Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, March 10, 2012 at 12:01 PM
You know, we were just thinking the other day that the College Basketball Conference Tournaments - a/k/a the mini-tourneys - were lacking some real oomph after the first few days of play this week and than along came the Friday crash ...
Down went Atlantic-10 top seed Temple to 7 ½-point underdog UMass, out went #2 Syracuse in Big East Tournament semifinal round action against gritty 8-point pup Cincinnati and, while we're at it, say adios for now to the #3 Kansas Jayhawks who were swallowed up whole last night by Baylor in Big 12 Tourney semifinal action.
Now that type of activity shook up the College B-Ball kingdom, wouldn't you say?
Go ahead and raise your hand if you thought Marshall-Memphis would be the championship game in Conference USA this morning or that Cincinnati-Louisville would be the matchup in the Big East Tourney finale tonight in New York City ... hey, thank goodness we still have a shot to get Duke versus North Carolina Round III on Sunday afternoon in the ACC Championship Game and that the Big Ten Tournament champion (paging Wisconsin, Michigan State, Michigan and Ohio State) is liable to land a #2 overall seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament while today's semifinal round losers could be fortunate to wind up on the #3 seed line.
The truth of the matter is the mini-tournies involving the so-called "power conferences" are truly delivering lots of magic from Connecticut's mini-run in the Big East to N.C. State's gotta-have-it back-to-back wins in the ACC to Arizona's born-again story in the Pac-12 Tourney (to say nothing about a raging-hot Colorado team that's won three in a row to get to today's championship game at Staples Center at 6 p.m. ET) that's gaining some major steam in a league that now looks to put at least three teams in the "Big Dance" next week.
Now, here's three teams that really can make a statement the remainder of this March weekend (note the current Associated Press Top 25 rankings are listed below) ...
#17 FLORIDA STATE (22-9) - Let's get things straight here: Sure, the FSU Seminoles are not a finesse team that wows you with their ball skills but can the NCAA Tourney folks really believe there are 15 or 16 teams better than this ACC semifinalist?
The fact of the matter is a win against Duke this afternoon (3:25 p.m. ET) should elevate the Sems to no worse than a #3 seed in the NCAA Tournament and should Leonard Hamilton's crew somehow wind up winning the ACC bash in Atlanta than someone - see Ohio State or Baylor or Florida -- is going to get nudged off the #2 seed line to make way for the Tallahassee gang.
In Friday night's 82-71 triumph over 3-point dog Miami, the Seminoles were riding the coat tails of star Michael Snaer (see 20 points and 4 rebounds) once again but how about the fact that FSU shot 48 percent from the floor (that's 24-of-50) and won despite allowing Miami to drill 10 three-pointers.
Simply put if the Seminoles can keep Duke's three-ball mavens in check here than this could be a battle royal and than the NCAA Tournament Committee folks will have to sit up and take notice.
#10 MICHIGAN (24-8) - So maybe yesterday's 73-69 non-cover overtime win against 5 ½-point underdog Minnesota didn't exactly get you all juiced up regarding the here-and-now Wolverines but what will be your response should John Beilein's crew beat Ohio State this afternoon (4:10 p.m. ET) and than also top the winner of Wisconsin versus Michigan State come Sunday?
If you ask us, the maize-and-blue - who split the regular-season series with Ohio State this year including a 56-51 win in Ann Arbor back on February 18th - could be major movers-and-shakers should it win the Big 10 title as you could lock down a #2 seed for Trey Burke and Company or they could drop to the #4 seed line and perhaps have to play a #1 seed in the Sweet 16 round. Just because Michigan's ranked #10 in the current AP poll doesn't mean it gets an automatic slot on the #3 seed line as these other weekend games could knock "Big Blue" back a bit.
No question that Burke's career-high 30-point game on Friday against Minnesota is the talk of this Big 10 Tourney in Indianapolis (remember he drained 11-of-14 field-goal tries against the Golden Gophers and played all 45 minutes in that clash) but he could really be the talk of the town by carrying the Wolverines the rest of the way in Big 10 Tourney play. Let's see.
#18 SAN DIEGO STATE (26-6) - One of the oldest arguments around is just where should the NCAA Tournament place a so-called mid-major club that's had great success this year but a little bit of failure too (see Mountain West Conference road losses at Colorado State, UNLV and Air Force)?
More often than not these type teams get punished more than getting rewarded - we've heard that the SDSU Aztecs likely will be sitting somewhere on the #8 or #9 seed line despite the rather high AP ranking - but if Steve Fisher's crew wants to really make a splash than win tonight's MWC Championship Game against New Mexico (7 p.m. ET tip) after first snagging a quarterfinal round win at the buzzer thanks to that three-point hoop by star Jamaal Franklin followed by last night's more decisive 79-69 win against 2 ½-point dog Colorado State in which Franklin jammed the stat sheet with 19 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists in a game SDSU trailed 39-38 at halftime.
If the Aztecs can make this final leap with a "W" against Los Lobos than it's a slam-shut case that San Diego State deserves better than playing in an 8-versus-9 game come Thursday/Friday and more likely you would see the 'Tecs along the #6 or #7 seed line and so this one at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas is big - real big.
Editor's Note: We know the Friday night action ended real late - the Cal-Santa Barbara 64-52 win against 5 ½-point pup Cal Poly SLO ended at 1:58 a.m. ET - and so here's a little bookkeeping to get you square: In College Basketball mini-tourney action on Friday the Betting Favorites went a collective 12-18-2 ATS (against the spread) for a .400 winning percentage and that's after a full-blown Thursday card in which College B-Ball Betting Favorites registered a 22-20 ATS mark (a .524 winning mark). Just thought you'd like to get caught up on such things, okay?