In the Big 12, Texas lost its hope for a redeeming conference tournament in the face of Baylor’s Big Three. LaceDarius Dunn, Tweety Carter and Ekpe Udoh combined for 66 points in an 86-67 win to move forward in a bracket that was the opposite of the Big East—the chalk prevailed. And in the ACC, North Carolina’s season came to a disappointing close when they shot 33 percent, saw four starters held to six points or less and lost to Georgia Tech 62-58.
As we look ahead to today, the ACC, Big Ten and SEC have wall-to-wall action in their quarterfinals. The Big East, Big 12 and Pac-10 have their semis going tonight. Let’s take a look…
ACC: The jobs of the top four were made easier yesterday when three lower-seeded teams advanced. Florida State draws N.C. State, instead of Trevor Booker and Clemson. Kudos to Virginia, still playing without star Sylvan Landesberg, for beating Boston College. It comes to an end today for the Cavs against Duke. Best game of the day will be Georgia Tech-Maryland at 7 EST, and I’m looking for the Terps to win a good one here, with a big game from Greivis Vazquez.
BIG TEN: Wisconsin-Illinois the 4-5 game is the best matchup of the day (2 EST. A classic case of whether you pick a desperation revenge combo or the better team. Illinois has to win to get to the NCAA and they’re fresh off a 15-point beatdown by the Badgers at home on Sunday. But there’s a reason for both of those, and they are just not as good as Wisconsin. Unless Demetri McCamey goes off for one of his 25-point 10-assist shows, look for the Badgers to advance.
SEC: Huge game tonight (7 EST) when Florida takes on Mississippi State. The Gators absolutely need to win and the Bulldogs could get a case of nervous palms if they play poorly. Ole Miss-Tennessee in the 2 EST window promises a good game with the winner getting a shot at Kentucky.
BIG EAST: One day I want to make it up to New York City on a Friday night to watch back-to-back action in the Big East. The favorites might be gone, but in a league this deep, the basketball is going to be great. Georgetown seems to have its mojo back, and I like them to beat Marquette. Then it’s Notre Dame-West Virginia, and I’m looking for the newly resurgent Irish to edge the Mountaineers, who barely got by Cincinnati yesterday.
BIG 12: Texas A&M and Kansas both failed to impress on Thursday, but they did advance. The Aggies’ nice run stops here with the Jayhawks playing de facto home games in Kansas City. Kansas State-Baylor is the big one in the nightcap. Readers know I’ve been in love with the Bears since January, and the romance doesn’t stop now. I like them to move into the final game.
PAC-10: This has been the conference that’s been pegged for surprises, and it started yesterday when #2 seed Arizona State lost to Stanford. Cal & Washington are still around, but I’m picking a hungry and desperate UCLA team to upend the Golden Bears tonight, while Washington holds form and beats Stanford.
Stop in over at The Baseball Notebook for spring training talk. And don't forget to visit Jeff Fogle's Stat Intelligence, which runs boxscore breakdowns for all the games here throughout the day, and from all conferences, not just the major ones.