ZERO HOUR.  Later today the NCAA Tournament field will be released and some schools will scramble to figure out who they’re playing while others will wonder what more they needed to do to get into the Big Dance.

First to the in-crowd:

#4 Virginia (26-7, 13-5 ACC) fell 61-57 to #7 North Carolina in the ACC Championship Game…going through an 8 minute drought without a basket in the second half.  Twelve straight missed shots in a span where UNC went on a 15-2 run.  It’s a shame because the  first half was absolutely fantastic basketball…the first media timeout didn’t occur until the 12:03 mark.  ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has the Cavaliers as a #1 seed in the South region facing Hampton while CBS’s Jerry Palm has them seeded 2nd in the Midwest playing Weber State…both models have the road to the Final Four starting in Raleigh.

#18 Maryland (25-8, 12-6 Big Ten) lost a tough Big Ten semifinal to #2 Michigan State 64-61.  Was it goaltending?  Perhaps in January…but not in March.  More importantly, the backcourt of Rasheed Sulaimon and Melo Trimble need an extra day off after combining to play 67 and 73 minutes in less than 24 hours.  Did that show in their combined 5-25 against the Spartans?  Good news- they’ll have at least a day off between games from here on out.  Both models have the Terps going to Spokane for the first weekend:  ESPN rates them a #4 seed in the East facing Iona, while CBS has them a #5 in the South playing Hawaii.

VCU (24-9, 14-4 Atlantic 10).  The Rams handcuffed the league’s leading scorer Jack Gibbs in a 76-54 win over Davidson…solidifying their spot in the field further.  Both models have Will Wade’s team in the East Region:  ESPN gives them a #7 seed and a first round game with Pitt in Brooklyn (Villanova the potential second round foe), while CBS has them a #9 playing USC in Raleigh…with North Carolina looming in the round of 32.

On the Outside Looking In-

George Washington (23-10, 11-7 Atlantic 10) was more than pleased to see Seton Hall win the Big East–making their win over the Pirates all the more impressive.  The Foggy Bottom faithful were understandably disappointed in Virginia’s loss to UNC…but losing twice to Saint Joseph’s may be what knocks them out of the tournament.  The Hawks if they don’t claim the A-10 automatic bid would likely be the better candidate for at-large consideration.  CBS has George Washington among the First Four Out…while ESPN doesn’t even have them in the next four missing the field.

Today’s game:

1230pm– Atlantic 10 Finals– VCU plays Saint Joseph’s (26-7, 13-5).  The Hawks entered the tournament wounded with two straight losses and needed to reach the finals for at-large consideration;  they’ve done that.  The Rams won the lone regular season meeting January 5th…an 85-82 shootout where Melvin Johnson scored 25 points.Isaiah Miles had 31 points for the Hawks in that game…and scored 26 in St. Joes’ upset of regular season champ Dayton yesterday in the Semifinals.