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Sunday's Games - Terrible Weekend For The ACC

With Sunday's games, the Sweet 16 is set. The ACC had a lousy day, with Virginia and Virginia Tech joining Duke, B.C. and Georgia Tech on the sidelines.

Virginia lost to Tennessee, 77-74; Virginia Tech was embarrassed by Southern Illinois, 63-48.

No doubt part of the reason Virginia lost was because J.R. Reynolds hurt his ankle, but they were basically chunking up threes at the end and praying. It didn't work, although they came close.

Sean Singletary, who was so often lethal this season, missed a three which would have forced overtime. But even so, they didn't have enough to topple Tennessee.

All things considered, they don't have anything to be embarrassed about. Virginia Tech? Well, that's another story.

Southern Illinois is not a joke. But Virginia Tech has been here before. At times this year, they've been brilliant. At other times, they've been just awful.

A lot of this was due to SIU's defense. But some of the blame has to go to Tech. They have a tremendous pair of senior guards. They have athletic forwards in A.D. Vassallo and Deron Washington. They have Coleman Collins, a big man who can grab 20 boards some games. They beat a number one seed this year - twice.

But you never know what to expect out of Tech. We thought the guards might carry them a long way in this tournament. But no. Coleman Collins has been awful much of this year.

It's just hard to understand how they can be so erratic.

The best thing to come out of this loss, though, was a series of quotes from Tech. Witness:

Jamon Gordon on Zabian Dowdell: "It's hard to believe I'll never play with him again. Sometimes I used him as a crutch, but it's time to be a man on my own. I ain't going to drop no tears. I ain't going to miss him that much."

Coleman Collins, after getting two quick fouls: "I just felt like the game was taken out of my hands. I was shocked. It really is a shame it had to end like that."

Seth Greenberg: "The first half it was Kung Fu fighting. The second half, they couldn't breathe on you."

Dowdell on SIU's defense: "Every time you drive, you're cut off by another defender. It's like playing one on five. Their whole team is guarding you, it feels like."

The Saluki's coach, Chris Lowery, is bound to be a hot target for the coaching vacancies (think Michigan), but as a guy who played and coached at Southern Illinois, he might not be in a hurry to move. But he's going to be pursued, and people will throw big gobs of money at him.

In the other games Sunday, UNLV beat Wisconsin, although given Wisconsin's key injury and their subsequent decline, it's not much of an upset. Winthrop beat Oregon - oh wait, wishful thinking - Winthrop lost to Oregon, 75-61; Memphis beat Nevada78-62; Kentucky fell to Kansas 88-76 (is it goodbye Tubby?), and Texas was sent home by Southern Cal, 87-68.

With only one ACC team left, it's fair to say that the conference basically imploded in tournament play. On the other hand, only the SEC and the PAC-10 really did well.

Four of the sixteen spots went to less-celebrated conferences, although it's hard to call Memphis or Vegas lesser programs. UNLV has had a long drought, but that program has a history, even if it's a greasy one. And Memphis has been around forever. They're never that far away, sitting, as they are, on one of the most fertile talent beds in the country (in a bit of a departure from the norm, John Calipari is recruiting nationally, with half the roster from somewhere other than Memphis. Historically, the Memphis coach can - and does - fill his roster without leaving the city).

And certainly Butler and Southern Illinois have earned a lot of respect, and it's hard now to really see them as underdogs, at least not in the normal sense of the word.

Well at least to this level. The next wins will be a lot tougher. We'll take a closer look later.

Still Alive!

  • SEC: Florida, Vandy, Tennessee
  • PAC 10: UCLA, Oregon, Southern Cal
  • Big 12: Kansas, Texas A&M
  • Big East: Pitt, Georgetown
  • Big Ten: Ohio State
  • ACC: UNC
  • C-USA: Memphis
  • Horizon: Butler
  • Missouri Valley: Southern Illinois
  • Mountain West: UNLV