Monday, March 7, 2011

The Weekend That Was

FINALLY!!! The regular season of college basketball is over. Postseason is here, or has been here for a few days thanks to a few conference tournaments that got underway last week. Lots to catch up on from the weekend, including the first four tickets being punched for the dance, rush season on college campuses and some crying in one NBA locker room (there's no crying in basketball!?)

Indiana State scored an upset and an automatic bid this weekend
First Four In: The past few weeks we've been hearing hypotheticals of the last four teams in the tournament and which four teams are the last four out. Well now we have four teams that are officially in. Congrats to Belmont (Atlantic Sun), UNC-Asheville (Big South), Morehead St. (Ohio Valley) and Indiana State (Larry Bird! - Missouri Valley) for guaranteeing their spot in the dance. Indiana State pulled the upset over Missouri State to get in, which means Mizzou St. will be one of those mid-majors now hanging out on the bubble. Take note of Morehead St. as well, as they feature Kenneth Faried, the nation's (not conference, the NATION) leading rebounder. The kid averages 14.5 per game and is slated to be a late first round pick in the NBA draft.

Five for Fighting: As in five days for fighting in Madison Square Garden because this year's Big East Tournament is sure to be a slug-fest. Top four seeds (Pitt, ND, L'ville and Cuse) get the double-bye (winning!) and are off until Thursday. Who would have thought that Villanova and UConn would be playing on Tuesday, as the 9th and 10th seed. Well, we kind of did and that's why we featured them in our teams not peaking at the right time post last week. Take the Villanova name off their tournament resume and it's nothing special. A loss on Tuesday would probably put them on the good side of the bubble, but I think a big reason for that comes from some name recognition. Throw in the fact that Corey Stokes is questionable for games this week with an injury, Jay Wright and his pinstripes have to be a bit nervous. Meanwhile, Syracuse is in the New Jersey/New York portion of the bracket, as they'll face the winner of St. John's and Rutgers/Seton Hall. Daily Onions doesn't see a team out of the top four seeds winning this tournament, but then again it is the Big East and anything is possible.

Great win for UNC, but storm-worthy? Not so sure.
Take Your Shirt Off: North Carolina, come on and raise up. It's official. The Tar Heels are back. We missed you last year, but are glad to see you are here just in time for March! UNC pretty much led the whole way against Duke on Saturday night, and with the win clinched the regular season ACC title. Freshman Harrison Barnes is finally starting to live up to the expectations and the Tar Heels have settled in with their new point guard Kendall Marshall running the show (15 pts, 11 assists). Daily Onions is still standing by their claim of Duke as a Final Four team, although we'd like to see a little more toughness from Blue Devils from here on out.

Elsewhere: Daily Onions first Final Four pick, THE Ohio State University made a statement on Sunday, telling the rest of the nation that they are the team to beat heading into the NCAA tournament. A near perfect performance by the Buckeyes yesterday led to a butt-whooping of Wisconsin, avenging the earlier loss in Madison. OSU was 14-15 from 3 pt. land (Diebler was 7-8) and shot 68% from the field. Jared Sullinger and his backside went for 22 and 8. In the SEC, Florida is quietly playing some of the best basketball in the country and locked up the SEC title yesterday at Vanderbilt. Meanwhile, Kentucky FINALLY got a win on the road, taking care of Tennessee 64-58. Are the Wildcats finally starting to grow up and learning how to win on the road? It will take more than a win at Jekyll and Hyde Tennessee to convince us.

Storm Troopers: It was a tough day to be a court side security guard in college basketball this weekend. Court storming was contagious as we saw it in Iowa's win over Purdue (acceptable); in Chapel Hill after UNC beat Duke (HIGHLY disappointed in Tar Heel fans - National Championship 2 years ago, beating your rival handily at home, act like you've been there); out west San Diego State fans stormed to celebrate a share of the Mountain West Conference title (ehhh, sure why not - it's been a Cinderellaly type of year for the Aztecs). We'll probably see a few more storms this week as some of the smaller conference tournaments come to an end. In these cases, Daily Onions says go ahead and storm the court, Bethune Cookman fans. Enjoy your 15 minutes, and then make sure you buckle up for your 15 or 16 seed in the Big Dance.

We'd hide too if we lose four in a row
Cry-ami Heat: According to Coach Spo, a couple of the Heat players were crying in the locker room after yesterday's 1-point loss the Da Bulls. Maybe crying will help the team that has lost four in a row and five of their last six. Bottom line, the Heat can't close. They are 1-9 against the league's top five teams, and 0-6 against the Celtics and the Bulls. Most of those games have been close, and down the stretch they are 1-18 from the field in the final 10 seconds with the chance to tie or take the lead (on odd days of even months). We all knew it'd take time for the Heat to really become a dominating team, but the fact that LeBron, Wade and Bosh have been coming up short in the clutch is a bit surprising (well, minus Bosh). That'll have to change come May, as the Eastern Conference playoffs will have five pretty scary teams in play (Celtics, Bulls, Heat, Magic, Knicks). Big shots will need to be made, and there won't be much time for tears.

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