Thursday, February 23, 2006
Two teams really made statements that they are ready for March: Duke and Tennessee. The Blue Devils survived a poor first half defensive effort and a horrific shooting night for JJ to beat Georgia Tech on the road. Duke was outplayed for the first 30 minutes, but then really outexecuted, out hustled the Jackets in the final 10 minutes. Hewitt's club failed to take advantage of Shelden Williams getting his third foul with about 15 minutes left in the game. The Jackets puckered at the moment of truth-something you have seen before if you are a Tech fan (UNC, Maryland, FSU).
Tennessee was down by double digits in the first half at Florida, but battled back by halftime and their pressing defense and shooting outlasted the Gators. The Volunteers are a serious contender for the Final Four. The only thing that may hurt the Vols in the Tourney is they rely more on the press and fast break game. The Florida loss really surprised me though (I had them as #4 in my confidence rankings last night).
Florida State took another step towards getting off the bubble by drubbing Maryland.
UNC took advantage of Elian Evtimov's absence to round up the Wolfpack and complete a season sweep for the third straight year. I was not surprised about NC State losing (had them #9 in confidence rankings), but I was surprised about the margin.
LSU now has a strangle hold on the SEC West and should be one of the favorites to win the SEC Tournament.
South Carolina @ Georgia 7:00 PM ESPN
The Bulldogs have been struggling recently and battled some of the court issues with suspensions. South Carolina suffered a crushing loss at home to Kentucky last Saturday. Georgia is very tough at home and has already beaten the Gamecocks in Columbia. This game will go right down to the wire, but I think South Carolina is the hotter team right now.
Prediction: South Carolina