Friday evening, one of these two maligned coaches will be one win away from going dancing.

Jimmer! - Obviously wanting to prove that Montana's Anthony Johnson isn't the only guy out west who can fill it up, BYU junior Jimmer Fredette poured in a Mountain West tournament record 45 points in a win over TCU.  Fredette, who had been battling strep throat, mono, a stomach virus, typhoid fever, the mumps, pink eye, an ingrown toenail and Osgood Schlatter's disease, returned to the lineup with a bang, though I feel his 45 points are cheapened a bit by 23 made free throws.  Anthony Johnson wouldn't do that.  But, I do respect The Jimmer for his honesty displayed in this interview, perhaps the most honest in college basketball history (fast forward to 3:45).

Frankengody has returned - If you’ve watched Luke Harangody’s basketball career the past 27 years, you knew he was going to come back and play at least one more game. He just wouldn’t go out like that. But, give Harangody credit for not only coming back, but for being an impact player despite his injury and sparking his team to three wins now and, dare I say, the NCAA tournament. The Irish will get a shot at West Virginia Friday and Harangody will look to come off the bench and lead his team in scoring for the third straight game. Plus, he’s the only person besides my wife who can get only two haircuts in 12 months and be perfectly fine with hit. That deserves some respect.

The Almosts - Oh, how close they came. Air Force and LSU, winners of a combined three conference games, pushed a pair of highly ranked teams to the brink. LSU gave Bruce Pearl and Tennessee all they could handle before fading down the stretch and Air Force lost a heartbreaker to New Mexico, 75-69. I wish we could say some inspiring things to both teams but there’s nothing left to say. Except maybe to just clean out their lockers. You don’t want this season lingering any longer than it has to.

The other #1 seeds take the floor Friday - On Thursday, Syracuse fell to Georgetown and Kansas got a good little push from Texas Tech. On Friday, the presumed other two top seeds, Kentucky and Duke, take the floor and try to get used to their dancing shoes. Duke will square off with Virginia, a team that once lead the conference and snapped a nine-game losing streak Thursday, in a game where they’ll be heavily favored. With West Virginia still in contention for a Big East title, the Dukies might have to win the ACC tournament to keep their top seed. Meanwhile, John Calipari will lead his troops against Alabama in his first ever SEC tournament game. The Cats beat the Tide on February 9 and shouldn’t encounter much trouble. However, they then will likely face Tennessee and Vanderbilt in loseable games. Their #1 footing is more solid than Duke’s, but it's important that the young Cats get comfortable in the post-season tournament setting before embarking on the what is shaping up to be a journey full of very high expectations.

Friday’s Games to Watch

Illinois vs. Wisconsin 2:00 pm
*Lehigh vs. Lafayette 4:45 pm
Texas A&M vs. Kansas 7:00 pm
Georgetown vs. Marquette 7:00 pm
Notre Dame vs. West Virginia 9:00 pm
San Diego State vs. New Mexico 9:00 pm
Baylor vs. Kansas State 9:30 pm

* denotes championship game

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 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 10, 2010 9:21 pm
 

'Gody returns and breaks hearts

MIKE RUTHERFORD

Seton Hall became the second Big East team to see its bubble popped today (literally...Gonzalez was so pissed...threw his skip-it) as the Pirates were handled by Notre Dame, 68-56, in a game that all but crushed their hopes of gaining an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament. A night after scoring 109 points in a victory over Providence, the Hall was held to just a point more than half that total.

Seton Hall Jeff Robinson Big East Tournament Notre Dame

The other big story of the night was the return of Fighting Irish superstar Luke Harangody, who had missed Notre Dame's last five games with a bone bruise. 'Gody quickly silenced those who had claimed his team is better without him on the floor - the Irish won 4 of 5 games without him - by coming off the bench four minutes into the game and recording 15 points and nine rebounds...at halftime. He finished with 20 points and 10 boards to lead all players in both categories. 

Notre Dame moves on to face second-seeded Pitt tomorrow night at 7 p.m. 

Over in the Big 12, Oklahoma gave credence to the belief that they had already shut it down for the 2009-2010 season by showing up in body only to be throttled by rival and No. 7 seed Oklahoma State, 81-67. OSU's Keiton Page hit 5-of-8 threes and led all scorers with 24 points. 

The Cowboys get No. 2 Kansas State next. 

In the only other game of semi-importance(?), Tulsa knocked off Rice 73-62 in a C-USA quarterfinal. The tournament might not be off to a rousing start, but I hear cocky freshman Darius Washington misses 2-of-3 free-throws with zero seconds on the clock and his team down two in the championship game. So that'll probably be worth tuning into. 

 

 
 
 
 
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