Our quick thoughts on Tuesday's results:
It's rare that John Wall is the second-most exciting player on a basketball court, but on Tuesday night it was Devan Downey who was sending sportswriters scrambling for a thesaurus. Downey hit acrobatic shot after acrobatic shot and was basically a one-man offense for South Carolina in the Gamecocks' stunning 68-62 upset of the top-ranked Wildcats in Columbia. As far as the bracket goes, this game had very minimal impact (South Carolina picked up a ginorous win for its otherwise weak resume and Kentucky lost its two-day hold on the top overall seed), but for entertainment purposes only, games don't get much better than this. Wall and DeMarcus Cousins deserve a lot of credit for keeping Kentucky close in what was a raucous Colonial Center, but in the end this was the Gamecocks' night. Or should we say Downey's night. What a performance.
After a month filled with mediocre and questionable court stormings, the rowdy South Carolina student section reminded us how it's supposed to be done on Tuesday night. They pulled off a near-perfect rush: we loved Downey waving the fans down to the court in the closing seconds, we loved South Carolina ignoring the SEC's ridiculous $25,000 court rush fine, and we especially loved the ridiculously fast court coverage which came from both ends of the floor. That's how it's done, Gamecock Nation. Excellent work.
We've been waiting for Rhode Island to win a statement game in conference for three weeks now, and they finally came through in a big way Tuesday night at Dayton. Marquis Jones' three-pointer with five seconds left gave the Rams a gigantic 65-64 come-from-behind win over the Flyers, who had won 30 straight at home. Dayton led by nine at the half, but URI battled back and led 62-61 with 30 seconds left. Chris Johnson hit three FTs for Dayton to give the Flyers the lead back with 15 seconds to go, but Jones ended up being the hero, hitting just his 13th three of the season to win it. URI will be in our bracket next Monday (provided they can beat GW at home on Saturday) and they might be in instead of Dayton. The Flyers' fate next week depends on Charlotte's game tomorrow night against Temple. If Charlotte wins, they're in as the A-10's fourth bid. If the 49ers lose, Dayton will (barely) remain in.
Maryland isn't just beating teams right now, they're destroying them. Their latest victim was Miami, who they routed 81-59 in College Park on Tuesday night. Greivis Vasquez had 16 points and nine assists to lead the Terps, who will be in next week's bracket if they can win at Clemson on Sunday. Maryland fans have to like their chances against the struggling Tigers, who dropped their third straight game on Tuesday, 75-69 at Boston College. If Clemson loses four in a row, they are looking at a double-digit seed in next week's bracket and they might even be as low as the Last Four in list.
Northwestern's return to the bracket lasted a grand total of 48 hours. The Wildcats lost a critical bubble battle to Minnesota on Tuesday night, dropping them to 3-5 in the Big Ten with a game at Michigan State looming this weekend. The fifth Big Ten bid now temporarily belongs to Minnesota, but the Gophers aren't guaranteed a spot in our next bracket unless they can win at Ohio State this weekend. If they win, they're way in. If they lose, we'll have to decide between Minnesota and Illinois for the fifth Big Ten spot.
For the second straight game, Kalin Lucas saved Michigan State from being rushed on. The junior guard, who hit a game-winning three for the Spartans in their win over Minnesota on Saturday, hit the go-ahead jumper with 3.5 seconds left to give the Spartans a hard-fought 57-56 win Tuesday night over the upset-minded Wolverines. The win moved Michigan State to 8-0 in the Big Ten for the first time in school history.
Kansas State has played its best ball against the best teams in the country this season, and Tuesday night was no exception. Led by Jacob Pullen's 25 points and two free throws with 8.2 seconds left, the Wildcats padded their already impressive resume with a huge 76-74 win at Baylor. The win further secures Kansas State's spot on the 3 line, and more importantly, it should give them a ton of confidence as they prep for a visit from the Jayhawks on Saturday. The loss drops Baylor to 2-3 in conference, and there's a good chance they'll be 2-4 after a visit to Austin on Saturday. An 0-2 week won't burst Baylor's bubble, but it might drop them to double-digit territory next week.
It's OK to come in off the ledge, Carolina fans. The Tar Heels put an end to their worst losing streak in seven years (and picked up their first road win!) in pretty convincing style on Tuesday night, winning by 14 at N.C. State. Carolina returns home to play Virginia this weekend, and if they win, they'll move up a couple of seed lines next week.
UAB was extremely impressive in disposing of Tulsa 65-55 at home on Tuesday night. The Blazers moved to 6-0 in C-USA with the win, which is their seventh in a row overall, and made a case to move up from the 7 line. Despite the rather convincing loss, the Golden Hurricane will be in our bracket again next week. Remember, we have Tulsa in our field not as an at-large but because we like them as a potential bid stealer out of C-USA. Tulsa is unbeaten at home, which also happens to be the site of the C-USA tournament. The Golden Hurricane play at UCF this weekend before returning home to play Marshall next Wednesday.
Of note: West Virginia won at DePaul; UNLV beat Air Force at home; Kent State won at Toledo.