Before I get to the games, some big news in that Stefhon Hannah is now done for his career at Missouri. It's a shame that the kid couldn't get his behavior under control, because he was really establishing himself as a star in the Big 12. He was an all-Big 12 quality player, but I have to question whether he has any NBA future. He can definitely get a job in Europe, but I guess we'll have to see. Sean Williams had life after being kicked off Boston College, so you never know. Anyway, to the games:
#17 UConn 84, #18 Notre Dame 78
UConn continues to tear through everybody in its path. And this despite the fact that Hasheem Thabeet had his worst game in a while - Luke Harangody outscored him by 28. But UConn's guards were just too quick for Notre Dame, which is a solid team but just seems a bit slow on the perimeter. They are also a mere 2-3 in true road games this season, something which you'll have to look at when March comes around (teams with poor road records tend to do poorly in Tournament situations). Certainly Notre Dame is still a Top 25 team, and they're still headed for a good seed in the Tournament. But this loss means that they now have very long odds at making a run for the Big East title. UConn jumps into third place in the conference, and the RPI is up to a sterling 10th. I don't think they really have a shot at a #1 seed because of the struggles early in the season, but there's no reason that UConn can't get a #2 seed if they can find a way to finish strong and take the Big East Tournament.
#14 Wisconsin 68, #12 Indiana 66
A great tight game, with a lot of scoring and action for a Big Ten game. So of course, the vast majority of people in Indiana and Wisconsin were unable to watch the game. What you saw in this one was, once again, the large amount of maturity and poise from the Wisconsin upperclassmen. They just hang in there and get the points from whoever is open and feeling it - in this one it was sophomore Jason Bohannon with a career high 18 points, all on six three pointers. Indiana, meanwhile, seems to be a bit too much about the Eric Gordon show. Don't get me wrong, Eric Gordon is a great player. But DJ White is a great player, too, and he didn't see the ball nearly enough in the last five minutes of the game because of so many isolation sets for Gordon. With the win, Wisconsin stays in the Big Ten title hunt. They are now alone in second place, although they'll need some help since they've already been swept by Purdue. The real worry here has to be for Indiana. The Hoosiers have done a great job of taking care of business, but they have absolutely been unable to close a big win. This loss drops them to 0-4 against the RPI Top 50. That is very worrisome for a team that had spent so much time this year in the Top Ten. They have their twenty wins, but they need something to brag about. And they get a great chance this coming week, when both Michigan State and Purdue come to Assembly Hall. And Ohio State comes to Bloomington the week after. Indiana absolutely needs to win two of those three games if they want to stay in consideration for something like a four or a five seed. As a side note, be aware that AJ Ratliff is done for the season. And ESPN is reporting that Kelvin Sampson is being investigated for yet more rules violations. Bad day for Hoosier fans.
Duquesne 63, Dayton 61
Dayton's collapse continues, as this is now their sixth loss in eight games. They're almost all healthy, but it almost doesn't matter at this point. It's clear that the pressure of expectations just got to this team. At 4-6 they could still finish 9-7, and a 5-1 finish to get there would probably be enough for an at-large bid. But does anybody see this team turning it around to win five of their next six games? I don't. The once-lofty RPI is down to 27th, as well. But while Dayton is heading down, Duquesne is on the way up. This is now three straight games over good teams - St. Joe's, Lasalle and Dayton. The RPI is up close to 70th and the Sagarin is nice as well. Most analysts will consider this an upset, but Sagarin's PREDICTOR lived up to its name - heading into tonight's games, Duquesne was 41st and Dayton was 79th. The Dukes obviously wouldn't be in the Tournament if the season ended now, but they're not out of this thing. At 6-4 in the Atlantic Ten, they've possibly leaped ahead of Dayton in the conference pecking order. They're definitely a team to keep an eye on.
LSU 85, Florida 73
Maybe they should've fired Brady earlier. Clearly the team is playing some inspired ball right now. Just lights out shooting in this one (60% from the field). Too bad all they can do at this point is play spoiler. And spoil Florida's week they did. The Gators were denied their 20th win, and their SEC record drops to a mediocre 6-4. More importantly, the RPI took an absolute tumble out of the top 50. They head to Tennessee next, and assuming they don't win that, it's going to be a struggle just to get to 9-7. And I don't know if 9-7 will be enough for a team out of a weak SEC without any real out-of-conference wins to brag about. This might have been a look-ahead game with the Vols coming to town. The Gators could definitely use that win. An at-large bid is absolutely an iffy proposition right now - that RPI is just unacceptable. And the Sagarin ratings will be mediocre as well (they were 34th before this loss - I'm sure they'll drop well out of the Top 40 with this loss). Florida has a lot of young talent, but they clearly lack the floor experience needed for consistency.