NCAA tournament 2011: George Mason, Virginia Tech earn important wins
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What mattered Tuesday:
1) Virginia Tech 91, Maryland 83: Maryland is 2-8 this season in games decided by single digits. If the Terps still harbor hopes of an at-large NCAA tournament berth, I don't want to hear about it until they've reached the ACC tournament final without a loss from this point forward. Best to set your sights on trying to win the ACC tournament. I keep Maryland in the bubble mix because they are local team; most others have already dismissed them. As for Virginia Tech, the Hokies are not out of the woods yet. Wins against Virginia and Wake Forest - even on the road - are not going to do much to impress anyone. But you sure don't want to lose one of those games. If Virginia Tech can't beat Duke on Feb. 26, the Hokies better beat either Boston College or Clemson to end the regular season.
2) George Mason 71, Virginia Commonwealth 51: Talk about a team no one wants to play in March. The Patriots won their 12th straight game in dominating fashion. VCU scored just 19 first-half points and it shot 37 percent from the field in the game. The Patriots travel to play at Northern Iowa on Saturday. The way this season is going, the Patriots will be better positioned from a seeding standpoint to make a run in the NCAAs than they were in 2006, when they reached the Final Four. It will be a big help this season if they can avoid a No. 1 seed in the second round of the NCAAs.
3) St. John's 80, Marquette 68: Marquette is 8-11 against the top 200 teams in the RPI. I'm sorry, but I just don't see this team making the cut. Yes, the remaining schedule is fairly friendly, but Marquette had better get hot. Soft bubble or not, I doubt the Big East will get 11 teams.
What to watch for Wednesday:
1) Georgetown at Connecticut: Tarik El-Bashir outlines all the subplots in this one. U-Conn. has the best field goal percentage defense in the Big East. Georgetown leads the league in FG percentage. The Chris Wright-Kemba Walker matchup should be intriguing. And, of course, the Hoyas keep inching closer to a No. 1 seed, but there is plenty of work to do before that becomes a reality.
2) Wisconsin at Purdue: This is a battle for a potential No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament. If one of these teams gets it over the other, that team likely will be headed to the sub-regional in Chicago. The other could be destined for Verizon Center (but there are other factors involved in that placement). If Jordan Taylor plays like he did in the win over Ohio State, big edge to the Badgers.
3) Louisville at Cincinnati: Rick Pitino has done a lot with a little this season. The Cardinals are looking at a 4/5 seed in the NCAAs. Cincinnati, of course, is the team that played a preseason exhibition schedule. Its nonconference schedule ranks 280th nationally. The Bearcats have two top 50 wins, but their remaining schedule is difficult (two games against Georgetown). They could be one of the Big East fringe teams to fade.
| February 16, 2011; 8:38 AM ET
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