Reporting Matt Ryan
With the first conference tournaments starting in two days and Selection Sunday only two weeks away, March Madness is starting to get in full swing. However, the last week of February and first weekend of March were not lacking of headlines and memorable games.
Another Rankings Reshuffling - The AP and Coaches Poll have been shaken up once again, after eight of the top 12 teams lost over the past seven days.
The previously top ranked Indiana Hoosiers lost their third conference game this season to an unranked opponent, 77-73 at Minnesota. However, all three of those defeats came against Big Ten schools that will more than likely make the NCAA Tournament.
Michigan lost to Penn State, 84-78 on Wednesday night and beat their in-state rival Michigan State 58-57, only four days later.
Kansas needed overtime (and 39 points from Elijah Johnson) to outlast Iowa State, while Georgetown needed two overtimes to beat the UConn Huskies.
The only teams ranked in the top 12 from last week not to lose or play an overtime game where Gonzaga and Louisville, but even those schools had close calls on the road. The Zags were challenged by BYU in a 70-65 contest in Provo, while Gorgui Dieng led the way for the Cardinals in their 58-53 win over Syracuse at the Carrier Dome.
Bedeviled Hurricanes – After getting blown out on the road against Miami earlier this season (90-63) and falling to Virginia (73-68) earlier this week, the Blue Devils made a big statement with a 79-76 win over the Hurricanes. Ryan Kelly returned to action after missing the last 13 games, scoring a career high 36 points, including 7-of-9 shooting from beyond the arc.
New League, Same Name - After months of rumors and speculation, the future of the Big East has been resolved. The Catholic 7 will get to keep the Big East name and their conference tournament at Madison Sqaure Garden. Butler and Xavier are expected to be a part of the new league; and could be joined by the likes of Creighton, Dayton, and Saint Louis.
Those Bulldogs from Ruston – The team with the nation’s longest winning streak isn’t an established mid-major or from a BCS Conference. That distinction belongs to WAC-leading Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs have won their last 18 games and are were ranked for the first time since 1985, back when Karl Malone was suiting up on the court in Ruston.
Best In The West and Among All The Rest - They may not be the top overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, but the Zags have become the first team from a non-BCS conference to top the polls since Memphis in 2008. Gonzaga finished their regular season slate with only two losses and a perfect record in conference play. The next game for Mark Few’s squad is Saturday during the semifinals of the WCC tournament in Las Vegas.