#4 Pittsburgh 76, #1 UConn 68
This game was exactly what we would have expected: It was hard-hitting, it was exciting, and in the end Pitt won to take control of the Big East. Not only that, but Pitt is also now in the driver's seat for a 1 seed in the Tournament. There are now four teams tied atop the Big East with two losses, but I think Marquette and UConn are starting to slip. Louisville has a really easy schedule and could potentially grab a share of the conference title, but Pitt would be the one with the better resume and in the better position for a 1 seed. UConn still has a shot for a 1 seed also, because it seems clear right now that the Big East has the best shot at a second 1 seed. The key will be avoiding any bad losses, and hoping that their other 1 seed contenders continue to falter (UCLA, Duke, Michigan State, et cetera). UConn's biggest problem has always been offense, and it's going to be even more of a problem without Dyson. They also might need to find some more bench production, because they only have seven healthy players who have played more than garbage minutes thus far this season.
Texas A&M 81, Texas 66
As I often say, when it doubt bet on the more desperate team. Texas is still something of a bubble team, and might potentially miss the Tournament, but there's no question that Texas A&M's at-large chances would have been dashed without a win here. A loss would have dropped them to 3-8, and it's hard for me to see any 8-8 Big 12 team making the Tournament. The Aggies are still only 5-8 against the RPI Top 100 and 2-5 in true road games, but if they can somehow win out and finish 9-7 then they'd have an excellent shot for an at-large bid. But even the biggest Texas A&M fans know that five more consecutive wins just isn't going to happen. Texas A&M, even with this win, is most likely going to the NIT. As for Texas, they are suddenly 6-5 in a weak Big 12. The conference only has three teams that look safe for the Tournament, and Texas isn't one of them. They are now 8-8 against the RPI Top 125, with computer numbers that are rapidly dropping (RPI of 44th, Sagarin of 31st, Pomeroy of 28th). They'd still probably be in the Tournament if the season ended now, but they have got to get to at least 9-7 to make the Tournament. They absolutely need a victory over Oklahoma on Saturday night, and honestly I think that their desperation makes that mismatch something of a toss-up, or else Longhorns fans are really going to start getting nervous. They end the season with three tough games (at Oklahoma State, Baylor, at Kansas), so a loss to Oklahoma would mean that Texas will need a win over Texas Tech plus at least two wins in those three very tough games, or else they're really in a lot of trouble.
#21 Purdue 73, #5 Michigan State 54
The injury to UConn's Jerome Dyson gave Michigan State a golden opportunity to grab a 1 seed, but they responded absolutely terribly here. To be fair, a lot of the credit goes to Matt Painter, who did a great job of sending waves of guards at Michigan State. He had no chance of outrebounding the Spartans no matter what he did, and by keeping Michigan State's guards out of the lane he made it very difficult for the Spartans to get any points on the board. As good as Michigan State's bigs are, they're not very good at scoring. With this loss, Michigan State now needs to go nearly undefeated the rest of the way to get a 1 seed. As for Purdue, this win pulls them back off the bubble. They're now only one game behind Michigan State with a chance to earn a share of the Big Ten title. They have an easy schedule remaining, which means that it would take a complete collapse to finish worse than the 2-3 that would get them to 11-7 and completely lock them into the Tournament field. For all intents and purposes, Purdue is now playing for Big Ten hardware and their Tournament seed.