#1 North Carolina 98, Oregon 69
We knew North Carolina was good, but my goodness. They were up 51-22 at halftime before taking their foot off the pedal. What amazed me most was the way that they actually outhustled Oregon for the entire first half, to the point that Ernie Kent reportedly had the challenge the manhood of his players during a timeout. Oregon is a pretty good team, and they were just annihilated. It can be argued that the best player on the floor for Carolina was Danny Green (21 points, 8 rebounds), which means it's going to be difficult to argue that Marcus Ginyard should get his spot back in the starting lineup whenever he gets healthy. And yet another double-double by Ed Green off the bench means that Tyler Zeller is really not going to be missed very much. And this brings up the Notre Dame game tonight, which any college basketball fan absolutely needs to watch. If UNC looks invulnerable yet again then I think we'll start hearing "undefeated season" whispered. For Oregon, obviously they didn't play well here, but nobody is going to hold it against them for losing to North Carolina. They get another chance for a huge win tonight, against Texas. They have a few more chances for solid wins before Pac-10 play begins. But the key will be intensity and hustle. When they look like the Kamikaze Kids, Version 2.0, they're a good enough team to make the Tournament.
Syracuse 89, #23 Kansas 81, OT
Another night, another former NCAA Champion, another victory. Just one night after taking out Florida, the 2006 and 2007 NCAA Champions, Jim Boeheim's boys took out the defending 2008 NCAA Champion Kansas. This game was once again the Jonny Flynn show, but all of the Syracuse stars played well here. When Arinze Onuaku can stay out of foul trouble, he joins Flynn, Eric Devendorf and Paul Harris to make an excellent quartet. I still feel like they're a fifth starter away from being a true contender in the Big East, but the aforementioned quartet is plenty good to take Syracuse to the top half of the Big East and the inevitable at-large bid (since it's unlikely that the 16-team Big East will get less than 8 Tournament bids). For Kansas, this game was a bit of a reality check that last year's stars can't be so easily replaced. They blew the lead in this one because they lacked a star who could control the game and ice it. And when they had a chance for one last score in regulation, they failed to get any kind of a decent shot. If I had to pick one young guy to eventually become a floor general for this team, I'd go with freshman Tyshawn Taylor, who has improved in each of his outings. Taylor finished second on the team to only Sherron Collins with 17 points here. Even with this loss, it's still been a good start to the season for Kansas, as they've proved that they're not going to be like Florida or Ohio State last year - they're going to be a Tournament team, and it's only a question of how high of a seed they're going to earn. The next true test for them actually won't be until January, when they open up the year with Tennessee and Michigan State on successive Saturdays. They could potentially go undefeated until that Tennessee game.
Arkansas-Little Rock 71, Creighton 69
I didn't even see this game mentioned on Sportscenter, but this is a huge game as far as future bubble implications go. Creighton got a big lead early, and just took their foot off the gas before the game was no longer in doubt. They let their inferior opponents get confident and make it close, and they let it come down to the final possessions, where anything can happen. A very disappointing coaching performance by Dana Altman, who shouldn't have let this happen. This loss could be absolutely devastating for the at-large chances of Creighton, a team that is good enough to make the Tournament, but not necessarily good enough to absorb a horrible loss like this. Without any teams currently ranked on their remaining season schedule, it's all about avoiding the bad losses. Creighton really needs to get on a winning roll right now. Without any of the other Missouri Valley teams (other than SIU) really impressing me right now, it is possible for a second straight one-bid season for the Valley.