Sunday, March 14, 2010
Mississippi St. vs. Joe Lunardi
Let's go out on a little bit of a limb here and say that ESPN's Joe Lunardi (their bracketology expert) and the tournament selection committee is all wet if the Mississippi State Bulldogs don't catch a bid into the NCAA field.
Even though the Bulldogs lost a heartbreaker to Kentucky in the SEC final, losing in overtime by a 75-74 score, it was the second time this season they took the Wildcats into OT. They lost at home and now lose again here, but how can anyone deny that they are a quality team?
The very first player to receive Player of the Day honors this season will also be the last prior to the tournament. Jarvis Varnado kept the Bulldogs in the game with a superior effort of 18 points, 8 rebounds and 6 blocked shots. The man is simply the best shot-blocker in the history of the NCAA, a fact proven by career stats.
Even though they ended their season on the short end of the scoreboard, the Bulldogs provided future opponents of Kentucky with a game plan. Spread them out, shorten the game, hit a bunch of treys and send the Wildcats to the line. It almost worked for the Bulldogs, and should have, except for DeMarcus Cousins' tip-in with 0:00.1 left on the clock, which sent the game into overtime.
Along with the Bulldogs, the Minnesota Golden Gophers, currently playing Ohio State for the Big Ten championship and an automatic bid, ought to get into the field. Again, Lunardi has had the Gophers on the outside looking in at various stages of development over the weekend.
If Lunardi is even partially right and one of these two teams doesn't get in, I will publicly heap profuse praise upon him in an upcoming post. If both Minnesota and Miss. St. make the field, I reserve the right to call Lunadri whatever names I choose, whenever I please. Childish? Yes, but, after all, we're only talking about basketball games.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Varnado Needs Support; Thomas, Henry Stand Out
It's a shame that Jarvis Varnado doesn't have much of a supporting cast at #18 Mississippi State, because h's got the kind of talent that can make an impact come tournament time. In their season opener, the Bulldogs relied too heavily on Varnado, their 6'9" senior forward, an came up short against little-known Rider College from New Jersey, losing, 88-74.
It wasn't for lack of effort from Varnado, who hit all 8 of his shots from the floor, knocked down 6 of 8 free throws, grabbed 14 rebounds and blocked 7 shots. His 22 points led all scorers, but his teammates shot a losing 18-54 from the field, a 33.3% performance that isn't going to get the job done in the SEC or any other conference, for that matter. Keep an eye on Jarvis, though, as he'll likely be heading to the pros next season.
Notable: Sophomore Isaiah Thomas poured in 30 points for the #14 Huskies as Washington topped pesky Wright State, 74-69 to open their 2009-10 campaign. Thomas, no relation to the former Detroit Piston star by the same name (different spelling: Isiah), led the Huskies in scoring in 08-09 and is off to a smart start, hitting 7 of 14 from the field, including 2 of 7 from 3-point range and 14 of 18 freebies.
#1 Kansas wasted no time in establishing themselves as the team to beat in the Big 12, with a 101-65 thumping of tiny Hofstra. The Jayhawks showed off their top recruit, freshman guard Xavier Henry, who led the scoring parade with 27 points on 8-for-12 shooting, including 5-of-8 from outside the arc and 6-6 from the charity stripe. The sharpshooting guard did all his damage in a mere 24 minutes of floor time.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Mississippi St. Plays Its way In; Duke Takes ACC
Phil Turner hit a 3-pointer to put Mississippi State ahead late and then made two free throws with 8 seconds left to lift the Bulldogs over the Tennessee Volunteers in the SEC Championship game. Turner finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds in the biggest game of his career.
The Bulldogs are 23-12 and went 9-7 in the SEC regular season, and were considered by many to be a bubble team that would not make it into the NCAA tourney without winning the championship. Mississippi St. beat the best the conference could offer, knocking off Georgia, South Carolina, LSU and the Vols over the four-day span and should have been considered already in, whatever the outcome of today's game.
That said, the Bulldogs get the automatic bid and will likely become a 7 or 8 seed.
Duke 79, Florida State 69
Gerald Henderson's three pointer seven minutes into the game gave Duke the lead and the Blue Devils ran away and hid from the upset-minded Seminoles to capture the ACC tournament title. Duke took a 35-21 lead into the break and were never challenged after that.
Henderson finished with 27 points, second on the Duke scoring ladder behind Jon Scheyer's 29. Toney Douglas scored 28 for the Seminoles.
Both Florida State and Duke were already assured of making the NCAA field, though now Duke seems almost certain to be a #2 seed. Florida State is projected as a 3 or 4.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
SEC: Tennessee Will Face Mississippi St. in Final
The Bulldogs swamped the Tigers in a 67-57 defensive battle, wherein nether team shot better than 33%.
In the other half of the draw, Tennessee easily handled Auburn, 94-83, as Wayne Chism scored 27 points and grabbed 9 rebounds to pace the Vols.
Tennessee faces Mississippi St. in the conference final Sunday afternoon.