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What’s exciting about the first round is not so much the winners/losers but the margins of victory. Upsets – or upsets avoided – often come on last second shots. Margin of victory often comes down to size & physical fitness or skill level/coaching. So much fun to see teams go head-to-head for the first time.

Squeak!

The Great Danes may be kicking themselves over this during the off season – #4 Duke by 2 over #13 Albany, courtesy of a last second Greenwell three.

The Duke women’s basketball team was staring at the abyss. Which is pretty much what an NCAA tournament first-round loss at home at Cameron Indoor Stadium would have felt like for the Blue Devils: a bottomless gulf.

Fortunately for Duke, though, Rebecca Greenwell was there to fill up the bucket.

“Kudos to her,” Albany coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson said of the redshirt freshman’s 20 points, six coming on 3-pointers. “I mean, she killed us. That’s the game: It’s her.”

The #12 Toppers couldn’t top #5 Texas, as the Longhorns escaped with a 2-point win, 66-64.

“I told the players after the game this was a hard-fought win and there’s no shame it went down to the wire,” Texas coach Karen Aston said.

Imani McGee-Stafford had 24 points and 14 rebounds as sloppy Texas overcame 19 turnovers — including one that could have cost the Longhorns the game — and erased a late seven-point deficit.

Missing key players for extended parts of the season has toughed up both #9 Nebraska and #8 Syracuse. Only the Orange move on, though, by a slim three-point margin.

Timber!

#9 Depaul came back from a big deficit to get the win over #8 Minnesota. Bruno is a damn good coach. And Stollings is going one SO happy to add a healthy B to Zahui B. ZB notched a mere 21/22 in this game.

After making only two of 20 three-point attempts in the first half, DePaul started to connect as the Gophers faltered. They made six of 14 in the final 20 minutes, including three during their rally.

“I actually didn’t think our defense was particularly good in the first half and at the beginning of the second half,’’ Bruno said. “Maybe the 15-point deficit was the best thing that could have happened to us, because it really showed [his players] that our backs were going to be up against the wall, and they were going to have to fight to have a chance to win.”

#11 Miami built a nice first-half lead over #6 Washington, and rode Motley’s 30 to the upset win, 86-80.

Motley — who had 32 points in Miami’s biggest win, a 78-63 win over Notre Dame that likely sealed a tournament bid — hit a jumper in the lane to give Miami a 73-71 lead. Four free throws put the Hurricanes up six with a minute left.

“Her pull-up, when she goes to shoot it, the person on the bench keeping score is already writing two,” Miami coach Katie Meier said about Motley. “She’s just so consistent.”

#10-why-did-they-get-a-bid Arkansas was down 13, but came back to tripped up #7 Northwestern by 2, 57-55.

“Big boost of confidence in our first year to be in the NCAA and then to win a game like we had to win,” said Dykes, the former Razorbacks player and ESPN analyst. “We just kept saying this is a fight more than a basketball game. Our guys love that. They love that theme.”

I warned ya the WCC was tough. #11 Gonzaga took down #6 George Washington, 82-69.

With George Washington storming back within six points and the shot clock winding down Friday night, Gonzaga forward Sunny Greinacher didn’t think. She let it fly.

The ball went through net with 3:15 left to play and the 3-pointer turned to be the game-winner as No. 11 seed Gonzaga upset No. 6 seed George Washington 82-69 in the first round of the women’s NCAA tournament. 

“I loved the way we battled,” Zags coach Lisa Fortier said. “I’m very happy with our performance.”

Phew!

The #14 ‘wabbits had a 2-pt lead over the #3 Beavers at the half, but Oregon State pulled away the second for the 74-62 win.

#5 Mississippi State had just enough to keep the #12 Green Wave of Tulane at bay, 57-47.

As it should be in 10 v. 7 games, the higher-seed Dayton kept Iowa State at arms length for the 11pt win.

Nice showing by #14 American in their first tourney, as they gave #3 Iowa quite the tussle, finally falling 75-67.

#13 Wichita State proved it was no slouch as they kept within striking distance of #4 Cal for most of the game with Harden matching Gray’s 22/9 output. But the Bears had too much team support, and ended up with the 12-point win, 78-66.

Just sayin’….

Yah, #1 South Carolina stomped #16 Savannah State, 81-48 – but just think: The upset MEAC champs scored 30 first-half points on the SEC champs…

Yah. #2 Baylor stomped Northwestern State but… hmmm… No buts. NWSt got stomped.

Same thing happened to #15 Tennesseee State when they faced #2 Kentucky, 97-52.

None of the Irish starters played more than 29 minutes as #1 Notre Dame cruised past #16 Montana, 77-43.

In WNIT news, Round 1 is done. Round 2 starts Sunday.

Wednesday, March 18
Michigan 72, Cleveland State 50
East Carolina 74, Radford 52
Ole Miss 80, UT Martin 70
Arkansas State 61, Western Michigan 49
Eastern Washington 67, Washington State 65

Thursday, March 19
Old Dominion 69, Virginia 62
St. John’s 64, Army 56
Fordham 70, Central Connecticut State 67
Penn 65, Hofstra 58
Temple 67, Marist 54
NC State 73, ETSU 58
West Virginia 84, Buffalo 61
Hampton 45, Drexel 42
Duquesne 72, Youngstown State 54
Georgia Tech 69, Elon 47
Middle Tennessee 69, Ball State 58
Southern Miss 79, Texas Southern 69
TCU 85, Stephen F. Austin 80
Kansas State 86, Akron 68
Missouri 69, Northern Iowa 61
South Dakota 68, Creighton 58
Northern Colorado 53, Colorado State 48
San Diego 63, Long Beach State 56
UCLA 70, CSU Bakersfield 54
Sacramento State 87, Pacific 79
Fresno State 79, San Francisco 73

Friday, March 20
Toledo 72, Wright State 64
Villanova 71, Maine 60
Richmond 67, Stetson 66
Tulsa 78, Missouri State 72
Eastern Michigan 80, Drake 70
Saint Mary’s 92, Hawaii 88 OT

ROUND 2

Sunday, March 22 (all times ET)
Temple at Penn, 2 p.m.
Fordham at St. John’s, 2 p.m.
Old Dominion at Villanova, 2 p.m.
TCU at Southern Miss, 3 p.m.
Missouri at Kansas State, 3 p.m.
Arkansas State at Middle Tennessee, 3 p.m.
NC State at ECU, 4 p.m.
UCLA at San Diego, 5 p.m.
Eastern Michigan at Tulsa, 6 p.m.
Georgia Tech at Ole Miss, 7 p.m.
South Dakota at Northern Colorado, 7 p.m.

Monday, March 23
Michigan at Toledo, 7 p.m.
Eastern Wash. at Sacramento St, 10 p.m.
Fresno State at Saint Mary’s, 10 p.m.

Tuesday, March 24
Hampton at West Virginia, 7 p.m.
Richmond at Duquesne, 7 p.m.

In NCAA Division III, the finals are set. It’ll be Thomas More going to their first championship game, courtesy of their 62-52 win over Tufts.

Friday night’s victory (30-2) helped the Saints (32-0) forget a rather difficult anniversary. A year ago Friday, Thomas More’s 2014 season ended in the quarterfinals — and Moss tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee. “I had surgery and I was ready to come back when we started practice in October,” said Moss, who bears a black brace on that knee. “I’m not 100 percent though, I’d say more about 85. I’m still a little slow,” she said with a sly grin. “It’s still hard to move side to side sometimes; I have to slide my feet.”

They’ll face off against George Fox, who returned to the title match with their 70-58 win over Montclair State.

“We are just elated to be going to the national championship game,” head coach Michael Meek said. “We have had nothing but fantastic support from our community back home and we use that as motivation when we play. This is just an awesome experience for these women and I can’t wait for us to play tomorrow night.”

From the good folks at D3Hoops: Title game is two perfect

Thomas More defeated Tufts on another record breaking night for Sydney Moss while  George Fox’s full court press wore down Montclair State, setting up an national title game between two undefeated teams.

You can catch the game here at 7:30pm.

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and what happens?

KState forgets how to score.

The Terrapins tip toe past the Cardinals.

TAMU squeaks by the Razorbacks.

Kentucky eased by Green Bay.

The Cardinal roll and the Volunteers rock.

Dawn gets her team to the sweet 16. (upset)

Gonzaga took down Miami (upset) and you’ve got to believe the game would have looked different if Riquna Williams had been on the court. You’ve got to admire coach Meier’s principals and courage.

The ESPN folk weigh in:

Fagan: Terps survive Cardinals, advance

Mechelle: Depth carries Tennessee past DePaul

Michelle: Stanford beats WVU at own game

Graham: Half of Sweet 16 set — and Gonzaga’s in again

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The latest is up, and Charlie asks: Is a neutral site worth a lower seed? – Deciding No. 2 seeds will be committee’s toughest challenge

All weekend long, you’ve been sending emails and tweets declaring how wrong it is not to have Delaware as a No. 2 seed. Ultimately, the Blue Hens’ seed is part of what should end up being the selection committee’s biggest challenge next weekend — deciding which teams should be the four No. 2 seeds and in what order they should be ranked 5 through 8.

In our latest projection, through Sunday’s games, here’s how they stacked up:

5. Maryland
6. Duke
7. Tennessee
8. Kentucky … and then …
9. Miami
10. Delaware

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there were, as Nate notes, some serious trips. Writes Mechelle:

Quarterfinal Friday at the ACC tournament was the perfect example of why conference tournaments are terrific. And it was also the perfect example of why they aren’t. It all depends on your point of view, of course.

Great, improbable, win for Kellie Jolly Harper and her North Carolina State team. (Must have been lovely for Wolfpack alum Debbie Antonelli to be there to make the call.) I’m guessing Coach P has one word for her Duke team: FREE THROWS.

Equally great win for Mike Petersen and his Wake Forest team. Initially, Miami looked like they were going to get blown out. But, they made a run, tied it… and then Wake Forest held. AND made their free throws.

…some almost trips…

Penn State let the Gophers get that “upset feeling,” but then reeled’em in, and used some *everybody shout* FREE THROWS to seal the win.

Vandy tried to spoil the Vols’ party, but second-half Stricklen was having none of it. Tennessee moves on.

Kentucky had all it wanted and more from Florida, but eeked out a win. Boy, the Wildcats shot for carp.

Arkansas had’em where they wanted, but the Tigers roared back and won on…. a three.

Georgia Tech put away a wicked stubborn North Carolina team. Dang, that last minute and a half reads like a hot mess.

…and some, “we were paying attention to the path ahead of us and are going to avoid those tripping spots.”

How much would Debbie and Beth love the Skyhawks? 102pts worth, and Tennessee-Martin grounded the Racers. Note to schedulers: There’s only ONE senior on the T-M team.

The Terps quickly disarmed the Cavaliers.

Sparty was dismissed from the Big Ten party by Rayburn (29pts) and the Boilermakers.

Random WHB observations:

Tough way for New Hampshire to end a season: OT. Of course, if you’re UMBC, it’s a great way to continue the season, especially since you sank your FREE THROWS.

Another OT ends a season and reads as an upset: Eastern Illinois (11-5, OVC) gets taken down by Tennessee Tech (10-5). Almost a triple-double by Tech’s Tacarra Hayes: 26pts, 14 rebounds and 9 assists.

A third OT game saw Winthrop come out the winner, 81-75.

Stetson used Victoria’s McGowan’s triple-double to overcome Jacksonville. More on the 5’4″ A-Sun POY. Next up for the Hatters: FGCU.

Yes, indeed-ee, something’s gotten into the Billikens (4-10, A-10): 64-69 winners over Charlotte (8-6).

on edit: I didn’t mean to ignore the South Carolina win/upset over/of Georgia (but was anyone really surprised?). Just having some edit/draft/save issues. As soon as I see them in the mirror, my copy room editors are so fired.

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Specifically, the injuries and suspensions that might have spelled disaster. Yet, writes Mechelle, this season, when other teams are using injuries as an explanation for their poor season, Duke keeps overcoming setbacks

Friday morning, I listed some of the candidates for the coach of the year … but, of course, there are always others who deserve mentioning. One, in fact, got a big victory Friday night.

Duke maintained its mastery over Miami, and in the process earned the No. 1 seed in the ACC tournament and at least a share of the league’s regular-season championship.

The No. 7 Blue Devils’ 74-64 victory over the No. 5 Hurricanes moved Duke’s all-time record over Miami to 9-0. And Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie did it with a team that doesn’t really look like what she was hoping/expecting it to when the school year began.

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the ACC/SEC/BEast Conference tourneys turn out, the #1 and #2 seeds could radically change.

Start your viewing pleasure tonight with Miami v. Duke, 7pm on the 3.

I’m not ignoring North Carolina and Kansas — really I’m not…. BUT:

Harvard has another shot at the Tigers.

Missouri State (18-6, 13-3 MVC) could build on a good season when they play the Sycamores.

Fairfield needs to finish strong if they want to battle Marist – they play Joe Logan’s Greyhounds.

Creighton is dealing with some off-court coach stuff and Northern Iowa is not having the kind of follow-up to the 2010-11 season they wanted — makes for an interesting 9:30pm game on the 3.

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how happy are the DC BasketCases?!?! Very happy. (Oh, and don’t tick off the male Terps, Georgetown, ’cause that’s messing up an important rivalry on the women’s side.)

And, as a follow on, how happy is Miami?

I don’t know that “ugly” fully captures the game, but I’m guessin’ Mel’s tweet does: EDD drives through crowd and hits. Delaware up 40-39 with 2.0 seconds left. On her worst day she is still a blooming legend.

New York, sweep New York. The Princeton Tigers enjoy their weekend.

Rhode Island is 0-12 in the A-10, and Indiana is 0-14 in the Big Ten.

Didn’t see this coming (nor, I’m sure, did JMU): Northeastern (4-11, CAA) 61, the Dukes (11-4) 50. First win ever for the Huskies over James Madison.

The Pride came back from 4 down at the half to defeat Towson, 69-66, courtesy of a late three by Nicole Capurso. But dang, check out Shante Evans’ 29 pts, 20 rebs!

No you don’t, you PinkPurple Eagles, you! Niagara (7-9, MAAC) makes Marist  (15-1) work wicked hard (2OTs), but can’t quite pull off the upset. Red Foxes win, 79-77, and are conference champeens.

Fairfield (13-3 MAAC) sorta keeps pace, taking down Canisius, 63-51.

In a game Nate wanted us to watch, but we were too busy watching this and this and this). USC built a big first half lead and eased to a 66-54 win over UCLA and new coach Close.

So, Nell must be enjoying her post-Bonner time at Auburn, huh?

In the kind of news a program wants to hear, Creighton (9-6 MVC) took down Indiana State, 63-48.

Not a battle of powerhouses, but still painful to witness the state of George Washington basketball. They (4-8, A-10) go down to Massachusetts (2-10), 56-53.

Tennessee still keeping their fans on tenterhooks. They travel to Ole Miss (2-12, SEC) and win, 66-56.

Welcome to the world of Georgia basketball: up, down, down, up. Then goes down to Florida, and goes down to Florida.

Speaking of up and down, down and up, up and down: hello Michigan State fans! In OT, Spartans 67, Purdue 52.

I totally understand why a 24-2, 13-0 C-USA team is not ranked (right). BUT, I sure hope SOMEONE in the top 25 is checking their roster, counting the number of underclassmen, and pondering a game next season.

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you know, blogging, so it took me a while to get to the big upset of yesterday… which, when you look at the box is quite easy to explain: Free throws and fouls.

Great, great back-and-forth game between #8 Maryland and #6 Miami, and it wasn’t Williams or Johnson who pushed the Hurricanes to victory, but Yderstrom.

Vandy couldn’t take advantage of their big win over TN and got handled by the Bulldogs.

It was reeeeeally, reaaaally close, but #23 Georgia Tech continued North Carolina’s misery, 56-54.

Loyola (MD) (12-13, 8-6MAAC) surprised the heck out Fairfield (18-7, 11-3), 55-48.

Nice, if not important, win for ODU (9-16, 6-7 CAA) over UNC-Wilmington (15-9, 8-5).

Indiana missed out on their first Big Ten win by one point.

The worst thing about the Border Showdown was not the score (KState 47, K 43), but the injury to Jayhawk Carolyn Davis.

VCU v. James Madison was the expected dogfight: Dukes over Rams, 65-64.

There was a moment during halftime when UCLA had visions of upsets dancing in their heads. Then N.O. said, “No.”

Both UTEP and Middle Tennessee won to stay fer-0 in conference play.

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Play 4Kay games

start early and end late. Check’em out!

Of the ranked teams, I’m particularly interested in the Miami/MD game (2pmEST ESPN2) and the Ohio State/Purdue game (5pmEST ESPN2).

I’m hoping James Madison v. VCU is  a good’un, ditto with Tulane/UTEP.

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by the beach.

There’s also THIS fabulous bird.

Good stuff going on yesterday:

#5 Maryland fell from the ranks of the undefeated (hmmm, is there an MV curse?) with their loss to #11 Miami. The Hurricanes shot better from behind the arc than in front and used strong defense to slow down the Terp’s offense for the program’s ” first victory in school history against a team in the top five.”

Clemson has struggled this year, but that didn’t prevent them from snagging a “marque” win against North Carolina. On N.C.’s home court. I’m thinking that’s not the way coach Hatchell wanted the Tar Heels want to prep for their joust against UConn. Of course, how sweet would it be for her to get her 600th win v. the Huskies?

So, you know how the Big East has been UConn’s and the SEC has been Tennessee’s? Looks like Notre Dame and, with their 1-pt win over the #7 Vols, #8 Kentucky are interested in upsetting the old world order. Mathies stayed out of foul trouble and went off for 34pts. Glory sure is having a helluva season, though, ain’t she?

It wasn’t easy (or pretty), but #16 Georgia dispatched Florida, 61-55.

#25 Penn State built a nice lead in the first, and kept pace to log in a 78-63 win over Michigan.

EDD only scored 19pts against NC-Wilmington, but the Blue Hens still defeated the Seahawks 69-37. “Delle Donne has scored 100 points in Delaware’s three-game winning streak.” Slacker.

#4 Stanford left Utah in the dust, 62-43. Don’t forget to check out espnW’s lated installment on the Cardinal coaching staff.

#13 Ohio State pulled away from Northwestern in the second half, while #22 Gonzaga had no trouble with San Francisco. #24 Vandy took down Auburn, even though the Tigers exploded for 45 in the second half.

#23 Nebraska won (Moore with 28), as did #12 Green Bay (Wojta’s double-double: 22-17). #20 Purdue whomped Minnesota, with Rayburn scoring 38 (“By the end of the night, Brittany Rayburn had won over a majority of the fans inside Williams Arena.”) the easy way: an NCAA record-tying 12 3-pointers (LSU’s Cornelia Gayden).

Bowling Green is 3-0 in the MAC.

Down (Law grad Casey Dulin helping save Marist’s season), but certainly not out: with their win over Fairfield, Marist is now 5-0 in the MAAC.

Roll, Pride, roll (“Junior forward Shante Evans recorded her seventh straight double-double”). Hofstra is now 4-0 in the CAA.

With their win over UCF (and a school record 12 blocks), the UAB Blazers are 3-0 in the C-USA.

You’re the Top! Stetson’s 7-0 in the A-Sun.

And no, I’m not ignoring FGCU, which is also 7-0. Mark your calendars: the Eagles face the Hatters on Jan 21st.

Arkansas really needs to do something about their out-of-conference schedule. With their loss to Ole Miss, they’re now 0-4 in the SEC.

Rice needs to make up their mind — are they rising or falling? Their win v. Tulane suggests rising.

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the SEC opened conference play (though, some may view the challenge KY faced from Florida as surprising.) I’d say the most important news coming out was this:

The 12 members of the Southeastern Conference are planning a “We Back Pat” week to show support for Tennessee coach Pat Summitt and the foundation she created to support efforts to fight Alzheimer’s.

No real surprises in ranked teams yesterday (though Purdue used a buzzer beater to eek out a win).

The Hatters are now 3-0 in the A-Sun.

Welcome to the WCC, Cougars: A couple of games ago, St. Mary’s ended BYU’s 10-game win streak. (Is there something going around? BYU pulled a Chris Webber.)

The ACC conference openers went as expected…. Unless, of course, you were Miami.

You can’t make me talk about the Albany/Hartford game.

And I’m not talking about Cornell/Forham either.

Yes, I love and respect birds, but how can one expect an 0-12 Peacock to beat a Red Fox? Actually, it was pretty dang close.

Hampton is now 2-0 in the MEAC.

The only reason to mention the Central Arkansas (yes, they’re Sugar Bears) stomping of Philander Smith is that it allows me to remind folks of the fabulous Missouri Arledge – first African American AAU All American (1955).

Debbie and Beth would have loved this game: Tennessee-Martin defeated Tennessee State 114-105. The 219 points were a new Ohio Valley Conference record for most combined points.

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there simply is too much basketball to keep up with (especially if you go out birding all day and if you’re about to hop a bus to go up to Hartford for the Big East quarters…)

A quick scan before the run to the subway.

The Penguins won again!

Air Force defeated New Mexico in OT. Hmmm…. que paso con los Lobos? Or should is be las Lobos? Or Lobas?

Houston (the story no one is writing about) needed OT to escape the Green Wave.

La Tech defeated the Vandals. I love that: The Vandals.

Doink! Down goes “who can figure them out game-to-game” Oklahoma.

Wow – SPANK! Says UNC to Miami. Something got the Tar Heels focused.

In a (semi) upset, Tennessee-Martin earns their berth in the NCAAs by taking down Tennessee Tech.

See ya, Iowa State, says Mizzou.

Boy o boy o boy: West Virginia loses to St. John’s.

Maybe they ARE back: Ohio State smacks Michigan State.

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How Cal, Miami Went In Opposite Directions After 2010 WNIT Finals ‘Learning Experience’

SBN Links: K-State “Owns” TAMU, The First Women’s College Basketball Team & Why Cal Fans Can Root For Stanford

Oklahoma Women Sweep Bedlam: Sherri Coale sends seniors Robinson, Roethlisberger & Willis out in style

OK, if Pat has “The Stare” and Geno has “The Hair Smooth,” can we say Sherri has the “Flat Hands Clap”?

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Writes Mechelle: Miami, Florida State eye first ACC title – Seminoles to test Canes’ perfect 19-0 mark in Coral Gables this season

“It is a huge game,” Meier said of Florida State’s visit to Coral Gables. “We’re not Triangle schools in the ACC. We’re not Duke or North Carolina or NC State. We’re not Wake. I know what it means to be in that group. But also know what it means to come from the ‘perimeter,’ and challenge that.

“I’m proud and happy for Sue. I love her team, and I know she feels the same about my team. I think it’s pretty awesome, and it’s great for women’s basketball that we’re rising up to say, ‘Hey, the ACC goes from south Florida to Boston.'”

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Watch to watch for in the week ahead

Iowa at Ohio State: The schedules are favorable for both of these Big Ten preseason favorites after this week, which also includes Iowa hosting Michigan State on Thursday, but that will be small comfort for Monday’s loser.

Miami at Florida State: The polls differ on which team should be favored, but Miami seems to have the most to gain in this ACC clash.

Abby Waner has a piece about Oklahoma’s Hand: Sooner or later, this Sooner would recover

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Hold on, Hoyas! Perhaps a little high from their Rocky Top tumbling, Georgetown has been less than steller, losing to unranked Miami (in OT) and then they were stunned by undermanned Rutgers.

As UConn went in to exam week, they had a pre-MSG tune up v. Marquette. They aced it. As Swish Appeal put it:

UConn was led in scoring by Moore’s 31 points, 8 rebounds, 5 blocks, 3 assists, 4 steals, and I am pretty sure I saw her save a kitten from a burning building.

Meanwhile, #6 Ohio State went into the Carrier Dome and got spanked by Syracuse. (And Quentin, the reason you didn’t get a vote in the AP poll has been your less-than-stellar schedule.)

I also vote that the scores from any and all Villanova games should be blacked out.

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