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Friday, Mar. 11, 2005 - 1:08 p.m.

Big East Blog: Second Round

West Virginia 78, Boston College 72
I'm not sure if it was the fans backing the underdog, or if all the Connecticut, Syracuse and other backers at MSG yesterday afternoon loath BC for ditching the Big East for the ACC next year, but the Mountaineers had the fans on their side as they took a 44-22 halftime lead and held off the Eagles' second-half rally. With every West Virginia three-pointer or steal, the crowd roared, and even as BC crept within five points, the fans chimed in with chants of "Overrated!" and, my favorite, "ACC! ACC!" The BC students clapped at that one, as if it's an honor for them to make the move, which it is, but the school handled it terribly, insisting it wouldn't make the jump, then abandoning the Big East last October. And they wonder why the Big East appears to have a bias against them. Jerks.

Villanova 67, Pittsburgh 58
The Panthers led only briefly in this one, though they kept it close most of the game. The big difference was the way the game was called. Pitt relies on playing hard basketball down low and the officials were calling a tight game. Moves that Pitt has gotten away with all season weren't working yesterday. It's a shame, in a way, because if you play a season without getting called for certain plays and then, suddenly, in the postseason they change that around, that's unfair. But the point is, these calls should've been made all year against the Panthers. Some games were officiated fine, but there were others where Pitt was getting the calls and its opponents weren't. Late in the game, Carl Krauser tried to fire up his school's fans, just as Craig Smith and Jared Dudley of BC tried to do, but as the UConn folks behind us said, they should worry more about their play on the court than being cheerleaders. Sometimes it's confidence, other times it's desperation.

Connecticut 66, Georgetown 62
What a start to this one. Georgetown's Brandon Bowman opened with a reverse dunk after driving down an open lane, and UConn answered with an alley-oop. It had its moments of highlight slams and clutch three-pointers, but the Huskies held on once they built a 10-point lead. That's been the Hoyas this year: They fall behind by 10 midway through the second, then come back before anyone realizes it. They're a young team, and they should only improve from here on out.

Syracuse 81, Rutgers 57
This should have been Notre Dame's game, but the way Syracuse played and the way the Irish finished the season, the score might not have been all that different had they beaten Rutgers. That opening-round loss may have cost the Irish their NCAA bid, and while I still feel that if they were to sneak into the tournament (SI.com says we're in; ESPN's Bracketology says we're one of the last four out) they'd win their first-round game, I'm not so sure they would've played any better against Syracuse. I don't know why, that's just the feeling I get. Hakim Warrick was outstanding in the first game I've seen him play in person. He had two superb dunks, one of which he slammed home after picking up his dribble with one foot still inside the circle near the foul line, then lunged toward the hoop and delivered. At one point, he was tied with the Rutgers team, and late in the first half, it was Rutgers 19, Warrick 17, as Syracuse took a 17-point lead or something like that. Late in the first half and early in the second, it was point guard Gerry McNamara who got hot, hitting threes from all over the court and we left with 10 minutes to go in the second half so we'd make the 11:30 bus back to New Jersey rather than having to wait for the 12:30.

Previous page: Big East Blog: First Round
Next page: Big East Blog: Semifinals

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