NCAA tournament 2011: North Carolina tops Duke, wins ACC regular season crown
Some thoughts after a wild Saturday in college basketball:
I guess Virginia Tech is hell-bent on trying to play in the NIT. Another deflating loss by the Hokies, but at least this one was on the road at Clemson. I've still got them in the tournament field at the moment as my final at-large team. An opening-round win in the ACC tournament won't impress anyone, but they certainly can't afford to lose the game. They may have to win the second game. That will depend on what the landscape looks like late next week.
Maryland's problem since the 2002 national title has been recruiting and the lack of talent flocking to College Park. But effort, or the team's mental approach to the game, seemed to be an issue with the current bunch -- in addition to a talent question. This team faded down the stretch, something Gary Williams's teams don't typically do. I started getting e-mails from irate Maryland fans long before Virginia's blowout win at Comcast was official.
Georgetown was no match for Cincinnati, which bolstered its once-shaky NCAA tournament chances with two recent wins over the Hoyas. I dropped Georgetown to a No. 5 as of right now, but everything depends on the health of Chris Wright when/if he returns. They are a different team without him. This will be one of the most difficult things for the committee to assess.
George Mason struggled early on but managed to blow out Georgia State in its first CAA tournament game. The Patriots are still looking at a possible No. 7 seed in the NCAA tournament.
The Georgia-Alabama outcome complicates matters. With the win, Alabama really gives the selection committee something to think about. The Crimson Tide played a poor nonconference schedule and performed poorly. It made up for it to a large degree by registering a 12-4 SEC record, albeit in the SEC West. And now Georgia moves onto the bubble. Both teams have work to do
Notre Dame is making a push for a No. 1 seed over Duke. The Irish certainly has a chance to earn it if it can win the Big East tourney. And maybe it will just have to reach the Big East final.
North Carolina will be a trendy pick to reach the Final Four, and for good reason. The Tar Heels are playing their best at the ideal time. Last season, the best team did not win the national title. The team playing the best won it. No one wants to play the Tar Heels, who beat Duke on Saturday night.
Michigan helped its cause by beating Michigan State. And the Spartans took yet another step back. They cannot afford a loss in the first round of the Big Ten tournament.
Purdue has been a team that was surging. But a loss at Iowa could have ruined a chance at a No. 1 seed.
Evaluating the collection of Conference USA bubble teams makes my head hurt.