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Saturday Notes – February 21, 2015

February 22, 2015 Columns, Your Phil of Hoops No Comments

Saturday didn’t have a lot of matchups that immediately leaped out at you on paper, but a lot of results were important ones. There were some surprises, some shakeups in the conference races, and a few where all of the contenders either won or lost. From the CAA, where the two contenders who played both won, to the Sun Belt, where a leader lost to create a three-way tie, Saturday had some important results as we head into the final three weeks before Selection Sunday.

With that, here are notes on some of the day’s games.

Iowa State 85, Texas 77: In November, no one would have imagined that Texas would be where they are now – perhaps fighting for their NCAA Tournament lives. They will likely get in unless they don’t win another game, but they need to finish the season better than this.

West Virginia 73, Oklahoma State 63: Not a good week for the Cowboys, especially losing this one at home to fall below .500 in Big 12 play.

Baylor 69, Kansas State 42: While this certainly helps Baylor, it really hurts Kansas State as they now must win out just to finish .500 in Big 12 play and were never really in this one.

Notre Dame 87, Boston College 70: A tremendous offensive showing by the Fighting Irish keeps them alone in second place in the ACC. Six players scored in double figures, all scoring between 10 and 16 points.

Louisville 55, Miami 53: A real missed opportunity for the Hurricanes, who had a ten-point halftime lead in this one.

Pittsburgh 65, Syracuse 61: Pittsburgh still has some life left as far as the NCAA Tournament goes. How much this moves the needle for them is debatable aside from it being on the road.

Villanova 87, Marquette 76: A tremendous run for Villanova continues in Milwaukee. They have won four straight, three of which have been on the road, in a tough stretch where they play five of seven on the road.

Xavier 73, Butler 56: Xavier still has life as far as the NCAA Tournament goes as they pick up a quality win here.

St. John’s 85, Seton Hall 72: The Red Storm are keeping some semblance of at-large hopes alive, and they needed this to continue that.

VCU 78, UMass 72: A big missed opportunity for UMass, while VCU once again re-asserts themselves as the team to beat in the Atlantic 10. Treveon Graham appears to be much better as he had 24 points.

Duquesne 83, Dayton 73: Duquesne does it again to a contender. First they beat George Washington, now they knock off Dayton at home. You don’t want to play Jim Ferry’s team in Pittsburgh right now.

Richmond 56, George Washington 48: It’s been a tough month for the Colonials. They’re only going to the NCAA Tournament with an Atlantic 10 championship now.

Arizona 57 UCLA 47: UCLA’s NCAA Tournament hopes take another hit. This isn’t a bad loss, but it’s another missed opportunity and the Bruins have work to do – not to mention 12 losses, and an at-large bid would mean getting there with at least 13, which is very tough.

Stanford 72, California 61: The Cardinal get to 8-6 in Pac-12 play by sweeping their arch-rival. They also keep their NCAA at-large hopes about where they were to begin the day, as a loss would have hurt.

Gonzaga 70, Saint Mary’s 60: Gonzaga clinches another West Coast Conference title, and one that certainly didn’t come as easily as the final score might suggest. They scored the game’s last 12 points after trailing for a lot of the game, at one point by 17.

Ole Miss 59, Tennessee 57: Ole Miss pulls one out to keep pace with Arkansas and Texas A&M in the chase behind Kentucky.

LSU 70, Florida 63: It’s not a quality win, but LSU needed this one if they want to maintain some NCAA Tournament hopes. Jarell Martin had a career-high 28 points and 13 rebounds.

Georgia 66, Alabama 65 (OT): The Bulldogs needed this one, and just did get it to go to 8-6 in the SEC.

UNLV 76, New Mexico 68: If UNLV continues to grow like they have and get into a postseason tournament, it will do wonders for this young team, especially the extra game experience they will get.

Old Dominion 72, Louisiana Tech 53: A big win for the Monarchs over the Conference USA leaders, making the race a bit more interesting although the Monarchs need a lot of help to win it. UTEP and UAB benefit more immediately.

FGCU 86, USC Upstate 72: This and North Florida’s win over Northern Kentucky sets up a showdown in Fort Myers on Wednesday night with the Atlantic Sun regular season title potentially on the line. The Eagles are a game up in the standings at 11-1.

Columbia 56, Yale 50: A big win for the Lions in New Haven, as they have hung tough all year behind Maodo Lo. This is also very significant because of the next score.

Harvard 63, Princeton 55: The Crimson showed a will to win, as much as anything else. Princeton defended very well in the first half and let that translate into offense, but Harvard was tougher in the second half and now has a one-game lead in the Ivy League.

Arkansas State 70, UL Monroe 68: With this and Georgia Southern and Georgia State both winning, we have a three-way tie atop the Sun Belt. Georgia State plays both contenders in the last week of the regular season, and both games are likely to have a lot on the line.

Valparaiso 55, Wright State 48: The stage is almost set for the showdown between the Crusaders and Cleveland State on Friday night. Each has one game before that one.

Northern Arizona 73, Eastern Washington 69: Three teams entered the day with 11 wins in Big Sky play, and Eastern Washington was the only one to lose. Northern Arizona isn’t far back now, either, as they are 10-4.

Niagara 65, Rider 61: With Iona having swept Rider this season, the Gaels clinch the regular season MAAC title by virtue of this game. The Gaels can win it outright on Sunday.

Stephen F. Austin 86, Nicholls State 71: The Lumberjacks keep up with Sam Houston State atop the Southland. It looks more and more like the regular season title will come down to a March 7 meeting in Nacogdoches.

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