The night obviously isn't over, but there have been a few important results already. Let's get to them:
Louisville 71, #13 Marquette 51
Louisville plays good defense in general, and they were very active in this one... but you need a little bit of help from your opponent for them to have an o-fer night from behind the arc. All in all, the Golden Eagles shot 30% from the field, which you can't do if you're going to hang with an underrated Louisville team. This was a tough game for Marquette in that a win wouldn't exactly send shock waves through the basketball world, but a loss wasn't all too unlikely even if they shot well. Louisville is getting healthy, which means that they are turning into the elite team that a lot of analysts thought they would be during the pre-season. The RPI is up into the Top 40, and will continue to improve if the Cardinals keep playing this kind of suffocating defense. Meanwhile, Marquette fails to cash in on Georgetown's loss earlier this week. They now have two losses in the Big East, and need to get hot quickly if they're going to make a run at the regular season conference title.
#7 Tennessee 80, #14 Vanderbilt 60
Yet another amazingly impressive performance for Tennessee. At this point, we might want to re-think the idea that all of the #1 seeds are locked up already. If the Vols can run through the SEC, they might earn a shot at a #1 seed when they head to Memphis in late February. You might as well go ahead and circle February 23rd on your calendar, because no college basketball fan is going to want to miss that match-up. Both Tennessee and Memphis ooze athletic talent and play upbeat, exciting basketball. Don't be surprised if somebody breaks 90 points in that one. As for Vanderbilt, I got some grief on the Vandy fan forums when I compared this team to last year's Clemson team. But the test will come this week. A 16-0 start followed by two fairly poor losses? Sounds a bit too familiar. They are standing on a precipice right now, and need to walk away from the edge by beating up on a pretty bad LSU team at home this weekend. To be fair, this year's Vanderbilt team is better and more senior-heavy (i.e. mature) than last year's Clemson team. I think this team will still make the Tournament with a high single-digit seed. It's not embarrassing to lose to Tennessee by any means. But keep an eye on the LSU game on Saturday, because it's followed by games at Florida and Ole Miss. A loss to LSU could be part of a 5-game losing streak. And let's just say that wouldn't be good for confidence.
Cleveland State 56, #12 Butler 52
This was due to happen. All season, Butler has been playing lackadaisical first halves and followed it up with strong second halves. Finally, a poor first half caught up with them. Although as much as this is going to be discussed as a huge upset, Horizon League fans will probably be quick to point out that Cleveland State actually went into this game with the conference lead already. They are now 6-0, with both Valpo and Butler back with two losses. Since Cleveland State has spent so much time bottom-feeding in the Horizon in recent years, can the Vikings hang onto this lead? I'm not ready to say that quite yet. Butler is still obviously the best team in the conference, and Valpo has a history of winning big games under Homer Drew. Cedric Jackson and J'Nathan Bullock are both having great seasons, but I haven't seen enough of them to really compare their overall talent level to the other big boys in the Horizon League. But even if this team fails in its effort to steal a Tournament bid, the aforementioned dynamic duo is a set of Juniors. Keeping in mind how much talent Butler loses to graduation (Graves, Green & Betko), Cleveland State could very well find itself the favorites to win the conference next year.