Sky Hoops with House
March 12, 2012

Hey Sky fans! It’s conference tournament time! I have had a great time out and about seeing so many great games and players. Let me give you a quick rundown of my travels.

The Big Ten Tournament

This tournament started out so “normal” the first day I was there. All the higher seeds rolling along – then it just went crazy... Nebraska knocks off #2 seed Ohio State by 15, Purdue eliminates #1 seed Penn State and then Purdue and Nebraska go to double OT to decide the Big Ten Championship! Great, Great games!

The double OT final will be on ESPN Classic very soon I’m sure. Purdue dominated for much of the first half and led by 11 at one point, but Lindsay Moore made an underhanded, off-balance basket for the Huskers in the closing seconds of the first half to tie the score at 27 at the break. That gave Nebraska great momentum heading into the locker room.

Then, with the score tied at 56 in the final seconds of regulation, Courtney Moses drove to the hoop, but Hooper blocked her shot and got the rebound, giving Nebraska 1.3 seconds to win it. But, Hooper missed a heave at the buzzer forcing overtime.

In the first overtime, Nebraska's Kaitlyn Burke missed an open 3-pointer with 5 seconds left and the score tied. Moses launched one from near half-court but it was blocked at the buzzer, forcing the fifth overtime period between these two teams this season.

Whew... I’m tired again just recapping it.

Purdue's Brittany Rayburn, who scored nine points in the final and hit the game winner in the semifinal victory against Penn State, was named the tournament's most outstanding player.

The Big East Tournament

This was another tournament with a very predictable start. The only couple of upsets during the first three rounds were #14 seed Marquette beating #11 seed Cincinnati and #5 seed West Virginia beating #4 seed Georgetown. That all changed when we got to the final! Remember last week when a certain coach went off about not hanging a banner if the team tied for the regular season championship? Remember, earlier when the same coach said there was no toughness left on his team, it all left when Maya Moore graduated and took it to Minnesota with her? Do you think that was all calculated? Ever the master motivator using blunt reality to challenge his teams. Whether it was planned or not, it worked! Hayes, Hartley and Mosqueda-Lewis did not disappoint. The Huskies kept ND out of sync the entire second half, as Peters, Diggins and Novosel combined to shoot 11 for 41 from the field. (27%) It was the Huskies 18th year in a row of winning a regular season, tournament or both championships in the Big East.

The Atlantic 10 Tournament

Only St. Joe’s, the #5 seed, managed an early round upset as they beat #4 seed Richmond on Saturday. You can excuse the Spiders for losing. With St. Joe’s hosting the A10 Tournament it was still a “home” game for them even though they were the higher seed. Even with that, I am so glad the A10 tournament is back in Philly! No, not just because I could have two tremendous cheese steaks (Larry’s and Dalesandro’s) and my favorite chips (Herr’s BBQ), but because the atmosphere was outstanding! With two non-Philly teams in the final, it was still loud; there was a great crowd and both teams played exceptionally hard. Kudos for a great tournament!

In the championship #3 seed Dayton jumped out to a big lead and then held on to survive a furious comeback to upset #1 seed St. Bonaventure, 56-53.

With the win, Dayton's first championship ever as a member of the Atlantic 10 Conference, the Flyers improve to 23-6. This is one of the most fundamentally sound defensive teams I have seen this season. With seven seniors, they are like clock work with their high-hand closeouts, their shot challenges and their box outs. At one point in the first half Bonaventure was shooting 14% from the field and ended the game shooting just 33%. St. Bonaventure responded strongly with a 12-0 run to close the half, going into halftime trailing only 27-17. The Flyers began the game on a 27-5 run and held the Bonnies in single-digits for the first 16 minutes of the first half. Don’t be shocked to see Dayton get a win or two in the NCAA’s if they get the right seed and matchup.

This week we have the Big 12 and the PAC 12... I’m going to catch most of those games on TV, but I will sneak out for a couple games.

I’m starting to make my plans for the first round of the NCAA Tournament so stay tuned. There are some great locations: Chicago, Norfolk, VA, College Park, MD, Chapel Hill, NC and Notre Dame, IN. The opening rounds of the NCAA Tournament are a great time to see mid-major programs square off against all the higher seeded BCS schools. We get to see if there is really such a huge difference. Some times there is, some times – not so much. Let’s keep on eye on Green Bay! I love watching the Phoenix play! This is also the time to see the level of competition increase individually for players and how both teams and players handle it. I have to wait for Monday for the “official” brackets to come out, but usually the bracketologists out there are pretty accurate.

Catch you next week Sky Fans. Enjoy the games!

To view more of Hoops with House, click here to visit the archive.