Unlike their archrivals, the Michigan Wolverines, the Ohio State Buckeyes couldn't get it together in the third Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal. Therefore, Thad Matta's team lost to a Michigan State Spartans team that's in the thick of the top seed discussion 81-54. Like the Florida Gators, the Buckeyes simply didn't take advantage of the opportunities they received against quality opponents, going just 2-9 against the RPI Top 50. Early home losses to Louisiana Tech, UT Arlington and a defeat in Miami at the hands of the Memphis Tigers also paint a poor picture of OSU's body of work.
Speaking of Josh Pastner's Tigers, they'll play the surprising Tulane Green Wave in the second American Athletic semifinal on Saturday afternoon. For the second time since Feb. 28, Memphis defeated the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. Both of those defeats mean the NIT is the likely postseason destination for Frank Haith's squad.
In the first game of the Atlantic 10 Tournament 's night session, the VCU Rams cruised past the Massachusetts Minutemen, avenging the worst of their four conference defeats to gain some breathing room. In the nightcap, the St. Bonaventure Bonnies could not set up a semifinal showdown with the Rams, as the Davidson Wildcats took the No. 3 seed down in overtime. The loss puts Mark Schmidt's team on thin ice, and it and other bubble teams will be pulling hard for the Rams to eliminate the Wildcats tomorrow afternoon before they can do further damage.
Not only are there potential bid thieves in the American and Atlantic 10, but the SEC Tournament features two of its own. This afternoon, the LSU Tigers, who have no at-large hopes despite being the No. 4 seed in Nashville, moved on to the semifinals. Tonight, the Georgia Bulldogs defeated the South Carolina Gamecocks for the third time this season. That result gives Mark Fox's team a shot at the Kentucky Wildcats tomorrow and pushes the Gamecocks, whose RPI plummeted below 60th, into the danger zone.
Another worry for bubble teams is the Mountain West Tournament in Las Vegas, where those on the edge need a Saturday evening win for the San Diego State Aztecs. The top seed claimed its semifinal over the Nevada Wolf Pack, but a loss in the final would drop Steve Fisher's team into competition with all of the other squads still dreaming of one of the final spots. The Aztecs wouldn't be an automatic pick, as their RPI of 38 doesn't hold up as well under closer scrutiny. They're just 4-7 against the Top 100, with just a lone top-50 win -- a 14-point win over the California Golden Bears in Las Vegas over Thanksgiving weekend. The weakness of this season's Mountain West does SDSU no favors.
With tonight's results in mind, here's a fresh look at the cut line.
Next Four OUT: Georgia, Florida, Hofstra, Tulsa
These might change for Saturday morning's new bracket, as I'll be taking a fresh look at the numbers before preparing it.
* * *
Best Tournament Player: Was it Carmelo Anthony or Christian Laettner?