Notre Dame loses more than just the lead at the hands of Ohio State

Michigan State dominates at Texas in the second half, while Davidson came oh so close to upsetting North Carolina.

More on the Irish’s newfound problems at the end of this blog.

In a marquee matchup seen on CBS, Texas (RPI of 26) controlled the first half, but Michigan State with an RPI of 14 (as decimated as they are) won going away in the final minutes by 14, 92 to 78.

But the game of the day on Saturday was in Chapel Hill.  Davidson nearly came close to upsetting North Carolina, two days after P.J. Hairston was booted off the team and is ineligible to play again for the Tar Heels.  Brian Sullivan nearly won it with a long three at the buzzer, but he still poured in a career high 33 points.  This in spite of the fact that UNC shot 58% in the second half while Davidson shot 50% after the break (and helped their cause greatly hitting  9 of 20 three-pointers in regulation).

The Tar Heels won going away in the extra stanza, as Marcus Paige scored 7 points–one more than he did in the first 40 minutes as the Tar Heels built an 88-81 lead with 2:35 remaining and won going away 97-85.  The final stat line on J.P. Tokoto was huge:  22 points, 11 rebounds, 5 steals and 4 blocked shots.

The telling story of this game was the overall attempts by both teams at the free throw line:

North Carolina was 34 of 47 for 72 percent, while Davidson was only 14 of 24 for 58%.

Another pair of games early Saturday evening could go a long way to determining the last four teams into the Big Dance, as Illinois pulled out a close shave win against Missouri in their annual Border War in St. Louis by a 65-64 count, while Ohio State (RPI of 10) rallied from an 8 point deficit in the final 1:41 to stun Notre Dame (RPI of 126 entering Christmas Eve) at Madison Square Garden in New York, 64-61.

As my revised headline on Sunday night revealed, star redshirt junior guard for the Irish Jerian Grant scored 18 points and dished out four assists as Ohio State rallied to stun the Irish in the final 101 seconds of play.  On Sunday, he was found to be academically ineligible.  The son of former Chicago Bulls and Orlando Magic great Horace Grant hopes to return after the spring semester and complete his coursework in time for graduation come May 2015.

What a huge blow for Mike Brey, as was Grant was great at facilitating with the ball while averaging 19.0 points and 6.2 assists.  Most media bracket experts had them between a 4 and a 6 seed, but a double digit seed might be coming into clearer focus before the Irish play their debut act in the monstrous ACC come January.

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