My favorite conference: I really like watching Big 12 games. I know the Big East is the best conference in college basketball but I just enjoy the Big 12 more. Heck, if you added four or five more teams to the Big 12 and picked the right ones, it would be as good as the Big East. Now that conference play is getting thick, I find myself drawn to watching the Big 12, like last night's Nebraska-Colorado game (I know, both teams are leaving the conference). These two teams are usually at the bottom but they're both really good this season. Nebraska is really well-coached by Doc Sadler and his team executes his plan, which is patient half-court, unselfish offense, and multiple defenses. He plays 10 guys and there is no standout. A lot of the offense revolves around 6-11 sophomore center Jorge Brian Diaz and 6-3, 225-pound guard Lance Jeter. Jeter is built like a football player for good reason, he was at the University of Cincinnati for one redshirt season before he decided to switch to basketball. I really like his game; he uses his strength at both ends of the court. Sadler also had a time-honored scheduling plan .... playing a lot of home games. The Huskers are 13-0 in Lincoln, 0-2 in true road games, and 1-2 on neutral courts. The road games were at Missouri and Kansas and it's practically impossible to win at those places. The Huskers had their chances against Kansas but couldn't close the deal and lost by 3. Colorado lost to Nebraska, 79-67, but hung tough and refused to get blown out. The Buffs are 14-5 but this was their first Big 12 loss after wins over Missouri, Kansas State, and Oklahoma State. They did lose at Harvard back in November. Now that I've seen Colorado twice, I'd think that loss says a lot more about how good Harvard is, rather than how bad Colorado is. The Buffs are a high-scoring team that ended up playing Nebraska's game Tuesday night. They need more wins but are a potential NCAA team. Who isn't in the Big 12?
The best of the Big 12: Kansas, Missouri, Texas, Texas A&M (big game Wednesday night between those two rivals).
The next best: Baylor, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Nebraska, Colorado, Iowa State.
At the bottom: Oklahoma, Texas Tech
With the expanded tournament, nine bids is not impossible.
About last night:
My soap opera: Typically tragic for Seton Hall. The Pirates were in position to beat Georgetown in beautiful downtown Newark when Herb Pope fouled out with four minutes left, and they ending up losing, 80-75. No one stepped up to make a big basket.
Danny's boy?: BYU honored senior guard Jackson Emery (An All-Sully first teamer) for breaking Danny Ainge's steals record before the Cougars battered TCU.
Surprising scores, amazing margins
Maine 72, Vermont 58: Chad Finn's getting excited because Maine is finally playing like the best team in America East, winning this one in Burlington. An NCAA bid is possible this season.
Alabama 68, Kentucky 66: Kentucky almost overcame a 20-point deficit but couldn't quite do it. The game ended with a series of awful plays, including two offensive fouls (as usual, I didn't agree with either call, when will the madness stop?). Coach Cal didn't exactly engineer a great last-second, full-court play for Kentucky either. I still think he did a better job when his backcourt consisted of Carmelo Travieso and Edgar Padilla than he does with one-and-dones like John Wall and Brandon Knight.
Illinois 71, Michigan State 62: If all games were played in Champaign, the Illini would win the national championship.
Tennessee 59, Georgia 57: A desperate buzzer-beater by the Vols handed UGa its first home loss. Considering how inconsistent Tennessee has been, this is a game Georgia should have won.
North Carolina 75, Clemson 65: The result ends Clemson's eight-game winning streak and extends its losing streak in Chapel Hill to 55. The Tigers have never won there.
Marquette 94, DePaul 64: What a beating! I guess the Fightin' McGuires weren't going to blow a lead this time.
- Michael Vega
- Mark Blaudschun
- Nancy Marrapese-Burrell