#13 Villanova 102, #12 Marquette 84
Things are starting to get a little nerve-racking in Milwaukee as Marquette has now lost two straight after that 9-0 start to the Big East season. Losing games tend to magnify your flaws, and Marquette certainly has a few flaws. They have a tendency to chuck up too many three-pointers (they actually hit them at a good rate in this game, but over the long run you can't win consistently being so satisfied launching 25-footers), they are a poor free throw shooting team, and their team defense isn't very good (even though they do have some great individual defenders). Marquette does have a great chance to figure things out as their next two games are home games against St. John's and Seton Hall. And while it's hard to imagine anybody being under-the-radar in the insanely over-hyped Big East, I think it's fair to say that most people don't realize how good Villanova is. They have now won six straight Big East games and are 8-3 overall. With a very easy schedule remaining, this team actually still has an outside chance at earning a share of a Big East title. The RPI is up to 10th, and Villanova is on pace for a very impressive Tournament seed.
#1 UConn 63, #22 Syracuse 49
A disappointing game for both of these teams. For Syracuse, they just played terribly. They shot 32% from the field, and couldn't really do much of anything right. As for UConn, they played well in the game, but at a very high cost. Jerome Dyson injured his knee, and while it's still unclear how bad it is, it does seem clear that he's going to miss some time. That is a devastating loss for a team trying desperately to hang onto that top seed. They've still got two games left with Pitt, and cannot afford to be shorthanded for those if they're going to stay atop the Big East. Meanwhile, all you have to know about Syracuse's Tournament chances is that Jim Boeheim is starting to complain to the media about the Tournament system. The guy is a great coach, but I really have never seen anybody complain nearly as much as he has about the Selection Committee. He wouldn't be complaining if his team wasn't suddenly a mere 6-6 in the Big East. Still, they a bunch of nice out-of-conference wins (Kansas, Memphis, Florida), and the computer numbers are very good. If they get to 9-9 in the Big East, they're almost a lock for the Tournament. Their upcoming schedule is rough, though, so getting to 9-9 will not be easy.
Dayton 71, #14 Xavier 58
Just a massive win for a Dayton team that is starting to smell that Tournament bid that so cruelly evaded them last season. They've now pulled into a tie atop the A-10 with Xavier, and are 22-3 with a sterling 7-1 record against the RPI Top 100. They'd definitely be in the Tournament if the season ended now, and Dayton just has to avoid bad losses from here on out. If they win the games they're supposed to win for the rest of the regular season they're going to enter the A-10 tournament worrying only about what Tournament seed they'll end up earning. Xavier's resume is still very strong as well, but they've got to be careful as they've now collected two straight losses after only losing two games all season before that. Road games at Duquesne and Dayton are both very tough match-ups, so neither of the losses are too bad, but these losses are really devastating to Xavier's chances for a top seed. At this point, their ceiling might be a 3 seed. They'll have to basically win out the rest of the season to get to a 2 seed.