Key Stats and Results From Thursday's Early NCAA Action

KEY STATS AND RESULTS FROM EARLY THURSDAY ACTION

As is our tradition here in the NOTEBOOK, we're going to run key stats and summaries from afternoon action through tournament week to help guide you through the handicapping process. We're going to focus on teams that are destined for postseason play though...so you can benefit for a couple of weeks based on what you learn. In other words...there's no reason to run the numbers from Iowa-Illinois today. We will run the numbers from Iowa-Michigan State next time because the Spartans MATTER!

We're going to start today in the Big East because that's where the most important Thursday games were being played. Everyone in action at Madison Square Garden today is likely headed to the Big Dance.

BIG EAST DAY GAMES

SYRACUSE 58, CONNECTICUT 55
Shooting Pct: Connecticut 34%, Syracuse 39%
Three-Pointers: Connecticut 6/23, Syracuse 3/14
Free Throws: Connecticut 5/10, Syracuse 15/23
Rebounds: Connecticut 39, Syracuse 32
Phantom Score: Connecticut 71, Syracuse 66
Turnovers: Connecticut 10, Syracuse 4
Vegas Line: Syracuse by 6.5, total of 136
Pomeroy Rank: Connecticut 37, Syracuse 6

Syracuse led through crunch time, and always seemed like they were likely to win. But, they really didn't play that well all things considered outside of that fantastic mark on offensive turnovers. They protect the ball well...they just don't shoot it well in their halfcourt offense! For you newcomers, Phantom Score is a secondary score we invented many years ago that emphasizes the most important factors in a game. It's simply two-point scoring plus rebounding. Connecticut won that category here, you longtimers know they have a great history with that stat. This will give them a shot to do something in the Dance. This just isn't a vintage UCONN team. Syracuse was overpriced again by Vegas (as has been the case the past few weeks). They sure don't look like a team that's ready to string together victories vs. quality. They've been doing that in a conference that may be way overrated for the second year in a row.

CINCINNATI 72, GEORGETOWN 70 (in overtime)
Shooting Pct: Georgetown 48%, Cincinnati 39%
Three-Pointers: Georgetown 2/10, Cincinnati 2/21
Free Throws: Georgetown 8/15, Cincinnati 14/21
Rebounds: Georgetown 40, Cincinnati 38
Phantom Score: Georgetown 96, Cincinnati 90
Turnovers: Georgetown 14, Cincinnati 9
Vegas Line: Georgetown by 3.5, total of 121.5
Pomeroy Rank: Georgetown 13, Cincinnati 34

Another game where nobody could make a three-pointers. Cincinnati was just ridiculously bad from long range. They made up for that with more free throws and fewer turnovers. Though, the Big East should start to consider missed three-pointers as turnovers the way this tournament is going. Both of these teams will get respected seeds in the Big Dance. Georgetown may have cooled off a week early though. They have a very poor history in recent Dances...and some sloppiness here should raise concerns about next week. Cincinnati has a chance for a statement win Friday vs. Syracuse.

The Big 12 conference has also reached the quarterfinals, which means tourney bound teams are in action. Let's see what happened in Kansas City Thursday afternoon...

BIG 12 DAY GAMES

BAYLOR 82, KANSAS STATE 74
Shooting Pct: Kansas State 49%, Baylor 57%
Three-Pointers: Kansas State 5/12, Baylor 5/18
Free Throws: Kansas State 15/19, Baylor 11/16
Rebounds: Kansas State 24, Baylor 31
Phantom Score: Kansas State 68, Baylor 87
Turnovers: Kansas State 13, Baylor 14
Vegas Line: Baylor by 2, total of 136
Pomeroy Rank: Kansas State 19, Baylor 15

Baylor jumped out early and was the superior team all day. You can see that Phantom Score was a blowout for the Bears...basically what the scoreboard would have shown if the team didn't lose a little focus in the last couple of minutes (they were up by twice the final margin in the final minutes). A very good sign for Baylor that they won easily without having a big day from long range, or without getting a bunch of breaks from the refs. Clean solid win...the kind we've been waiting to see for awhile. We're interested to see how the Big 12 looks in the Dance. Maybe they'll be overrated again, maybe they're going to make some noise. For the "conference" to make some noise rather than just Kansas and Missouri, these two teams need to do some damage.

KANSAS 83, TEXAS A&M 66
Shooting Pct: Texas A&M 39%, Kansas 61%
Three-Pointers: Texas A&M 3/13, Kansas 10/15
Free Throws: Texas A&M 13/17, Kansas 19/28
Rebounds: Texas A&M 26, Kansas 30
Phantom Score: Texas A&M 70, Kansas 64
Turnovers: Texas A&M 11, Kansas 13
Vegas Line: Kansas by 15, total of 122.5
Pomeroy Rank: Texas A&M 111, Kansas 4

Not much to say here. We're going to try to run all the projected #1 and #2 seeds in the Dance this week even if they win early blowouts. You can see that Kansas didn't struggle the way so many others have. Of course, when you shoot 10 of 15 on treys, winning is pretty easy. The Jayhawks were +21 from long range in a game they won by 17. So, that does suggest danger whenever the treys aren't falling. Some of the equality in other stats came from bench play once the verdict wasn't in doubt. Baylor vs. Kansas could be a lot of fun Friday.

The only other major conference to reach its Elite Eight is the Pac 12, and that's a very interesting conference in terms of Dance potential. Let's go to the Staples Center for two more boxscores...

PAC 12 DAY GAMES

OREGON STATE 86, WASHINGTON 84
Shooting Pct: Oregon State 50%, Washington 50%
Three-Pointers: Oregon State 5/11, Washington 8/21
Free Throws: Oregon State 17/32, Washington 12/26
Rebounds: Oregon State 35, Washington 40
Phantom Score: Oregon State 89, Washington 88
Turnovers: Oregon State 11, Washington 12
Vegas Line: Washington by 4, total of 152.5
Pomeroy Rank: Oregon State 94, Washington 66

We've spent a lot of time complaining about poor shooting games. This one had some very good shooting from the floor...but the last few minutes still had hoop purists shielding their eyes! Look at the free throw category. Oregon State was an awful 17 of 32, blowing a chance to put the game away a few different times. Washington was an inexplicable 12 of 26, with a star player launching shots from a catapult with one eye shut because he knew what was coming. Washington may be the worst #1 seed from a major conference in the modern era. They're arguably a bubble team even though they won the regular season crown. The computers hate them...and the computers looked pretty smart given how this game played out.

Oregon State will face the winner of UCLA/Arizona in the Pac 10 semifinals.

Quick notes from other day games...

  • In the BIG 10, Iowa mercifully brought the Illinois season to an end with a 64-61 victory. Illinois closed the season 2-12 straight up and ATS. Sports Illustrated is probably preparing an article on that which will run in 2014 sometime. Iowa advances to face Michigan State Friday. In the late game...Indiana had no trouble with Penn State in a 75-58 laugher. The Hoosiers face Wisconsin Friday.

  • In the ACC, Maryland had no trouble with Wake Forest, posting a surprising 82-60 win in an 8-9 game in the brackets. Maryland faces North Carolina early Friday. At least that game is in Atlanta rather than a place like Charlotte or Greensboro. In the late game...NC State squashed Boston College 78-57.

  • In the SEC, LSU had a surprisingly easy time with Arkansas, winning 70-52 as a 2-point favorite. Maybe the hometown crowd in New Orleans contributed to that. They'll need all the help they can get early Friday against Kentucky! Alabama hung on against South Carolina 63-57, only winning by six as 10-point favorites in a 5-12 game in the brackets. Alabama draws Florida Friday.

  • In Conference USA, second seed Southern Miss had to go overtime to beat seventh seeded East Carolina 81-78. They'll play the exhausted winner of the Marshall/Tulsa game in Friday's semifinals.

That wraps up our look at early Thursday action. We can't run the later starts because of publication deadlines. Be sure you read the boxscores late tonight or early Friday so you can make solid decisions as these events progress. If you'd like some help finding BIG JUICY WINNERS, call JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK at 1-800-323-4453. You can test the waters with game day releases right here at the website. Make a few clicks and have your credit card handy.

MARCH MADNESS MEANS MONEY MADNESS...DAY AND NIGHT!

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