|Is shorthanded Louisville starting to slip?|
Bubble Watch Notre Dame became the 17th lock into the NCAA Tournament, while Cincinnati pulled themselves off the bubble with a big win.
Notre Dame Gets Past Louisville Louisville overcame an 11 point halftime deficit to make a game of this one late. But Jerian Grant was a catalyst for a stretch of five straight Irish possessions with a made basket. Demetrius Jackson was the best player on the court, scoring 21 points on 6-for-11 shooting, with 5 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 assists.
The Irish had been struggling since that win over Duke. They had gone 4-3 over that stretch, and it could have been worse. They barely squeaked by Clemson and Boston College. This is easily their best performance since the Duke win, and obviously Irish fans are going to hope that this is the start of a trend, and perhaps the team peaking at the right part of the season.
This is Louisville's first loss since Chris Jones was kicked off the team, though they had a mere 1 point win over Georgia Tech. This loss also drops Louisville into a tie for fourth place with North Carolina. If they slip to fifth place they'll have to play in the ACC tournament second round.
Michigan State Holds Off Purdue Purdue led by 9 points in the first half here, but a 26-6 Michigan State run blew this game open. The Spartans had to hit free throws down the stretch, and they hit 11-for-16 over the final 1:45. Travis Trice hit four of those en route to a game-high 27 points.
This should put to rest the bubble concerns for Michigan State. They're now 11-6 in Big Ten play with an RPI all the way up to 30th. Only having two RPI Top 50 wins is a problem, but unless they lose the rest of their games they should be safe.
Purdue is also 11-6 in Big Ten play, but they're just 13-11 against the RPI Top 200 and their RPI has slipped out of the Top 60. That home finale against Illinois might be something of an elimination game for those two teams. It's certainly hard to see Purdue earning an at-large bid if their RPI is out of the Top 60 on Selection Sunday.
Miami Tops Pittsburgh Angel Rodriguez missed another game for Miami, but there were also concerns that Sheldon McClellen would miss the game. Miami fans are thankful that McClellan could play, because he scored 16 of his 20 points in the second half here. In the final minute, Miami was getting generous bounces on the rim while Pitt had a couple of shots rim in and out. That's the way things have gone this past week for Pitt as they slip out of the NCAA Tournament picture.
Pitt's NCAA Tournament hopes aren't over, but they'll need to beat Florida State and then go on a run in the ACC tournament, to at least the semifinals. Miami is in better shape, but they still have a ton of work to do as well. Their RPI is 65th and they have a 13-11 record against the RPI Top 200. They will need to beat Virginia Tech and then win at least one game in the ACC tournament.
Bryant's Buzzer Beater The best part of March college basketball isn't the Final Four, it's shots like this to save the season of a team desperately hoping to get to the NCAA Tournament, even if getting in just means a 16 seed:
Tulsa Falls To Cincinnati Cincinnati's defense is always strong, and it's their offense which generally holds them back. Here, they held Tulsa to just 6-for-21 shooting on layups and dunks (7 shots were blocked), but the star was Farad Cobb. Cobb scored 22 points, including 4-for-7 three-point shooting and 3-for-4 on two-point jump shooting.
This win should be the one that puts Cincinnati into the NCAA Tournament for good. They are 12-5 in AAC play with six RPI Top 50 wins and a Top 35 RPI. Unless they lose their home finale at Memphis they should be safe.
For Tulsa, this game is meaningless for their hopes of winning the AAC regular season title, and they still have a Top 50 RPI, but that RPI doesn't take into account their non-Division I loss and they have just five RPI Top 100 wins. Unless they pull that upset at SMU, they're going to enter the AAC tournament looking up at the NCAA Tournament and needing at least a win or two.
LSU Gets Run Off The Court LSU is sliding right out of the NCAA Tournament. This was just a languid loss at home in a game that they needed to win. In the second half, Tennessee torched LSU for 1.41 PPP, and they did it not in the way you'd expect. Tennessee is 11th in the SEC in offensive efficiency in conference play, and what offense they do generate tends to come off offensive rebounds, but in the second half here they had only two of those. Instead they hit 72% of their two-pointers and were 5-for-8 behind the arc. Armani Moore had 15 of those points by himself.
LSU's RPI dropped out of the Top 50 with this loss. They have four RPI Top 50 wins, but the only really impressive win came against West Virginia. Unless they pull an upset at Arkansas on Saturday, they're going to finish the season 10-8 in SEC play, and likely needing to get to at least the SEC tourney semifinals to avoid the NIT.