NCAA tournament 2011: Dust settles after wild weekend
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Good morning, everyone. What a weekend in college basketball. There is no true favorite heading into next month, and this thing will be as wide open as I can remember. Duke could find itself back at No. 1 today. I will post an updated NCAA tournament field later today after I really take my time on it following this weekend's chaos.
So I flew this weekend to Chicago and then drove five hours to Cedar Falls, Iowa, for the George Mason-Northern Iowa game. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The game was entertaining. The fans were spirited and polite. There are good people in Iowa; I've always felt that way. When the Patriots were down 10 early in the second half, I thought they were done. The Panthers were shooting the lights out and the crowd was rocking. But, to me, the most impressive thing about this Mason team - and I urge you to check them out - is the potential for a number of players on the team to beat you. They have plenty of scoring options. This was an impressive victory that keeps them on track for at least a No. 7/No. 8 seed. The key is to avoid the 8/9 game.
Some other quick thoughts on the weekend:
A great overall weekend for the top of the CAA, which reaffirmed its strength with victories by George Mason, Virginia Commonwealth and Old Dominion. It still looks like a two-bid league unless a team other than Mason or ODU can win the tournament.
The MVC is a one-bid league, and everyone out there seems to realize it.
What a damaging loss by Virginia Tech. The Hokies now have three questionable losses. Their best win is Florida State. They are still in the mix because we have a soft bubble and expanded field. But they are doing their best to ruin their chances.
St. John's, which beat Pittsburgh to solidify a berth, will be a dangerous team next month because of experience and athleticism. And the Red Storm should get a relatively strong seed despite all those losses.
Butler and Gonzaga, two teams that faded after earning preseason rankings, are back in the hunt for at-large bids.
St. Mary's had better win the WCC tournament if it wants to return to the NCAAs.
Arizona's victory over Washington, decided by a Derrick Williams block at the end, might have been the most entertaining game of the weekend.
Michigan State earned a must-have victory over Illinois. Despite the struggles, the Spartans still have potential for March.
Memphis flopped and Conference USA remains unpredictable and unsettled.
Much more in a few hours as I breakdown the local teams, the new bubble and an updated tournament field ...
| February 21, 2011; 8:27 AM ET
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