The Ten Biggest Winners from a Big Day in College Basketball
This is what this time of year is all about. The upsets, the intensity, the anticipation. If Thursday's action didn't leave you salivating in anticipation of the start of the NCAA Tournament next week, you might be watching the wrong sport.
Thursday saw three of the top four in the Big 12 and two of the top three in the Big East go down. In one of those upsets, we saw a mighty Connecticut team try to hold off Syracuse in an epic six overtime battle before ultimately falling in one basketball's most hallowed grounds, Madison Square Garden.
Now that this big day is over, here is a look at the ten teams that benefited the most from Thursday's madness.
I don't think anyone benefited from Thursday's round of upsets as much as Rick Pitino's Cardinals. Louisville, who had been hovering between a one and a two seed, saw three other potential one seeds (Oklahoma, Pittsburgh, Connecticut) all fall. Now the Cardinals have a much clearer path to the Big East Tournament Championship as well as an almost definite top seed in the NCAA tourney.
2. Michigan State
Michigan State still has yet to play a Big Ten tournament game, but you have to think that the Spartans now also have a one seed within their grasp. It is logical to think that since Oklahoma and Pittsburgh may now both be looking at two seeds, Michigan State or Memphis (or both) would move up. It will likely be the Spartans if they win the Big Ten rather than a Memphis team that feasts on the weaker competition of Conference USA.
Now that it looks like there is at least one top seed open, John Calipari's Tigers look to move up, especially if Michigan State falters. Of course, if Memphis falters as well, they could probably say goodbye to any chance of a one seed.
The Tigers looked like they might be on their way to becoming Texas Tech's latest victim during the first half of Thursday nights Big 12 Tournament quarterfinal. But Mizzou ended up walking away with a lopsided victory, as well as the distinction of being the highest seeded team left in the Big 12 tourney. The Tigers are now the favorite to win the Big 12 which could mean much higher than anticipated seeding in the NCAA tourney.
A blow out of Iowa may have secured a NCAA bid for the Wolverines, but a strong game against Illinois on Friday can't hurt anything.
6. Texas A&M
Yes, the Aggies are already out of the Big 12 tournament, but a Kansas State loss did greatly help Texas A&M's cause. With a good resume and KSU seemingly out of the picture, the Aggies look like they are still in line for a NCAA bid.
The Trojans probably still need one more win to get an NCAA invite, but were helped when fellow Pac-10 bubble team Arizona was knocked off in the quarterfinals of the conference tourney Thursday.
8. Penn State
The Nittany Lions moved one step closer to climbing off the bubble with a double digit victory over Indiana on Thursday. Like many other teams, Pen State probably just needs one more win to solidify that NCAA berth.
If the selection committee does extend invitations to seven Big Ten teams, then the Golden Gophers are in. But Tubby Smith's squad is still in that group of teams that still need one "W" to guarantee a bid, and that won't be easy. Up next for the Gophers? Michigan State.
10. Boston College
The Eagles still have some work to do, but avoided seeing their bubble burst by beating Virginia on Thursday. If Boston College doesn't pick up one more win, they will most likely be out of contention. Al Skinner's Eagles better be ready, they get Duke on Friday.
We're now one day closer to selection Sunday. The stage has been set for a great finish to a great week. You gotta love March.
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