#11 Texas 74, #2 Kansas 63
Kansas jumped out to an 18-3 lead in this one and seemed to be running away with the game, but it was really just some hot outside shooting by Kansas and cold outside shooting by Texas. Eventually the Longhorns settled down and played the type of brutally athletic defense they've played all year. They entered this game with an eFG% against that was second in the country, and they won't drop after this game. What was particularly impressive was their play in the paint, holding Kansas to 37.8% shooting on two-pointers after the way that Marcus and Markieff Morris destroyed Baylor's long and athletic front line. Offensively the star was J'Covan Brown, who came off the bench for 23 points on 6-for-10 shooting from the field (including 3-for-6 behind the arc) and 8-for-10 at the line. He also got under Josh Selby's skin, who showed a little bit of his immaturity in celebrating just a little bit too much early in the game, and visually showing way too much frustration late in the game, including picking up a technical. The raw talent that Selby has is obvious, but he's even further behind in the development that most true freshmen have because of the time he missed with suspension. He still has some growing up to do. But despite the snapping of the 69 game home winning streak for Kansas, and the ending of their undefeated season, the reality is that Kansas fans need to put this in perspective. Nobody is going undefeated this season, and if you're going to lose a game you can do a whole lot worse than Texas, a legitimate Final Four contender. These two teams will not play again in the regular season, so with the head-to-head win Texas is now effectively two games ahead of Kansas in the Big 12 standings. But they are going to lose some games, so Kansas just has to worry about beating the teams ahead of them and a Big 12 title will still be within their grasp. And a Big 12 regular season and tournament title for Kansas will lock up a 1 seed in the Tournament for them. As for Texas, this win will likely push their Sagarin PREDICTOR and Pomeroy ratings up to about 5th, although they'd likely be a 3 seed in the Tournament if the season ended now. They are now 4-0 in the Big 12 but have a pretty brutal schedule ahead (at Oklahoma State, vs Missouri, at Texas A&M), so they still have a long way to go before they can be considered the favorite to win the conference.
UNLV 63, New Mexico 62
This was a miracle victory for UNLV, and a heartbreaking loss for a New Mexico team desperately in need of a quality win. New Mexico was up by one with the ball and under 30 seconds remaining when Tre'Von Willis stole a pass and was fouled, with the refs ruling it an intentional foul. Willis hit both free throws, and then UNLV was fouled on their extra possession and hit one-of-two to go up by two points. New Mexico turned the ball over with about three seconds to go, seemingly ending the game, but then stole the inbounds pass and earned a foul, giving them a chance to tie up the game right before the buzzer. Kendall Williams hit the first... and missed the second, delivering UNLV a one point win. The win only gets UNLV to 3-3 in Mountain West play, and they remain effectively out of touch with BYU and SDSU atop the conference, but they do look to be safely in the NCAA Tournament for now. They are 4-4 against the RPI Top 100 with wins over Wisconsin and Kansas State, and only one bad loss (UCSB). Their RPI is up to 28th and their Sagarin ELO_CHESS is around 35th. If they can finish the regular season 7-3 to get to 10-6 in conference play, that should lock up a Tournament bid. Things are not as rosy for a New Mexico team that is now 1-5 against the RPI Top 80, and that one win came at home against Colorado State. They've also got a couple of bad losses (Wyoming and Utah). Their RPI has plummeted to 80th and their Sagarin ELO_CHESS is closer to 90th. Both Sagarin and Pomeroy rate them as closer to the 60-70th best team in the nation, but they have to win a few games in a row just to get back to the bubble. On Wednesday they play TCU, but next Saturday they'll have BYU at home, a big chance to get back on the right track.
VCU 59, Old Dominion 50
VCU did a tremendous job on the boards in this game. Old Dominion came into this one second in the nation with an offensive rebounding percentage of 44.0% and were held here to 33%. Because Old Dominion committed seven more turnovers than VCU they actually had five fewer possessions. And without all of those offensive rebounds they lost a lot of those easy points that they rely on. Old Dominion lacks good shooters, and they struggle to score when they're not getting putbacks. This win pushes VCU to 7-1 in Colonial play and keeps them on the bubble. They're 3-3 against the RPI Top 100 with a win over UCLA to go with this win, and only one really bad loss (Georgia State). This win pushes their RPI up to 56th, although their Sagarin ELO_CHESS will be closer to 75th. They're going to have to finish something like 15-3 in Colonial play to stay on the bubble. Realistically, the Colonial's best shot at an at-large bid was and still is Old Dominion, so this result actually hurts the conference. Old Dominion is 7-4 against the RPI Top 100, although that's a little less impressive than it sounds as their best wins are over Xavier, Dayton, Richmond and George Mason. They've got a bad loss against Delaware. Their RPI is 33rd, and their Sagarin ELO_CHESS will likely be in the mid-30s when the numbers come out tomorrow. Sagarin and Pomeroy both actually rate Old Dominion as closer to the 70th best team in the nation, so it shouldn't be a shocker that they're beginning to fade. Old Dominion has an easy stretch up next (vs UNC-Wilmington, at Georgia State, vs Towson, vs Delaware) that they need to take advantage of, because they probably need to end the regular season 8-2 to stay in the Tournament.