Friday, March 13, 2009

No trouble on the bubble

Minnesota put an end to Northwestern's hopes for a near-miracle, winning 66-53 in a 54 possession game. The Gophers collected 49% of their misses with their much-taller front line. Northwestern's offense was out of sorts, as they turned it over on a quarter of their possessions and posted a woeful 40.3 eFG. Lawrence Westbrook led the Gophers with 14 points on 9 shots, while Kevin Coble scored 21 points on 11 shots. Box score.

Minnesota probably remains on the bubble, but now they're probably on the better side of it. Unless a lot of goofiness ensues in the other conference tournaments, I have to believe they're in right now. They take on Michigan State tomorrow.

Northwestern is likely headed to the NIT, which isn't the worst outcome in the world for a team that went 1-17 in conference play last year. Moreover, a lot of pieces return for next season, and they could be primed for another run.

Michigan looked awfully good in demolishing Iowa 73-45 in a 60 possession game. DeShawn Sims apparently took a liking to our placement of him on our 1st team, scoring 27 points on 16 shots. Manny Harris was nearly as effective, scoring 18 on 11 shots (and dished 8 assists and grabbed 7 rebounds). Cyrus Tate had 12 points on 5 shots for Iowa. Box score.

Michigan is probably in a similar spot as Minnesota. A win against Illinois cements their status, but they probably feel pretty good even if that doesn't happen. Of course, if Michigan continues to play like this, they'll win the tournament. It was the largest margin of victory over a power conference opponent, coming off a road win against Minnesota. The Wolverines are picking a good time to peak.

Short of a CBI bid, Iowa's season is likely done. Give some credit to Lickliter here - considering the attrition he had over the season, they've done relatively well. Cyrus Tate is the only departing senior who saw significant time this season, so look for a lot of improvement for next season.

Penn State ended Indiana's misery, 66-51 in a possession game. Jamelle Cornley went off for 22 points on 12 shots, which helped the Nittany Lions prevail despite Talor Battle's low output (3 points on 3 shots). Verdell Jones had 23 points on 11 shots for Indiana. Box score.

Penn State isn't a popular NCAA team in some circles given their low RPI and strength of schedule, but I just don't see how you leave out a team with 11 Big Ten wins. But I'm not on the committee, and I'm sure Ed DeChellis will tell his team that there's still work to be done against Purdue.

Indiana's season now comes to a close, and that's probably good for Tom Crean's health. I've said before that Crean wasn't going to be judged on the number of wins this season, and the bigger priorities were to keep the fans happy, keep the players in good spirits, recruit, and stay out of trouble. He's accomplished all of that. Now comes the hard part.

I'll be live blogging all the action in today's games - tune in for the tip off between Minnesota and Michigan State at 11 central time.

No comments: