By Andrew Kahn
March Madness, in a certain respect, officially got underway this past weekend as some of the conferences crowned their champions. While some teams will now be sweating it out on Selection Sunday (looking at you, Middle Tennessee), others have punched their ticket to the Big Dance (nice job, 15-20 Liberty). The major conference tournaments get going this week. But first, let’s look back on the wild weekend.
Isaiah Canaan returned for his senior year in the hopes of returning to the NCAA Tournament. Belmont, in its first year in the Ohio Valley Conference, is going back instead. Belmont’s Kerron Johnson scored the final basket in regulation and in overtime to give the Bruins a 70-68 victory in the OVC title game on Saturday. Could this be the year the Bruins with their high-powered, balanced offense, bust some brackets and win a game in the Big Dance?
End Of An Era
After Syracuse got smacked by Georgetown, Jim Boeheim told reporters he’s “pretty much ready to go play golf somewhere.” It didn’t quiet the rumors that the coach may be retiring at season’s end, nor does it alleviate concerns that the Orange is headed for an early Tournament exit. Syracuse scored its fewest points ever under Boeheim in Saturday’s 61-39 loss. Syracuse was just 1 of 11 from behind the arc.
No. 15 Marquette wins at buzzer
With all the clock reviews in college basketball this season, true buzzer-beaters are rare. But Vander Blue’s last-second shot rattled around the rim long enough for the clock to expire before it went through the net to give Marquette a 69-67 overtime victory over St. John’s. Blue drove right and put it high off the glass for the game-winner before he was mobbed by his teammates in a dog pile near mid-court.
’Cats have another life
In serious danger of missing the NCAA Tournament the year after winning it all, Kentucky trailed No. 11 Florida 57-50 with less than 6 minutes remaining. The Wildcats responded by going on an 11-0 run to close the game and win 61-57. Kentucky is by no means a lock for the Big Dance, buts its chances were greatly improved with the win.
Hoosiers on top for first time since 1993
For the first time in 20 years, the Indiana Hoosiers are the outright Big Ten champs. The reason they aren’t sharing the title with Sunday’s opponent, Michigan, and two other teams? Jordan Morgan’s put-back attempt in the final seconds rolled around the rim — the ball came to rest on the rim for a moment, it seemed— before falling out. Indiana had a 72-71 win and an outright title. The No. 2 Hoosiers stole the victory in the final minute when the No. 7 Wolverines missed twice missed the front end of a one-and-one.
Andrew Kahn is a contributor to CBS Local who has written for ESPN the Magazine and The Wall Street Journal. He writes about college basketball and other sports at http://andrewjkahn.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @AndrewKahn.