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Monday, February 28, 2011

College Baskbetball Weekend Finale

Before you know it, it will be March and time is winding down for bubble teams. The NCAA tournament begins March 17 and that leaves just four weeks for teams to get their resumes up to par. A few teams helped their cause helped their cause out and none more than Virginia Tech as they defeated number 1 ranked Duke in Blacksburg. The Hokies came out from the start with the passion and intensity usually reserved by the Blue Devils. Its good to see Seth Greenberg’s bunch finally get on the right side of the bubble for change as in recent they seem always to come up just short. Michigan State just can’t right that ship for their disastrous season. They were easily defeated by Purdue and at 16-12 they need to win all of their remaining games to have a shot entering the tournament as an at-large. Last years final four run for Coach Izzo’s group seems so long ago. The Jimmer was on the loose again as he scored 25 for BYU as they downed a solid San Diego State team for the second time this year

Now let’s take a look at the weekend’s best games.

Virginia Tech 64 vs. Duke 60 -  The Dukies took the initial shot from Va. Tech but it couldn’t take the final wave as Tech was able to wear down the Blue Devils. The Hokies played an inspired first few minutes highlighted by some beautiful plays from guard Eric Green. The Blue Devils were able to shut down the Hokies leading scorer Malcolm Delaney for the first few minutes of the game as Coach K’s signature defense was on display. Tech would grab the early lead only to see Duke retake it back in the second half and go up by six points, 53-47. However the Hokies didn’t back down after relinquishing their lead as Terrell Bell scored five straight to give Tech the lead for the remainder of the game. Bell knocked down a clutch 3-pointer in the corner with 4:40 left and two free-throws seconds later. Malcolm Delaney finally was able to get loose from Duke’s suffocating defense to hit his only 3-pointer of the night. The Dukie with the most miserable night had to be Seth Curry as chants of “Who’s your daddy rang loud and clear. Curry’s dad Dell, of course was in attendance to see his son but that doesn’t mean the Virginia Tech legend and his son were getting off easy in Blacksburg. This was Duke’s 18th lost as the number one ranked team in the nation, giving the Blue Devils this ominous record for most losses as a number 1 ranked team.

BYU 80 vs. SDSU 67 – San Diego State just had no answer for the shooting display by the Cougars. Jimmer Fredette done his usual putting up 25 points but it was his teammates as well that put the game away. The team as a whole was 10-16 from 3-point range. Charles Abouo was 4-5, Noah Hartsock was 3-4, and Jackson Emery was 2-6. They just shot the lights out. San Diego State was led by Kawhi Leonard’s 17 points and 13 rebounds but they could never control the pace of the game. Fredette shooting percentage wasn’t pretty (8-23) but he effectively found a way to get his teammates involved. He is clearly the front-runner now for player of the year and BYU has a chance to stalk a claim as a number 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

St.John’s 81 vs. Villanova 68 – I don’t know what Steve Lavin is telling his players these days but whatever it is he should keep it up. The Red Storm continue their unbelievable hot play of late as they beat their sixth straight top 25 team in Villanova. The star again for the Johnnies’s was Dwight hardy as he demolished the Wildcats defense for 34 points. Hardy is as versatile as they come as he was able to make a dazzling display of different shot’s including tear-drop lay-ups, runners in the lane and 3-pointers. The Wildcats usually play tough in your face defense with their great guards in Corey Fisher and Malik Wayns but Hardy was able to find space. Speaking of Fisher, he was only 1 of 10 from the field and the team as whole was just 4 of 14 from 3-point land and when you combine that with 12 turnovers, you have a recipe for defeat. The Wildcats started the year off hot but not have lost two straight and four of six. The score was 18-4 in the first few minutes of the game. Dwight Hardy has now firmly entrenched himself in the race for Big East player of the year.

Other news and notes:

Can the Big East get 11 bids? As of today you have at least 11 to 12 possible teams coming from the big bad Big East. Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Louisville, St. John’s, Villanova, Connecticut, Syracuse, Georgetown, West Virginia, Cincinnati and Marquette all seem to have a creditable resume for the tournament. But with so many teams from one league getting in, it will definitely lead to some scrutiny for the teams who don’t get in. I’m sure Digger Phelps doesn’t like so many teams getting in from a BCS conference especially when it is taking away a few mid major bids in the process. Maybe everyone can get what they want this year since the tournament has expanded from 64 to 68 teams.

Pauley Pavillion gets proper send-off – What better way for Pauley to close its doors for renovation then to have the late great John Wooden’s great-grandson score the last basket. Tyler Trapani, the rarely used walk-on junior was able to make a lay-up on a putback after an airball from teammate Jack Haley Jr. The shot from Trapani bought his head coach Ben Howland to tears. I was thinking about Coach,” he said of the man who led the Bruins to 10 national championships. “It was so fitting Tyler hit the shot. It fell right in his hands. There’s something going on there, I really believe it.” John must have been smiling down from the heavens.

Louisville cheerleader is a little too enthusiastic – From the department of male cheerleaders gone wild, a Cardinals cheerleader got a little too excited about the Louisville impending win over number 4 Pittsburgh. The play happened after Kyle Kuric’s dunk looked to seal the game for the Cardinals in the last few seconds of overtime. The cheerleader (Still no name associatied with him) ran onto the court and chucked the ball into the air. All seems normal until it was noticed that there was still five-tenths of a second left on the clock (D’oh!). The chuck by the cheerleader led to a technical foul being called on Louisville and gave Pittsburgh two-free throws in a five point game. Luckily for this guy Ashton Gibbs missed on a half-court shot and Louisville prevailed 62-59. Who knows what would have happened to this kid had Pittsburgh found a way to pull off the victory even though it was highly unlikely. The guy wouldn’t’ have mad it out the arena alive in basketball crazed Louisville. "The male cheerleader is coming to an end," Louisville coach Rick Pitino joked to start his postgame press conference. "It was good while it lasted. It was fun. Now we'll try another sport for him."

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