#6 Duke 60, #16 Clemson, 47
Clemson fans were fired up for this one, with ESPN College Gameday in town, and a team ready to bounce back from a tough two-point loss to Georgia Tech, but maybe they were too fired up. They committed 16 turnovers and shot 15% behind the arc, so it was a sloppy game. This result should be embarrassing for Clemson's backcourt, which has actually been pretty good this season, but which did nothing against a Duke team that played two guards all game. I'm not sure what's going on with Duke's Andre Dawkins, but his playing time numbers have gone down and down since some great out-of-conference performances. He hasn't had more than three points in an ACC game yet, and didn't even see the floor in this one. Duke kept four players (Scheyer, Smith, Singler, Thomas) on the floor basically the entire game, and Clemson was unable to wear them out or get them into four trouble. The only Clemson player who had a good game was Trevor Booker, who went for 22 points on 10-for-14 shooting against the undersized Duke front line. For Duke, this win moves them to 4-2 in the ACC, which is good enough for a virtual tie for first place. They have some difficult games coming up, but obviously that February 10th game at Chapel Hill is what Duke fans are already turning a lot of their attention to. As well as Clemson has played this season, they're now only 3-3 in ACC play, although their remaining schedule is easier than their schedule thus far. Two of their next three games are on the road, however (Boston College, Virginia Tech).
Northwestern 73, Illinois 68
Northwestern won this game despite some hot shooting from Illinois (55% from the field as a team). They did it by playing smart, sound basketball, committing only seven turnovers. They also did a good job of getting to the line, getting the entire Illinois front line in foul trouble, which helped keep the rebounding battle even as well. This win helps Northwestern keep pace with the pack in the Big Ten, moving them up to 3-4 and a tie for sixth place. At 15-5 overall, a 4-5 record against the RPI Top 100, and an RPI of 56th, they're the prototypical bubble team. They now head on the road for two tough road games, at Minnesota and Michigan State. At 4-3 in the Big Ten, Illinois is also a bubble team, but they've lost three straight after that quick 4-0 start to their Big Ten season. They now head to the Bryce Jordan center to face a deceptively dangerous Penn State that appears to be playing more relaxed since they've come to the realization that they really haven't got anything to play for this season. That game is also a near must-win for Illinois, along with the following games against Indiana and at Iowa, when you consider how really brutal their final few weeks are. If Illinois heads into February 5-5 in the Big Ten then they're probably headed for the NIT.
Louisville 68, Cincinnati 60
Lance Stephenson was actually outscoring the entire Louisville team for the first ten minutes or so of this game, with Cincinnati actually building a 19-8 lead. But Louisville is just the better team, and along with homecourt advantage and a very motivated squad after three straight tough losses, there was no way that Cincy was going to hold them off for 40 minutes. The Cardinals move into a tie for sixth place in the Big East at 4-3, with a road game at West Virginia coming up on Saturday afternoon. With a bunch of really tough games ahead there is no way that Louisville makes a run at a Big East title, but they look to be safely in the field of 65. It's hard to see them finishing worse than 10-8 in the Big East, which wouldn't even have them on the bubble on Selection Sunday. Cincinnati, meanwhile, needs to figure out a way to win a road game. They are 1-5 in true road games, and that one win was a seven-pointer over last placed Rutgers. Their remaining road games are very difficult (Notre Dame, UConn, South Florida, West Virginia, Georgetown), which means that Cincy really needs to take care of business at home. A big test will be February 7th against Syracuse, and then their home finale on March 2nd against Villanova.