#18 Temple 49, Dayton 41
It's a good thing for the Atlantic Ten conference that this game wasn't on tv for most of the country. It was just a brick-fest, with 32 points scored in the first half.. combined. Dayton hit an abysmal 26% from the field, and the teams couldn't even score at the line, combining for 63% shooting there. But Temple has more room to spare for games like this than Dayton does, as the Flyers have lost three of four to fall to 7-6 in the A-10 with computer numbers that have all fallen out of the Top 40 in the country. If the season ended now I think they'd actually be one of the first teams out of the bracket, possibly their first time out of the bracket all season. Assuming they take care of business this weekend against UMass, they will then need to at least split their final two regular season games against Richmond and Saint Louis. Richmond will be particularly important to beat since they might be one of the teams fighting for those final at-large spots. As for Temple, they've quietly won four straight games to move to 11-2 with three games left that they should be strongly favored in. They are 9-5 against the RPI Top 100 with no bad losses, and with so many losses happening right now to the other teams ranked in the 10th-20th range you have to say that Temple is a serious contender for a 4 or a 5 seed if they can win the A-10 tournament.
Notre Dame 68, #13 Pittsburgh 53
I always remind my readers that the best time to bet against a team is after they have a big win, and Pitt was obviously coming off a big win here. That said, Pitt actually didn't play that poorly here. The fact that they scored only 53 points had a lot more to do with the painfully deliberate pace that both of these teams played at, with both teams getting only 53 or 54 possessions, than with poor offensive efficiency. Notre Dame had an extremely efficient offense here (68 points is a lot of points at this type of tempo) due to red hot shooting behind the arc (10-for-18 as a team). This game clearly meant a lot more for an Irish team that is desperately fighting to get back on the bubble. And while this win doesn't get them back in the Field of 65, it does put them back on the bubble. They're 7-8 in the Big East with a respectable 6-8 record against the RPI Top 100 with a win over West Virginia to go with this one, and only one really bad loss (to Loyola Marymount). They entered this game 67th in the Sagarin ELO_CHESS, needing to get up to the Top 50 to get an at-large bid (it's very rare for teams outside the ELO_CHESS Top 50 to get one). They will have to win two of their final three games (which won't be easy, with games at Georgetown, vs UConn, at Marquette) to still be on the bubble when the Big East tournament begins. For Pitt, their resume won't change too much this week with this loss following the huge win against Villanova. With three easy games remaining they will most likely be 13-5 heading into the Big East tournament, and still firmly in position for a 3-4 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Maryland 88, Clemson 79
It's amazing that a team could be 10-3 in the ACC with a National Championship in the last decade and yet still be completely unknown to most of the public, but that's the case right now with a Maryland team that continues to hang in there in the ACC title race. Greivis Vasquez was the star here with 15 points and 13 assists, but super freshman Jordan Williams was again huge off the bench (18 points on 8-for-12 shooting). We knew Vasquez would be one of the best players in the ACC this season, but the emergence of Williams has probably been the biggest reason that Maryland has exceeded expectations this season. They have a very tough remaining schedule, but they actually control their own destiny and will win at least a share of the ACC regular season title if they can win their final three games. I wouldn't bet on it, but Maryland has spent all season exceeding expectations. As for Clemson, they fall to 7-6 and will enter March still without a Tournament bid in hand. And with three tough games remaining in their regular season (at Florida State, vs Georgia Tech, at Wake Forest) they will still need to beat at least one more quality opponent to avoid the NIT.