NCAA Hoops Roundup: Thornton’s 32 lead LSU over Florida, BC knocks off FSU, Carter beats Nebraska at the buzzer, UConn-Marquette tonight

Thornton might be the most underrated player in the country. (Pic via tigerrag.com)

Thornton might be the most underrated player in the country. (Pic via tigerrag.com)

No. 18 LSU made it 12 straight wins in SEC play by downing Florida 81-75 on Fat Tuesday behind another strong performance by G Marcus Thornton.

The former JUCO transfer hit five 3-pointers in the first half and finished with 32 points. He is averaging 20.5 ppg this season and should challenge Kentucky’s Jodie Meeks for POY honors in the SEC.

Garrett Temple scored a career-high 21 for the Tigers and helped harass Florida star Nick Calathes, who finished with 12 points on 4-11 shooting.

LSU is now 24-4 overall and 12-1 in the SEC. Florida is 21-7 and 8-5. Without a great conference record and a signature win, the Gators need to finish strong in order to make the NCAA tournament.

Meanwhile, LSU looks to be a lock for a three seed in the Big Dance. Trent Johnson has done a wonderful job in his first season in Baton Rouge and deserves consideration for National Coach of the Year.

Thornton will likely be relegated to second team All-SEC behind Calathes and Meeks.

Although Meeks has better numbers and ESPN’s Brad Nessler and Jimmy Dykes gushing all over him during any SEC broadcast, Thornton’s Tigers are much better than Meeks’ Wildcats. While the Tigers have other options offensively, the Wildcats have little beyond Patrick Patterson and need Meeks to shoot 20-25 times each game to be successful.

Boston College 72, No. 23 FSU 67

Tyrese Rice had a quiet game by his standards, but hit a 3-pointer with 20 seconds remaining to help the Eagles hold off the ‘Noles to defeat another ranked team.

Rice finished with 11 points and helped frustrate FSU star Toney Douglas, who shot just 5-18 from the field and finished with 19 points. Joe Trapani scored 17 and Rakim Sanders added 16 for BC.

Amazingly, a team that lost to Harvard and St. Louis earlier this season has a great chance to make the NCAA tournament. Wins over UNC, Duke, and now FSU make the Eagles an attractive team. An 8-6 record in the ACC should be good enough, but the Eagles still have some work to do.

Texas A&M 57, Nebraska 55

As arch-enemy ESPN commentator Doug Gottlieb sat courtside, Nebraska’s Cookie Miller missed two free throws with 19 seconds remaining leaving the door open for A&M’s Josh Carter to do this:

Both of these teams will likely earn NIT births.

Earlier this season, Gottlieb said that Miller was “acting like a punk” during an altercation that took place in the Kansas-Nebraska game. That prompted an angry “Big Cookie” Miller, father of “Little Cookie” Miller, to demand an apology from Gottlieb.

I know, who cares.

No. 2 UConn visits No. 8 Marquette in lovely Milwaukee tonight

I plan on snuggling up in my Snuggie at about 6 PM CST tonight to watch this game. These teams are polar opposites; Marquette has a great backcourt and a small, below-average frontline, while UConn lacks backcourt depth but is big and talented up front.

So who wins?

Without Jerome Dyson, UConn will struggle against Jerel McNeal, Dominic James, and Wesley Matthews. All three players can get to the rim and also have strong mid-range games. Although Jeff Adrien and Hasheem Thabeet have a huge advantage inside, UConn has struggled to get the ball inside consistently this season. Thabeet gets most of his points off dunks and layups, but rarely dominates offensively.

A.J. Price will be the key to tonight’s game. The UConn senior guard has really matured this season, but he will need to have a huge game for the Huskies to win tonight.

I like Marquette, largely because this is a home game for the Golden Eagles. Tonight should be fun.

Other games of interest tonight

Kentucky visits South Carolina – Kentucky is a relatively average team that gets a lot of attention thanks to Jodie Meeks. Devan Downey and South Carolina are solid, and I like the Cocks tonight in a pivotal SEC East matchup.

No. 7 Duke visits Maryland – Sweaty Gary Williams might need IVs after this one. The Terps absolutely need to win to keep the dream of making the Big Dance alive, but it probably won’t happen tonight. Duke’s guards are slow, small, and bad, so look for Greivis Vasquez to drop 30 tonight. Also look for Duke to win by at least 10.

Virginia Tech visits No. 12 Clemson – It doesn’t seem like Clemson ever plays a road game, and they host a tough Hokie team tonight. Virginia Tech is talented but inconsistent, so who knows what will happen. Since Clemson is also talented and inconsistent, I like the Hokies tonight.

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