With hopes of not only remaining a factor in the ACC race but also notching their first win at #5 Duke since 1995, NC State was more than motivated for Thursday night's battle. And they played that way out of the gates, scoring the first eight points of the game and leading by as many as 19 points in the first half. But while the Wolfpack would continue to control play in the early portion of the second half, the foul trouble that developed for Mark Gottfried's team in the first half began to take its toll.
Could there be a changing of the guard in the West Coast Conference? While that may be a tough question to ask given the sustained run of success that Gonzaga (18-4, 8-2) has enjoyed over the years, winning the last eleven WCC regular season titles, Saint Mary's (22-2, 11-0) would establish a three-game lead with four conference games remaining with a win in Spokane. Led by seniors Matthew Dellavedova (15.5 ppg, 6.4 apg) and Rob Jones (14.8 ppg, 10.7 rpg), the Gaels have already swept BYU and handed Gonzaga an 83-62 loss back on January 12th.
After dropping three straight Big Ten games #25 Wisconsin (16-5, 5-3) has won four straight games, but they face quite the challenge at the Kohl Center as #17 Indiana (16-4, 4-4) visits in a pivotal Big Ten battle. The leaders in the conference (Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State) are all 6-2, meaning that the Hoosiers can ill-afford to fall three games back in the loss column if they're to remain a factor in the title race.
In each of North Carolina's last two games sophomore forward Harrison Barnes shot 4-for-12 from the field and scored nine points. Some may have been concerned given the fact that those performances came against Appalachian State and Nicholls State, ignoring the fact that the Tar Heels still managed to win both games by comfortable margins. Barnes is fine, as he showed in North Carolina's 82-63 win over Texas by scoring a season-high 26 points and grabbing ten rebounds in just 25 minutes of action.
Suspense was expected in the matchup between Georgetown and #12 Alabama, and that's exactly what the two teams provided as the Hoyas beat the Crimson Tide 57-55 on a Hollis Thompson three-pointer with 1.8 seconds remaining. Instead of simply giving Jason Clark (22 points) the ball and telling him to shoot, Georgetown used the senior guard to run a dribble hand-off with Thompson on the right wing and the junior rose up and knocked down the shot. Levi Randolph's shot from half court missed just left of the rim at the buzzer, ending the Tide's 24-game home win streak.
As part of our 5-Year Ranking series, here's how the SEC teams stack up according to conference wins. Unlike most leagues, there hasn't been one dominant team over the last handful of years. Florida and Kentucky have had some great years, but also some very mediocre ones mixed in. At the bottom of the league, LSU and South Carolina are close to forming a bottom rung of their own.
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