Championship Week Day 2 Rewind: Texas Tech, Syracuse Hit The Bubble

    Championship Week is in full swing. Let's rewind to Day 2 and reflect on all the craziness that went down on Wednesday.

    March 10, 2016

    Championship Week is in full swing. Let’s rewind to Day 2 and reflect on all the craziness that went down on Wednesday.

    Wednesday was the first huge day of Championship Week, with all the power conferences getting into the mix, and right on cue we had some huge upsets and statement wins. Rivalries were renewed, and some teams that haven’t had the best season managed to stay alive for at least one more day. Here’s a look at what happened on Wednesday and what fans should watch for on Thursday.

    What we learned

    The conference tournaments giveth, and they really can taketh away.

    Texas Tech
    knows this. The Red Raiders faced a must-win game against TCU on Wednesday, and were expected to handle their business without much of a problem. After all, the Horned Frogs were just 11-20 heading into the game, and didn’t figure to put up much resistance.

    But that’s what makes March great. Instead of rolling over, TCU showed up in a big way, getting a combined 34 points from guards Brandon Parrish and Chauncey Collins, the latter of whom threw down a nasty dunk that helped push TCU to a 67-62 win. The Horned Frogs move on to a meeting with West Virginia, while the Red Raiders lost more than just a game.

    Tubby Smith may be the Coach of the Year in the Big 12, but his team is squarely on the bubble, and an early loss to a bad team won’t do anything to help the anxiety on Selection Sunday. Texas Tech has shown some flashes of potential this year, but coming up short of 20 wins and closing the season on a down note could leave TTU locked outside of the dance hall.

    Syracuse didn’t suffer through a stunning upset, but that doesn’t make its loss to Pitt any less painful. A win over the Panthers would have been a nice notch in the Orange’s resume. Instead, Syracuse allowed Pitt’s Cameron Johnson to drop a career-high 24 points off the bench, and the Panthers managed to sweep ‘Cuse in all three meetings this year.

    It gets even worse for Syracuse when you consider the loss was the team’s third straight and fifth in its last six games. People can talk all they want about Syracuse getting a break from the selection committee due to Jim Boeheim’s suspension, but the bottom line is with Boeheim on the sideline, the Orange haven’t been any more successful. They don’t deserve to go to the Dance.

    If it was excitement you were looking for on Wednesday, you didn’t need to hunt any further than the UNLV-Air Force game, which ended with a 108-102 Runnin’ Rebels win. Ike Nwamu scored a career-high 38 points, but the important thing about this one was that it went to triple overtime.

    Air Force isn’t going anywhere this year, not with a 14-18 record, and UNLV has been so-so all season. The Rebels need a run in the Mountain West tourney to get to the NCAA Tournament, and an NIT bid is far more likely. Still, it’s amazing to think that both teams scored more points in the overtime sessions than they did in the second half. All in all, it was the kind of intense battle that makes Championship Week great.

    USC put UCLA out of its misery with a 95-71 win in the Pac-12 Tournament, thus completing a season sweep of their crosstown rivals. This one wasn’t so much about the Trojans’ win as it was about the Bruins’ loss.

    UCLA simply didn’t bother to show up. Steve Alford’s team shot 38.2 percent from the floor, nobody stepped up to show leadership, the team didn’t put forth much effort on the defensive end and the Bruins got hammered. It was a depressing night for UCLA, which heads into the offseason looking to turn the page on a forgettable season.

    What to look forward to Wednesday

    faces an intriguing matchup against North Carolina. Pitt is looking for a statement win, and even though the Panthers are already solidly in the tournament, they could really boost their seeding by knocking off a top team.
    UNC, meanwhile, is trying to convince everyone it is worthy of a No. 1 seed in the Big Dance. The Tar Heels put a 21-point whipping on Pitt in their only meeting this year in Chapel Hill, and the Panthers would love to pay UNC back while playing spoiler in the process.

    Baylor and Texas face the rubber match in their ongoing rivalry. Baylor lost to the Longhorns, 67-59, in Waco earlier this season, but the Bears came back to beat Texas in Austin, 78-64, just a couple of weeks ago. The third game will obviously come on a neutral court, and the blend of Baylor’s size and athleticism against Texas’ frantic and quick defense should make for some excitement.

    Texas hopes to put its ugly 30-point loss to Kansas last time out behind it, while Baylor is looking for respect.

    Back in the ACC, Notre Dame takes on Duke in a rematch of one of the better games this season. The Fighting Irish beat the Blue Devils, 95-91, in a shootout in Durham during the regular season, and Duke will have to play a lot better than it did against North Carolina State Wednesday. The Blue Devils had to rally to beat the Wolfpack in the final minutes, and Notre Dame is a team with a chip on its shoulder. This might be the best game of the day.

    Butler faces an important game against Providence over in the Big East. The Friars seemingly have done enough to get into the tournament at this point, but the Bulldogs would like to take a bit of the certainty in the Providence camp away and pull it into their own.

    Butler is 21-9 right now and is favored, and adding to their resume by beating a should-be NCAA Tournament team would be big.

    Finally, Iowa State and Oklahoma battle in the Big 12, and although both teams are locks for the Big Dance, they both would like to build a little momentum. Oklahoma has looked vulnerable of late, and they split with the Cyclones this year. The Sooners would love to put on a strong showing to not only move on, but also to prove that they aren’t fade. ISU wants to do the same thing. Should be fun.

    Tickets punched Wednesday

    Holy Cross –
    Patriot League

    MORE: Championship Week Rewind: Zags Go Dancing


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