Maryland and Boston College obviously aren't eliminated from tournament consideration yet, but both teams came into Thursday night's ACC opener knowing that the ice is already growing thin. It's not quite do or die time, but to borrow from Andy Dufresne, it's time to get busy winning or get busy...not dying, that's a bit much. But maybe looking for a new coach or something.
Maryland got busy.
It wasn't a perfect game from the Terps but Dez Wells had a big night, scoring 33. Told to take the ball to the hoop, Wells shot 12-18.
Varun Ram, who got a start last time out, played just one minute as Mark Turgeon went with freshman Roddy Peters at the point. Maryland's still not passing well - the Terps had just six assists for the game - but Peters had half of those.
Olivier Hanlan, recently benched by B.C. coach Steve Donahue, scored 26, albeit much less efficiently than Wells, at least from the floor (5-16). He was a sensational 15-16 from the line though.
As usual, there aren't any Friday games, but Saturday is looking really interesting because of one particular matchup and that's obviously Kentucky at UNC.
There will be a lot of angles talked about in this game, from the youth of Kentucky to the erratic play of UNC.
Here's one we think will be key.
Yes, Kentucky has played at the United Center and at AT&T Stadium, against Michigan State and Baylor, respectively.
And there was the game against Providence in the Barclays Center.
But here's the thing. All those games were on neutral courts, and we'd bet there were more Kentucky fans at the United Center than Michigan State fans.
This will be the first real road game for the young Wildcats.
We've made fun of the Smith Center for years, because you can hear shoes squeak and, at times, invidual fans talking over the announcers.
That's not the case when Duke visits though, and it won't be the case Saturday.
Despite the many inadequacies of the Dean Dome, when the fans are focused, it is a very difficult place to play.
That's what Kentucky will get on Saturday. Toss in the fact that UNC's season has been so up and down and that this is a much more critical game than it would normally be, and it's a potential buzz saw for Kentucky.
Of course, that depends on which UNC shows up. We're betting that the highly competitive team makes it Saturday.
Interestingly, after playing UNC, Kentucky has scheduled a potential trap game of epic proportions: Belmont will visit Lexington next Saturday, and follow that, three days after Christmas, Louisville.
Belmont is dangerous enough, but given Kentucky's youth, who do you think will be more focused right after Christmas? We're getting a bit ahead of things, but what would the atmosphere in Lexington be if the 'Cats suffered a three game losing streak?
We'll deal more with Saturday's games tomorrow, but two quick notes: talk about pressure. Notre Dame's season could completely implode if things don't turn around quickly. Playing at Indiana is not the ideal game right now, but it's an opportunity, too. The Irish need a break; more specifically, Mike Brey's team needs to make one.
Not that it's on the same level, but we're also curious about Clemson. Furman isn't the measuring stick we'd prefer, but still, the team seems to be maturing and coming together nicely.
Savannah State. Fresno. Howard. Lehigh. Texas Tech. Stanford. Duquesne. Penn State. Loyola Marymount.
Those are the teams Pitt's played so far, and Pitt's beaten them all.
Savannah State is 2-9. Fresno is 6-4. Howard is 2-10. Lehigh is 6-5. Texas Tech is 6-3. Stanford is 6-2. Duquesne is 3-4. Penn State is 8-3. Loyola Marymount is 6-3.
Of these, Stanford is the best team. Otherwise? It's not what you could really call a dynamic lineup.
Yet some of the players are offended that Pitt isn't ranked. But why? You can't demand a ranking on beating these nine teams.
Pitt put together what some consider the weakest schedule in the country. It's going to take more than 9-0 to be ranked. Cincinnati's coming on the 17th. That'd be a nice win and Pitt's got a great shot, since Cincinnati will be coming off the epic annual game with Xavier three days prior.
We'll know more soon, maybe Pitt turns out to be great, but as of today, as of this moment, 9-0 against that schedule gets nothing.