#12 Tennessee 90, #16 Georgetown 78
One thing that I noticed during this game was, to invent a word here, the great "spurt-ability" of Tennessee. It seemed like Georgetown would repeatedly push out to a small lead, only to have it swamped by a 10-0 or 14-2 run by Tennessee. Tennessee eventually had a little spurt that Georgetown couldn't respond to, late in the game, and that was it. The fierce Volunteer defense forced 12 steals that led to a whole lot of fast break points. The game was also a coming out party for Cameron Tatum, who hit 5-for-6 from behind the arc, including 14 second half points. He keyed the final run that put Tennessee over the top. At this point, with the shape that the SEC is in, the Vols have got to be the solid favorites there. They are just way too deep, and way too athletic. Georgetown, meanwhile, showed improvement from their stinker against Wichita State, but they still don't look as good as they could be. They show flashes of why they could eventually win the Big East, but show too many lapses in concentration. They need to do a better job of grinding out wins. They'll get another chance against a good opponent in the final game of the Old Spice Classic, where they'll play either Maryland or Gonzaga. Either will be a good win, if Georgetown can earn it.
Baylor 72, Providence 56
At some point, this Baylor team will get the respect that it deserves. After bringing back almost everybody from a team that was pretty good last year, the Bears didn't get nearly the position that they should have in the preseason polls. And they've proven that last year wasn't a fluke with a solid start to this season. But of course, the tests start getting tougher, and Arizona State will be the opponent tonight on ESPN2, at 12:30 AM ET. Of course, Arizona State will be a much tougher opponent than Providence, and they probably should beat Baylor, but that shouldn't obscure the fact that Baylor is clearly now one of the better teams now in the Big 12. Even a loss against Arizona State would still give them an opportunity against UTEP on Sunday, which would be a solid win in its own right. They also have Washington State and South Carolina ahead before the Big 12 season starts. In my opinion, Baylor is currently somewhere between the third and fifth best team in the Big 12. As for Providence, they still had a chance to prove something in this game. but this is just another disappointment in the early going so far this season. The only positive is that they get to play a team tonight that might be off to an even more disappointing start, 1-4 Charlotte. Both teams will be desperate, but neither team will likely be a serious at-large contender.
Boston College 83, UAB 77
Tyrese Rice and Rakim Sanders are still at BC, and Joe Trapani is an excellent transfer. Together, they make up the lineup of an underrated BC team that is pretty far under the radar of most fans at this point. The close losses to Saint Louis and Purdue had them at a mediocre 3-2 record coming in here, but this marks their best win of the season and a potential springboard into the rest of the out-of-conference slate. The next test is Iowa during the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, and UMass and Providence are still ahead. Boston College hasn't had the best of all possible starts to a season, but they haven't done any big damage to their resume either. They're still very much in the at-large picture. UAB, meanwhile, loses its second straight game to an elite opponent. They continue to suffer from the fact that nobody else is stepping up to join the outstanding duo of fourth-year senior Lawrence Kinnard and eighth-year senior Robert Vaden (actually, it only feels like he's been around eight years). Without a third quality starter, UAB will continue to be good, but might not be quite good enough to earn an at-large bid. Especially with the emergence of UTEP as a legitimate challenger to the second place position in Conference USA. They have a slew of difficult out-of-conference games still to go, so there are plenty more good wins out there. And I bet UAB will collect a few of them. But they'll also collect a few more losses, and you've got to have a sexy won-loss record when you're not in a power conference. The Blazers really need to avoid too many more losses, even quality losses like this one.
#5 Duke 95, Duquesne 72
A rare game outside of a tournament for an elite team this week. Another impressive win for Duke, although yet another game that they were able to win with high intensity guard play and without much of a contribution by any bigs. They managed to force 14 steals, and that led to a whole lot of easy fast break points (ending up with an inflated 55% shooting from the field, despite relatively mediocre jump shooting). Lance Thomas was actually the primary big here for Duke, which is acceptable for Duquesne, but not for the ACC powers. There's no question that Duke is an excellent team, but I can't move them to a 1 seed without a good center or power forward. Even if they do possibly have the best set of guards in the nation.