1. Does Georgia Tech have a chance to make a run in the ACC tournament? A run, no. Tech hasn’t won consecutive games since before Christmas. It might, however, upset Miami on Thursday night. The Jackets lost to the Hurricanes at Philips Arena by 15 points in January, but Tech has steadied a bit over the season’s final fortnight. (Heck, it actually won twice at Philips, where it had been 1-7.) That said, Miami needs to win a couple of games this week to play itself into the NCAA field, so the Hurricanes won’t take their Round 1 opponent lightly.
2. Does Georgia have a chance to make a run in the SEC tournament? Oddly enough, yes. The Bulldogs open with a desperate opponent in Mississippi State, but Georgia beat the maroon Bulldogs in Starkville last month. Then UGA would play Vanderbilt, which traditionally bombs in this event, and the winner of that game could face second-seeded Tennessee in the semis. (That’s correct: Tennessee tied Vandy and Florida for second and won the seeding tiebreaker. Cuonzo Martin did a great coaching job.) Georgia has already beaten Tennessee, too. And what if Florida would upset Kentucky in the semis?
3. How did Paul Hewitt fare in his first season at George Mason? He inherited two starters off a team that reached the final 32 of last season’s NCAA tournament. Picked to finish second in the Colonial, the Patriots wound up third to Drexel and VCU. They beat Georgia State in the CAA quarterfinals Saturday on what appeared to be a nicely designed play (dribble penetration off a high double screen). Then they made nine turnovers in the first nine minutes of Saturday’s semi and fell behind VCU 22-0 and 32-4 before losing 74-64. At 24-9, George Mason figures to make the NIT. By Mason standards, that’s only an OK season.
1. Kentucky: The unbeaten SEC season didn’t exactly have a difficult final lap. The Wildcats beat Georgia by 30 points, then won at Florida by 15.
2. Syracuse: The joys of finishing first in the 16-team Big East. Eight tournament games will be played before the Orange tips off in Madison Square Garden.
3. Kansas: Jayhawks fans should be warned. I’m starting to think Kansas might be the best team in the country. Whenever I do, KU loses its next game.
4. North Carolina: The Tar Heels looked like the best team in the country in routing Duke. Trouble is, Carolina doesn’t always play with such focused fury.
5. Missouri: Eleven months ago I thought Frank Haith was an absolutely terrible hire. Today I’m thinking he deserves to be national coach of the year.
6. Murray State: After winning the Ohio Valley tournament, coach Steve Prohm said his Racers deserve a No. 2 NCAA seed. They won’t get one, alas.
7. Ohio State: Just when folks were starting to doubt the Buckeyes’ toughness, they won at Northwestern and Michigan State on last-second baskets.
8. Duke: The 24-point halftime deficit against North Carolina was Duke’s largest ever in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Good thing the ACC tournament is here, huh?
9. Michigan State: Wait a second. Aren’t Tom Izzo’s teams supposed to peak in March? This one just lost by 15 at Indiana and to Ohio State in East Lansing.
10. Michigan: Folks are loving this in Ann Arbor. Michigan State’s final-week slide enabled the unassuming Wolverines to grab a piece of the Big Ten title.
11. Marquette: The Golden Eagles took second in the Big East after a wild week — an 11-point loss at Cincinnati followed by a 14-point thumping of Georgetown.
12. Wichita State: Bubble teams hated the Shockers. Their one-point loss in the Missouri Valley semis could have cost some big-name school an NCAA bid.
13. Georgetown: Oh, the indignity! The Hoyas’ loss at Marquette dropped them to fourth in the Big East behind Notre Dame, whom they’d just beaten.
14. Saint Mary’s: The Gaels defeated Gonzaga in the West Coast final Monday night. The two had split earlier games; the third was an overtime classic.
15. Indiana: It took a while, but Tom Crean finally has it going in Bloomington. His Hoosiers hurry into the Big Ten tournament on a four-game streak.
16. San Diego State: An overtime victory at TCU gave the Aztecs, who’d wasted an 18-point lead, a share of the Mountain West title with New Mexico.
Dropped out: Baylor, UNLV.
By Mark Bradley