The Saturday date against the suddenly red-hot Huskies could be trouble. No team has gone undefeated during the regular season since UNLV in 1990-91. There is no conference tournament in the PAC Ten, so the Cardinal should finish with at worst only one loss. Duke will get a #1 seed if they go undefeated the rest of the way. The Blue Devils have tough games remaining this week against Georgia Tech and North Carolina, but both are at Cameron Indoor Stadium where they’ve won 41 straight. The ACC tournament is always tough, but with the right circumstances Duke could still get a #1 seed even with a loss, especially late in the tournament. Both Pittsburgh and Connecticut must win out and then capture the Big East tournament to have a realistic shot at a #1 seed. Even if one of them manages to do so, they could be pushed down to a #2 by either Mississippi St. or Oklahoma St. The Bulldogs and Cowboys have only one game remaining. Mississippi St. is at home against slumping Auburn tonight while Oklahoma St. finishes up at home against Texas A&M on Saturday. The Aggies have yet to win a Big Twelve game and will not break the streak in Stillwater! If either or both go on to win their respective conference tournaments, they’ll have a strong case for a #1 seed. Should Kentucky win at South Carolina tomorrow and then defeat Florida at home on Saturday, they could capture a #1 seed by winning the SEC tournament. Despite their current #4 ranking, the above contenders will all need to falter for Gonzaga to get strong consideration for one of the two remaining top seeds. My predictions for the #1 seeds are; Stanford, St. Joseph’s, Duke, and Oklahoma St.
East - #3 Pittsburgh came from 13 points behind to defeat Georgetown 68-58 at the MCI Center. The Panthers trailed 28-20 at the break, their lowest first half total of the season. Sophomore PG Carl Krauser led Pitt’s comeback, scoring 19 of his career-high 26 points in the final 20 minutes. Senior SF Gerald Riley tallied 25 points for the Hoyas, who have now dropped five in a row. #8 Connecticut coasted to a 71-53 win over undermanned St. John’s at Madison Square Garden. Junior center Emeka Okafor scored 22 points and added 18 rebounds to pace the Huskies’ win. Sophomore SG Rashad Anderson chipped in with 17 points. Sophomore guard Daryll Hill led the Red Storm with 21 points. The loss was the 18th of the season for St. John’s, the most in school history.
South – #12 North Carolina was upset by Virginia 74-70 in Charlottesville. Junior forward Devin Smith scored 20 points and grabbed 5 rebounds for the Cavaliers. Sophomore center Scott May had 20 points and 9 rebounds for the Tar Heels. Also in the ACC, Maryland blasted Clemson 70-49. In the Big East, Seton Hall traveled to Miami and came away with a 76-66 win. The Hurricanes trailed virtually the entire game but closed to within five at 66-61 with 3:20 remaining. However, the Pirates nailed ten free throws down the stretch to put the game away. Senior PG Andre Barrett scored a game-high 23 points for Seton Hall and sophomore center Kelly Whitney added 20 more. Senior forward Darius Rice, returning after missing the last two games with a foot injury, led the Hurricanes with 19 points. In CUSA, #19 Memphis defeated Southern Mississippi 74-56 in the Pyramid. Freshman SF Sean Banks led the way for the Tigers with 22 points. In the SEC, Alabama gained a big road win at Auburn 72-71. The Crimson Tide is "on the bubble” for the NCAA Tournament and beating their in-state rival on the road will give their chances a big boost.
Midwest – In the game of the day, Missouri really boosted their NCAA hopes with a 93-92 double overtime win over #6 Oklahoma St. in Columbia. Senior center Arthur Johnson came up huge for the Tigers with 29 points and 13 boards. Senior SG Tony Allen scored 24 points and added 9 rebounds for the Cowboys. In a Big East contest, #13 Providence kept their first place chances alive with a 73-59 win over Notre Dame in South Bend. Junior PF Ryan Gomes sparked the Friars’ 2nd half rally, scoring 23 of his 25 points after the break. Gomes also took down 12 rebounds. Junior SF Rob Sanders added 17 points for red-hot Providence. #25 Texas Tech continues to fade. Nebraska destroyed the Red Raiders 72-44 in Lincoln. Senior guard Nate Johnson led the Cornhuskers with 17 points and 9 rebounds. In the MVC, #16 Southern Illinois improved to 23-2 with a 68-60 home win over Creighton. Junior guard Darren Brooks led the Salukis with 14 points. Senior PF Brody Deren scored 13 points and added 13 rebounds in a losing cause for the Blue Jays. Michigan St. remained hot. The Spartans came from behind in the second half to defeat rival Michigan in Ann Arbor 72-69. The loss put a damper on the Wolverines’ slim hopes for an at-large NCAA bid.
East - #2 St. Joseph’s ran their record to 25-0 with a big 83-58 road win at Massachusetts. The Hawks dynamic backcourt duo of senior Jameer Nelson and junior Delonte West took turns dominating the game. Nelson scored 17 of his 19 points in the first half while West notched 15 of his 23 in the final 20 minutes. In other Atlantic 10 action, Duquesne routed Fordham 93-56, Rhode Island edged Richmond 56-54, Temple needed overtime to top La Salle 74-70, and Xavier won at St. Bonaventure 65-49. In the Big East, Rutgers kept their slim NCAA hopes alive with a 74-53 thumping of West Virginia at the RAC. Junior SG Ricky Shields scored a game-high 24 for the Scarlet Knights. Boston College defeated Virginia Tech 56-48 in Chestnut Hill.
South - #11 Wake Forest edged Florida St. 90-87. Sophomore guard Justin Gray led the Demon Deacons with a game-high 31 points. Senior SG Tim Pickett scored 23 for the Seminoles. #14 North Carolina St. upset #18 Georgia Tech79-69 in Atlanta. The Wolfpack featured a balanced attack with junior SG Julius Hodge leading the way with 22 points. Senior PG Scooter Sherrill added 17 points, freshman SG Engin Atsur 16, and sophomore PF Ilian Evtimov 15. #7 Mississippi St. improved to 22-2 with an 81-58 thrashing of LSU in Starkville. The victory clinched the Bulldogs’ second consecutive SEC West title. #9 Kentucky remained one game behind Mississippi St. for the overall SEC title by demolishing Tennessee 92-60 at Rupp Arena. Sophomore SG Kelenna Azubuike led the Wildcats with 17 points. Also in the SEC, Florida topped South Carolina 69-58 and Vanderbilt won at Mississippi 77-65. In CUSA, DePaul upset #21 Louisville 60-58 in overtime at Freedom Hall. Junior SF Quemont Greer hit the winning basket for the Blue Demons and scored 19 points overall to send the Cardinals to their 4th loss in a row. The win was huge for DePaul, very much “on the bubble” for the NCAA Tournament. In another CUSA contest, Tulane upset UAB 74-69 in New Orleans.
Midwest - #15 Cincinnati routed St. Louis 77-52. Sophomore SF James White had a big game for the Bearcats with 23 points, 11 rebounds, and 7 assists. #22 Wisconsin drubbed Penn St. 68-45 in Madison. Junior SG Devin Harris paced the Badgers with 25 points and 5 boards. #23 Illinois continued their hot streak with a surprisingly easy 78-59 road win over Iowa. Junior SG Luther Head had 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Illini. Elsewhere in the Big Ten, Ohio St. won at Minnesota 70-59 and Northwestern edged slumping Indiana 63-59. In a Big Twelve contest, Iowa St. topped Kansas St. 75-69.
Southwest – Even shorthanded Baylor proved too much for Texas A&M. The Bears upset the Aggies 67-61 in College Station, keeping them winless in the Big Twelve. In CUSA, Charlotte won at TCU 94-86.
West – Colorado is starting to look like a team that may be dangerous if they make the NCAAs. The Buffaloes handled Oklahoma 94-87 in Boulder. In a PAC 10 thriller, USC nipped UCLA 78-77 in overtime.
South – #5 Duke warmed up for their stretch run with a 97-63 pasting of Valparaiso. Junior SG Daniel Ewing led the Blue Devils with 20 points. Marquette won at South Florida 70-63 in a CUSA match-up.
West - #2 Stanford crushed Oregon St. 73-47 at Maples Pavilion. Sophomore PG Chris Hernandez led a balanced Cardinal attack with 13 points. In Tucson, #17 Arizona suffered an 89-84 upset at the hands of Washington. Junior SG Tre Simmons paced the suddenly hot Huskies with 22 points. Senior center Channing Frye scored a game-high 25 for the Wildcats along with 9 rebounds. Washington is making a strong late season push to go to the Big Dance. Elsewhere in the PAC 10, Washington St. upset Arizona St. in Tempe 83-70 and California topped Oregon 85-81 in overtime in Berkeley. #4 Gonzaga continued their waltz through the West Coast Conference with a 97-78 home win over San Diego. Senior guard Blake Stepp led the Bulldogs to victory with 24 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists. In the Big West, #24 Utah St. scored an easy 67-47 win at Long Beach State. Senior SF Cardell Butler paced the Aggie’s attack with 23 points and 6 rebounds.
East - #2 St. Joseph’s got their biggest scare of the season. When the dust cleared, the Hawks were 26-0 after a thrilling 57-55 win at Rhode Island. As usual, St. Joesph’s backcourt did most of the damage. Senior PG Jameer Nelson scored 21 points and junior SG Delonte West added 19. West’s three pointer with 57 seconds remaining put the Hawks ahead to stay at 56-55. St. Joseph’s could only manage one more point on a West free throw, but it was enough as the Rams misfired on their final three possessions. Elsewhere in the Atlantic Ten, Richmond scored a 75-67 upset win at George Washington and Massachusetts defeated St. Bonaventure 82-71. In the Big East, #8 Connecticut remained ½ game behind Pittsburgh with a 75-74 overtime victory at Villanova. Junior center Emeka Okafor saved the game for the Huskies on two occasions, blocking shots by the Wildcats Randy Foye both at the end of regulation and and in the final seconds of overtime. Okafor also scored 17 points while SG Ben Gordon added 21. Sophomore PF Curtis Sumpter led the Wildcats with a game-high 22 points. The loss was the 3rd in a row for Villanova and their fifth in the last six games. UConn has now won four straight. Seton Hall improved to 19-7 with a 75-47 trouncing of Georgetown at Continental Arena. Senior PG Andre Barrett led the Pirates with 25 points and junior SG John Allen added 14. Sophomore forward Brandon Bowman scored 20 for the Hoyas. Georgetown’s leading scorer, senior SF Gerald Riley, had a brutal game. He was 0-11 from the field and finished with 8 points. In the Big Ten, Michigan St. pounded Penn St. 67-42.
South - #7 Mississippi St. scored a mild upset, winning at Vanderbilt 72-69. Junior PF Lawrence Roberts had 18 points and pulled down 14 rebounds to lead the Bulldogs. Senior PF Matt Freije scored a game-high 26 points and added 8 rebounds in a losing effort. In other SEC games, Alabama topped Mississippi 84-69, South Carolina overcame Georgia 63-47, and Tennessee defeated slumping Auburn 75-69. #11 Wake Forest put a major dent in Maryland’s chances for the NCAAs. The Demon Deacons won at College Park 91-83 as junior PF Vytas Danelius led the way with 23 points. Sophomore PG John Gilchrist had a game-high 26 for Maryland. #18 Georgia Tech won at Clemson 79-60. Senior guard Marvin Lewis led the Yellow Jacket attack with 18 points and added 6 rebounds. In CUSA, #15 Cincinnati won at Charlotte 75-67. Junior PF Jason Maxiell led the way for the Bearcats with 18 points. #21 Louisville got back on track with a 66-60 win over #19 Memphis at Freedom Hall. The victory broke the Cardinals’ four game losing streak and also snapped Memphis’ 11 game winning streak. Sophomore SF Francisco Garcia had 18 points for Louisville, while freshman SF Sean Banks tallied a game-high 26 for the Tigers. Also in CUSA, East Carolina topped South Florida 69-60, UAB drubbed Marquette 87-69, and St. Louis won at Tulane 76-65. In the Big East, Virginia Tech edged West Virginia 53-49 in Blacksburg as senior SF Bryant Matthews scored 20 of his 28 points in the 2nd half.
Midwest - #16 Southern Illinois needed a miracle finish to edge Bradley 72-71. The Salukis blew a 45-23 halftime lead after junior forward Mike Suggs nailed a three pointer with 2.5 seconds left to put the Braves ahead 71-70. Junior guard Darren Brooks then tossed the inbounds pass nearly the length of the court. Senior center Sylvester Willis took the pass over a defender and hit the winning layup with just half a second on the clock. Junior guard Stetson Hairston led the Salukis with 14 points while senior guard James Gillingham had 17 for the Braves. In another MVC contest, Southwest Missouri St. shocked Creighton 70-46. In the Big Ten, #23 Illinois completed a perfect 8-0 February with a 66-56 home win over Northwestern. Sophomore PG Dee Brown scored 20 points to lead the Illini. In another Big Ten contest, Iowa edged Minnesota 66-62. In the Big Twelve, Missouri continued their late push for a tournament bid by winning at Kansas St. 79-69. Nebraska got by Iowa St. 68-65 in Lincoln. In CUSA, “bubble team” DePaul helped their cause by crushing Southern Mississippi 80-51 behind 24 points from senior PF Andre Brown. In the Atlantic 10, Dayton topped La Salle 72-58 and Duquesne upset Xavier 74-68.
Southwest – #6 Oklahoma St. and #10 Texas warmed up for their showdown on Monday night in Stillwater with tougher than expected home victories. The Cowboys beat Baylor 72-65 as senior SG Tony Allen had 22 points and 7 rebounds. Junior SF Harvey Thomas had a game-high 24 for the undermanned but game Bears. Texas edged slumping Texas Tech 74-71. Freshman SF P.J. Tucker led the Longhorns with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Senior SG Andre Emmett scored 22 for the Red Raiders who have dropped seven of their last ten games. In another Big Twelve game Colorado dumped Texas A&M 76-70, keeping the Aggies winless in league play. In the SEC, Florida won at Arkansas 73-68. TCU won at home over Houston 71-65 in a CUSA match-up.
West - #1 Stanford improved to 25-0 with an easy 76-55 home win over Oregon. Junior SF Josh Childress had a huge game for the Cardinal with 29 points and 12 rebounds. Senior forward Luke Jackson scored 17 for the Ducks. #17 Arizona got back on track with a 72-60 home win over Washington State. Soph SF Andre Iguodala had 12 points and 16 rebounds to lead the Wildcats to victory. Junior SG Thomas Kelati scored a game-high 27 points for the Cougars. Elsewhere in the PAC 10, Washington completed a highly successful trip to the state of Arizona by thrashing Arizona St. 96-72 and California topped Oregon St. 75-58. #4 Gonzaga blitzed Santa Clara 80-64 in the final home game at the Martin Center. The Bulldogs will move across the street to their new facility next season. Senior center Cory Violette scored 10 points and added 10 rebounds and 5 assists for Gonzaga. In the Mountain West Conference, Air Force kept their slim NCAA hopes alive with a 72-70 home win over UNLV. In an OCC match-up, Notre Dame went into Pauley Pavilion and pounded UCLA 75-60. Junior PG Chris Thomas led the Fighting Irish with 21 points and senior center Tom Timmermans and sophomore SG Chris Quinn each added 20.
East – There is now a three way tie for first place in the Big East. Pittsburgh’s loss to Syracuse coupled with Providence’s win over St. John’s leaves them tied with Connecticut at 11-3. #3 Pittsburgh lost to Syracuse 49-46 in overtime, ending the Panthers’ 40 game home winning streak. Both teams struggled offensively the entire game, but Pittsburgh missed several key free throws late in regulation. Junior PF Chevon Troutman had a chance to put the Panthers ahead with just over 3 seconds remaining but could only make the first of a one and one. In overtime, sophomore PG Gerry McNamara, who had been scoreless during regulation, hit a three pointer that put the Orangemen ahead to stay at 47-44 with 3:52 remaining. He also converted all six of his free throws in overtime. Junior SF Mark McCarroll missed a 3 point attempt just before the buzzer that would have sent the game to a second extra session. Junior PF Hakim Warrick led Syracuse with 17 points and 8 rebounds. #13 Providence set a Big East record with 62 first half points as they blasted St. John’s 103-78 at Madison Square Garden. Junior PF Ryan Gomes led the Friars with 19 points and 11 rebounds. In the Atlantic Ten, Temple defeated Fordham 74-60.
South - #5 Duke kept their hopes for a one seed alive with a 70-65 road win over Florida State. The Blue Devils, as usual, were clutch at the free throw line. They converted their final twelve attempts. Freshman forward Luol Deng paced the Blue Devil attack with 20 points and 9 rebounds. Junior SG Daniel Ewing added 15 points and sophomore center Shelden Williams contributed 14 points and 9 boards before fouling out with 3:06 left. Senior SG Tim Pickett scored a game-high 24 points for the Seminoles. Also in the ACC, #12 North Carolina came up with a huge 71-64 road win at North Carolina State. Sophomore SG Rashad McCants led the Tar Heels with 22 points, including two key 3 pointers late in the game. Senior PF Marcus Melvin had 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Wolfpack, whose home court winning streak was snapped at 14 games. In the SEC, #9 Kentucky scored a 70-64 win over LSU in Baton Rouge. Senior SG Gerald Fitch hit five three point shots as he scored a game-high 23 points to pace the Wildcats to victory. Sophomore PG Darrel Mitchell led LSU with 15 points. The Tigers have now dropped four straight games.
Midwest - #20 Kansas drubbed slumping Oklahoma 79-58 in Lawrence. Junior PF Wayne Siemien led the Jayhawks with 26 points and 8 boards. In the Big Ten, #22 Wisconsin destroyed Purdue 82-46 in Madison. Junior PF Mike Wilkinson had 22 points and 12 rebounds for the Badgers. Also in the Big Ten, Michigan won at home over Ohio St. 75-64.
East - #8 Connecticut moved ½ game ahead of Pittsburgh and Providence in the race for the Big East regular season title with an easy 89-67 victory over Seton Hall in Storrs. Junior center Emeka Okafor had another huge effort for the Huskies in what was almost certainly his last ever home game. Okafor was dominant in the paint, with 25 points, 15 rebounds, and 4 blocked shots. Junior SG Ben Gordon added 23 points and 5 assists for UConn. Junior SG John Allen led the foul-plagued Pirates with 17 points. UConn’s win assures that both the Huskies and Pittsburgh will finish in the top four in the Big East, thus receiving first round byes in the tournament.
Midwest – In the MVC, #16 Southern Illinois was upset by Northern Iowa 68-52 in Cedar Falls. Senior PF Matt Schneiderman scored 16 points and added 8 rebounds for the Panthers. Elsewhere in the MVC, Creighton topped Wichita State 75-61. In the MAC, Western Michigan won at Bowling Green 70-58.
Southwest - #6 Oklahoma State kept their hopes for a one seed very much alive by defeating #10 Texas 76-67 in Stillwater. Senior SG Tony Allen scored 19 points and pulled down 8 rebounds to lead the Cowboys to victory. Junior center Jason Klotz scored 19 for the Longhorns.
West – In the Mountain West, Air Force clinched the #1 seed in the conference tournament with a 61-49 home win over San Diego State. Also in the Mountain West, BYU locked up the #2 seed by defeating Utah 70-57 in Provo.
Basketball News & Notes
Here’s some interesting R.P.I. information, courtesy of an article by Joe Drape in the February 29th edition of the New York Times. Since 1991:
99.7% of teams with R.P.I. ratings between 1-30 have qualified for the NCAA Tournament either as conference champions or at-large teams.
88.5% of teams with R.P.I. ratings from 31-40 earned automatic or at-large bids.
63.0% of teams with R.P.I. ratings from 41-50 earned automatic or at-large bids.
56.0% of teams with R.P.I. ratings from 51-60 earned automatic or at-large bids.
Only five teams with R.P.I. ratings below 60 have received at-large bids. The lowest was New Mexico at 77 in 1999.
Since 1985, 70.5% of the at-large bids have come from the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big Twelve, PAC Ten, and SEC. Also since 1985, 96.6% of the “Mid-Major” teams that received at-large bids had at least 20 wins.
Keep the above figures in mind when predicting who’ll receive the at-large bids on March 14th.
Another player left his team in the midst of the season to play professionally in Europe. Providence reserve senior forward Maris Laksa will be playing for pay in Slovenia. An unconfirmed report stated that Penn St. junior forward Jan Jagla will return to Eurpoe after this season.
Notre Dame announced that sophomore center Torin Francis will miss the remainder of the season due to a lower back injury.
SMU fired head coach Mike Dement. He was in his 9th season at SMU and had never taken the Mustangs to the NCAA Tournament. He was replaced on an interim basis by assistant coach Robert Lineberg.
Duquesne extended the contract of coach Danny Nee by two years, through the 2007-08 season.
Here’s the latest Top Ten from the A.P. Top 25 Poll. The records include games through Sunday, February 29th:
1. Stanford (25-0)
2. St. Joesph’s (26-0)
3. Duke (24-3)
4. Gonzaga (25-2)
5. Mississippi St. (23-2)
6. Pittsburgh (25-3)
7. Connecticut (23-5)
8. Oklahoma St. (22-3)
9. Kentucky (21-4)
10. Texas (21-4)
Football News & Notes
Judge Samuel Sferrazza of Connecticut dismissed all claims filed by the Big East and four member schools against the ACC and its officers over the ACC’s expansion. The judge ruled that neither the ACC nor its officers had sufficient ties to Connecticut to be sued in the state.
Lee Roy Selmon resigned as South Florida’s Athletic Director reportedly for health reasons.
The Bowl Championship Series (BCS) agreed to add a 5th game to increase access to the series for non-BCS conference teams.
Two House Democrats have called for congressional inquiries into recruiting methods of the embattled Colorado football program and in overall college sports. Michigan Representative John Conyers and Colorado Representative Diana DeGette are leading the effort to have the House Energy and Commerce Committee conduct the investigation. Meanwhile, the University of Colorado’s Board of Regents formed an investigative panel to look into the various allegations.
USC Sophomore WR Mike Williams formally announced that he’s making himself eligible for the NFL draft in April. The league is still attempting to get an injunction that will prohibit previously ineligible players from applying for the draft. So far, only RB Maurice Clarett and Williams have announced they intend to enter the draft under the recent ruling in Clarett’s lawsuit against the NFL.
In coaching news:
Louisville Defensive Coordinator Mike Gilhamer resigned to accept a position with the Carolina Panthers. The Cardinals named Mike Cassity as his replacement.
Kent St. head coach Don Pees resigned to become the linebackers coach for the New England Patriots. Kent St. then promoted Offensive Coordinator Doug Martin to replace Pees.
Baylor named Bill Bradley as their new Defensive Coordinator.