1 Thought from the Games Last Night
San Diego State’s loss in Laramie last night might drop them two whole seed lines.
Alliterations aside, San Diego State can’t afford another loss the rest of the way if they want to have a résumé worthy of a 2-seed. It’s not the worst loss in the world, as Wyoming is at least a borderline NIT team and it was on the road. Nevertheless, watching this team play, I’ve always questioned their ability to put the ball in the basket against top-caliber opponents (which appears well-founded, with their Adjusted Offensive Efficiency outside of KenPom’s Top 50), so maybe they aren’t deserving of a 2-seed.
3 Games to Watch Tonight
i. (8) Duke @ North Carolina, ESPN – 9 PM
With all do respect to Louisville/Kentucky, Michigan/Michigan State, Georgetown/Syracuse, and Cincinnati/Xavier, this is the best rivalry in college basketball. It is a mere 9 miles from Durham to Chapel Hill, and there is no love lost when the two Tobacco Road goliaths tango on the basketball court. This year’s edition promises to be filled with plenty of excitement and hoopla, as freshman phenom Jabari Parker has really settled into his role in the past few games. North Carolina also seems to have settled into their fast-paced style of play, having won 5 straight games by double digits.
ii. George Washington @ VCU, NBC Sports Network – 7 PM
VCU has their aptly-named “Havoc” defense, and George Washington has wooden teeth. In all seriousness, the Colonials are also capable of playing some high-pressure, lock-down defense when the time comes – and the time will come tonight. Tonight’s battle at the Siegel Center will be a means for determining (temporarily anyway) who is numero dos in the Atlantic 10 behind Saint Louis. Look for Mo Creek to have a big game if George Washington wants to go on the road and get a huge W.
iii. (1) Syracuse @ (25) Pittsburgh, ESPN – 7 PM
These two teams already met once earlier this season at the Carrier Dome, and the Orange slogged their way to an ugly 59-54 victory. The Panthers have the undefeated, unanimous #1 team in the country coming into their backyard; this gives them a chance to finally beat a quality opponent this season. Just to be clear, Pitt has played four legitimately good teams all season – Cincinnati, Syracuse, Duke, and Virginia. Their record in those four games? 0 wins, 4 losses. If they want the committee to take their over-inflated record seriously, they need to have a quality win on their team sheet for Selection Sunday.
1 Bold Prediction for Tonight’s Slate
The three abovementioned games will all be decided by single digit margins.
Grab some popcorn and settle in for some great basketball tonight, ladies and gentlemen… I think we have three truly great matchups between six teams that are all capable of making the second weekend (and beyond in the case of Duke and Syracuse) come March. If you put a gun to my head and told me to pick each game, I might just flip a coin for each one, because it would be that tough for me to make a decision. Since you twisted my arm, I’ll make some picks: Duke goes on the road and picks up a big W, VCU uses their home court to nix GW, and Cuse’s bid for an undefeated regular season lives to see another day.