1. Miami gets back above .500 by handing Louisville another OT loss
Louisville is not really in the discussion when we talk about the ACC’s best teams. That’s probably in no small part to getting stomped by 29 by Kentucky right before conference play started or because the Cardinals have just generally been dismissed because coach Rick Pitino was, well, dismissed before the year. Interim coach David Padgett’s team, though, is right there at the top of the league. They’d actually be at the top of the league if not for two overtime losses, the most recent coming Wednesday night, 78-75, at Miami.
The Cards now sit tied in the loss column with Duke for second place in the ACC, two games behind first-place Virginia. Miami now joins Clemson as the only two ACC teams to beat Louisville, with both losses not only coming in extra time but on the road. For whatever reason, Louisville isn’t really being talked about as a top team in the conference despite its excellent defense and a resume that features losses to those two conferences foes and the Wildcats along with Purdue and Seton Hall. The offense is probably going to keep them from really making a ton of noise – they shot just 41.5 percent overall and 22.7 percent from three against the ‘Canes – but Louisville is probably better than they’re getting credit for.
As for Miami, getting a home win against Louisville puts them at 4-3 in the ACC heading into Saturday’s rematch with Florida State. The Hurricanes beat the ‘Noles at home earlier this month, and they’ve got Lonnie Walker playing his best ball of the season. He’s scored at least 16 points in the last four games, peaking with tonight’s 25 on 18 shots. Against the ‘Noles, he managed just five points in the final of six-straight games failing to reach double-digits.
2. How good is Frank Martin?
Frank Martin got tons of accolades last year for getting the Gamecocks from a seventh seed to the Final Four. It was a masterful job. The crowning achievement in a career full of accomplishments.
Unless it wasn’t as good as it gets.
The Gamecocks defeated Florida at Gainesville, 77-72, to put themselves squarely in the NCAA tournament conversation, which has Rob Dauster examining two things: Is this a better coaching job from Martin than last year, and is the SEC about to benefit from the struggles of other conferences come Selection Sunday?
3. USC outlasts Stanford
Louisville may just be two OT losses from first place, but USC probably has the better argument that they’re the ones that they should get the not-in-first-but-needs-an-asterisk status.
After being Stanford, 69-64, on Wednesday night, it’s the half-court buzzer-beater that the Cardinal beat them with earlier in the month that separates the Trojans from a tie with Arizona atop the Pac-12.
The league is still pretty wide open given its general, umm, not goodness, but if Andy Enfield’s group finishes a game out from winning its first regular-season title since 1985 courtesy of a half-courter, that would be pretty tough to take.