NetScouts Basketball has coverage at all the regional sites. Here are some the impressions and feedback we’ve gotten. Please comment if you have anything to add.
Upset and Game of the Day: Florida Gulf Coast took down #2-seeded Big East power Georgetown. The Eagles played fearlessly throughout, took the game to the Hoyas and never backed off in their 78-68 win. The game was never seriously in doubt.
Performance of the Day: Temple’s Khalif Wyatt willed the Owls to the win over North Carolina State by scoring 31 points, drawing fouls (getting to the line 14 times), dishing out five assists and getting three steals.
Best Conference Performance: The Atlantic 10 moved to 6-0 (wins by La Salle (2), Butler, Saint Louis, VCU and Temple). Along the way they’ve beat teams from the Big 12 (Kansas State), ACC (North Carolina State) and Mountain West (Boise State). It’s too bad the conference will not be the same next year with Butler, Xavier and Temple leaving.
Worst Conference Performance: For a conference that is thought to be in the top two in the nation the Big East has sure not looked good. Louisville and Syracuse won big and Marquette won in a miracle squeaker. However, the loss by Georgetown was a big shock and losses by Pitt (Wichita State), Cincinnati (Creighton), Villanova (North Carolina) and Notre Dame (Iowa State) makes us wonder how strong the conference really was this season.
Duke started the action off with a closer than expected but steady 73-61 win over Albany. The Blue Devils were reminded of last year’s loss to Lehigh as a #2-seed and were determined to not have that happen again. Seth Curry (26) and Mason Plumlee (23) combined for 49 points while Quinn Cook was effective running the point (11 assists vs. one turnover). Albany kept things relatively close with solid three-point shooting (9-of-15)……Teams need to hit shots to win games and Wisconsin couldn’t do that in their match-up with Ole Miss. The Badgers shot 25.4% from the floor including an awful 7-of-30 (23.3%) on three-pointers. Ole Miss wasn’t much better, their shooter Marshall Henderson started 1-of-11. But Henderson made a few big shots in the second half, finishing with 19 points on a poor 6-of-21, to help the Rebels to the win…..Props to the Atlantic-10 as they go to 5-0 in the tournament as the Temple Owls held on to defeat North Carolina State 76-72. Khalif Wyatt was huge for Temple scoring 31 points. Wyatt wasn’t effective from long distance (1-for-7) but did his damage from mid-range, driving to the hoop and drawing fouls (14 FT attempts). Temple had 13 assists and only five turnovers in the game……The Miami-Pacific game was no contest with the Hurricanes pulling away from the start in a 78-49 win. Durand Scott scored 21 for Miami as the Hurricanes shot 12-of-22 on three-pointers. PG Shane Larkin ran the offense efficiently with ten points, nine assists and three steals against only two turnovers……
Creighton survived a potential tying three-point attempt by Cincinnat’s Sean Kilpatrick to escape with a hard fought 67-63 win. The Bearcats didn’t help themselves by missing three late free throw attempts, two coming after a flagrant foul call on Creighton’s Doug McDermott. Cincinnati was 4-of-9 from the charity stripe in the game while the Blue Jays were 22-of-25. Cincinnati had 23 more field goal attempts than their opponents but couldn’t hit enough of them. McDermott led all scorers and rebounders with 27 points and 11 boards…..#13-seed La Salle took a 17-point lead into halftime then saw it quickly disappear as Kansas State tightened up their defense to go on a 31-12 run to open the second half. The Explorers proved resilient though, as Jerrell Wright made 7-of-8 free throws in the last six minutes (La Salle’s only points over that time) to help La Salle escape Kansas City with a 63-61 victory. Wright battled inside against Kansas State’s big men Jordan Henriquez and Thomas Gipson and scored 21 points and grabbed eight rebounds. La Salle had a hard time containing Henriquez inside (17 points, 11 boards, 5 blocks) but found a way to get the win. They’ll face #12-seed Ole Miss on Sunday. The Atlantic 10 is now 6-0 in the tourney……The #1-seeded Indiana Hoosiers pulled out to a 21-point halftime lead and coasted to a 83-62 win over James Madison. Freshman PG Yogi Ferrell led five Hoosiers in double-figures with 16 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Freshman Andre Nation was impressive for JMU with 24 points on 10-of-16 shooting……Illinois handed the Pac-12 their first tournament loss with a 57-49 win over Colorado in another horrible shooting game. Illinois had a 16-point halftime lead only to see Colorado go on a 21-point run to take a 5-point lead. Illinois did not make a field goal for the first 11+ minutes of the second half as they missed 13 shots in a row and committed four turnovers. Colorado returned the favor by missing 13 of their last 15 shots. Where are the shooting coaches? Brandon Paul led all scorers with 17 points on 3-of-12 shooting….
Ohio State played very well at the end of the regular season and that continued today with a 95-70 win over Iona. The Buckeyes had 25 assists on 34 made baskets. Deshaun Thomas led the winners with 24 points and Sam Thompson registered a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds……The upset of the day and maybe the tournament occurred when #15-seed Florida Gulf Coast dominated Georgetown in the second half to send the Big East champions home in a 78-68 win. PG Brett Comer ran the show with 12 points and ten assists including a late alley-oop pass for a dunk by Chase Fieler that brought the house down. Florida Gulf Coast was unafraid, pushed the tempo and played their game throughout. Sherwood Brown led FGC with 24 points and nine rebounds. The Hoyas shot poorly until making a run late in the second half. Markel Starks led Georgetown with 23 points while Otto Porter had an off game with 13 points on 5-of-17 shooting…..Florida ran away from Northwestern State with a 39-15 second half advantage en route to a 79-47 win. Erik Murphy led the Gators with 18 points and eight rebounds……North Carolina held off a late run by Villanova to earn a 78-71 victory. P.J. Hairston has made the difference for the Tar Heels ever since he started getting significant playing time midway through the season. It was no different today as Hairston poured in 23 points on five three-pointers. The Tar Heels connected on 11-of-21 three pointers compared to 4-of-21 for the Wildcats. That made the difference in the contest as North Carolina won despite getting out rebounded 37-28…..San Diego State held Oklahoma to 1-of-11 shooting late in the game as they topped the Sooners 70-55 giving the Mountain West a much needed tournament victory. The Aztecs dominated the second half by a 39-22 margin. Jamaal Franklin led San Diego State with 21 points, eight rebounds and four assists……Iowa State dominated Notre Dame throughout the game in defeating the Irish 76-58, handing the Big East another lopsided loss. Iowa State had a late 27-point lead. The Cyclones forced the Irish into 18 turnovers while only committing seven of their own. Freshman Georges Niang led Iowa State with 19 points on 9-of-13 shooting…..
…..Jeff Withey took over the game in the second half to lead Kansas to a tough 64-57 victory over Western Kentucky. Withey finished with 17 points, six rebounds and seven blocks, five of the blocks in the second half. Kansas survived despite some poor late turnovers and decision-making. The Jayhawks committed 17 turnovers and did not make a three-pointer for the first time since 2008. Western Kentucky was right there through most of the game and had their chances. The effort was there but they just did not shoot well enough (31.8% FG, 3-of-20 on 3’s)…..Minnesota ran away from a completely uninspired UCLA team 83-63. The Bruins started the year with huge expectations and ended it with a huge thud. UCLA shot 32.3% from the floor, 4-of-22 on three-pointers including 0-of-6 from Shabazz Muhammad and played very poor defense especially inside. Andre Hollins had a great game for Minnesota with 28 points, nine rebounds, five assists and only one turnover. The Golden Gophers shot 50% from the field and 60% on three-pointers.