College basketball’s major conference tournaments really kick into gear around the country on Wednesday. Teddy Covers and Paul Howard give their takes on the SportsBIT show on some of the day’s most important games. Track game scores & line updates using SBR Odds.
In the ACC, No. 14 Duke takes the floor in Brooklyn against hard-luck Clemson. Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils are only about seven players deep and struggled down the stretch in losing three of five. Would it benefit the Dukies to lose early in this tournament to get guys like Amile Jefferson and Grayson Allen 100 percent healthy for the Big Dance? Clemson was just 6-12 in the ACC’s regular season but competitive in nearly every game. The Tigers’ last five ACC losses came by a combined 12 points. They opened tournament play Tuesday with an easy 75-61 win over NC State.
Patriot League Final
One mid-major conference tournament will conclude Wednesday as Bucknell hosts Lehigh for the Patriot League championship. Bucknell was the regular-season champion at 15-3 in the conference, winning the regular-season title for the sixth time in the past seven years. However, the Bison haven’t made the Big Dance since 2013. Lehigh was second in the Patriot League at 12-6 and swept Bucknell by scores of 82-71 (road) and 79-71 (home). The Mountain Hawks haven’t made the NCAA Tournament since 2012.
Big 12 Tournament
With Oklahoma State and No. 23 Iowa State getting an early start (12:30 p.m. ET) Thursday in the Big 12 Tournament, Teddy and Pauly will also analyze that intriguing matchup. The Cowboys were ranked No. 1 in the nation in offensive efficiency this season and averaged 84.5 points in two games vs. the Cyclones — but lost them both. Home many times in NCAA history has a team in a major conference scored 169 points in a season series and got swept? Undoubtedly not many. Oklahoma State’s defense has been a problem all year. The winner of this one gets No. 1 Kansas on Friday.
Big Wins and Surprise Comebacks
Wisconsin-Milwaukee was looking to have the most losses of any team entering the NCAA Tournament in history with 23, but the Panthers on Tuesday lost the Horizon League final to Northern Kentucky, which will make its first-ever Big Dance appearance. Milwaukee was +5.5 and lost by six, 59-53. Two free throws with three seconds left were the difference between a Milwaukee cover — it also missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer. In the NBA, those backing Dallas at -9 vs. the Lakers thought it was in the bag with the Mavs up 21 with two minutes left. The Lakers closed on a 12-2 meaningless run to make Mavs backers sweat. Dallas star Dirk Nowitzki became the sixth player with 30,000 career points in the game and first foreign-born player.