Friday, February 19, 2010

Syracuse Survives Georgetown

#5 Syracuse 75, #10 Georgetown 71
We've seen this movie before: Georgetown gets out to a horrible start and is down by double digits in the opening moments, then stages a furious comeback late in the game. In this game that comeback was sparked by the fourth foul committed by both Arinze Onuaku and Rick Jackson. With those two on the bench (both came on late in the game and quickly fouled out, and so Syracuse went through nearly ten minutes of the second half with neither big man on the floor) it was just a field day for Greg Monroe, who demanded the ball and led his team in a way he was unable to do last season as a freshman. But Syracuse just managed to hang on, and they temporarily grab a half-game lead over Villanova in the Big East. They are in a good position for a 1 seed at this point, and will probably get one if they can win the Big East tournament. As for Georgetown, they now fall to 8-6 in the Big East with two very tough road games still remaining (against Louisville and West Virginia). Of course, this Georgetown team is so up-and-down that they can easily lose at home to Notre Dame and then win on the road at West Virginia. But their Tournament seed has definitely taken a hit this week, and they could easily slip into the range of a 6-8 seed if they're not careful.

#19 Vanderbilt 82, Mississippi 78
Vanderbilt continues to grind out close wins, collecting this one on the back of some very clutch free throw shooting down the stretch. A.J. Ogilvy and Jermaine Beal combined to hit 19 of 20 free throws over the final 6:10 of the game, a pretty devastating performance as far as Ole Miss was concerned. And fairly surprising when you consider that the team only hits a shade under 71% on the season. But with three straight wins the Commodores are now 9-2 in the SEC and near a lock for second place in the SEC East. And with a home game against Kentucky tomorrow they have a chance to make a run at a 4 or even a 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. As for Ole Miss, they've lost four of five games (none of those losses by more than ten points, by the way) to plummet to 5-6 in SEC play with a 5-7 record against the RPI Top 100. They are in real danger of falling out of the NCAA Tournament without a strong finish. With a weak remaining schedule (i.e. almost any loss would be a "bad" loss) they probably need to finish at least 4-1 or else there will be a real possibility that they'll take the floor for their first SEC tournament game on the outside of the field of 65.

Minnesota 68, #16 Wisconsin 52
Wisconsin got great news with Jon Leuer playing his first game in more than a month, but he looked very rusty here with a 2-for-12 shooting performance. Although the entire Wisconsin team failed to shoot well here. It seemed like they were a bit rattled by the two big Minnesota post players (Ralph Sampson III and Colton Iverson), who were mauling them on every rebound. I can't recall the last time I've seen Bo Ryan actually get a technical foul because he was arguing so strongly against the refs. But the refs weren't the difference here, it was just an awful performance by Wisconsin. But while this dashes any hopes they had at a Big Ten title, they never had a good shot at that anyway. Getting Leuer back and in shape for the Big Ten tournament and the NCAA Tournament is what they care about. This game meant a lot more for Minnesota, as this was one of the last chances for a big win for the Gophers before the Big Ten tournament. They remain 6-7 in the Big Ten with a horrid 8-9 record against the RPI Top 200. They will have to win three of their final five games to have any chance at an at-large bid, and probably need to go 4-1 or 5-0 to really like their chances.

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