College Hoops Thursday: Your Commentary

March 10th, 2011
With more games come more opportunities to see who actually wants to go to the NCAA Tournament. Now that the Big 12 (for the most part) has sorted itself out it's time for conferences such as the ACC, Big Ten, Mountain West, Pac-10 and SEC to begin their tournaments in earnest (the Mountain West and Pac-10 had games yesterday but none had an impact on the field of 68).

One game to keep an eye on tips off late in Greensboro with banged-up Virginia Tech taking on Georgia Tech in the final game of the day. The two teams split the regular season series with the home team winning both by large margins. The Hokies won the more recent meeting by 25 (102-77) in what was most likely Georgia Tech's worst showing of the year. No one will argue that the Yellow Jackets are anywhere near the bubble, but Seth Greenberg's team cannot afford to lose this game. And with the many injuries they've had to deal with it won't be easy.

Jeff Allen sprained his ankle in Saturday's loss at Clemson, and before yesterday's session he hadn't practiced. Add in the issues surrounding freshman Jarell Eddie (February 15th charge for marijuana possession) and that's one more player Hokie fans have to be unsure about with regards to whether or not they'll play. Eddie did make the trip to Greensboro and while gimpy it's tough to see Allen not playing. All these issues (on top of losing four players due to injury throughout the course of the season) adds more to the workload of guards Malcolm Delaney and Erick Green.

Delaney was at his best from an efficiency standpoint in that whipping of Georgia Tech, scoring 33 points on 9-14 FG and 12-14 from the foul line. Green chipped in with 15 points and six assists as all five starters reached double figures. Iman Shumpert led the Yellow Jackets with 27 points and he's been one of the best guards in the ACC, only to be overlooked by some due to the performance of his team (almost a "rose grew from concrete" kind of situation) this season. The other four starters for Paul Hewitt combined to score 21 points.

To say the least the Yellow Jackets will need all hands on deck (the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported yesterday that Brian Oliver will play) if they're to win, and Virginia Tech needs to come out on fire from the opening tip. Their NCAA Tournament lives may (or may not) be on the line, and Coach Greenberg will need his guys to both understand the situation and find a way to play free. The last thing you want is to tighten up due to the stakes.

In the Pac-10 the third meeting between Washington State and Washington has added importance thanks to Washington's recent play (and the suspension of guard Venoy Overton) and the fact that the Cougars swept the regular season series. Klay Thompson, who missed Saturday's game due to his off-court issues (marijuana possession), will play and his return gives Wazzu a nice boost going into this weekend. The Huskies will now need even more from Isaiah Thomas as well as Justin Holiday and C.J. Wilcox, and the hope in Seattle is that Wilcox can build off of his performance against UCLA last Thursday this week (he was relatively quiet in the loss to USC on Saturday).

Colorado gets one more shot at Kansas State and having won both regular season games, Tad Boyle's team should be brimming with confidence this afternoon. But the same goes for the Wildcats, who have played their best basketball of the season over the last month. Michigan State and Penn State play first round games in the Big Ten Tournament that they can ill-afford to lose if they're to either lock up a bid (Michigan State) or make a late run at a bid (Penn State). Georgia has a game they can't lose down in Atlanta as the SEC Tournament (Auburn) while Tennessee is likely safe given their profile but a win over Arkansas would help (at least) stabilize their seeding for next week. And in the Mountain West, New Mexico and Colorado State meet in a game both desperately need with one more shot at BYU more than likely being the reward.

The "big guns" in the Big East take the stage at Madison Square Garden in four quarterfinals that lack intrigue if you're looking for contests that will affect the bubble. But the day should be an exciting one, beginning with UConn taking on Pittsburgh. Their one meeting happened way back on December 28th, and the Husky freshmen have grown by leaps and bounds since then. Add in Marquette looking to erase the sting of blowing an 18-point lead in the final six minutes in their loss at Louisville in January and the bonanza that should be St. John's/Syracuse and it should be another wild day at MSG. Just hope there are no significant officiating errors.

10:10 PM Portland State vs. Seattle

ACC First Round (Greensboro, NC)
Noon Miami (FL) vs. Virginia (ESPN3)
2:30 PM Wake Forest vs. Boston College (ESPN3)
7:00 PM NC State vs. Maryland (ESPN2)
9:30 PM Georgia Tech vs. Virginia Tech (ESPN3)

Big 12 Quarterfinals (Kansas City)
12:30 PM Oklahoma State vs. Kansas (ESPN2)
3:00 PM Colorado vs. Kansas State (ESPN3)
7:00 PM Oklahoma vs. Texas (ESPN3)
9:30 PM Missouri vs. Texas A&M

Big East Quarterfinals (New York City)
12:00 PM Connecticut vs. Pittsburgh (ESPN)
2:00 PM St. John's vs. Syracuse (ESPN)
7:00 PM Cincinnati vs. Notre Dame (ESPN)
9:00 PM Marquette vs. Louisville (ESPN)

Big Ten First Round (Indianapolis)
2:30 PM Minnesota vs. Northwestern (ESPN2)
4:30 PM Iowa vs. Michigan State (ESPN2)
7:30 PM Indiana vs. Penn State (BTN)

Big West Quarterfinals (Anaheim, CA)
3:00 PM Long Beach State vs. UC Irvine
5:30 PM Pacific vs. UC Santa Barbara
9:00 PM Cal Poly vs. UC Riverside
11:30 PM Cal State Northridge vs. Cal State Fullerton

Conference USA Quarterfinals (El Paso, TX)
1:00 PM East Carolina vs. UAB (CBS College)
3:30 PM Southern Miss vs. Memphis (CBS College)
7:30 PM Marshall vs. UTEP (CBS College)
10:00 PM Rice vs. Tulsa (CBS College)

Great West Quarterfinals (Orem, UT)
4:30 PM NJIT vs. Houston Baptist
7:00 PM North Dakota vs. Texas-Pan American
9:30 PM South Dakota vs. Chicago State

MAC Quarterfinals (Cleveland)
12:00 PM Bowling Green vs. Western Michigan (ESPN3)
2:30 PM Akron vs. Miami (OH) (ESPN3)
7:00 PM Buffalo vs. Kent State (ESPN3)
9:30 PM Ohio vs. Ball State (ESPN3)

MEAC Quarterfinals (Winston-Salem, NC)
6:00 PM Norfolk State vs. Coppin State
8:00 PM Morgan State vs. North Carolina A&T

Mountain West Quarterfinals (Las Vegas)
3:00 PM TCU vs. BYU (The Mtn.)
5:30 PM New Mexico vs. Colorado State
9:00 PM Utah vs. San Diego State
11:30 PM Air Force vs. UNLV

Pac-10 Quarterfinals (Los Angeles)
3:00 PM California vs. USC (FSN)
5:30 PM Oregon State vs. Arizona (FSN)
9:00 PM Oregon vs. UCLA (FSN)
11:30 PM Washington State vs. Washington (FSN)

SEC First Round (Atlanta)
1:00 PM Auburn vs. Georgia (ESPN3)
3:30 PM South Carolina vs. Mississippi (ESPN3)
7:30 PM Tennessee vs. Arkansas (ESPN3)
10:00 PM LSU vs. Vanderbilt

Southland Semifinals (Katy, TX)
7:00 PM Texas-San Antonio vs. Sam Houston State
9:30 PM Texas State vs. McNeese State

SWAC Quarterfinals (Garland, TX)
1:30 PM Mississippi Valley State vs. Grambling State
9:00 PM Alabama State vs. Alabama A&M

WAC Quarterfinals (Las Vegas)
3:00 PM Idaho vs. San Jose State (ESPNU)
5:30 PM New Mexico State vs. Nevada (ESPNU)