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March 19, 2011
Friday's Chalk
Day Two

by John Gasaway

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WEST

(4) Texas 85, (13) Oakland 81 [70 possessions]
The Longhorns led by as many as 17 in the second half of this game, while the final score represents their smallest lead. Still, the final is what it is. Granting that the Grizzlies are not your ordinary 13 and that Keith Benson is Keith Benson, is it still permitted even at this late date to be just a little surprised that a UT defense that once looked so absurdly dominant is now allowing all comers to score well over a point per trip? Greg Kampe's team did a pretty fair imitation of a power-conference big boy, making 56 percent of their twos. (Reggie Hamilton scored 25 points on 10-of-19 shooting.) But 12-of-12 shooting at the line from J'Covan Brown (he of the 21 points) and dueling double-doubles from Jordan Hamilton (19-10) and Tristan Thompson (17-10) were enough to give Rick Barnes the win.

(5) Arizona 77, (12) Memphis 75 [70]
Second game, already sensing a theme for the day and evening: The favorite didn't look all that great but won anyway. A poor shooting team in C-USA play, Memphis was able to shoot quite well against the weak interior D of Arizona. Let the donut metaphors commence! Then for good measure Josh Pastner's team, a poor outside shooting team, decided to be accurate against the strong perimeter defense of the Wildcats. Derrick Williams and MoMo Jones were a combined 16-of-17 from the line, or else things could have become even more hairy for Cats fans. Instead, the two-bid C-USA (UAB lost to Clemson in one of those wacky new play-in games that we're not supposed to call a play-in game) was gone by dinnertime on Friday. Look for it only in old bewildered installments of Tuesday Truths! For it is no more than a dream remembered. A really competitive league that is gone with the wind.

(8) Michigan 75, (9) Tennessee 45 [63]
When it comes to being outscored by your conference opponents during the regular season and then outscoring the other team in the NCAA tournament, there is quite simply no one who can touch the body of work compiled by John Beilein. He did it in 2009 (when the Wolverines beat Clemson in the round of 64 before falling to Blake Griffin and Oklahoma), he did it at West Virginia in 2005 (Elite Eight), and he's doing it again. Usually these outfits with an embarrassing "-0.03" or some such next to their names are ruthlessly discovered by reality, no matter what seed they've been given by the committee. Indeed UM's three cohorts in negativity -- Michigan State, Penn State, and Memphis -- have all been sent home, albeit by the slimmest of margins in all three instances. Yet Michigan plays on. And how. You've heard about the no made free-throws part. What I find equally remarkable is that Zack Novak recorded his first double-double (14-10) since...Kansas? The young man saves his A game for the brightest of lights. Or was it more amazing that the Volunteers managed just 16 points over the final 20 minutes? We may have seen the last of their head coach for a while. As for the victors, hail! You now get to show us how a certain freshman looks against more robust competition....

(1) Duke 87, (16) Hampton 45 [67]
Kyrie Irving made his first appearance since December 4, when he was felled by an injured toe. He didn't start last night, and he wasn't necessarily poetry in motion early, but the box score does look suspiciously like the Irving of yore: 14 points in 20 minutes. The Blue Devils will take him.

EAST

(8) George Mason 61, (9) Villanova 57 [60]
Turns out Gus Johnson should have worked Thursday, when you couldn't swing a cat without hitting three incredible finishes. Yesterday the best Gus could get was Mason coming back from eight down to nip Nova at the wire. With the Patriots down by one and 21 seconds remaining in the game, Luke Hancock drained a three to put GMU in the lead for good. A word on the Wildcats. Yes, they ended their season in ignominy. Yes, they lost their last six games. Yes, their last win came exactly one month ago. In overtime. Against DePaul. But say this for the program. By gar, they still refer to the tournament's various rounds correctly. Dogged traditionalists in Philly, I salute you! Note that the Patriots played easily their three worst halves of basketball consecutively, in the form of their CAA tournament loss to VCU and their first half yesterday against Nova. Maybe that's out of their system. It will need to be, given their upcoming opponent....

(1) Ohio State 75, (16) Texas-San Antonio 46 [58]
Devin Gibson can show his grandchildren the video of the day he scored 24 points against Jared Sullinger's team. Then he'll tell them, "My teammates that day were a combined 9-of-35! I needed some help!"

(11) Marquette 66, (6) Xavier 55 [63]
Buzz Williams continues to wow the minds and woo the hearts of Prospectus types everywhere, sending two defenders at Tu Holloway just like we yell at every BYU opponent to do vis a vis a certain someone. It worked. (Take it from the non sequitur-wielding Chris Mack! "When they put two guys on you, and force you to give the basketball up, it's not wise to start taking ill-advised shots.") CAA types notwithstanding (read on) this was about as wild as a tame Friday got: a Big East 11 beating a 6 from the A-10. After making the last three Sweet 16s, the Musketeers were widely thought to have some kind of second-weekend secret sauce. Not this time.

(3) Syracuse 77, (14) Indiana State 60 [65]
Next time you see Sir Charles and Kenny, tell them John Gasaway says: Zone, schmone. The Orangemen made 57 percent of their twos and 44 percent of their threes against the D-first Sycamores. Too much Rick Jackson (23 points, 7-of-12 shooting, 9-of-11 at the line).

(2) North Carolina 102, (15) LIU 87 [94]
I said this game would be fast-paced. I had no idea it would be this fast. No worries about the Carolina defense, of course, which held the Blackbirds to well under a point per trip. BONUS value for your money! This contest provided 2.2 times as much basketball for your spectating dollar as Penn State's 36-33 win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten tournament.

(7) Washington 68, (10) Georgia 65 [62]
The Pac-10 didn't look particularly sharp in defeating opponents from our nation's more football-centered regions yesterday, but they did get the job done. Isaiah Thomas needed 14 shots to get his 19 points. For the Bulldogs Trey Thompkins looked healthy at last: 11 boards, 26 points on 14 shots. Too late. If it's any consolation for UGA let me state for the record I've never heard Georgia fans more vocal at any event where the ball is round.

SOUTHWEST

(2) Notre Dame 69, (15) Akron 56 [67]
Our man Doolittle was on-site: Make haste! The Irish are in the round of 32 for just the second time since 2003. It's true I'm not wired to fret over a lack of depth -- Duke didn't exactly go 12-deep last year -- but if I were I guess I could raise an eyebrow at the Big East player of the year logging 40 minutes against an opponent that had to navigate three OTs in four MAC tournament games to get their bid.

(10) Florida State 57, (7) Texas A&M 50 [59]
Madness! Upset city, baby! Did I mention all was pretty calm yesterday? Mr. Doolittle says the Aggies just weren't up to the task of scoring points against a long and athletic group of Seminoles.

(3) Purdue 65, (14) Saint Peter's 43 [65]
Doolittle: " If the Boilermakers advance deep into the tourney, it's going to be on the shoulders of Moore and Johnson, with everyone else sharing the ball and playing tight defense."

(11) VCU 74, (6) Georgetown 56 [62]
A little bit of Thursday exported to late Friday night. The Hoyas had Chris Wright back in the lineup but looked more like they did when they were without him in the Big East tournament. Doolittle: "Overall, [Shaka] Smart's bunch just seemed like a much more energetic team. Perhaps there was an advantage in having already waded into the tournament water, while Georgetown was working out the yips."

(9) Illinois 73, (8) UNLV 62 [64]
Sources close to the situation confirm that Bruce Weber's pregame talk to his team contained the following peroration: "Even Gasaway picked UNLV in his bracket and he went here, for crying out loud! 'Humiliate Gasaway!' on three!" The Illini led 46-24 at the break. Yesterday the Big Ten outscored opponents by a combined 287-197. Part of that was a 1 whomping on a 16. Still, it was a good day to be Jim Delany, as Illinois' tour of former coaches continues....

(1) Kansas 72, (16) Boston University 53 [63]
The Terriers were actually within six after 30 minutes. KU closed on a 25-12 run.

John Gasaway is an author of Basketball Prospectus. You can contact John by clicking here or click here to see John's other articles.

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