NO. 7 NORTH CAROLINA (24-4, 11-2 ACC) AT VIRGINIA (21-6, 8-5 ACC)
Time: 4 p.m.
With 1:22 remaining VCU and George Mason were tied at 51 in a hotly-contested, defensive-minded affair. There were no easy shots to be found in the matchup of two of the three teams that entered Tuesday's action tied for first in the CAA. That's where the real fun began, with the Rams and Patriots combining to score 21 points in that final 1:22 to cap an outstanding matchup. The difference wasn't so much what one team did wrong but rather what one did right. Sherrod Wright.
After a 15-2 run gave Louisville a 51-46 lead with 3:38 remaining it seemed as if the Cardinals were well on their way to an eighth straight win over #2 Syracuse. In a contest that featured some ugly offense, a five-point margin seemed to be near insurmountable despite the Orange's many talented players. However a Brandon Triche jumper just 18 seconds later would start a 6-0 run, which ended with a C.J. Fair bucket with 2:11 to go to give Syracuse the 52-51 win.
With first place on the line in Columbus the expectation was that #11 Michigan State and #3 Ohio State would play a tight, physical affair. And that's exactly what it was, with the visitors from East Lansing seeming to be the more comfortable of the two teams in the first half. Michigan State shot 46.9% from the field but the reason for their 35-25 lead at the half was their defense, as they limited Ohio State to 33.3% and forced eight turnovers.
Saturday is the day that many college basketball fans have been waiting for, with a number of important matchups on the slate. One of those games is #4 Missouri (22-2, 9-2) hosting #6 Baylor (21-3, 8-3) with the Bears looking to keep alive their fleeting hopes of winning the league title. Scott Drew's team is 0-3 in games against the two teams now ahead of them in the standings, most recently being whipped by Kansas in Waco.
Rivalry games bring more to the table when it comes to intensity, and that was definitely the case in the battle between #4 Missouri and #8 Kansas in Columbia on Saturday night. In a game that featured many momentum swings and neither team leading by more than eight points, it was Frank Haith's Tigers who landed the final blow. Kansas led 71-63 with 3:25 remaining but they would not score again, as Missouri finished the game on an 11-0 run to win 74-71.
NO. 18 VIRGINIA (18-3, 5-2 ACC) AT NO. 24 FLORIDA STATE (15-6, 6-1 ACC)
One of the consequences of conference realignment has been the ending of some of the best rivalries in college sports. With #4 Missouri (20-2, 7-2) headed to the SEC after this season Saturday night's game with #8 Kansas (18-4, 8-1) could be the last time for a while these two teams meet in Columbia. But that's a mere subplot in this one as the Tigers are looking to move into a tie for first in the Big 12 while Kansas can strengthen their grip on the top spot with a win.
Tuesday's night matchup between #9 Michigan State and Illinois wasn't a pretty affair, as neither team could establish much of a rhythm on the offensive end of the floor. Whether it was due to good defense or just an inability to make shots on a consistent basis, neither the Spartans nor the Fighting Illini had much succes on that end of the floor. But when it's all said and done what matters is the result, which was a 42-41 Illinois victory as Brandon Paul made two free throws with 45 seconds remaining.
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