Portland 84, #18 Saint Mary's 66
It was definitely bad luck for Saint Mary's to have to play their first game sans leading scorer Patrick Mills on the road at a very good and hungry Portland team. They were never really even in this game, getting blown away pretty early on. Saint Mary's has now slipped to 5-2 in the WCC with an RPI that has fallen out of the Top 50. The fact is that they can only afford to lose another game or two or they'll fall out of the Tournament altogether. That said, Portland is a very good team. I didn't understand why they were underdogs in Vegas for this game, especially after the Mills injury. They are now second place in the WCC at 6-1, and that one loss was at Gonzaga. They have a win over Washington, which is better than any win that Saint Mary's has. That said, unlike Saint Mary's, they do have some bad losses (Portland State, Northern Colorado and Oregon, among others). So with an RPI near 100th, and Sagarin and Pomeroy numbers that aren't much better, it's an uphill battle to an at-large bid. They'd basically have to go undefeated the rest of the way. But don't count out the possibility of this team pulling an upset in the WCC tournament like San Diego did last year, because this Portland team is arguably just as good as last year's San Diego squad.
Tennessee 79, Florida 63
This shouldn't have been too surprising of a result. Tennessee is a desperate team, and the crowd was really into the game. They are also a very good team that is definitely better than their record. One really bright spot was the emergence of freshman star Scotty Hopson, who hadn't really been living up to the expectations thus far this season. He led all Tennessee players with 20 points, including 4-for-6 from behind the arc. This win pulls Tennessee back to 4-2 in the SEC, and within half a game of the leaders of the SEC East (a three-way tie between Florida, Kentucky and South Carolina). Tennessee now has the highest RPI in the SEC, as well as the most RPI Top 50 wins, and they're still my pick to win the conference. I do think that if anybody knocks them off, though, that it will be Florida. The Gators ran into a buzz saw today, but Tennessee won't play like this in Gainesville or on a neutral floor during the SEC tournament. I think both of these teams are Tournament teams, and that the SEC is most likely going to end up with four or five bids overall.
Boston College 67, Virginia Tech 66
I sometimes feel bad for Seth Greenberg, because you can feel the pain that he wears on his face when his team has a bad defensive breakdown. And that offensive rebound that they gave up to lose this game was killer for this squad. They could easily be 6-1 in the ACC, but two heartbreaking losses have dropped them to 4-3 instead. They have a pretty easy stretch coming up, but they have a really tough end to the season. They've absolutely got to take care of business in their next two home games (NC State, Georgia Tech) or they're going to have a hill to climb over the last month of the season. For Boston College, they've done a great job of rebounding from that four game losing streak to now win four straight, moving to 5-3 in the ACC. The computer numbers aren't there yet, but if they can finish 4-4 to get to 9-7 then I think the computer numbers will follow. A 9-7 ACC record would get either of these two teams into the Tournament most likely.