SATURDAY’S THINGS TO KNOW
No. 14 Duke won four games in as many days to win the ACC Tournament championship. Did the Blue Devils go from the No. 5 seed in the ACC Tournament to the fourth No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament? CBT’s Rob Dauster explains why it’s likely to happen on Selection Sunday.
No. 1 Villanova defeated Creighton, 74-60, in the Big East Tournament title game behind 29 points from Josh Hart. It’s the second time in the past three years that the Wildcats are dual-Big East champs. The reigning national champions Villanova has the best chance to repeat since Joakim Noah, Corey Brewer and Al Horford won back-to-back at Florida a decade ago. So, why has that storyline flown under the radar all year. CBT’s Rob Dauster was at the Garden to offer up his thoughts on ‘Nova.
Sure, No. 23 Iowa State didn’t have to face Kansas or Baylor in the conference’s postseason tournament, but there’s no denying that the Cyclones are arguably the nation’s hottest teams. Iowa State have won nine of 10, and avenged that only loss in that span by defeating No. 11 West Virginia, 80-74, in the Big 12 Tournament championship game in Kansas City on Saturday night. The Cyclones scored 80 points, off 54 percent shooting, against Press Virginia.
De’Aaron Fox, Kentucky: The speedster scored 19 of his 28 points in the second half to fend off a good fight from Alabama. Malik Monk also shook off a two-point effort the previous day with a 20-point performance.
Josh Hart, Villanova: This week in New York City, Hart made a late case for the nation’s player of the year. In a championship game win, the senior wing went for 29 points and grabbed six rebounds. He becomes only the third player in the Big East history — joining Patrick Ewing and Peyton Siva — to win multiple Big East Tournament MVP honors.
Myles Stephens, Princeton: The first-ever Ivy League Tournament game was a thriller. Undefeated Princeton, playing essentially a road game against Penn in The Palestra, sent the game to overtime and kept the Tigers’ tournament hopes alive with a tip-in with 5.3 seconds remaining in regulation. Stephens had 21 points and 10 boards in the overtime victory.
Jaylin Walker, Kent State: The sophomore had himself a week in Cleveland. A day after hitting the game-winner in the semifinals against Ohio, Walker set a career-high with 30 points (18 coming after halftime) in a win over top-seeded Akron.
Derrick Walton, Michigan: The senior point guard has led he Wolverines to the Big Ten Tournament title game behind his 29 points, nine assists (one turnover), five rebounds and two steals in a semifinal win over Minnesota.
REST OF THE TOP 25
No. 7 Arizona made its case for the No. 1 seed in the West Region with an 83-80 victory over No. 5 Oregon. The Wildcats led by as many as 14 in the second half before the Ducks rallied. Allonzo Trier, who ended with 23 points, helped secure the win from the free throw line.
No. 12 SMU went on a 14-3 second-half run to cruise to its 15th straight victory, advancing to the American Athletic Conference Tournament championship game with a 70-59 win over Central Florida.
The Mustangs will meet No. 15 Cincinnati, who held off a comeback from UConn, after leading by 12 at halftime. After several threats from the Huskies, the Bearcats finally put the game away at the line en route to an 81-71 semifinal victory.
Playing its third game in as many days may have done Northwestern in, as No. 24 Wisconsin rolled past the Wildcats, 76-48, and into the Big Ten Tournament title game. Nigel Hayes had 18 points and 10 rebounds, followed by Ethan Happ with 16.
- Princeton and Yale will meet in the first Ivy League Tournament championship game at The Palestra.
- Texas State defeated UT-Arlington by 20 to advance to the Sun Belt Conference title game. UT-Arlington was the top-seed and had a double-digit win over Saint Mary’s in Moraga. Many thought the Mavericks could be a Cinderella this March.
- Bubble teams across the country are happy VCU knocked off Richmond in overtime of the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament semifinal.
- However, the A-10 could still get three bids in the NCAA Tournament, if Rhode Island wins on Sunday against VCU. The Rams entered the day as one of the “First Four Out.” Perhaps a win over Davidson sealed the deal.
- Moses Kingsley recorded a double-double 12 points and 13 rebounds in Arkansas‘ 76-62 SEC Tournament semifinal win over Vanderbilt. The Razorbacks have looked good in Nashville this week.