Afternoon Upsets in the Big South: Wednesday's Quick Hitters
The biggest development on Wednesday night were the wins picked up by Cincinnati, Colorado State and USF, as all three strengthened their arguments for an NCAA tournament bid.
1. Two of the top three seeds in the Big South saw their seasons come to an end in the quarterfinals.
The beginning of an almost nonstop afternoon basketball got underway on Wednesday, and from an upset standpoint the Big South certainly didn't disappoint. But if you're a fan of either Coastal Carolina or Campbell it wasn't a good day, as both saw their seasons come to an end (unless selected for a postseason tournament) despite entering the conference tournament as the two and three seeds. CCU ran into a VMI team that got hot from three, knocking down 14 of their 28 attempts from beyond the arc on the way to an 85-68 victory. Starters Keith Gabriel (20 points) and Stan Okoye (15) played well, but the 17-point outing from Jordan Weethee (5-6 3PT) off the bench was just as important. CCU didn't help themselves by turning the ball over 16 times either.
As for Campbell turnovers were a problem for them as well in their 71-55 loss to six-seeded Winthrop. The Camels turned the ball over 16 times to just eight for the Eagles, who are looking to rid themselves of the bad taste left in their mouths following a disappointing regular season. Campbell also couldn't slow down Reggie Middleton, who scored a game-high 25 points (5-10 3PT) and dished out four assists to lead the way for Winthrop. Darren White led Campbell with 15 points but no other Campbell player reached double figures, and when combined with the turnovers that proved to be too much to overcome. On the other side of the bracket top seed UNC Asheville and four-seed Charleston Southern advanced, and the key for UNCA at this point is to remain focused on the task at hand instead of worrying about how the bottom half of the bracket opened up. Do that and Eddie Biedenbach's team could make a return trip to the Big Dance.
2. Miami follows up their big win over Florida State with...a loss at NC State.
What the Hurricanes have done over the last four days is exactly why concrete verdicts shouldn't be rendered in regards to the tournament prospects of teams based on one game. On Sunday Jim Larranaga's team looked very good as they beat Florida State with Reggie Johnson out of the lineup. But with Johnson back the Hurricanes were unable to build on the positive momentum as they fell to the Wolfpack 77-73. And if not for their 22 offensive rebounds the margin of defeat could have been even larger for Miami, who shot just 35.6% from the field while NC State made half of their field goal attempts.
C.J. Leslie led four NC State players in double figures with 21 points while also grabbing 11 boards as the Pack snapped their four-game losing streak. Rion Brown led the Hurricanes with 15 points off the bench but with Kenny Kadji and Durand Scott shooting a combined 6-for-24 from the field Miami couldn't counter NC State scoring 43 second-half points. With a home game against Boston College being the regular season finale, it's likely that Miami will need to make some noise in the ACC tournament to further state their case.
3. It was also a bad night for bubble teams in the Atlantic 10 as both Dayton and Saint Joseph's fell.
One day after Xavier fell hard at Saint Louis two more teams suffered defeats that could have the A-10 sliding toward being a two-bid league. Phil Martelli's Hawks were unable to build on their win over Temple in Olean as they fell to St. Bonaventure 98-93 in double overtime. Andrew Nicholson, who is a candidate for A-10 Player of the Year, scored 32 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to lead the Bonnies to a win that locked up a first-round bye in next week's conference tournament. The Hawks got themselves in trouble by getting out-rebounded 49-30, with the Bonnies grabbing 20 offensive rebounds.
As for the Flyers, their loss was even more damaging as they fell 82-71 at Richmond. Darien Brothers led the Spiders with 30 points and Kendall Anthony added 20 off the bench as Richmond dropped Dayton into a three-way tie for sixth. Chris Johnson scored 22 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead Dayton, who was outscored 19-9 at the charity stripe. Richmond held the edge in bench points (29-15) thanks in large part to Anthony, and they were also able to score 21 second-chance points to just 13 for the Flyers. A win over George Washington won't do much for Dayton's profile and Saint Joseph's regular season is done, meaning that both are looking at the prospect of likely needing the automatic bid to go dancing.
1. The top two seeds took the floor in the Atlantic Sun quarters, and while Mercer had to work a bit harder than anticipated both the Bears and Belmont advanced. Jake Gollon led Mercer to their 61-53 win over Lipscomb with 19 points and eight rebounds, and as a team the Bears made up for committing twice as many turnovers (16) as Lipscomb by making nine three-pointers. Belmont beat Jacksonville 76-62 behind Kerron Johnson's 19 points, five rebounds and five assists.
2. Three of the four quarterfinals in the Patriot League went according to seed on Wednesday. The lone exception: Lafayette's 84-76 win at Holy Cross in the 4/5 game. Rob Delaney (25 points) and Jim Mower (18) combined to score 43 points for the Leopards, who will visit top-seed Bucknell in the semifinals on Saturday.
3. Mitchell Watt scored 22 points and grabbed six rebounds to Buffalo to a 74-70 win at Akron in a key MAC battle. The win moves the Bulls to within a game of the Zips for first place in the MAC East with one game remaining, and just as importantly they're a game up on Ohio in the race for second place.
4. Sheldon McClellan scored 24 points and J'Covan Brown 22 as Texas avoided what would have been a rough loss to have on their resume, as they beat Oklahoma 72-64 in Austin. The Longhorns end the regular season with a trip to Kansas, and an upset in Lawrence would undoubtedly punch their ticket.
5. Brian Williams scored all 18 of his points in the second half, and his three-pointer with 33 seconds remaining gave Jacksonville State the lead for good in their 75-70 win over Austin Peay in an OVC first round matchup. In the other OVC tournament game Southeast Missouri State beat Eastern Kentucky 75-65.
6. A rough run through WCC play mercifully came to an end for Santa Clara in Las Vegas as they fell 74-70 to Portland in the first round of the WCC tournament. Losing Marc Trasolini on the preseason trip to Canada with a torn ACL was hard enough to deal with, but once Kerry Keating had to suspend Kevin Foster the Broncos seemed destined for a winless league campaign.
7. Northwestern had a golden opportunity to pick up a signature win, but Jared Sullinger's bucket in the final seconds gave Ohio State the 75-73 win in Evanston. Drew Crawford and John Shurna combined to lead the Wildcats with 45 points but that wasn't enough as the Buckeyes had four players put up double figures. The Northwestern storyline is going to be one of the interesting stories to keep an eye on in Indianapolis next week.