First, I really hate Duke. Growing up a UNC fan, I normally have little trouble mustering up disgust for the Blue Devils. This year, it's been difficult. Why? Because Mike Patrick is unwatchable and he covers EVERY GAME! That said, kudos to whomever gave Greg Paulus a black eye. That's what he gets for incessant instigation and flops (Coach K calls it "leadership"). Meanwhile, UVa just broke a six-minute scoreless streak and Duke is up 12 at JPJ.
Second, could there be a changing of the guard in the Patriot League? The conference staples, Bucknell (AKA Bucky ... sorry, Wisconsin ... go beat Kansas as a #14 seed and you'll get the name back) and Holy Cross are road dogs in the Patriot League Conference Tournament, which topped off at 7pm. Right now, Bucky is down 10 at the half to Navy and Holy Cross is up 5 after the first media timeout at top-seed American.
Third, from the bubble, here are some early one-liners ...
- Patrick Patterson, who? Kentucky is up 9 at the half at South Carolina. Realistically speaking, the 'Cats can't shoot 63% or better in the second half - not even against the 'Cocks.
- In a game that Miami badly needs, they're down 7 to BC Rices. Tyrese has 18 of the Eagles' 27 points at the half. If my math is correct, that's a greater points percentage than his output on Saturday versus North Carolina.
- Dayton blew an early 12-point lead and is tied at St. Bonaventure.
- Will Jim Boeheim write the sequel to "How To Blow A Double-Digit Lead in Three-And-A-Half Minutes"? It's possible.
- UMass apparently doesn't want to be a part of the A-14. They are actually winning in a game that they are supposed to win.
- I wish I had ESPN Full Court, so I can hear Ron Franklin utter the words, "It's Bedlam". Beyond being "Bedlam", Oklahoma is in the NCAAs with a win and no further injuries. It's a tall order against a Cowboys squad that is rejuvenated and playing at home.
Checking back in at 8:45pm
- Jack McClinton has awaken from his slumber! Once down by 11 in the 2nd half to BC, the 'Canes are now up 8. Both teams are streaky, so don't be shocked if Miami blows this with five and change to go.
- Minnesota took a brief lead at Indiana on Senior + Eric Gordon Night. Yes, the whole purpose of this one-liner was to take a knock at one & down players. I had to.
- Hopes fading fast for Bucky. Down 6 with 2 to go at the Naval Academy. You can go ahead and shred the pages on the Patriot League in the Blue Ribbon Yearbook.
- Temple and Dayton are doing their best to live up to the standard of losing must-win games and have this be a 2-bid league.
- The 'Cuse lead is down to single digits and Clement is likely pulling his hair out.
- Mississippi State is up 3 late in the 1st half at Vanderbilt. Despite their 2-6 mark against the top 50, if the Bulldogs win this one, they are absolutely in the NCAA Tournament in everyone's mind.
- Kentucky, Dayton, Temple and Miami score crucial wins this evening. At 8-7 in the ACC with a signature win against Duke and holding non-conference wins versus VCU on a neutral court and at Mississippi State, Miami is a 99.9% lock for the NCAAs. As for Joe Crawford, who Clement highlighted in this article earlier tonight, he shot 10-for-19 from the field and sank 11 of 12 from the charity stripe en route to a cool 35 in Columbia.
- Syracuse actually holds on. Does it speak to how well the Orange played or how much control that Bobby Gonzalez has lost from Seton Hall?
- American eeks out a close one against Holy Cross. The Jeff Jones Dream is still alive. Perhaps, one mid-major from the DC area will make the NCAA Tournament.
- Meanwhile, once dead, Bucky fights on. They're in the 3rd OT with Navy. The Midshipmen's Greg Sprink had 32 points after regulation.
- Florida is up 55-45 on Tennessee at the half. How? Shooting 68% from the field and hitting 7 of 12 from behind the arc doesn't hurt. Not to mention, Bruce Pearl's squad has 11 team fouls (including several starters with two a piece).
- Mississippi State and Vandy are notched at 74 as we enter (at least) 5 minutes of OT. The SEC is on fire tonight!
- Plenty of teams avoided a costly upset (Indiana, Duke, Notre Dame, Memphis, and Wisconsin appears to be joining them, already up 34-17 on Penn State at the half).
- Bucky took down #2-seeded Navy out of the Patriot League in 3 OT 87-86. What an incredible quarterfinal pair of matchups this conference offered up today. [I am intensely loyal to Bucknell forever due to the victory over Kansas in the '05 tourney.]
- New Orleans beat Denver. NBA Playoff implications? Nah. Just good ole' fashioned Sun Belt Conference action. GOTCHA!
- Tony Crocker did his best Blake Griffin impersonation tonight. Sooners with a nice W in Stillwater.
- Yes, I'm a Cuse fan. They held on due to opportunistic rebounding late; however, they turn the ball over WAY too much to beat ranked-Marquette...even with maybe 30,000 screaming fans in the Dome this weekend.
- I'm pumped for the CAA Awards tomorrow. It can't just be me, can it? Any predictions on Defensive Player of the Year? Anyone?
We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.
Pay is back at 10:55pm and he thanks Verizon Online DSL for a service stoppage.
- On the Bucky win, John Griffin nailed a desperation 40-footer to seal that victory. If that's not what Bucky is all about, then I don't know what is.
- Up 8 with less than two minutes to go, it looks like A&M is going to get a much-needed road victory against Baylor. The Aggies have held the Bears to 34% from the field. Curtis Jerrells has a grand total of 7 points.
- JaJuan Smith and Chris Lofton are stepping up in the second half on senior night. It's too bad that this is Florida's senior night. With under three minutes in regulation, Tennessee holds a slim advantage. Even if they win this game, Tennessee is failing the subjective "eye test" despite the second strongest set of wins (Texas).
Final words at 11:15pm
- While it's great to win close games, Bruce Pearl has to be slightly concerned. I understand that it's been a hellacious 11 days dating back to the Memphis game, but I expect more poise in March from the Volunteers.
- Big Winners: Texas A&M, Miami, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Shan Foster, A-14, Tony Crocker
- Big Losers: Florida, Baylor, Mississippi State, Navy
- Under the Radar: UAB, Houston