First weekend without college football, and it's basketball's turn to provide entertainment for the anti-social amongst us. For those that put in a few hours of viewing, we learned more about struggling teams with great reputations (Duke, Georgetown, Kentucky), and found some teams getting themselves into the thick of the at-large discussion (Purdue) while others blew their shot (Western Kentucky). So without further ado, let's get to it:
#9 Duke 69, George Mason 53
This game was a lot closer than the final score, which shouldn't be too comforting to Blue Devils fans. The defense looked good, but we already knew that they had good defense. One bright spot was that the offense looked a bit more aggressive than in past games. They also turned the ball over less, limiting bad turnovers against an aggressive George Mason defense. Still, if they can barely score in the 60's against a Colonial team, what shot do they have to score the 80+ points they'll need to hang with UNC?
Kentucky 59, Indiana 54
Not a good game for Kentucky. Indiana isn't a great team, and they didn't play a great game, but Kentucky simply could not put them away. It was a give-and-take game the whole way. One thing that was especially disturbing was that Kentucky got outrebounded by the Hoosiers. With the height advantage that Kentucky had, that just shouldn't happen. Randolph Morris played well, but he needs some more support on the inside. The SEC has a bunch of good frontlines, and Kentucky needs one to compete.
Georgetown 73, Oral Roberts 58
Compared to how the Hoyas have played lately, this was actually a good win. Roy Hibbert played a lot like JTIII has been expecting, bringing down season highs in points (23) and rebounds (11). Oral Roberts is no pushover, but I'm afraid it's going to take a lot more than this to get Georgetown back in the Top 25 and back in contention in the Big East, despite the poor play from the Big East lately (currently ranked 6th in conference RPI). There are a lot of talented players on Georgetown - atleast one of them has to step up and become a star.
#20 Wisconsin 70, #12 Marquette 66
A great win for Wisconsin in the "Wisconsin State Championship." Not only does this game have recruiting repercussions, but it was also something of a coming out game for both Marcus Landry and Trevon Hughes. Along with Jason Bohannon and another year from Michael Flowers, the Badgers will still have a good backcourt after Alando Tucker and Chris Rock graduate. As for this year, Tucker had a great game, firmly establishing himself as a serious candidate for Big-10 player of the year, as well as 1st Team All-America. On a side note, an excellent coaching job from Bo Ryan, who was obviously upset by Winthrop's dominant 3-point performance in Wisconsin's last game. Ryan's teaching these past few days clearly worked, because Marquette only shot 3-for-18 from behind the arc.
Purdue 79, Missouri 62
Speaking of good performances by the Big 10, it's hard to ignore Purdue as an at-large candidate at this point. In many ways, they're the Clemson of the Big 10, continuing to win game after game until their doubters just start to melt away. Count me as a former doubter. Meanwhile, Carl Landry is looking like a solid candidate for 1st Team Big-10. Tomorrow morning they will move into the BP65 for the first time this year. Meanwhile, none of this changes the fact that Missouri is an excellent team. They still are on pace for an at-large bid.
#1 UCLA 65, #6 Texas A&M 62
Just a good game between two good teams. No real big faults for either teams, as far as physical prowess goes. UCLA just continues to win, through a very tough schedule, and has clearly earned its #1 ranking. As for the Aggies, this makes two losses in one week. Both losses were against top teams, but the questions will persist whether this team can handle the pressure of being a top team. It's not exactly a program with a great history of success. Unfortunately, we won't know too much more about Texas A&M in the near future, as they won't play another ranked team for more than a month.
Drexel 81, Villanova 76
Everyone knows that Villanova lost a ton of talent to the draft, but their poor start to the season is still very surprising. At this point Villanova isn't even a real contender to win the Big East, and has to question whether they'll make the Tournament at all. They have a great coach, and plenty of time to turn this around, but this loss is not what the Wildcats needed after a fairly mediocre start of the season and no good opponents for almost a month.
Indiana St 72, #14 Butler 64
As I've said numerous times, this was bound to happen. Butler was overhyped - they're a good team, but not a top 25 team. And they don't have too many "good" losses left, which means that they're probably only one more loss away from falling out of the rankings, with little chance to get back. The best opponent that Butler plays the rest of the way is Purdue, a game shaping up to be a great matchup between two over-achieving teams. As for Indiana State, they've proved that they can beat a good team on any night. But they have too many bad losses thus far this year to be in the BP65. Thankfully for them, unlike Butler, they have a conference with good wins and losses to be had. A finish in the upper third of the Missouri Valley could spell a Tournament bid for the Sycamores.
Southern Illinois 75, Western Kentucky 70
A huge missed opportunity for a Western Kentucky team that had overachieved thus far this year. It's a long shot to consider a Sun Belt team for an at-large bid, but the Hilltoppers had a chance if they could have won this game. Still, they're the favorite to win their conference and get in with an automatic bid.