Big East Hiccups, Crazy Finishes, and Ivy Showdown Top Weekend Rewind
Big East Meltdowns
Entering the weekend, the Big East conference looked poise to end the weekend with four teams fighting for the top six or seven spots in the conference.
A three-overtime game and two improbable upsets later, the conference will only have two teams in the top five come Monday, and the other two will be flirting with the top 10.
It all started with West Virginia failing miserably to close out its heated rival at the end of regulation. Pittsburgh managed to do the same in the first OT. Two overtimes later, the crazy start to the weekend was finally over as the Mountaineers failed to sweep the Backyard Brawl.
Villanova escaped the upset bug on Saturday, but on Sunday a middle of the road squad and a bottom feeder knocked off two more Big East Elites. Louisville exposed Syracuse's offense, forcing the Orange into a half-court game it couldn't win without someone like Wesley Johnson creating his own shots (and hitting them—Johnson was just five of 20 from the field).
Syracuse's loss is a bit hard to fathom, but at least the Orange didn't do what Georgetown did—lose to the second worst team in the league, Rutgers.
The RAC can be a tough place to play, but Georgetown lost to a team that a mere five days before beat Division II Caldwell by a mere eight points.
On Thursday, the Big East looked like it might just be the best conference. Now, it looks a distant second to the Big 12.
The Pittsburgh-West Virginia game set the standard for unbelievably finishes as the two played arguably the best game of the season.
That benchmark lasted all of 24 hours.
Cal-State Fullerton and Cal-State Northridge took that title Saturday night with their own three-overtime game. It took Fullerton a game-tying shot at the end of regulation to extend the game. And another at the end of the first overtime. And finally another at the end of the second overtime.
By the third overtime, every player and his mother had fouled out of the game, and walk-on Eric Williams completed a three-point play to send the Titans to victory.
Ivy League Mayhem
After Cornell defeated Harvard by 36 two weekends ago, it looked pretty clear Cornell should dominate the Ivy League.
No one told Pennsylvania that.
Yes, the same Quaker team that had won one, count it one, non-conference game. The same Penn team that fired its coach seven games into the season. And finally, the same Quaker squad that lost to Duke by 59.
Yet Pennsylvania hosted Cornell Friday night and defeated the Big Red.
Not only did Cornell leave Philadelphia with a terrible cheesesteak experience , but the Big Red also left in a terrible position.
The next night, Cornell had to head up I-95 to Princeton, who entering the night remained undefeated. A Tigers victory and the Big Red would fall behind the Tigers by two full games. No longer would the Ivy League's best team in almost 10 years control its own destiny.
Princeton controlled the tempo and both squads played ferocious defense, but after 40 minutes, the Big Red left the Garden State with a 48-45 victory and took control of the Ancient Eight once again.
- San Diego State hosted UNLV and defeated the Rebels by double-digits. The Mountain West is setting up to potentially garner four bids. UNLV's loss sends them back towards the bubble.
- Cincinnati stays alive with a road victory against UConn in Jim Calhoun's return to the pine.
- Oklahoma State thrashing Oklahoma is pretty impressive, but James Anderson dropping 27 points in the first half makes for the performance of the weekend.
- California might finally be distancing itself in the Pac-10. Three consecutive wins have the Golden Bears at 9-4 in the league. The only way Cal will get an at-large bid at this point is to not lose another game until the conference tournament final.
- Xavier got the much needed road, non-league win with a victory over Florida in Gainesville. The Musketeers have been much improved in league play, but lacked the non-conference punch to go dancing.
- If Utah State doesn't lose another regular season conference game, the Aggies could be in position for an at-large bid. USU knocked off Brigham Young in the non-conference and would only have three league losses if it should lose in the tournament.
- Marquette took care of business on its home floor against South Florida. The Golden Eagles have been hard-luck losers, but things look like they've turned around for Buzz Williams' squad.
- Northwestern is hanging onto slim at-large hopes as the Wildcats needed an astounding 42 points on their final 25 possessions to beat Minnesota.
- Georgia Tech is falling fast after losing to Wake Forest. The Yellow Jackets are now under .500 in the league but have a fairly easily remaining schedule.
- Northern Iowa lost to Bradley. That makes it necessary for the Panthers to win the Missouri Valley Tournament to ensure a bid. After that loss, UNI lost Jordan Eglsleder for three games after being charged with a DUI.
- Siena is in a similar boat as Northern Iowa. The Saints were previously unbeaten in conference play but fell to Niagara Friday night. Winning the MAAC Tournament is absolutely necessary for Siena.
- Rhode Island is fading back towards bubble land after Richmond beat the Rams and then Temple destroyed URI.
- UConn is finished barring a miraculous run. Scoring 48 points on your home floor is pretty sad. The Huskies continue to fail miserably in the half-court offense.
- Dayton blew a chance to pick up a good road win at Saint Louis. The Flyers have struggled in the A-10 at times which could keep them out of the dance. SLU players several of the remaining league favorites which could make the Billikens a spoiler.
- Florida is heading towards the "all but done" category after failing to beat Xavier at home. Florida can afford to lose at most one more regular season conference game.
- Conference USA looks like a one-bid league after Tulsa and UAB both lost over the weekend. The Golden Hurricane needed to beat Memphis on Saturday and Duke down the road to garner a bid. Now a victory in Cameron Indoors likely won't be enough.
- Saint Mary's probably would still go dancing even with three potential losses to Gonzaga, but a loss to Portland likely means the Gaels must win the West Coast Conference Tournament to make the tournament.
- Notre Dame is done. Losing to St. John's at home is inexcusable. Remember when the Joyce Center was arguably the hardest place to play in America?
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