Big-time Big Ten carries Day 4 of March Madness; T-Mac hosts the Rockets at MSG

03.22.10 9 years ago 15 Comments

After the first three days of the NCAA Tournament belonged to lovable underdogs like Jimmer Fredette, Ali Farokhmanesh, Cornell and the St. Mary’s Hoosiers, Day 4 belonged to the big dogs — a.k.a. the Big Ten. Thanks to Korie Lucious and Chris Kramer‘s clutch play and Evan Turner‘s overall dominance, we’re headed to the Sweet Sixteen with the Big Ten having more teams still standing (Ohio State, Michigan State, Purdue) than any other conference, including the much-hyped Big East … Michigan State was trailing Maryland by one with six seconds left after Greivis Vasquez (26 pts, 8 asts, 3 stls) hit a tough shot in the lane. The Spartans got it to Lucious (13 pts), and the sophomore calmly found his spot and drained a three at the buzzer. Lucious was only on the court because star junior PG Kalin Lucas had gotten hurt in the first half. Tom Izzo later said Lucas tore his Achilles, a crushing blow for the Spartans and a crappy way for Lucas to end his season. Even with Lucas out, MSU still has to be considered the favorite over Northern Iowa and you can’t write them off as a Final Four candidate … Meanwhile, Purdue went to overtime with Texas A&M, and after JaJuan Johnson stuffed A&M’s Brian Davis at the rim, the Boilermakers had the ball with 10 seconds left and the score tied. Kramer (17 pts, 7 rebs, 3 stls), a senior guard known more as a defensive specialist than a scorer, got into the lane on a crossover and got a layup in traffic. A&M got off a three at the buzzer, but it missed … Ohio State didn’t have as much drama in their win over Georgia Tech. Turner was simply the best player on the floor, putting up 24 points, 9 boards and 9 assists. Throw in his 9 turnovers, and the national P.O.Y. favorite almost had a quadruple-double … Wisconsin was also in the running to advance out of the Big Ten, but they got 20-pieced by Cornell … So what happened to the Big East? With 2-seed Villanova and 3-seed Pitt getting upset in Round Two, following Georgetown, Marquette, Notre Dame, and Louisville losing in the first round, that leaves only Syracuse (smacked Gonzaga yesterday) and West Virginia (beat Missouri) left in the Sweet Sixteen. Granted, the Orange and the Mountaineers are legit national title threats, but overall this wasn’t a good showing for the powerhouse conference … And in yesterday’s only game that didn’t involve a Big East or Big Ten team, Duke continued cruising toward the Final Four, disposing of Cal and making sure there would be no Jason Kidd/Bobby Hurley flashback. That the Blue Devils could crush a decent opponent even though Jon Scheyer shot 1-for-11 is bad news for the rest of the bracket …

Where most guys would do the diplomatic thing, give T-Mac credit for at least admitting he wanted to stick it to his old team. McGrady has been up and down in this stint with the Knicks, but when the Rockets came to MSG Sunday, he had some extra pep in his step. Mac filled up the stat sheet with 15 points, 7 boards, 5 dimes, 2 steals and 2 blocks, and the Knicks led by 17 at one point, but the Rockets just had too many weapons … New York was still clinging to a slim lead late in the fourth when Aaron Brooks (16 pts) went on a personal 7-0 run to put Houston ahead. Brooks hit some step-back jumpers that he set up with moves that had Danilo Gallinari hopping around like he was playing Dance Dance Revolution. Kevin Martin scored 28 in the win … McGrady said he wanted to have a big game against the Rockets, and Rick Adelman shed some light on why T-Mac’s last half-season with the franchise went downhill so fast. “He wasn’t ready to play. It’s a very simple explanation,” Adelman said. “He missed the year before, he came back and he wanted to come back and play, but last year we played him on one leg and we had Yao and Ron Artest and we were able to do that for a while and get by. But this year it was really hard to put him out there and play him when he really wasn’t ready.” … San Antonio looked like they were going to run away from Atlanta in the first half — and a couple years ago they would have put the nail in the coffin in a game like this — but the Hawks went on a 23-9 run and took the lead at halftime on a Marvin Williams (26 pts, 9 rebs) steal and buzzer-beater to make it a ballgame … During the halftime show, ESPN’s Jamal Mashburn said the Hawks would rather face Cleveland than Orlando in the playoffs, basically because Al Horford can’t do anything with Dwight Howard. Not like Horford heard that statement, but he went out and showed he could at least do something with Tim Duncan: hammering a facial and-one dunk on TD, dominating the offensive glass, getting stops while guarding Duncan (29 pts, 13 rebs) without help down the stretch, and Horford (22 pts, 18 rebs) stuck the dagger mid-range J in OT that helped seal the win. Joe Johnson added 20 points and 13 dimes, while Manu Ginobili scored 38 in the loss … Other stat lines from Sunday: Danny Granger dropped 32 points and helped hold Kevin Durant to just 16 points (4-16 FG) as Indiana knocked off Oklahoma City; Beno Udrih put up 20 points and 17 assists to lead the Tyreke-less Kings past the Clippers; Leon Powe‘s 16 points and 7 boards off the bench led six Cavs in double figures to rout the Pistons; Amar’e Stoudemire posted 18 points and 14 boards to beat Portland; and Pau Gasol had 28 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Lakers past the Wizards. Kobe scored 22 in the first half on 17 shots and appeared to be gunning for 50, but he took his foot off the gas after halftime and finished with 24 points without another FG … Did NBA TV’s Dennis Scott really call Grant Hill a “savory veteran”? As in he tastes good? Let’s just leave that one alone … We’re out like the Turtle …

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