Game of the Day: Seton Hall 46, South Florida 42 (OT)
This is not the Game of the Day because it was the best to watch. In fact, it was painful. This is the Game of the Day because it proves a point about reaching the line between maximizing the number of teams that get exposure in a given conference and the danger of watering down the product. The first day of the expanded Big East tournament is not usually one for heroics and Tuesday was no exception. It took these two teams overtime to score a combined 88 points. By contrast, LIU Brooklyn scored 91 in its NEC-clinching win over Mount St. Mary’s.
Read more about this game below in the “Struggled” section.
The Blackbirds clinched their third straight NEC tournament title with a win over Mount St. Mary’s Tuesday night. It was offense that once again got the job done, posting 91 points. Moving forward, the focus will be on the other end of the floor. As good as the LIU offense is, its defense sits on the opposite end of the spectrum. LIU is 342nd in the country in scoring defense. Unless they can run a team out of the gym, the NCAA tournament could present a problem.
Even with star Ryan Broekhoff having a big night, Valparaiso was able to rip off a 16-0 to close out the game down the stretch and end up with an eight-point victory. The Crusaders are headed to the NCAA tournament.
Fittingly enough, Nate Wolters helped to close the game out down the stretch for South Dakota State and the Jackrabbits now find themselves in the NCAA tournament. Aside from Wolters, Jordan Dykstra and Tony Fiegen contributed double-digit offensive numbers. One major concern will be a lack of depth, as SDSU essentially played just a five-man rotation Tuesday night.
1. Nate Wolters, South Dakota State (26 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists)
Another case of Nate Wolters being Nate Wolters. The Jackrabbits needed this type of performance from him to grab the automatic bid and he delivered. He shouldered the weight of the offensive production, but also facilitated and added six rebounds.
2. Wally Judge, Rutgers (20 points, 10 rebounds, 9-of-9 FG)
Judge tied a Big East record for field goals in the conference’s tournament without a miss, going perfect from the field and recording a double-double in Rutgers’ win over DePaul. He now shares the record with former Villanova forward Ricky Wright and former Boston College forward Craig Smith.
3. C.J. Garner, LIU Brooklyn (31 points, 13-of-17 FG)
The Blackbirds have one of the most dynamic offenses in the country and Garner was the engine behind the attack Tuesday to clinch an automatic NCAA tournament bid. He has been asked to pick up more slack since Julian Boyd was lost for the season with a knee injury and has responded accordingly.
1. South Florida (24% FG, 19% 3pt FG, 42 points in overtime loss)
It took the Bulls overtime to score 42 points. Not that their opponent, Seton Hall, did much better in the 46-42 victory, but at least the Pirates hit the 40 percent mark from the field. South Florida couldn’t hit a shot to save its Big East tournament life, so its postseason ambitions end Tuesday.
2. Rashad Whack, Mount St. Mary’s (3-of-15 FG, 3-of-11 3pt FG)
Most of Whack’s points came when the game was already solidly out of reach, struggling to find his stroke from the field for much of the game. As the Mountaineers’ leading scorer, his inability to get an offensive flow going affected the team’s overall production in the championship game loss.
3. Ryan Broekhoff, Valparaiso (7 points, 2-of-8 FG, 5 turnovers)
The most impressive part of this for Valparaiso is the fact that, despite Broekhoff’s stat line, the Crusaders were able to get a win and now they’re going dancing. The tough reality is, though, that it will be a lot harder to compete and advance in the NCAA tournament without Broekhoff’s help. He should be back to form shortly.