Saturday, March 20, 2010
So Long KU: Northern Iowa Shocks #1 Kansas
9 Northern Iowa 69
1 Kansas 67
Ali Farokhmanesh did it again. Just two days after his decisive three-pointed ended UNLV's dreams, the dead-eye senior guard knocked down a bomb that exploded the #1 overall seed Kansas. Wide open off the Kansas pressure, Farokhmanesh had a perfect look with 30 seconds left and a one-point lead burying his shot from the wing with less than 30 seconds left in the game. He finished with a game-high 16 points as the Panthers eliminated Kansas, widely believed to be the best team in the tournament and ranked #1 in the last polls.
Northern Iowa led nearly the entire game, but felt the pressure late, turning the ball over repeatedly on inbounds plays as Kansas turned up the heat. In the end, it was Kansas' inability to hit three-pointers, defend and rebound that cost them a chance at a second national championship in the last three years. The only time Kansas led in the game was at the start, when they opened with a 2-0 edge.
The Panthers improved to 30-4, advancing to the Sweet 16 to face the winner of the Michigan State-Maryland match-up.
11 Old Dominion 68
3 Baylor 76
LaceDarius Dunn scored a game-high 26 points to lead four Baylor players in double figures past Old Dominion. Dunn, a high-energy scorer, hit 9 of 16 shots, including 4 of 11 from beyond the arc. The Bears advance into the Sweet 16 and will face the region's #10 seed, St. Mary's, next Friday night in Houston.
11 Washington 82
3 New Mexico 64
It appears that offering just two invitations to PAC-10 teams might have been a huge mistake by the selection committee, as the Washington Huskies, the conference champs, easily dispatched the #3 seed in the East, New Mexico, after handling Marquette in the opening round. The huskies opened up a double-digit lead early and, after leading 44-32 at the half, coasted to the win, as Dairese Gary poured in a game-high 25 points.
With Cal beating Louisville on Friday, the PAC-10 is now 3-0 in the tourney. Washington, winners of nine straight, advances to the regional semi-final to face the winner of Sunday's West Virginia-Missouri game.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Kentucky, Northern Iowa, Washington Move on; Georgetown Stunned by Ohio
9 Northern Iowa 69
8 UNLV 66
Ali Farokhmanesh scored a game-high 17 points and gave Northern Iowa the lead on a long three-pointer with 4.9 seconds left as the Panthers moved into the second round. Farokhmanesh hit 5 of 9 from beyond the arc.
14 Ohio 97
3 Georgetown 83
If you're looking for the Cinderella of the 2010 tourney, look no further than the Ohio Bobcats, out of the Mid-Aerican conference. The Bobcats were the #9 seed in their conference tourney, winning four straight to earn the automatic bid. On the opening night of the tournament, Ohio took Georgetown out behind the woodshed for a good, old fashioned whipping. Ohio grabbed an early lead and never looked back, using deft passing and torrid outside shooting to establish, at one juncture, a 19-point lead.
The Bobcats were led by guards Armon Bassett and D.J. Cooper. Basset scored a game-high 32 points, while point man Cooper tallied 23, with 3 steals, 3 rebounds and 8 assists.
1 Kentucky 100
16 East Tenn. St. 71
No surprises as the Kentucky Wildcats, the nation's tallest team, dominated the interior and hammered East Tennessee State into submission and a quick exit. Freshman Eric Bledsoe and senior Patrick Patterson had 29 and 22 points, respectively.
11 Washington 80
6 Marquette 78
Quincy Pondexter scored on a drive to the hoop with 1.7 seconds left to supply the winning margin for underrated Washington, winners of the PAC-10 tourney. The game was another close call, evening Marquette's record in games decided by four points or less at 8-8, the most in the nation. Pondexter finished with 18 points; teammate Isaiah Thomas led the Huskies with 19.
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 08, 2009
Louisville Wins Big East Title; Late Saturday Results
Getting a little help from Pitt, which knocked off Connecticut, the Louisville Cardinals took the opportunity to take the Big East regular season championship with a spirited effort at West Virginia.
The Cardinals enjoyed the luxury of playing UConn and Pitt just once each this season, splitting those games (lost to UConn, beat Pitt) and losing just once more (at Notre Dame) to finish 16-2, a game better than the 15-3 records posted by the Panthers and Huskies.
Senior forward Terrence Williams had one of his best games of the season, scoring 20 points, grabbing 6 rebounds, handing out 7 assists and pulling off 6 steals.
The win gives Louisville byes in the first two rounds of the Big East tournament, meaning they will next see action on Thursday, March 12. Winning the Big East tourney will certainly result in a #1 seed for the NCCA tournament, but the Cardinals are likely to have to face either Pitt or UConn in the finals.
There is now talk of 3 #1 seed coming out of the Big East, though that seems unlikely, since either North Carolina or Duke will get one, as will the winner of the Big 12 tournament, plus, Memphis made their case by completing their thrid straight undefeated Conference-USA season with a 74-47 thumping of Tulane, and are carrying the nation's longest win streak at 22 straight.
The PAC-10 is also being overlooked, even though last season, PAC-10 teams compiled the best record for a conference in the NCAA tourney. It might be a mistake to relegate #16 Washington (which took the conference with a 67-60 win over Washington St. Saturday) to a #2 seed and drop UCLA and Arizona St. to #3 or #4 spots.
While the PAC-10 may have had a down year, the conference as a whole may have simply been exhibiting better balance. Washington was 14-4, UCLA went 13-5 and Arizona State was 11-7. Those top three teams lost just 6 out-of-conference games and the most recent of those was on December 4, ancient history in college hoops.
It will be interesting to see how many PAC-10 teams make the field of 65 (Cal also finished 11-7; Arizona and USC were both 9-9.) and how high they will be seeded. The tournament could provide a relatively easier path to the elite 8 level for a number of PAC-10 squads.
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Washington Clinches PAC-10 Tie: Duke, Sooners Win
Jon Brockman scored 19 points and pulled in 9 rebounds and Isaiah Thomas tallied 19 as well, putting the Washington Huskies in an excellent position to win their first PAC-10 title in 24 years. Their win over Arizona clinched at least a tie with one game left, against Washington St. on March 7. The Huskies knocked off the Cougars back in January, 68-48.
Trailing most of the game, the Huskies ran off 10 straight points, turning a 6-point deficit into a 66-62 lead with less than 6 minutes left in the second half. The two teams traded baskets and free throws down the stretch, but the best the Wildcats could do was tie the game at 68-all. From there, the Huskies hunkered down on defense and canned key buckets and free throws as time wore down.
Jordan Hill led Arizona with 27 points on 12-18 shooting. The Huskies improved to 13-4, 22-7, while Arizona kept slim post-season hopes alive despite the loss. They are 8-8 in the PAC-10 and 18-11 overall.
#7 Duke 72, Virginia Tech 65
The Blue Devils (24-5, 10-4) continued their relentless pursuit of North Carolina in the ACC, winning on the road in Blacksburg to remain within striking distance of the Tar Heels.
Gerald Henderson was Duke's leader again. He and Kyle Singler led all scorers with 21 points each. Henerdson grabbed 6 rebounds and dished 6 assists. He has led the team in scoring in three straight wins, with 19 against St. John's and 35 in the Blue Devils' win over Wake Forest.
After a home game against Florida State on March 3, Duke closes out the regular season at North Carolina, March 7.
#3 Oklahoma 78, Texas Tech 63
Blake Griffin returned to the lineup and the Oklahoma Sooners promptly ended their 2-game skid.
The aftereffects of a concussion suffered against this same Red Raider team apparently long gone, Griffin had 14 points and 9 rebounds in the opening half and finished with 20 and 17. Griffin's older brother, Taylor, a 6'7" senior, pitched in his own double-double leading all scorers with 22 points and 10 rebounds.
The Sooners (26-3, 12-2) still have a shot at the Big 12 regular season title, though they trail Kansas by 1/2 game. The #15 Jayhawks have an important date with #11 Missouri tomorrow.
Friday, February 27, 2009
PAC-10: Huskies Looking Top Notch
#22 UCLA struggled with Stanford, but emerged victorious, 76-71.
Cal beat USC in overtime, 81-78.
Those results left 12-4 Washington with a 1 1/2 game lead over Cal, UCLA and Arizona St., all at 10-5. Those four seem certain to receive NCAA bids. A fifth and possibly a sixth team from the conference is likely. Performance in the conference tournament will likely be the determining factor in that argument.