Colorado 75, Oklahoma State 71
Colorado basketball is rocking for the first time in almost a decade. They had their first home sellout of the season, and the crowd was rocking and helped the team deliver its third straight big win, coming off of wins over Missouri and Kansas State. Alec Burks was held to 20 points on 4-for-13 shooting, but Cory Higgins picked up the slack with 23 points on 5-for-9 shooting. They're starting to get a bunch of at-large buzz. But that said, let's chill out for a moment. They have three straight solid victories, but before that their best win was over Colorado State, and they have losses to San Francisco and Harvard. Even after this win they're only 5-4 against the RPI Top 200, and their RPI is only 75th. Their Sagarin ELO_CHESS will move into the Top 60 when the new numbers come out in the morning, but even so they would likely not be a Tournament team if the season ended now. The fact that they're actually on the bubble right now is very surprising and quite impressive, but they have a very long way to go. They are 3-0 in the Big 12, but have a real test now going on the road against Nebraska and Oklahoma. I would expect them to split those two games, but a loss in both games will immediately sap away all of that at-large buzz. Oklahoma State also finds themselves on the bubble right now. They're 13-4 with wins over Kansas State and Missouri State and zero bad losses. Their Sagarin ELO_CHESS will likely remain just inside the Top 40 after this loss, but both Sagarin and Pomeroy rate them outside the Top 60 teams in the nation, so the computers expect them to eventually fall out of the Field of 68. They play Iowa State at home on Wednesday and then head on the road to play Baylor.
#21 Wisconsin 76, #16 Illinois 66
The refs tried as hard as they could to ruin this game. Few teams commit or draw fewer fouls than Wisconsin. They came in to this game 53rd in the nation in defensive FTA/FGA, and 331st offensively. And at dead last in the nation in tempo that means extremely few fouls and free throws in their games... except this one, where the refs decided to be the story. 54 total fouls were called, leading to 77 free throws. The reffing wasn't biased - the coaches and players on both teams were equally angry - but it ruined the flow of what could have been a very good game. Wisconsin and Illinois have now each held homecourt against each other this season, and both are now 3-2 in the Big Ten. The difference is that Wisconsin's two losses were road losses at Michigan State and Illinois, while the Illini have a loss to Penn State. Ohio State looks to be the class of the Big Ten right now, but second place is wide open, and I do think Wisconsin is now better positioned than Illinois to make a run at second place. The Badgers have a home game Thursday night against Indiana, and then head on the road to play Northwestern and Penn State. Illinois goes home for two straight gigantic home games, against Michigan State and Ohio State. They need to win at least one of those two games to stay in contention for second or third place in the Big Ten - can't afford to have four losses with road games still remaining against Ohio State, Purdue, Michigan State and Minnesota.
South Carolina 72, Florida 69
South Carolina had this game in control the entire way before allowing a late Florida run to nearly spoil a very nice road victory. Bruce Ellington was the star, scoring 23 points, including four straight clutch free throws in the final 20 seconds to put the game on ice. It's a rough home loss for Florida, but the high point had to be Patric Young, who got a lot of attention in Florida's 2010 recruiting class but hadn't done too much so far. He had his best game of the season with 12 points and 5 rebounds in only 19 minutes on the floor. South Carolina was falling behind in the SEC East, and this win helps them keep pace at 2-1. The entire SEC East is now either 2-1 or 1-2 in SEC play. South Carolina now has this win to go with a win over Vanderbilt, although they also have a bad loss to Furman. Both Sagarin and Pomeroy rate them just inside the Top 100, so they still are more likely to finish last in the SEC East than to get onto the bubble. Florida is also 2-1 in the SEC, but they're 13-4 overall with a Sagarin ELO_CHESS that should stay in the Top 25 even after this loss. They have an easy stretch upcoming with Auburn on the road and then Arkansas at home. Their next key SEC East tussle will be January 25th at Georgia.