Thursday of Champ Week is my favorite sports day of the year; 14 hours of watching basketball from all over the country, mixed in with some spring training baseball and a movie or two at the end. It has been a fun day.
Big East tournament
— Marquette 72, St John’s 70 (OT)— In the last 20 years, no team has won the national title after losing their first conference tournament game. St John’s led this game by 14 late in first half, forced 19 Marquette turnovers, but Marquette survived, despite shooting 9-34 on the arc.
It is little odd that Marquette was #1 seed and had to play St John’s on its semi-home court in their first tournament game, but they’re the better team and they did what they had to do.
— Georgetown fired Patrick Ewing as coach, after he led the Hoyas for six years; Ewing is the best player in Georgetown history, but the next coach will be a significant upgrade.
This was similar to when Clyde Drexler coached Houston for two years from 1998-2000; it just didn’t work, even though Drexler was a great player at Houston.
— Final Four of the Big East is UConn, plus teams from Cincinnati, Omaha and Milwaukee; how will kids ever pass Geography classes in school if they think those cities are in the East?
— Virginia 68, North Carolina 59— Tar Heels are 20-13, 12-10 in ACC games; bracketologists on the Interweb are all saying that North Carolina will miss the NCAA’s, after being the preseason #1 team- they lost 72-69 in the national title game last season.
— Clemson 80, NC State 54— Tigers with an emphatic statement that they belong in the Field of 68. Beating Virginia Friday night would remove all doubt.
Big X tournament
It will be fascinating next week to see how Big X teams do in the NCAA Tournament, after they beat up on each other all winter.
— TCU 80, Kansas State 67— TCU is an older team; #65 in experience, #3 in continuity. When the brackets come out Sunday night, I’ll be looking to see what kind of a draw they get. With Mike Miles (22 points Thursday) back healthy, TCU is a dangerous team.
— Iowa State 78, Baylor 72— Cyclones are 3-0 vs Baylor this season, 7-9 against the rest of the league. Baylor made 14-29 on the arc and still lost this game.
Mountain West tournament
— San Jose State 81, Nevada 77 OT— Tim Miles deserves to get votes for National Coach of the Year; this was San Jose’s first win in a conference tournament since 2011— this is their best basketball season in 40 years.
As for Nevada, they’ve lost three games in a row and sit squarely on the bubble; they won’t be sleeping well the next couple nights.
— Boise State 87, UNLV 76 OT— Boise led 48-26 late in first half, but UNLV tied game with a 3-pointer at the buzzer in regulation; quite a comeback, but Rebels got outscored 14-3 in overtime- they still haven’t made the semi-finals of this tournament since 2014, and it is played in their home arena. Last time UNLV won this tournament? 2008.
— Utah State 91, New Mexico 76— Aggies are red-hot, winning their last six games, scoring 91-86-91 points in their last three games. They deserve to make the NCAA’s, but losses to SMU and Weber State may out their status in a gray area.
— Arkansas 76, Auburn 73— Two teams with good records but both have been struggling lately; Arkansas blew a 15-point second half lead, but freshman Nick Smith went 1-on-1 and hit the winning hoop in the last few seconds, giving the Razorbacks their 20th win of the season.
Auburn is 4-9 in its last 13 games, after a 16-3 start; they’re a prime candidate to get beat in the first round of the NCAA’s.
— North Texas 74, Louisiana Tech 46— Mean Green plays slowest-tempo games of anyone in the country; they’ve also won 11 of their last 12 games. Their game with UAB this afternoon is one to watch; the winner will probably play Florida Atlantic in the C-USA final Saturday.
The team that wins the C-USA tournament will be a live underdog in its first round game in the NCAA’s next week.
Big 14 tournament
— Ohio State 73, Iowa 69— Not often does a 13-seed beat the 5-seed; Buckeyes suffered thru a 1-14 stretch of misery, but now have won four of their last five games, upsetting Iowa here. Lot of bubble teams are rooting for Ohio State to get beat, so they don’t pull off a small miracle, win this tournament and steal a bid from a bubble team.
— Arizona State 77, USC 72— Sun Devils are a bubble team that is 6-3 in its last nine games; they play rival Arizona for third time Friday night. Will be a fun game to watch.
— Cal fired coach Mark Fox after a 3-26 season; they lost their last 16 games. Not even sure how good a job this is now, if the Pac-12 dissolves with teams bolting to greener pa$ture$, does Cal go to the Mountain West?
— Stanford kept coach Jerod Haase for next year after a 14-19 season; they went 9-7 in their last 16 games.
Big West tournament
This league is ranked as high as it has been since 2016; the teams are evenly matched and I enjoy watching them play late at night on ESPN+.
Cal-Fullerton 62, Hawaii’i 60 OT— Defending champ Titans have won seven games in a row, the last two in overtime; their game with Cal-Irvine Friday is must-see TV in my house. The other semi-final is Riverside-Santa Barbara; the four best teams made it to the semi-finals.