The matchup of the day so far -- the Big Ten first round matchup between Illinois and Minnesota -- did not disappoint. The Illini topped the Gophers 51-49 on a Brandon Paul buzzer beater, which followed an unfortunate turnover by Minnesota's Austin Hollins. The Gophers should still be in the field on Sunday -- an RPI ranking of 26th with the 2nd best strength of schedule and five Top 100 wins is enough, especially this season -- but perhaps the committee will make Minnesota play an extra game in Dayton. As for the Illini, they get a shot at a seventh top 50 win and a second victory over Indiana in tomorrow's quarterfinals.
I've had Iowa State in my "Last Four In" for the past few days, but that's no longer the case after the Cyclones got a great comeback win over Oklahoma in the first Big 12 quarterfinal in Kansas City. Fred Hoiberg's team might just get another shot at Kansas in tomorrow's semifinals. As for the Sooners, they should be OK, thanks again to excellent computer numbers (RPI: 31, SOS: 17), but they'll likely be stuck in the 11-12 seed range due to a relative lack of quality wins (3-7 vs. the RPI Top 50).
In the race for No. 1 seeds, Georgetown is very much alive after blasting Cincinnati in the first Big East quarterfinal, 62-43. The Bearcats will probably we wearing their dark jerseys as a 10-12 seed next Thursday or Friday.
The late afternoon session includes a must-win game for Tennessee (against Mississippi State) and a potential quality win opportunity for fellow bubble team Arizona State against Pac-12 regular season champ UCLA. Pittsburgh and Syracuse meet in the second Big East quarterfinal, while Butler, Kansas, Michigan and N.C. State all open up tourney play.