Pack, Bonnies & Iowa St. pull upsets
Published on Saturday, 3/15/14, at 2:33 a.m. Eastern.
By Brian Edwards
–Nearly a quarter-century after Loyola Marymount’s stallion of a power forward Hank Gathers collapsed during the 1990 WCC Tournament and was pronounced dead less than an hour later, his nephew made big-time news at Barclays Center in Brooklyn at the A-10 Tournament. Jordan Gathers drained a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to propel St. Bonaventure to a stunning 71-68 win over Saint Louis. The Billikens will go into the NCAA Tournament having lost four of their last five games. The Bonnies took the victory as 6.5-point ‘dogs.
–T.J. Warren dropped 28 points on the ‘Cuse, including a pair of clutch free throws in the final minute, to help North Carolina St. send the Orange packing from its debut appearance at the ACC Tournament last night in Greensboro. The 66-63 win was the 21st for the Wolfpack, who suddenly have a pulse in terms of a possible NCAA bid. Mark Gottfried’s team won outright as a nine-point underdog, hooking up money-line supporters with a +400 payout (paid $400 on $100 wagers). The Wolfpack face Duke today in the semifinals.
–Iowa St. hooked up money-line backers with a +170 return by downing Kansas (and most likely ending its hopes of earning a #1 seed in the NCAA Tourney) 94-83 as a 4.5-point underdog in Saturday’s Big 12 Tournament semifinals. Georges Niang was the catalyst with 25 points. The Cyclones will face Bayl0r in the finals tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.
–Baylor is on a serious roll. The Bears are peaking at the right time and have completely controlled Oklahoma and Texas over the last two nights. This team looked like garbage in January and went 2-8 in its first 10 Big 12 games. Now Scott Drew’s team looks like a team that’ll be in the Sweet 16 and could possibly make noise beyond that.
–The late-night action went until nearly 2:00 a.m. Eastern at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. New Mexico held off a game effort from Boise St. to win a 70-67 decision as a five-point favorite. The Lobos were favored by 4.5 for most of the day, though. That’s why the final seconds were so wild for our purposes. After getting fouled with 1.2 ticks remaining, UNM center Alex Kirk missed a pair of free throws to crush the hearts of gamblers who backed the Lobos. The finish was nuts and the whole game was played at high-volume intensity (veteran lip readers were seeing f-bombs galore being dropped on nearly every possession!), and that’s why a crucial call that went against BSU was so wrong. Thomas Bropleh was enjoying the game of his life, leading the Broncos in scoring with 16 points at the 7:15 mark of the second half. That’s when Bropleh gave a hard March foul to prevent UNM from getting an easy layup. After reviewing the play, the officials issued a flagrant-2 resulting in an ejection.
–South Florida pulled the plug on Stan Heath’s six-year tenure by firing him as head coach on Friday afternoon. Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports was the first to report the news. Heath took the Bulls to one NCAA Tournament and one NIT appearance. His overall record was 97-128 and USF finished 12-19 this season. Heath spent the five previous years as head coach at Arkansas. He produced just one NCAA Tournament win — the only NCAA Tourney victory for the Razorbacks since they fired Nolan Richardson — in those 11 campaigns.
–I was of the opinion that BYU was ‘in’ the NCAA field after losing to Gonzaga in the WCC Tournament finals in Las Vegas earlier this week. However, with one of its best players in Kyle Collinsworth done for the season with an ACL tear sustained against the Bulldogs, I’m not so sure. Collinsworth averaged 14.0 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game. For what it’s worth, ESPN Bracket Guru Joe Lunardi has BYU as a part of his “last four in.”
–Ben Brust scored a career-high 29 points to spark Wisconsin to an easy 83-57 win over Minnesota as a five-point favorite. The victory was the 700th in the illustrious career of Bo Ryan, one of the most underrated coaches in college basketball history. The Badgers easily covered as five-point favorites.
–Despite trailing by 18 points early in the second half, Ohio St. rallied to knock off Nebraska by a 71-67 count. Nevertheless, bettors backing the Cornhuskers cashed a winner because they closed as six-point underdogs. Gamblers on Nebraska as a +230 money-line underdog had to angrily shred tickets.
–Florida has won 24 in a row after trouncing Missouri 72-49 yesterday as an 11.5-point favorite. Scottie Wilbekin and Michael Frazier II both buried five treys for the Gators, who were six-point favorites early this morning for Saturday’s SEC Tournament semifinals showdown versus Tennessee. (UPDATE: As of 10:22 a.m. Eastern this morning, Gators now up to seven and even 7.5 at Sportsbook.ag.) The Vols advanced by virtue of a 58-43 win over South Carolina as 12.5-point favorites. UF beat UT 68-41 in Gainesville and got the best of 67-58 decision in Knoxville.
–Kentucky showed some life with a convincing win over LSU to advance to the SEC semifinals to face Georgia.
–Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution had the details of Georgia’s narrow win over Ole Miss thanks to a acrobatic shot from Charles Mann and a good contest on Jarvis Summers’ potential game-winning shot at the buzzer. The Bulldogs (like N.C. St. with a win today over Duke) can jump into the bubble convo with a win today over Kentucky.
–Ole Miss is on the NIT bubble, so we may have seen the last of Marshall Henderson in a Rebels uniform last night. Henderson hit just 2-of-16 attempts from 3-point land. At the postgame presser, Henderson was in tears and put the blame for the loss on himself. Henderson’s time in the SEC last only seasons, but he was one of the all-time characters who won’t soon be forgotten. A clown? Sure. Total d-bag? Quite often. Entertaining, amusing and downright comical? No freakin’ doubt!
–Remember when Georgetown got in that wild fight against an Asian team during the summer a few years ago? Something tells me Henderson is going to spark that sort of melee one day overseas.
–Before it had a complete meltdown and nearly handed North Carolina the game, Pittsburgh looked extremely sharp for a second straight day in its first ACC Tourney appearance. The Panthers held on to beat UNC by five, but their inept free-throw shooting allowed bettors who took the Tar Heels at halftime to cash a fortunate winner. Trailing by 10 at intermission, UNC was a 2.5-point favorite for second-half wagers (+7.5 adjusted).