Saturday afternoon featured four games that had instant bubble implications.
As the craziest month on the sports calendar begins, it is time for another edition of:
STOCK UP, STOCK DOWN:
Dayton got to 20 wins the hard way, coming in sporting a 56 RPI and 63 in Atlantic 10 play. The Flyers’ 86-79 may have ended the tourney hopes for UMass (22-6 overall, 9-5 in A-10 play). Dayton could conceivably leapfrog into fourth in the conference standings with two games left to play at St. Louis on Wednesday and hosting Richmond on Saturday, March 8.
Also, Stock Up to Pittsburgh and Memphis who came up with huge wins.
Pitt needed every ounce of blood, sweat, and tears to hand the Irish a crushing loss on Senior Day in South Bend. The 85-81 overtime slugfest featured a Knute Rockne type offense of sorts in the first half, as Mike Brey was looking to win his 400th career game (he became the third Fighting Irish coach to win 300 games with a win over Georgia Tech on February 26 at home). Notre Dame shot 74 percent in the first half, making 7-of-9 3-pointers. However, the score was 39-35 in favor of the Irish at the intermission. Pittsburgh held a 17-8 rebounding edge, and the Panthers came up huge in second-chance points outhustling the Irish 13-0.
Pitt is 22-7 overall, 10-6 in ACC play with an RPI of 45, 33 in conference play. More than likely, they should be in the field of 68.
Memphis (22-7 overall, 11-5 in AAC play) also is in the conversation after trailing the defending champions of Louisville trailed 65-57 with 4:45 left when Michael Dixon Jr. scored six straight points. Chris Crawford also nailed two big-time threes as the Tigers scored 15 of the final 16 points, Louisville denting the scorebook on one Chris Jones free-throw with 40.3 seconds showing on the FedEx Forum clock.
Couple that with Mick Cronin suffering a near meltdown and nearly shoving one of his assistants as UConn stunned the Bearcats in Storrs, 51-45. It was a nip-and-tuck first half with UConn trading blows with the Cards but only led by one, 26-25.
UMass, for the reasons mentioned above
Michigan State, for losing at home to Illinois 53-46. The Spartans will be lucky to have a 6 or 7 seed the way they have been playing since the middle of January.
Finally, your heart has to go out to Indiana State and senior Jake Odum. His career stats are on par with Indiana State legend Larry Bird, and it had the makings of a storybook ending.
Except there was one problem–the final three-point shot at the buzzer rattled around four times and bounced out.
Northern Iowa escaped with a 71-69 close shave win, in a game that featured blown double digit leads by both schools. Seth Tuttle had a field day in the paint finishing with a game high 23 points for the Panthers. The Sycamores took a huge blow to their at-large chances, losing their 6th conference game in 18 tries but their 21-9 record will probably be good enough for NIT consideration come late on Selection Sunday.
Xavier was about to beat Creighton, so the Musketeers will have their 20th win and their stock is unchanged at the moment. One day they’re up, the next day they are down.
I will hope to recap both Kansas squads in action later tonight, as again another bubble team re-enters the fray with Marcus Smart and Oklahoma State in a huge clash at home with an always difficult Kansas squad paying a visit on ESPN in prime time.