Welcome to March. If today's games were any indication, we are in for a wild, wild month of college basketball action. Let's take a look at today's winners and losers. But before that, catch up on some of the great pieces from Run the Floor today.
The Shockers completed the 31-0 regular season with a 23 point wipeout of Missouri State. Cleanthony Early went for 19 on 5-7, 7-9 at the line. There have been a lot of people knocking the accomplishment. I'm in the camp that says if you run though your league undefeated, that's a hell of a statement. Wichita didn't play a bunch of garbage this year. Their league was down, but they scheduled better than Cincinnati or Louisville in the non-conference. They deserve all the kudos that they are getting.
The Cavaliers won their first ACC title since 1981 by ripping apart the Syracuse zone in 48 point second half. Virginia shot 50%, 8-16 from 3, and 13-19 from the foul line. Their defense was great as it held the Orange to 35.7% and 5-22 from 3. Malcolm Brogdon had a game high 19 points. The Cavaliers are looking like a very tough out later this month.
The Cowboys got their biggest win of the year and might have punched their tournament ticket with a win over Kansas. They've won 3 in a row since Marcus Smart returned. Smart was 5-14 tonight, but hit 3 big shots late, a 3 for the lead and 2 late layups, to push the Cowboys over the top. Smart had 6 boards, 5 assists to 3 turnovers, 4 steals and a block. Markel Brown also had 21 on a more efficient 3-5 from 3 and 10-10 at the line. This was the type of big win they needed to make a statement. They got it.
The Wolverines clinched a share of the Big 10 title with their 66-56 win over Minnesota and Michigan State's loss. I was one of many who counted the Wolverines out after Mitch McGary's injury. Instead, Michigan has been the most consistent team in the league. They close with Illinois and Indiana so the outright title should be theirs.
The Tigers closed on a 15-1 run to beat Louisville 72-66. This one could spotlight how bad the Cardinals faded down the stretch, instead I'll praise the Tigers for coming on like a wave and punching the Cardinals in the mouth. Michael Dixon Jr had 18 on 4-5 and was 9-9 at the line to help ice the win. These teams could meet again in the semi-finals the AAC tournament. That would be a big one.
The Gators made short work out of LSU in a 79-61 victory. LSU shot 38% / 33% and attempted 10 free throws with 15 turnovers. Meanwhile the Gator offense went nuts. UF shot 57.4% and hit 13 of 23 from 3. Dorian Finney-Smith had a team high 16 points on 4 three pointers. This team looks like the best in the country.
Big win in margin and in terms of importance as the Sun Devils stomped Cal in the second half of a 78-60 win. They swept the northern California schools this week to pretty much ensure they'll get a bid. As long as they don't lose at Oregon and Oregon State and flame out in the Pac 12 tournament, they should be good.
The Musketeers got 19 and 16 from Justin Martin in a 75-69 win over Creighton. The Musketeers shot 50% overall, 9-16 from 3, in the win. Martin was joined in an unstoppable trio by Semaj Christon, who had 21 and 4 steals, and Dee Davis, who had 15 points that included a huge 3 late. Both games these teams played during the regular season were a lot of fun. I would watch a third one.
The Rams never trailed in their 9 point win over St Louis. They get Richmond and the Bonnies so they should roll into Atlantic City with a 24-7 record. They hadn't beaten one of the top 4 teams in the A-10 until today. This was a nice win.
San Diego State
The Aztecs took care of Fresno State 82-67. This sets up a big week for them at UNLV and at home against New Mexico. On a day where rank teams couldn't win on the road outside of the Aztecs and the next team, they deserve to be commended.
It wasn't the prettiest of games, but the Tar Heels 60-56 victory over Virginia Tech is number 11 in a row. They had a very close week against some teams that aren't that great. A short turnaround awaits UNC as they host Notre Dame on Monday night.
Today's win over Iowa State has Kansas State as one of four Big 12 teams at 10-6. There is a chance they could finish second in the league. It also gives the Wildcats some cushion in case they fall to either of the Big 12 bubble teams they play this week, Oklahoma State and Baylor.
The Iowa State big man went for 30 and 16. That's pretty impressive.
Not much stood out in the 51-45 UConn win over Cincinnati except for Napier. He had 18 points and 11 rebounds. He's proving his case as an All American and maybe even American player of the year. The conference, not the country.
The Razorbacks followed the Kentucky win by beating Georgia at Bud Walton Arena. The Razorbacks are still a game back of UGA for third in the league believe it or not.
54-47 over Northwestern isn't pretty but 17-11, 9-7 sure is.
76-38 over Vanderbilt is pretty and so is 18-11, 9-7 in the SEC.
The Tigers routed Mississippi State 85-66 in a much needed win.
The Bears didn't rout Texas Tech, in fact they won just 59-49, but Baylor is now 19-10, 7-9.
The Bulldogs shut down some of the talk that they could miss the tournament by beating the hell out of St Mary's 75-47. Zaga shot 56% and held St Mary's to 12-52.
Pittsburgh, St Joe's, SMU, Oklahoma
These teams did work today in wins that I don't feel like talking about.
These Pac 12 bubble teams got wins today that solidified their stock.
UNLV, BYU, Dayton
These smaller conference multi-bid league bubble squads each picked up big wins. Dayton got the biggest by toppling UMass. UNLV and Dayton have Sand Diego State and St Louis in the middle of the week respectively while BYU prepares for the WCC tournament.
The Blue Raiders won today over Rice to put themselves had a game over Southern Miss, Louisiana Tech and Tulsa. None of those teams play each other, so winning is good.
North Dakota State
NDSU finished the regular season winning 7 in a row. They won the last 5 by double digits, including today's 10 point win over Denver. The Bison are the clear conference tournament favorite and could be a team that does damage in the NCAAs. They have to make it there first.
The Wolverines won an ugly 45-42 game over UTPA but they ran their record to 12-3 in the WAC. They have 1 game left in the WAC with mathematical 2 game lead. They should be bringing home the WAC crown. They'll at least play in the NIT.
Davidson won 12 in a row to close the regular season as Southern Conference champions. They put a 27 point beatdown on Elon to avenge their only conference loss.
The Crimson won by 33 over Columbia today. They can win the Ivy on Friday night with a win at Yale. Yale is the only team that has defeated Harvard in conference play.
The Rockets downed Western Michigan at home in overtime to create a tie atop the MAC West. Toledo is 24-5 on the year. Justin Drummand had 28 points in the win.
Meanwhile over in the MAC East, Buffalo smashed Miami 50-25 in the second half in a 78-55 victory. The Bulls are 12-4 in the East and play Akron for the division title on Tuesday night.
Stephen F. Austin
24 in a row for the Lumberjacks with the 75-62 win over SE Louisiana today. They have won the Southland. SFA hosts Oral Roberts and Central Arkansas as they try to close the regular season spotless.
The Bruins smoked Jacksonville State 76-53 to finish the regular season at an Ohio Valley best 14-2. There are some potential 4 and 5 seeds hoping that they lose in the OVC tournament.
Mercer and Florida Gulf Coast
Both teams won today so they share the Atlantic Sun crown. Florida Gulf Coast will be the #1 seed in the conference tournament. Mercer hosts the team they beat today, Jacksonville, on Tuesday.
The Terriers won the Patriot League outright with a 68-64 win over Holy Cross.
Delaware won the Colonial outright with a 89-86 win over Charleston.
Southern has already won the SWAC regular season title. They popped Alcorn State by 13 in their final road game of the season. Southern has run through the slate at 14-2 so far. Maybe 20 regular season wins plus the SWAC tournament keeps them out of Dayton.
What the hell was that? The Spartans lost 53-46 at home to Illinois. Michigan State was 18-46 from the field, 6-18 from 3 and 4-11 at the line. On top of that, they turned the ball over 16 times. Keith Appling didn't look the game in his return from injury. He scored just 5 points. Adreian Payne was held to 25 ineffective minutes. Only Gary Harris did anything offensively. Michigan State was suppose to be getting healthy. Instead, they are slipping.
Kentucky went to South Carolina, shot 17% the first half, saw John Calipari tossed halfway through the second half, and dropped a game at woeful South Carolina. Kentucky was only 14-52 from the field. Julius Randle was 1-7. That follows a 6-15 outing against Arkansas. The Wildcats look rudderless. With all that talent, it's hard to write them off completely. It's definitely looking like they are not as fearsome as once thought.
The offensive woes for the Orange are really hurting them, as this tweet points out.
Over the last 5 games Syracuse has shot 41% on 2s and 23% on 3s.
— John Gasaway (@JohnGasaway) March 1, 2014
Trevor Cooney is 6-35 from 3 in those last 5 games.
The Jayhawks already have the Big 12 title sewn up. But in losing tonight, they might have lost a shot for a 1 seed. The bigger news is that Joel Embiid looked to be favoring his back again. If he's battling those problems in a couple weeks, Kansas would be in major trouble.
St Louis and Cincinnati
Both of these league leaders have dropped back to back games. Both of them have had their offensive issues thrown in their faces. These are two of the best defensive teams in the land but they have to get more on the other end if either is going to make it out of the first weekend.
Texas lost 77-65 in a game that wasn't as close as the score. They lost 85-54 to Kansas last week, blew out West Virginia 88-71 and lost to Kansas State 74-57 the week before that. Saturday Texas games are not interesting in the sense of dramatic basketball.
The Bears have not played very well lately. They were hammered last weekend by UCLA. They were 0-2 on the Arizona trip. No shame in that except for the fact they lost by 28 and 18. They host the mountain schools to close Pac 12 action. They need at least a split.
This would have been a big one for the Gophers. They are 18-12, 7-10 in the league with only Penn State to go next Saturday. They have some work to do in the Big 10 tournament.
After tonight's loss to Texas A&M, they need an SEC tournament miracle to make the big dance.
Richmond is in the same boat after their 66-43 loss at Rhode Island.
The Wildcats are going to win the Big Sky unless something disastrous happens for them. Like losing more games as they did tonight in overtime to Northern Arizona. They have a good lead but you don't want to play in Dayton like they seem destined to do.
Southern Utah lost again tonight. They've lost 26 in a row. They have 2 more games left to beat a division one team. Come on, Thunderbirds. Yes, I included them just to say come on, Thunderbirds.