March 7, 2022
Daily Briefing — March 7, 2022: WILDCATS STRIKE — Kentucky upsets South Carolina for SEC championship
Siegrist vs. Bueckers is on tap for tonight
It’s Monday, I’m sorry! Welcome to The Next’s Daily Briefing, featuring the daily Watch List and Yesterday’s Recap! Day 117 of college basketball is here, following Kentucky’s first SEC tournament championship in four decades, thanks to continued excellent shooting and a hell of a performance from Dre’una Edwards. This is a Wildcats team that lost to Texas A&M, the second-worst team in the conference, exactly one month ago. And they just became only the second team to beat No. 1 South Carolina this season, in the most dramatic fashion possible.
Elsewhere: N.C. State, Stanford, and Iowa took home the biggest hardware, but UMass and Longwood deserve much acclaim for pulling off upsets to take their leagues’ automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. This is, as your calendar may inform you, March.
Now let’s go watch Maddy Siegrist against a fully loaded UConn.
Watch List, Monday, March 7
(All times in Eastern)
#7 UConn v. Villanova, 8 p.m., FS1 — Big East championship
Troy v. UT-Arlington, 2 p.m., ESPNU — Sun Belt championship
Sunday, March 6 recap
#5 Baylor: 82-57 win over Texas Tech, ensuring the Bears’ regular-season championship is won outright. Baylor shot 57.1% from the field and 40.0% from three, while assisting on 24 of its 32 buckets. Big NaLyssa Smith led with 35 points — her third-straight game with at least 28 — on 13-for-21 from the field (1-4 3pt.) and 8-for-8 from the line and 12 rebounds for a double-double, plus two steals against three turnovers; combo guard Jaden Owens had 13 points off the bench on a perfect 5-for-5 shooting with 3-for-3 from three, plus two assists and no turnovers.
RV Princeton: 73-53 win over Harvard. Shot 23.1% better than the Crimson. Big Ellie Mitchell led with a 15-point, 12-rebound double-double on 7-for-8 FG, plus two assists and no turnovers.
(All rankings below reflect tournament seeding)
ACC tournament, championship
#1 N.C. State beat #7 Miami, 60-47. The Wolfpack ended the first half on a 10-0 run, and that was all she wrote. N.C. State is the first team to three-peat in the ACC tournament since Notre Dame four-peated across the Jewell Loyd/Arike Ogunbowale/Brianna Turner/Marina Mabrey years. (In the 21st century, North Carolina has also four-peated while Duke won five straight.) Two automatic qualifiers down!
Wolfpack center Elissa Cunane led with 17 points on 5-for-11 from the field (0-2 3pt.) and 7-for-8 from the line and eight rebounds (three offensive) in 26 minutes. As stated yesterday, Miami’s secured itself an at-large bid.
Big Ten tournament, championship
#2 Iowa beat #5 Indiana, 74-67. The Hawkeyes swept the regular-season and tournament championships for the first time in program history. Three automatic qualifiers down!
Iowa shot 50.0% from the field but only 2-for-14 from three. Center Monika Czinano led with 30 points on 14-for-18 FG (4-6 FT) and 10 rebounds (three offensive) for a double-double, plus two assists without a turnover; point guard Caitlin Clark had 18 points on 6-for-17 from the field and 1-for-7 from three, seven rebounds, two assists, five turnovers, and four fouls in 39 minutes; off-ball guard Kate Martin notched 14 points (6-13 FG, 1-4 3pt.), four rebounds, eight assists, and two blocks.
Hoosier point guard Grace Berger and combo guard Nicole Cardaño-Hillary combined for 39 points on 17-for-41 shooting (2-10 3pt.), 14 rebounds, and seven assists, with the latter adding four steals and two blocks. Indiana is probably about even odds to host NCAA tournament games.
Pac-12 tournament, championship
#1 Stanford beat #6 Utah, 73-46. The Cardinal have now won the Pac-12 tournament in an even-numbered year for the first time since 2012 (they’ve won every tournament in an odd-numbered year in that span). Four automatic qualifiers down!
Won the second half, 41-18. 13 Cardinal players played. Point wing Haley Jones led with 19 points on 6-for-15 from the field and 3-for-4 from three — as with Brink shooting threes in recent games, we’re all screwed — six rebounds, four assists, two steals, and two blocks against three turnovers; center Cameron Brink was limited to 18 minutes on four fouls, finishing with 16 points on 8-for-12 shooting (0-2 3pt,), four rebounds, and four blocks against two turnovers.
Utah should very easily be dancing in a couple weeks.
SEC tournament, championship
#7 Kentucky beat #1 South Carolina, 64-62. The Wildcats go from likely out of the NCAA tournament in the event of a first-round exit to a 16-point upset win (per Her Hoop Stats) for their first tournament championship in 40 years! Five automatic qualifiers down! Big Dre’una Edwards scored the final seven points of the game, including this game-winning three (while down one point lol):
If you’re wondering how this happened: Kentucky has basically shot the ever-loving crap out of the ball the past four games, while cutting down on turnovers. Nothing else has really changed (the defense has actually notably worsened), but boy have they shot well: Rhyne Howard shot 43.4% FG%/34.7% 3P% in the regular-season and 58.0%/50.0% in the tournament; Dre’una Edwards went from 52.3%/31.9% to 54.9%/57.1%; Robyn Benton from 42.4%/34.6% to 50.0%/50.0%; Treasure Hunt from 36.5%/22.4% to 38.7%/40.0%; Massengil from 31.0% from three to 37.0% while taking only two two-pointers.
Edwards led the Wildcats with 27 points off the bench on 11-for-21 shooting (3-5 3pt.) and nine rebounds against three turnovers and four fouls in 33 minutes. Center Aliyah Boston led the Gamecocks with 21 points on 9-for-18 FG (0-1 3pt.) and 11 rebounds (five offensive) for a double-double, plus three assists and two blocks against three turnovers; wing Zia Cooke and point guard Destanni Henderson combined to shoot 8-for-27 from the field and 6-for-12 from three. South Carolina is still going to be the No. 1-overall seed.
Big East tournament, semifinals
#1 UConn beat #5 Marquette, 71-51. Won the first quarter 22-6. Shot 50.0% from the field and 38.9% from three. Wing Evina Westbrook led with 14 points on 5-for-9 shooting (3-4 3pt.), four rebounds, and two assists against three turnovers. Marquette’s season is over.
#2 Villanova beat #6 Seton Hall, 64-55. Wildcat big wing Maddy Siegrist led with a 24-point, 14-rebound double-double on 10-for-20 from the field and 3-for-7 from three, plus two assists, four steals, and two blocks against three turnovers. The Pirates’ season is over.
A-10 tournament, championship
#3 UMass beat #1 Dayton, 62-56, avenging a nine-point loss to the Flyers back in January for the Minutewomen’s first-ever conference tournament title. Six automatic qualifiers down!
Dayton ought to get an at-large bid, in my non-certified-bracketologist opinion.
SoCon tournament, championship
#1 Mercer beat #3 Furman, 73-54. The Bears won their fourth SoCon tournament title in the past five years, thanks to a 30-4 third quarter, if you can believe it. Seven automatic qualifiers down!
Big South, championship
#2 Longwood mollywhopped #1 Campbell, 86-47, for its first-ever conference tournament title. These teams had met in mid-January, when the Camels beat the Lancers by 28. Eight automatic qualifiers down!
#9 Utah State beat #8 Fresno State, 80-75. The Bulldogs had a 99.2% win expectancy with a six-point lead and under 80 seconds remaining, after having led by 14 at the 6:15 mark in the fourth quarter. The Aggies closed with a three, a drawn-foul, technical free-throws, common free-throws, and a pick-six to take the lead.