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March 9, 2009
Monday with Mike: The biggest disappointments
With the regular season over and focus now turning to the league tournaments, it's time to unveil the biggest disappointments in each of the "Big Six" leagues this season.
Big East: Notre Dame
Big Ten: Purdue
Big 12: Baylor
No Davidson this time around
There will be no repeat NCAA run for Davidson – well, unless the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee is long on sentimentality. Davidson fell 59-52 to College of Charleston in a Southern Conference tourney semifinal Sunday, and Davidson doesn't have the resume to be a legit at-large contender. Had the Wildcats lost in the tourney final, maybe they have a case. But they don't really have one now.
Curry was stymied by an athletic Charleston defense, and no teammate stepped up. One day after he scored 43 points in an 84-68 quarterfinal win over Appalachian State, Curry finished with 20 points Sunday in Davidson's second loss to Charleston this season. He was 5-of-18 from the field and 2-of-11 from 3-point range, and looked tired at the end of the game.
As usual, he was the focal point of an opposing defense. Last season, point guard Jason Richards was the guy who orchestrated Davidson's offense; this season, Curry had to play the point, which meant trying to get his teammates involved as well as looking for his own shot. Curry did lead the nation in scoring this season, but the Wildcats as a whole were noticeably weaker than they were last season. The reason? The supporting cast just wasn't that good. Think about Curry on a high-level team, surrounded by other top-flight talent, and the possibilities would be scary.
Davidson is guaranteed an NIT bid, but the biggest storyline is whether Curry will return for his senior season. If he doesn't, that means his college career will end in a second-tier postseason tourney. That – frankly – is sad, considering his exploits in last season's NCAA tourney.
Part of the allure of the NCAA tourney is unknown and/or outmanned teams forcing themselves into the nation's basketball consciousness. Curry and Davidson did that last season. It's up to someone else this season.
The ACC has had the most No. 1 seeds this decade with 10, followed by the Pac-10 with seven; the Big Ten and Big 12 with five each; the SEC and Conference USA with three each; and the Atlantic 10 with one. One of C-USA's came in 2002, when Cincinnati was a league member.
One season after getting four bids, the Big Ten could get eight this season. That would tie the all-time record, set by the Big East in 2006; the Big East also had eight last season.
DePaul (Big East) and Air Force (Mountain West) finished up winless conference seasons over the weekend. The only other winless team in league play was Southeast Missouri State (Ohio Valley).
You win some, you lose some. The Austin Peay women won the Ohio Valley tournament final in double-overtime to qualify for the NCAA tourney. The Austin Peay men lost in double-overtime in the final to Morehead State.