Some "BCS" Showdowns On Tap
Chris Lowery
Chris Lowery
Scout National Basketball Columnist
Posted Mar 17, 2007


Sure, "mid-majors" VCU and Winthrop had some impressive first-rounds. But, for the most part, Thursday and Friday play went according to script. And that means the "power conferences" pretty much ruled the first round.

NCAA Tournament, Day II, in a handful of nutshells:

 

*The Bowl Championship Series conferences (ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10 and SEC) are in possession of 24 of the 32 first-round winners.

 

There will be five ``BCS showdowns’’ (UCLA-Indiana and Vanderbilt-Washington State in Sacramento, and Louisville-Texas A&M in Lexington, along with North Carolina-Michigan State and Georgetown-Boston College in Winston-Salem) on Saturday, and four more (Florida-Purdue in New Orleans; USC and Texas in Spokane; Tennessee-Virginia in Columbus; and Kansas-Kentucky in Chicago) on Sunday.

 

Just curious: I wonder if Matt Leinart and Vince Young might show up in Spokane Sunday and throw some footballs around at halftime, just for old time’s sake?

 

*Virginia Tech struggled for every point it scored while rallying from 13 points down in the second half to edge Illinois Friday night in Columbus, 54-52.

 

Hokies’ Coach Seth Greenberg believes baskets will be just as hard to come by Sunday when his team faces No. 4 seed Southern Illinois in a West (San Jose) Regional second-round game.

 

“They play as good of half-court defense as any team in the country,’’ he said in the media room at halftime of a game with Holy Cross in which the Salukis of Coach Chris Lowery pulled away down the stretch to win, 61-51.

 

Greenberg already had a pretty good first-hand knowledge of the defense his team is up against on Sunday: Southern Illinois beat Virginia Tech, 69-64, during a November game at Disney World.

 

*Here’s a great stat for you, boys and girls: Long Beach State, with 86 points, scored more than all but three of the other 31 teams in action Friday.

 

And the 49ers still lost to Tennessee by 35 points (121-86).

 

LBSU’s Larry Reynolds, whose team was 24-8 after going 18-12 last season and is the fifth of a five-year contract, may not get an extension from the school’s new athletic director, Vic Cegles, who was hired away from the Temple administration early last summer.

 

*Can Kentucky upset the West Regional’s top seed, Kansas, Sunday in Chicago?

 

Yes, assuming the Wildcats can limit the Jayhawks’ transition offense and kept the score to something in the low 70s to high 60s range – easier said than executed, naturally.

 

*Current and former Southern Illinois coaches came very close to going 3-0 on Friday night.

 

The current Salukis’ mentor, Chris Lowery, saw his team earn a game with Atlantic Coast Conference runner-up Virginia Tech.

 

The guy he replaced, Matt Painter, watched from the bench as his Purdue team pretty much controlled the entire proceedings during its 72-63 victory over an Arizona team that dropped 10 of its final 18 games.

 

But Bruce Weber, who coached an SIU club to the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2002 before moving to Champaign-Urbana, saw his Illinois team on the short end of the 54-52 score with Virginia Tech.

 

*Individual matchups I’m curious to watch on Sunday: Marcelus Kemp (Nevada) vs. Chris Douglas-Roberts (Memphis) in New Orleans, and Nick Young (USC) vs. Kevin Durant (Texas) in Spokane.

 

*The two-day W-L total among favorites and underdogs (by seed): Favorites 27, ‘Dogs 5.

 

The closest thing to a “shocker” (I’m not putting VCU’s 79-77 win over Duke Thursday night into this slot) over the first two days almost came Friday when Wisconsin had to scramble from 18 points down in the first half and eventually overcome a team (Texas A&M of Corpus Christi) playing its school’s first playoff game, 76-63.

 

That would have been a tough one for the folks in Madison to fathom.

 

*And, oh, yes: There were none of those vaunted “12 over 5” Thursday or Friday after 29 of them (in 88 games) since the tournament was expanded to six rounds in 1985.

 

The last time there wasn’t was in 2000.



 

Inducted into the USBWA Hall of Fame in April, 2005, Frank Burlison is Scout.com’s national basketball expert and is also a columnist for the Long Beach (Calif.) Press-Telegram. He can be reached at frank.burlison@presstelegram.com. Read more of Burlison’s pieces at www.frankhoops.com



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