Throughout the course of conference play in both the Atlantic 10 ad Big East many have been waiting for the moment when Xavier and Connecticut, two teams many thought to be Final Four possibilities at the start of the season, would turn things around. At this rate the Musketeers and Huskies seem destined for the NIT, as both teams' ships have taken on an incredible amount of water in recent weeks. And it's not for a lack of skill either, despite the struggles of these two teams.
Play in the Horizon League tournament begins on Tuesday night with four games hosted by the higher-seeded team, including 5-seed Butler hosting 8-seed Wright State. While there are many who believe that the Bulldogs could once again make a run as they did last season, it's important to point out that last year's NCAA finalists found a way to earn a bye to the semifinals in the conference tournament. No such luck this time around as the Bulldogs host the Raiders, a team they swept during the regular season.
One of the first things a team has to do when taking on Notre Dame is defend the three-point line, because even though the Irish shoot just 32.8% from beyond the arc they rely on the shot a great deal. According to statsheet.com Notre Dame scores 29.4% of its points on three-point shots, a number that ranks third in the Big East behind Cincinnati and Seton Hall. Georgetown knew what they had to limit on Monday night and they did so, getting out to the Notre Dame shooters and limiting them to 3-for-17 in the 59-41 win.
The current era of college sports means that fans have become used to conference foes meeting for the first time in a season in late February, as is the case with #18 Notre Dame (20-9, 12-4) visiting #8 Georgetown (21-6, 11-5) on Monday night. Both teams lost games in the tri-state area over the last five days with the Hoyas getting blown out at Seton Hall and Notre Dame losing at St. John's on Saturday, but these are still teams that can make noise in New York next week.
It wasn't pretty but USF found a way to get the job done, beating Cincinnati 46-45 to move to 11-5 in the Big East and 18-11 overall. Freshman point guard Anthony Collins made a pair of free throws with 3.4 seconds remaining to give the Bulls the win, and while it isn't a resume-building win the Bulls did the simplest thing a bubble team can do this time of the year: they won. Collins, who is going to be an outstanding point guard in the Big East as he gains experience, led USF with 14 points and five assists and Toarlyn Fitzpatrick added eight and ten rebounds.
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