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Tennessee Basketball NIT Bound?: Wednesday Night Hoopla

Jameson FlemingSenior Writer IJanuary 7, 2009

What's Up with Tennessee?

Gonzaga 89, (25) Tennessee 79 (OT)

Gonzaga knocked off the Volunteers for the second time this season in a tremendous back-and-forth game that needed more than just 40 minutes to decide. The Zags reached back for a little extra to comeback from a 12 point second half deficit to send the game to the extra session.

Gonzaga got it going from deep, something that's been non-existent during its run of four losses in five games. Mark Few's team hit 10 of 21 three-pointers with Austin Daye and Steven Gray leading the way with three each.

Tennessee is in serious trouble.

Tyler Smith went down to the floor in the last two minutes of overtime holding his knee after a Gonzaga player rolled into him. Smith walked away under his own power after a failed attempt to get up. If the star wing is out for any amount of time, Tennessee could pick up an unnecessary loss with Kentucky looming in six days.

The Volunteers already have four losses and in-state rival Memphis is still on the docket as well as an entire SEC schedule. With two losses to Gonzaga, one to Kansas and Temple—three potential bubble teams come March—the Volunteers cannot afford to lose any gimme games in the weak SEC. Six losses in that conference—plus one in the conference tournament—the Volunteers would be looking at a 20-11 record, not including the Memphis game.

A 20-11 SEC team? Sounds like a bubble team to me.


Best Example of a Letdown...Ever

Harvard 82, (24) Boston College 70

Just a few days ago, we asked how good is Boston College? Winners of ten in a row and most recently over North Carolina. BC was looking like a team that could challenge for a top three or four finish in the conference. But after Wednesday's absurd, inexcusable loss to an Ivy League team, the Eagles look once again like the team picked to finish 11th in the ACC.

Tyrese Rice, the star of the UNC upset, scored 14 points...but 11 of those points came in the final three minutes—when the game was all but over.

On the flip side, Harvard now looks like it might be the team to beat in the Ivy League. At 8-6, Harvard owns the league's second best record (Cornell is 9-6), and arguably the league's best win. It looks like it hasn't taken Tommy Amaker long to figure things out in Boston.


Mike Tirico Goes Back to School as Duke Takes Davidson to School

(2) Duke 79, Davidson 67

Where art thou Cinderella? The Big Dance hasn't started yet so Davidson blowing its big opportunities in its non-conference schedule isn't so surprising (See 2007-2008 when Davidson started 4-6).

Stephen Curry, on his big night to shine against one of the nation's most beloved and hated teams—played only one solid half which buried the Wildcats. Duke led by as many as 25 in the second half, but Curry eventually did get hot.

The stud Junior drew Davidson to within eight in the second stanza behind his game high 29 points, but his inability to hit the deep ball did in Davidson. Curry finished one for eight from behind the arc.

If Davidson doesn't go undefeated in conference play, the Wildcats may not be in a position to make the NCAA Tournament. The Southern Conference has teams that can beat Davidson this year. A four or five loss Southern Conference team with wins over West Virginia and North Carolina State, but big losses to Duke and Purdue doesn't sound like a solid case for an NCAA Tournament berth.

(3) North Carolina 108, College of Charleston 70

Bobby Cremins has put together a dandy of a team in Charleston. His Cougars are one of the best teams in the Southern Conference and could give Davidson a run for their money.

But there must have been a collective groan from the city of Charleston when it found out its basketball team would be the first to face the juggernaut that is North Carolina basketball after UNC's first loss.

North Carolina didn't take it to Charleston until five minutes left in the first half, but when the Tar Heels got going, all the Cougars could do was get in the fetal position and hope they didn't lose by 50. North Carolina ended the game on a 63-31 run.


(15) Marquette 81, Rutgers 76

The Scarlets Knights were down as much as 21 in the second half, but fought back to within three. Rutgers isn't going to beat too many teams this year, but with a roster full of outstanding freshman and sophomores, Fred Hill's team is going to be relevant in the Big East really soon.


(9) Syracuse 85, DePaul 68

The 'Cuse keeps rolling through some Big East bottom-feeders as six members of the Orange finished in double-digits. Andy Rautins continues to be the hottest shooter in the country with 25 three-pointers in four games.

This may seem bold and bizarre, but Andy Rautins may legitimately be Syracuse's best player. He provides solid passing, very good defense, and one of the best three-point shots in the Big East. Since he's been inserted into the starting lineup four games ago, he's been more of a game changer than Jonny Flynn, one of the country's top sophomores.


(21) Louisville 71, South Florida 57

Last week, Rick Pitino told Edgar Sosa to transfer, but Sosa decided not to. In the last week, Sosa has found his stride by hitting a game winner against Kentucky and scoring 12 points Wednesday against the Bulls.


Michigan 72, Indiana 66 (OT)

Manny Harris led a furious 20 point comeback to take the Hooisers to overtime. Laval Lucas-Perry added a clutch three and 18 points. The Wolverines avoid recording an awful, awful loss that would not be overlooked come March.


Morgan State 66, Maryland 65

Maryland's NCAA Tournament hopes took a HUGE hit with a loss to a 6-8 MEAC team. Morgan State may have a win over DePaul, but the Bears should not have beaten the Terps on the road.

So about the ACC claiming its the best conference...? Maryland losing to a MEAC team and Boston College losing to an Ivy League team on the same night tends to put a damper on that claim.

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