Game of the Week: West Virginia 72, Louisville 70
This is the kind of loss where you feel terrible for Preston Knowles. The senior point guard for the Cardinals shook off a poor shooting afternoon to score seven straight points and give the ‘Ville a 67-61 lead with two minutes left. But after one Casey Mitchell three and a missed free throw by Peyton Siva, Knowles got hung up on a screen and allowed Mitchell to get open for a deep, game-tying three with eight seconds left. Knowles pushed the ball in transition, but he missed a pull-up three and then proceeded to do about the dumbest thing he could in that situation:
March Madness Game Winners!!!
– Lafayette 73, American 71 2OT: Jim Mower hit a 3-pointer with less than a second remaining to lead Lafayette over American 73-71 in double-OT in the Patriot League semifinals. Trailing by two with seven seconds remaining, Tony Johnson drove the length of the floor before kicking it to Mower for the game-winning basket. Ryan Willen hit a 3-pointer with ten seconds remaining in regulation to tie the game, and Mower hit 1 of 2 free throws under ten seconds left in the first OT to force a second over time. Vlad Moldoveanu led all scorers with 26 points, but it was not enough, as Lafayette upset the No. 2-seed Eagles on their home floor. The No. 6-seed Leopards will face top-seeded Bucknell in the Patriot League finals.
– Missouri State 58, Southern Illinois 56: The Bears almost didn’t make it out of their first round matchup in the MVC Tournament. Down by nine with two minutes left, Missouri State hit three straight three to tie the game up at 56 before Kyle Weems bailed them out with this shot:
– Robert Morris 64, Quinnipiac 62: Junior guard Velton Jones dribbled off of a ball screen and drove down the lane, hitting a tough floater over two defenders to knock off the Bobcats. Its the second straight season that Quinnipiac has had their season ended by Bobby Mo:
VCU 62, Drexel 60: Chris Fouch buried a three to tie the game with 10 seconds left in the CAA quarterfinals, but Jamie Skeen answered with a gorgeous, baby hook at the buzzer:
Player of the Week: Jon Diebler, Ohio State
You want to talk about a player being on fire? On Wednesday, Diebler drilled 10/12 threes against Penn State, finishing with 30 points, three boards, and five assists while setting the school record and tying the Big Ten record for threes in a game. He wans’t done, either, as Diebler had 27 points in Sunday’s 28 point win over Wisconsin. Diebler was 7-8 from deep, putting him at 17-20 for the week.
In the two games this week, Diebler averaged 28.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg, and 4.5 apg. Not only was he 17-20 from three, he shot 18-22 from the floor. He raised his three point percentage — in the last week of the regular season — from 47.7% to 51.1%. I think its safe to say Diebler was feeling it this week.
The All-they-were-good-too team:
- G: Brandyn Curry, Harvard: The Crimson clinched at least a share of the Ivy League title with wins over Penn and Princeton on Saturday. Curry was tremendous, averaging 11.5 ppg, 12.0 apg, 2.5 spg and just six turnovers on the weekend.
- G: Tim Hardaway, Jr, Michigan: The Wolverines had a couple of huge wins to keep themselves in the bubble picture, and Hardaway was the star, averaging 21.0 ppg.
- F: Kevin Jones, West Virginia: West Virginia clinched the six seed in the Big East Tournament with wins over UConn and Louisville, and Jones was the biggest reason why. He averaged 20.0 ppg and 13.0 rpg, including a 25 point, 16 rebound (11 offensive) performance in the win over the Cardinals.
- F: Lavoy Allen, Temple: Allen has been terrific the past five games, averaging 17.6 ppg, 14.0 rpg, and 2.0 bpg.
- C: Tristan Thompson, Texas: Thompson is doing his best to pull Texas out of this slump. While the Longhorns went just 1-1 this week, Thompson had 26 points and 10 boards in a loss to K-State before notching 19 points and 13 boards (nine offensive) in a win over Baylor.
- Bench: Jeremy Hazell, Seton Hall (26.0 ppg, 3.5 spg), Kendall Marshall, UNC (11.0 ppg, 9.5 apg)
Team of the Week: North Carolina Tar Heels
Believe it or not, but the UNC Tar Heels are now your outright ACC champions after knocking off Duke it what amounted to the ACC regular season title game. The game wasn’t all that close, either, as Kendall Marshall and Harrison Barnes and company jumped out to a big lead early and held on down the stretch.
Plenty of words have already been written on how much better this Tar Heel team is without Larry Drew and with Marshall running the show. The same can be said about Harrison Barnes’ recent play, as he is living up to those all-american expectations. But not much has been said about the play of John Henson and Tyler Zeller. They were the knock on Carolina early in the season, but both have developed into a big-time presence on the glass and in the paint.
If this team wins the ACC Tournament, there is still an outside chance that they can earn themselves a No. 1 seed on Sunday.
Teams deserving a shout out:
Kentucky: The Wildcats finally notched a key victory on the road, going into Tennessee and knocking off the Volunteers. It was a come-from-behind win, as the Wildcats played awful in the first half. But Brandon Knight made the plays late in the game, giving UK their first close, road victory of the season. That came just days after Kentucky knocked off Vanderbilt at home. UK earned themselves the second seed in the SEC Tournament and a first round bye.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers had a big week this week, as they beat both UConn and Louisville in Morgantown to take the sixth seed in the Big East Tournament. That means they will be playing the winner of Marquette-Providence on Wednesday.
Notre Dame: The Irish are making a serious case for themselves as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. They finished in sole possession of second place in the Big East standings. Perhaps most important this week was that the Irish were able to stave off a UConn run and comeback on the road despite having their star and potential Big East player of the year Ben Hansbrough out of the game with five fouls.
Florida: Florida won the outright SEC regular season title by crushing Alabama at home and following that up with a solid win at Vanderbilt on Saturday. There is a lot not too like about Florida this season, but they just keep on winning basketball games. They are getting post production, their guard play has been more consistent, and Chandler Parsons is turning into a star.
Michigan: If the Wolverines end up missing the NCAA Tournament, you can’t say it wasn’t for a lack of effort. After starting league play 1-6, Michigan rallied to end the year tied for fourth at 9-9, including wins at Minnesota and over Michigan State this week. The Wolverines still have some work to do, but the fact that they are in this conversation is impressive.
Cincinnati: The Bearcats aren’t just going to back into the NCAA Tournament. They deserve to be their. After losing at home to UConn, Mick Cronin’s club bounced back with wins against Marquette and Georgetown, the latter coming by 22 points.
Fordham: Congratulations to Fordham as they avoided a winless regular season by knocking off UMass on Saturday.
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.