Saturday, March 28, 2009

HEALTHY HEELS TOO MUCH FOR ZAGS

No. 1 NORTH CAROLINA 98, No.4 GONZAGA 77 – NOTE TO OKLAHOMA: If Bobby Frasor cans back-to-back three pointers, you’re in trouble.

Never mind their defensive lapses, when the Tar Heels score in the nineties, they’re hard to beat.

After all the talk all season long about reigning National Player of the Year Tyler Hansbrough and the deep cast of characters surrounding him, the book on North Carolina is now short and sweet – It’s the Ty Lawson Show. Period.

Last night, demonstrating their depth, nine Tar Heels scored and four were in double figures. But, Lawson stole the show scoring 17 of his 19 points in the first half. Tyler Hansbrough added 24 points and 10 rebounds, Wayne Ellington scored 19 points and Danny Green added 13 for the Tar Heels (31-4), who reached the regional finals for the third straight year.
There was no jumping for joy afterward for this team – after losing to Kansas in the national semifinals last year, there was still work to do.

North Carolina led by as many as 17 in the first half, and for a while it seemed the Tar Heels might go the entire half without a turnover. Ellington finally gave the ball away with an offensive foul with 5:53 to play.

The only blemish for North Carolina in the first half -- 9-of-18 free throw shooting that enabled the Zags to stay in the game.

Lawson shot 6-of-7 in the half, picking up where he left off the previous game, when he scored 21 of his 23 points after halftime in a second-round win over LSU.

North Carolina shot 52.7 percent from the field and 57.9 per cent from the behind the arc.

(Photos by Joe Murphy/Getty Images)

BIG EAST VS. ACC REDUX

Here is the latest ACC big picture analysis from John Feinstein in the Washington Post.

The Big East is making it look easy. The conference is 15-3 in this year's tournament. The ACC, which also got seven teams into the tournament, is 6-6 with North Carolina the only team still playing. Even the mediocre Big Ten, also down to one team after Thursday, had a 7-6 record.

Which leads to the question: Is this a trend or is it cyclical? Has the ACC lost its basketball luster, and will it ever again catch up with the Big East?

To read the whole article click here.

But, really…how seriously can you take a league that has a team with such a ridiculous looking mascot?
Really?

WAHOOS TARGET ADOPTED RAINMAKER

The University of Virginia is in hot pursuit of yet another new head coach for the men’s basketball team sources close to the program tell T.A.H after Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones declined the school’s offer saying, “I think you have the wrong chap.”

Still undaunted, Wahoo A.D. Craig Littlepage is now pursuing another known entity with the necessary skill set. Evidently the new candidate fully understands intrigue and the complexity of complicated systems relative to starting out in a bad place and ending up in another better place.

Yet again, the negotiations are so secret, that we aren’t allowed to reveal the identity of the candidate on the T.A.H. pages.

To see the latest top secret candidate click here.

PICTURE OF THE DAY

GOOD QUESTION. So who’s gonna guard this guy? Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin goes up for a dunk during the second half during the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament South Regionals at the FedExForum on March 27, 2009 in Memphis, Tennessee. The Sooners defeated the Orange 84-71.

(Photo by Joe Murphy/Getty Images)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 2

OUCH. Draymond green (#23) of Michigan State “reaches” for the ball at the expense of Cole Aldrich (#45) of the Kansas Jayhawks fights for a loose ball during the third round of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the Lucas Oil Stadium on March 27, 2009 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Friday, March 27, 2009

A BRACKET DIES QUIETLY BY CANDLE LIGHT...

T.A.H. felt pretty smart yesterday evening (oh, alright, we feel pretty damn smart all the time, but his was basketball specific), when we entered the Swee Sixteen in sole possession of second in a $1,000 pool. As Mrs. T.A.H. was tied for the lead, we figured we were in pretty good shape.

Then things started to go a bit south – and we aren’t talking regional here.

Sometime after seven the power went off. Just a half-second after the room went dark, we heard that pop noise that can mean one thing and one thing only – blown transformer. Now, a peak efficiency, replacing a transformer should be a 60 to 90 minute operation. Obviously, last night, Dominion Power was not operating at peak efficiency.

So, while we sat around by candle light visiting with an out-of-town guest over some adult beverages, Mr. Blackberry kept us apprised of the slow painful death of bracket known as T.A.H. #2.

You see, not only did we pick Memphis to beat Missouri, we also picked Memphis to beat EVERYBODY else and win it all. Young A.T.’s bracket (T.A.H. #1 as we now like to refer to it!) has UNC winning it all, so why duplicate the chalk?

So, in the span of three hours in the dark and one 40 minute basketball game, we go from second to DEAD.

Madness.

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

AND THEN THERE WAS ONE…ACC TEAM THAT IS

No. 3 VILLANOVA 77, No. 2 DUKE 54 – The book on Duke is an easy read: The Blue Devils can go as far as their shooting will take them. Evidently, New York was about as far as they wanted to go as a cold-shooting Duke team got dismantled in Boston by Villanova for the first time in 50 years.

Credit the Wildcats defense for this win. Duke had trouble getting good shots and at times they had trouble getting a shot off at all. Duke shot 16-60 from the field – that’s a whopping 26.7 percent. From behind the arc the Blue Devils shot 18.5 percent on 5 of 27 “shooting,” if you want to call it that. We prefer to call it “rock throwing.”

Gerald Henderson and Jon “Crazy Face” Scheyer who had been the key components of Duke’s late season surge were simply awful. The two were a 4 for 32 (12.5 percent) combined. Evidently, Scheyer (left) can’t shoot without the “crazy face.” Again credit Villanova’s defense as they simply smothered them.

Oh, and Duke also got outrebounded 46 to 32.

Game over.

Now, Villanova (29-7) will play Big East rival and No. 1 seed Pittsburgh (31-4) on Saturday for a trip to the Final Four. The Wildcats beat Pitt 67-57 in their regular-season meeting at Philadelphia on Jan. 28.

Villanova was playing on the tournament's second weekend for the fourth time in five years, though Jay Wright's Wildcats have yet to reach the Final Four.

"We were never in a flow," said guard Kyle Singler, who led Duke with 15 points. "From the start, it was a snowball effect. When something got bad, it just got worse."

Duke (30-7), which spent a week at No. 1 in the nation earlier this season, failed to reach the round of eight for the fifth consecutive year. In bowing out quietly, Duke was handed its worst tournament loss since a 30-point defeat to UNLV in the national title game.

The Blue Devils again failed to beat a top-four seed in the NCAA tournament and hasn't beaten one since winning the national title in 2001. The Blue Devils also have not advanced past the Sweet 16 since 2004.


(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

WAHOOS TARGET ANOTHER NATIONAL NAME

The University of Virginia is in hot pursuit of yet another new head coach for the men’s basketball team sources close to the program tell T.A.H after representatives of rock star Dave Mathews assured UVA officials that while “Dave likes the school and the Charlottesville,” he really doesn’t know anything about coaching basketball.

Undaunted, the Cavs’ brass are now negotiating with another big name with an impressive connection to the school’s basketball program. The negotiations are so secret, that we aren’t allowed to reveal the identity of the candidate on the T.A.H. pages.

To see the latest top secret candidate click here.

ALL THAT STUFF WE SAID A FEW DAYS AGO ABOUT CONFERENCES? NEVER MIND

From the Raleigh-News Observer:

ACC FLOPS AS BIG EAST SOARS

After Villanova finished demolishing Duke on Thursday night, a reporter asked Wildcats coach Jay Wright how Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese would react to having two teams in the East Regional final in the NCAA Tournament.

Wright smiled, because March has been good to Tranghese. The Big East has followed through on its claims of college basketball superiority in this tournament.

On Thursday night, Villanova, Pittsburgh and Connecticut all advanced to regional finals. Louisville and Syracuse have a chance to join them if they can win regional semifinal games tonight.

"I don't think he's gloating or anything,” Wright said of Tranghese after Villanova's 77-54 win. "But he always likes when his guys are successful. I think everybody in the Big East likes this.”

Nobody in the ACC likes this. The ACC finished the regular season atop the RPI, a mathematical formula that combines won-loss record and schedule quality to measure the relative strength of teams.

The Big East finished fourth in the RPI. For most of the season, coaches from both leagues tried to make the case that theirs was the best conference.
To read the rest of the article click here.

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

FSU AGREES TO VOLUNTARILY ABDICATE WINS

To the shock of everyone in Seminole Nation, Florida State and head coach Bobby Bowden have offered to voluntarily abdicate some recent important football wins to, according to sources close to both the program and T.A.H., “get the NCAA off our damn backs.”

The games offered up by the Noles for forfeiture are:

09/16/08 – FSU 69, Western Carolina 0
09/13/08 – FSU 46, Chattanooga 7
09/09/07 – FSU 34, UAB 24
10/27/07 – FSU 25, Duke 6*
09/09/06 – FSU 24, Troy 17
09/23/06 – FSU 55, Rice 7
09/10/05 – FSU 62, The Citadel 10

*FSU seeking “extra credit” since this was a “conference game.”

**items in italics may not be true.

PICTURE OF THE DAY

THEY DON’T AGREE. UConn fans react to a call during their win over Purdue last night. Or maybe these two gents just got word that Yahoo has fingered the Huskies in a potential recruiting scandal?

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 2

SHOCKED. These two fans were shocked (albeit amused as well) when they realized last night’s Pittsburgh vs. Xavier Sweet Sixteen game was not the Penguins v. Flames…or was it that everybody else was shocked that it was the NHL and not the NCAA tourney and only these two were in on the joke…We aren’t sure, it’s been a long week.

(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

TY LAWSON: IT’S JUST ONE TOE (EVEN IF MY FATHER TRIED TO RUIN IT)

It comes as no surprise that Tar Heel point guard Ty Lawson is going to play against Gonzaga.
The good news for North Carolina fans and bracketeers everywhere is that the ACC Player of the Year’s injured toe is feeling much better.

"It's getting better," Lawson said Tuesday. "I'm walking on it better. Hopefully in a couple of days, it'll be back to 100 percent."

Lawson injured the toe in practice two days before the Duke game and needed a painkilling shot beforehand. He nearly had a triple-double in 36 minutes in the win, but the toe swelled unexpectedly afterward. It turned out Lawson - on advice from his father - might have exacerbated the problem when he soaked his foot that night in hot water and Epsom salt. Oops.

These days, Lawson is sticking to a steady regimen of icing his foot in the morning, before practice and after practice. Then, when he's at home, he fills a trash can with ice and water and soaks his foot a few more times in the evening. He's also worn a compression wrap to limit swelling and exercised in a swimming pool.

"I get a lot of questions about how does Ty's toe feel?" senior Tyler Hansbrough said. "I'm like, 'It's not my toe. I don't know.' I don't ask him how his toe's doing because I'm sure 100 other people have. I understand other people's curiosity. "

Lawson said his performance against LSU gave him confidence, joking that it proved the toe "wouldn't fall off" as he tried to play at his normal fleet-footed pace. He's also hoping it will answer all the questions about the injury.

"It's just one toe," he said. "I don't think it's that big of a deal. But to everybody else, I guess it is. I'm just trying to get it better. I'm ready for it to be over."

TWO FRON WOLFPACK HEADED TO NBA

Two North Carolina State players won't return to the Wolfpack for their senior seasons.
Coach Sidney Lowe said Monday that Brandon Costner will enter the NBA draft pool while fellow redshirt junior Trevor Ferguson is ending his basketball career.

Costner, a forward, averaged nearly 13 points and six rebounds in three seasons with N.C. State, and was the Wolfpack's leading scorer this season with a 13.6-point average. The school said he will earn a degree in communications in May.

Ferguson sat out the 2005-06 season after transferring from Pittsburgh and averaged nearly four points in 52 career games, hitting 37 percent of his 3-pointers. He said he will earn his degree in science, technology and society this summer.

The response from Wolfpack Nation was hardly measured. They seem to be in unison on wishing Ferguson goodbye and good luck, while their take on Costner is goodbye and good riddance.

Maryland’s Greivis Vasquez is also talking about testing the NBA waters, but then Vasquez is always talking about something…

ACC vs. BIG EAST

Yes, the ACC has faired rather poorly in both the NCAA and the N.I.T. tournaments.

But does the early exists in both post game tourneys clearly demonstrate overall conference strength? Is the ACC a weak conference with the exception of the two traditional powerhouses Duke and North Carolina? Is it not as good as the Big East based on two rounds of the 2009 NCAA tournament?

The answer might be a little more complicated than league v. league over the past two weeks.
First off there is the issue of matchups – Maryland v. Memphis being an example of an unwinnable one whether or not Greivis Vasquez runs his mouth.

Some teams simply don’t match up well with others, and the ACC currently seems to be overloaded with teams that have but one or two scorers. If their opponent match up well with a Jeff Teague, Toney Douglas or Tyrese Rice, the Dance can end rather abruptly.

Secondly, there is momentum. Coming into the NCAA tournament some teams are on an upswing (Maryland, Duke, UNC) and some are in late season slumps (Wake Forest, Clemson). Florida State probably hadn’t shaken an heart wrenching loss in the ACC final where they had an opportunity to do what no Seminole team had done before. They failed, and that kind of loss can be hard to shake. Boston College was simply outmanned and probably seeded too high. If they don't knock off the No. 1 Tar Heels in Chapel Hill in January, the Eagles probably don't even get in the NCAA tournament.

The ACC has the highest RPI which is how you are measured against everybody as it compares how everybody fares against everybody else. AOL Fanhouse has an interesting piece about the tournament seeding and relevant expectations. As the mighty Blaze says: “It is what it is.”

Which brings us to the Big East. The Big East is having a great year, and they should. The conference was expanded with a basketball focus. Conversely, the ACC expanded for football and, if you’ve noticed, that has worked too - since the expansion VA Tech and Boston College have dominated.

Don't be shocked if Miami roughs everybody up the next few years. It hasn't made the ACC the new SEC in football, but it's a step forward. It's a little easier to fast track success with 5 guys than it is with 22 guys. So it just takes a while for it all to shake out.

The best thing going on in the Big East at the moment is the wealth is well spread…Now if it gets to be 2029 and Pitt and UConn have dominated for twenty-some years, the overall quality of the conference won't be what it is in the current post-expansion environment as the rich will simply get richer. (That's how those pesky free markets go - just ask the boys at AIG).

To that end, we are of the mind that the dominance of Duke and North Carolina for what amounts to the past 25 years actually hurts the conference because it stymies recruiting (both coaches and players) at the other schools…Yes, they have their spells where they are good, but it's hard on coaches to recruit year-in and year-out against the Big Two (Toe in UNC's case). "No, you can't play at Duke or UNC, but you can play AGAINST them and get your butt kicked 8 times in 4 years - won't that be fun." And if you don't beat them you will be vilified by your students, alums and fan base (hey, N.C. State that was directed at YOU - for now.)

Also, the "one and done rule" helps the haves at the expense of the have-nots - which is probably the opposite effect of what was intended. Next year for example, UNC, which stockpiles players assuming they will turn pro, will have 6'9" Deon Thompson (sr), 6'110 Ed Davis (sph), 7'0" Ty Zeller (sph), a three new freshmen - a 6'10" forward and two 6'11" twins from California. Williams can recruit all those guys because they know Davis and Zeller won't be there for four years.

If the NCAA was like the NFL and pro eligibility was age driven and equal to being a Junior in college, it would help the ACC schools recruit those guys based on the simple "if you go to UNC, you aren't ever gonna play" situation.

In the end the difference between the two league might simply be how the various teams are recruiting and where they are located. Schools like Duke and UNC recruit nationwide. Most other schools may pursue one or even two players of national prominence, but the rest of their recruiting is done regionally - sometime it's geography related and sometime it's relationship driven.

Who has access to more large population centers with thousands of great high school basketball players - the ACC or the Big East? Who's more plugged into the feeder system? Rural teams or urban teams? We don’t pretend to know all the answers, but these are the myriad of factors that make up the recruiting tapestry which ultimately forms the teams and the strength of the conference.

The UNC/Duke situation also makes it tough on coaches…For example, is Tubby Smith coming to C'vlle? I say no - one he's probably had enough of racist basketball fanatics in the South like those that hounded him in Kentucky, and two, he isn't looking to rebuild a program in such a tough conference - that's a young man's game. If Duke and UNC weren't so dominant, it might be an easier pill to swallow.

Finally, there's parody - just like in pro sports, everybody is big, fast and athletic, and part of the equation is the influx of foreign players (see FSU for example).

So now everybody and their brother is picking Villanova to beat Duke (easily), but don’t abandon them just yet. The Devils are a tough team - much tougher than earlier versions of recent squads which floundered in the tourney. The Scheyer-to-point-guard move has worked extremely well, so don't count them out just yet. However, if Nova can knock them out, that leaves the Tar Heels as the lone ACC hope…

If UNC takes a bad step against Gonzaga or if Oklahoma or Syracuse plays well enough to beat them, it could be an all Big East Final Four…

Or Duke somehow beats Pitt to win the East , Kansas knocks off Louisville and Memphis beats UConn – that’s two ACC teams, 1 Big 12, 1 Conf USA in the Final Four…does that demonstrate conference strength?

No, it determines team strength and who played well on a given day. If it was best two out of three, it might end up entirely differently.

And so the pendulum swings…

(Photo by Getty Images)

PICTURE OF THE DAY

SPEAKING OF STUMBLING. No. 1 seed Maryland won their second round NCAA game last night against Utah 71-56, but No. 1 seeded Duke was upset by No. 9 Michigan State 63-49. No. 1 seed Oklahoma defeated No. 9 Georgia Tech 69-50.

(AP Photo/Al Goldis)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 2

NICE GAME. Cole Aldrich was pumped up. Patrolling the post for Kansas with those long arms, the 6-foot-11 sophomore forced the Dayton Flyers into a whole bunch of bad shots and sent them down for a rough landing.

Aldrich put up a triple-double with 13 points, 20 rebounds and a career-high 10 blocked shots to lead the defending NCAA champion Kansas Jayhawks to the Sweet Sixteen.


(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Monday, March 23, 2009

CHRONIC EYE FATIGUE? GIVE YOURSELF A FEW DAYS OFF FROM WATCHING BOUNCING BALLS

…or exactly WHEN are we supposed to catch up on our sleep?

SWEET SIXTEEN:
Thursday, March 26th

WEST – (5) Purdue vs. (1) UConn – 7:07 pm.
WEST – (3) Missouri vs. (2) Mempis – 9:37 pm

EAST – (4) Xavier vs. (1) Pittsburgh – 7:27 pm
EAST – (3) Villanova vs. (2) DUKE – 9:57 pm

Friday, March 27th
MIDWEST – (12) Arizona vs. (1) Louisville – 7:07 pm
MIDWEST – (3) Kansas vs. (2) Michigan State – 9:57 pm

SOUTH – (3) Syracuse vs. (2) Oklahoma – 7:27 pm
SOUTH – (1) NORTH CAROLINA vs. (4) Gonzaga – 9:57 pm

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

WAHOOS TARGET ANOTHER NATIONAL NAME

The University of Virginia is in hot pursuit of yet another new head coach for the men’s basketball team sources close to the program tell T.A.H after University officials realized that Al Groh was actually still the coach of the football team. Our sources maintain that University officials were shocked by this new revelation regarding Groh's status.

Undaunted, the Cavs’ brass are now negotiating with another big name with knowledge of both the school and ACC basketball. The negotiations are so secret, that we aren’t allowed to reveal the identity of the candidate on the T.A.H. pages.

To see the latest top secret candidate click here.

CONFERENCE BREAKDOWN: BIG EAST AS GOOD AS ADVERTISED

The Big East has five teams remaining in the NCAA tournament, and the Big 12 is looking strong with three including the defending champion Kansas Jayhawks. The mediocre Big 10 has two while the down-year Pac 10 has but one.

The ACC has been a disappointment so far with only Duke and North Carolina advancing to the second weekend. Four ACC teams – Florida State, Boston College, Clemson and Wake Forest all lost opening round games.

According to J.P. Giglio at the Raleigh News & Observer, the dismal performance was due to the lack of “quality coaching.”

Ouch.

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

ACC WOMEN’S TEAMS 6-0 IN FIRST ROUND OF NCAA

NORTH CAROLINA 85, UCF 80

FLORIDA STATE 83, North Carolina A&T 71

VIRGINIA 68, Marist 61

MARYLAND 82, Dartmouth 53

DUKE 83, Austin Peay 42

GEORGIA TECH 76, Iowa 62

(AP Photo/Gail Burton)

PICTURE(S) OF THE DAY

AND YOU THOUGHT NOBODY REALLY CARED. In spite of all the empty seasts just prior to the first pitch, somebody cares about the World Baseball Classic…

Post game, fans of Japan celebrate after Japan defeated the United States in the semifinal at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. Japan defeated the United States 9-4.

(Photos by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

DUKE BACK IN THE SWEET SIXTEEN

No. 2 DUKE 74, No. 7 TEXAS 69 – OK, when Coach K moved Jon “Crazy Face” Scheyer to point guard he now, quite obviously, knew what he was doing. Scheyer continues to make heady plays and score consistently for the Blue Devils Blue Devils (30-6).

The book on Duke is simple: play good defense and shoot well. It worked again last night as Gerald Henderson scored 24 points while Kyle Singler added 17 and Scheyer chipped in 13 more while they held Texas’ A.J. Abrams to 17 points on 5-for-13 shooting.

Duke survived Texas’ shooting 50 percent from the field, by making 50 percent of their own shots from behind the arc (7-14) while the Horns made just 3 of 12 three pointers.

The Blue Devils made every clutch play during crunch time in a victory that propelled them into the second weekend of the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2006.

The No. 7 seed Longhorns (23-12) rallied from a late 10-point deficit to tie it twice in the final 2 minutes – the last time coming when Gary Johnson's free throw with 1:07 remaining made it 69-all.

But Duke would make plays, and Texas would not score again.

The weekend was a homecoming of sorts for Texas coach Rick Barnes, who grew up a 90-minute drive away in Hickory, once interviewed for a job on Mike Krzyhnm9ski's staff and spent four seasons at Clemson yelling at Dean Smith. His first victory against the Blue Devils came in 1995 – the last game Krzjkl3ski coached before he took a leave of absence for the remainder because he had a back ache and a lousy team.

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

LAWSON LIFTS SAGGING TAR HEELS OVER TIGERS

N0. 1 NORTH CAROLINA 84, No. 8 LSU 70 – A still out-of-whack North Carolina with a rusty Ty Lawson looked to be wearing down the over matched Tigers at halftime.

Then the second half started and LSU came out firing and making shot after shot. The Tigers erased a nine point deficit making shot after shot until the Tar Heels realized the game wasn’t over and there was still work to be done.

Lawson scored 21 of his 23 points after halftime, and his three-point play sparked the decisive second-half run that got the Tar Heels rolling again.

Wayne Ellington scored 23 points to lead the Tar Heels (30-4), who ran off 11 straight points in a tie game to take control and move on to next week's regional semifinals in Memphis, Tenn. North Carolina will face the winner of the Gonzaga-Western Kentucky game.

Marcus Thornton scored 25 points to lead the Tigers (27-8), who gave Carolina everything they could handle even while playing in front of a hostile crowd in Greensboro. But, the Tar Heels have two strategies – they can run away from a team or they can buckle down and play good defense and wear the other team down. This time the latter strategy was good enough.
Tasmin Mitchell finished with 18 points for LSU, which was making its first tournament appearance since reaching the Final Four in '06.

Lawson finished 7-for-13 from the floor to go with six assists and no turnovers in 31 minutes. The Tar Heels needed that big performance, too, considering Hansbrough managed only one second-half field goal before finishing with 15 points.

Danny Green, who came in averaging 13 points, had just eight and was 2-for-9 before hitting his only 3 of the day during the big run.

Ellington also had a strong day, going 9-for-16 despite being defended much of the way by Garrett Temple, who had notably shut down national player of the year J.J. Redick during the Tigers' upset of Duke during his freshman year in 2006.

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

MOUTHY MARYLAND NO MATCH FOR CONFERENCE-CHALLENGED MEMPHIS

No. 2 MEMPHIS 89, No. 10 MARYLAND 70 – As if this season hadn’t been interesting enough, Greivis Vasquez decided it might be fun to poke the Tiger – the Memphis Tiger that is. Vasquez, said that Conference USA was sub-par, and the Tigers wouldn’t have a winning record in the much tougher ACC.

"They proved me wrong. That's what the sport is about," Vasquez said.

With that as a backdrop, and bouncing back from a first-round malaise that might have sunk them if not for Roburt Sallie's record-setting shooting, Memphis hit a sizzling 70 percent in the first half to put this game away early. Saturday and rolled past Maryland 89-70 in the second round of the West Regional.

All of a sudden the Tigers looked and felt like the team that rode a 25-game winning streak into the tournament they nearly won a year ago.

Sallie, the surprise hero of Thursday's hard-fought victory over No. 15 seed Cal State Northridge, came off the bench and kept up his 3-point onslaught by hitting his first three, making him 13-for-19 for the tourney.

But in the meantime, Tyreke Evans(#12) scored 19 points and was one of five Tigers with at least 13.

The second-seeded Tigers (33-3) knocked the Terps (21-14) on the ropes with a 9-0 run in the opening minutes and led by as many as 23 while mounting a 53-33 halftime lead.

Vasquez had 18 points, Adrian Bowie had 11 points for Maryland and Eric Hayes had 10.

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

HOKIES QUIETLY EXIT N.I.T.

BAYLOR 84, VIRGINIA TECH 66 – Nothing quiets down the griping about not getting into the Big Dance like getting butt whipped by the Baylor Bears at home in the N.I.T. The Bears never trailed, taking a 22-5 lead in the first 12 minutes in part because the Hokies made just one of their first 17 attempts.

Kevin Rogers and Curtis Jarrells scored 16 points apiece as Baylor advanced to the quarterfinals and will play host Auburn on Tuesday night. The Bears, who have won five of their past six games, including three in the Big 12 tournament and two in the NIT, improved to 22-14 overall on the season.

Malcolm Delaney led Virginia Tech (19-15) with 14 points.

Tech shot just 32.4 – its second-worst performance of the season.
“I’ll be honest with you, I thought we had great looks,” Vassallo said. “I shot over the top of their guards and I was able to shoot clean shots. The ball just was not going in. We had some good looks inside. Jeff [Allen], the ball just rolled out. Malcolm had some 3’s that he rarely misses. It was just one of those days. And every time they took a shot, it seemed to go in and that just demoralized us.”

Vassallo, a senior from Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, closed out his career with 1,822 points.

(Photos by Matt Gentry/Roanoke Times)

PICTURE OF THE DAY

NEW DEFENSIVE STRATEGY? Texas couldn’t slow down Gerald Henderson so did Rick Barnes call up the “Hit ‘Em In The Privates” defense?

Gerald Henderson lays in a basket against A.J. Abrams #3 and Clint Chapman #53 of the Texas Longhorns during the second round of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum.

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 2

HE SAID NO. For a variety of reasons.

(Photos by Matt Gentry/Roanoke Times)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 3

JABBAHOKEEZ. We don’t know exactly what this is about, but we felt it needed to be brought to your attention.

(Photos by Matt Gentry/Roanoke Times)

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