Championship Week Wednesday recap: 4 of the big 6 conferences join the fray


Just one ticket to the NCAA Tournament was punched on Wednesday, but the Big East, Pac-12, Big 12 and SEC made up for that lack of excitement with their first and second round contests. Or at least tried to.

The first "real" day of Championship Week action for the big boys featured a quartet of sleepers from the Big East, some extremely competitive games out West and a pair of stunners in the MEAC. It also produced the first "where are the buzzer-beaters!?" complaints from casual college basketball fans across the Internet.

You know what? If you can't appreciate a solid 20 and 11 effort from a guy like Mike Muscala, then you don't deserve the next four weeks. Get caught up on "Homeland" and check back into the sports world when the NBA playoffs start. Yes, I've seen a few episodes. Yes, I enjoyed them. No, I'm not sure why I referenced the show in a negative fashion. I got flustered and I got scared and I'm really sorry.

Here's everything that happened on Wednesday.

Major Conference Scores

Big East (Second Round)

5) Syracuse 75, 12) Seton Hall 63
6) Notre Dame 69, 11) Rutgers 61
7) Villanova 66, 10) St. John's 53
9) Cincinnati 61, 8) Providence 44

Pac-12 (Second Round)

5) Colorado 74, 12) Oregon State 68
6) Washington 64, 11) Washington State 62
10) Utah 69, 7) USC 66
9) Arizona State 89, 8) Stanford 88 (OT)

Big 12 (First Round)

7) Texas 70, 10) TCU 57
9) Texas Tech 71, 8) West Virginia 69

SEC (First Round)

11) Texas A&M 71, 14) Auburn 62
13) Mississippi State 70, 12) South Carolina 59

Mountain West (Quarterfinals)

1) New Mexico 59, 8) Wyoming 46
2) Colorado State 67, 7) Fresno State 61
3) UNLV 72, 6) Air Force 56
4) San Diego State 73, 5) Boise State 67

NCAA Tournament Tickets Punched

Patriot League

1) Bucknell 64, 2) Lafayette 56

The lone conference championship game of the day saw regular season champ Bucknell take care of runner-up Lafayette in a game where the Bison always appeared to be in control. With all due respect to the Leopards, the real crime here is that the world was robbed of (injured Lehigh star) C.J. McCollum vs. Mike Muscala one final time.

Dave Paulsen's team is going to be a 13 seed that, at the very least, gives someone an absolute fit next week.

Game of the Day

Arizona State 89, Stanford 88 (OT)

A competitive game appeared to finally be in hand for Arizona State before a furious rally capped off by a four-point play from Stanford's Aaron Bright in the final minute sent the game into overtime. The Devils controlled the tempo and avoided turnovers in the extra session, however, and finally secured an 89-88 win.

Freshman point guard Jahii Carson stole the show for ASU, scoring a game-high 34 points. Carrick Felix chipped in with a double-double of 19 points and 12 rebounds. Off the bench, Evan Gordon hit a couple of key shots in the second half to finish with 16 points.

Stanford allowed ASU to shoot 48.5 percent from the field, including a crushing 11-of-22 from behind the arc. Bright led the Cardinal with 27 points, while Dwight Powell added 23 points.

Herb Sendek and company get top seed UCLA on Thursday.

Upset(s) of the Day

8) Bethune-Cookman 70, 1) Norfolk State 68 (OT) and 7) North Carolina A&T 55, 2) North Carolina Central 42

There's madness in March, and then there's just not making any hot damn sense.

Norfolk State, darlings of the first Friday of the Big Dance a season ago, and North Carolina Central went a combined 35-1 during the MEAC's regular season. The Spartans (that's Norfolk State) ran the table in the conference and had more than a few folks discussing the potential of them repeating their Round of 64 heroics next week. Their biggest, and seemingly only, competition for admission into the field of 68 was NC Central (15-1), the one other team in the league with more than 11 wins.

Now, both teams have been eliminated from the postseason without winning a single game. The combined records of the culprits? 31-35.

All these regular season conference champs getting knocked off means the pool of 13-16 seeds is going to be a lot weaker than we thought a couple of weeks ago. Not good news for the growing number of proclamations that a 16 seed is about to finally top a one.

Player of the Day

Jahii Carson, Arizona State

Sometimes the youngster is the victim of trying to embrace the spotlight too much, but that certainly wasn't the case on Wednesday. His Sun Devils needed every one of his 34 points in order to advance to the quarterfinals.

All-Championship Week Wednesday Team

Adien Coleman, Bethune-Cookman - Finished with a game-high 24 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Wildcats to the massive upset of undefeated regular season champion Norfolk State in the MEAC quarters. Coleman scored the last five points of regulation to force overtime, and his game-tying lay-up made him the 27th 1,000-point scorer in Bethune-Cookman history.

Will Regan, Buffalo - Hit five three-pointers and dropped 36 points as eighth-seeded Buffalo upset No. 5 Ball State 76-61 in the second round of the Mid-American Tournament. The Bulls get No. 4 seed Kent State in the quarterfinals on Thursday.

Tamir Jackson, Rice - Jackson scored 30 points and snagged nine rebounds, but as has been the case for most of the season, it wasn't enough for Rice. The Owls fell to Houston in the first round of the C-USA tourney, 72-67.

Mike Muscala, Bucknell - One of the most underrated players in the country, the Patriot League Player of the Year went for 20 and 11 to lead the Bison past Lafayette and into the NCAA Tournament.

James Southerland, Syracuse - Michael Carter-Williams was fantastic in tying the Big East Tournament record with 14 assists, but Southerland still deserves the nod here. The senior played all 40 minutes and hit 6-of-9 shots from beyond the arc to help Syracuse get over a slow start and avoid a one-and-done performance in their final Big East Tournament. Southerland finished with a team-high 20 points for the Orange, who will face fellow ACC-defector Pitt in the quarterfinals on Thursday afternoon.

Highlight of the Day

Gonna give it to USC's JT Terrell soaring over four Utah players for a putback dunk.

The 10th-seeded Utes still pulled the mild upset in the Pac-12 first round, 69-66.

Quote of the Day

"When these babies get on these stages, you have to change their drawers." --Providence head coach Ed Cooley

Providence's slim NCAA Tournament hopes hinged on a deep run inside Madison Square Garden, a task the young Friars appeared disinterested in during their 61-44 opening game loss to Cincinnati. Though the future is bright for PC with key returnees and exciting additions on the way, head coach Ed Cooley still spent his postgame press conference attempting to explain what the issue was with his team on Wednesday afternoon. I'm not sure if he succeeded.

Photo of the Day

Check out this incredible shot of Memphis' DJ Stephens kissing the rim from Mark Weber of the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Weber snagged it during the Tigers' open practice in Tulsa on Wednesday.

There's also video of the event that led to the shot.

Just like I used to do on the middle setting of my Little Tikes Adjustable Hoop back in '89.

The Tigers take the court for the first time in the C-USA Tournament on Thursday when they face eighth-seeded Tulane.

Creepy Mascot Photo of the Day

Everyone knows the Reese's Easter Egg takes center stage during the months of March and April, which means his brother, the Cup, has time to hang out at Madison Square Garden and get cozy with members of the media.


(via Rakes of Mallow)

Apparently the rest of the crowd wasn't as...oh I'm gonna f---ing do it...sweet on the Reese's Cup as the reporter.

#hilarious indeed.

The pre-madness picks back at an even more accelerated rate in just a few hours.

More in College Basketball:

The latest Bracketology

Tracking March Madness automatic bids

Full coverage of the Big East Tournament

Richard Pitino makes his own name

Projecting the bracket with Easy Bubble Solver

Full coverage of the Big Ten Tournament

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