BIG EAST: Redemption songs for Panthers, Pirates
The Big Apple has become Upset City! Seton Hall and Pittsburgh have shown what can happen when a team is hungry and playing for respect. Both teams have shown more passion and fire than anyone else in the Big East tournament.
Ricardo Greer hasn't received the recognition he deserves. The Panthers played like a determined bunch and showed the same mental approach Seton Hall did earlier in the day.
|Pittsburgh's Donatas Zavackas showed Troy Murphy and the Irish what hunger can do for an underdog in tournament play.|
Notre Dame is not entering the Big Dance with momentum, having lost three in a row. That's not the way you want to enter your first-round matchup. The Irish lack quickness, which makes it difficult to play catchup basketball -- and quickness is definitely a forte of the Panthers.
Meanwhile, Seton Hall is trying hard to make up for a disappointing season. It's redemption time, baby! The Pirates turned in a brilliant defensive performance, containing point guard Kevin Braswell, who hurt them big-time during the Hoyas' regular-season sweep of the Pirates.
On this day, though, it was all Seton Hall. Braswell and his backcourt mate, Demetrius Hunter, combined to shoot 1-for-13. Guards Ty Shine and Darius Lane each hit three trifectas for the Hall. They were big-time players today for Tommy Amaker.
They played with passion, inspiration and a sense of pride. They seem to have found the chemistry between the tested veterans and the talented newcomers that was so sorely lacking earlier in the year.
Just as Arkansas shocked everyone last year and ran to the SEC tournament title, Seton Hall has a run of its own going in the Big East. In today's world, everybody rates you on what you do in the postseason. The bottom line for the Pirates is that they can erase a horrible regular season by winning the Big East tourney and going to the NCAA Tournament.
BIG TEN: Lions win by skin of their fangs
Penn State struggled but got it done against Michigan, keeping alive hopes for an NCAA Tournament bid. In the first half it looked like Penn State would win easily -- until the Nittany Lions got sloppy.
In the second half the Wolverines had their opportunities but were unable to convert down the stretch, including a costly turnover in the final seconds. Penn State was able to take advantage of a missed field goal and got to the winner's circle, keeping those Dance hopes alive. Gyaci Cline-Heard got the rebound for the winning hoop.
Ergo, the Lions are still afloat and moving on to the Big Ten quarterfinals. The Crispin brothers must perform better against Michigan State or it will be lights out. They combined for 11 points against the Wolverines.
SEC: Georgia must wait and see
Georgia put itself in a wait-and-see situation with its loss to LSU late Thursday night. Jim Harrick's team played the toughest schedule in America but finished with 14 losses.
Four teams with 14 losses have been invited to the Big Dance via the at-large berth. The Bulldogs lost to a Tigers team that played with a lot of emotion. Coach John Brady was excited after the upset; it has been a tough season in Baton Rouge, especially after the loss of senior guard Lamont Roland.
Harrick and company will have to watch and hope on Sunday. Until then, it will be a lot of praying -- and rooting for the favorites in the other conference tournaments, baby!
Them's fightin' words!
|Auburn guard Adam Harrington sparked a verbal war but couldn't see it through.|
What a matchup between Tennessee and Auburn. It was a war of words; Auburn's Adam Harrington said the Vols were falling apart and his fire was returned by Ron Slay, who promised to bury the Tigers.
Slay backed his words up. He was brilliant on the inside as he led the Vols -- who were 16-1 and ranked fourth at one point before struggling mightily -- to the W against Auburn.
Harrington did what he could do to stem the tide by knocking down 25 big ones, but I don't know why he would want to inspire and motivate a sleeping giant like the Vols the way he did. Tennessee marches on.
C-USA: Bearcats battle and prevail
UAB and Cincinnati staged quite a battle. In the end, Kenny Satterfield took charge, hitting key shots down the stretch to get Bob Huggins' team to the winner's circle in a hard-fought battle.
It was a tough game for UAB, coming back after beating Louisville on Wednesday night.
WAC: Close call for Tark's Bulldogs
Fresno State struggled a bit against a Rice team that gave the Bulldogs trouble during the regular season. Fresno State ended up winning those games by 11 and five points.
Fresno prevailed despite Chris Jefferies' poor shooting (1-for-8) and Melvin Ely's sub-par, six-point effort. The Bulldogs will have to play better in their next game against Hawaii or it could be Struggle City for this overwhelming WAC tourney favorite.