Providence 83, #7 Villanova 68
Providence opened the season 0-6 in the Big East, but they were one of the best 0-6 teams I had ever seen. They are young and improving, but just struggled to finish off close games. And now they've bounced back by winning two straight over ranked teams: Louisville and Villanova. They will now move up to about 70-75th in the Pomeroy and Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings. But that said, they are still 7-8 against the RPI Top 200, and are not remotely close to an at-large bid. And in fact, with a road game next at Seton Hall and then a home game against USF, they have to be very wary of dropping a game to a weak opponent if they get too pleased with themselves for these two wins. For Villanova this is a missed opportunity to make up ground on teams like Syracuse. They are now drawn into the big tie at 5-2 in the Big East, with a huge home game on Saturday afternoon against Georgetown. Remember that they still have a home-and-home to play against Pitt. Heading into this game tonight Villanova was rated by both Sagarin and Pomeroy as the second best team in the Big East, so it's not preposterous to think that they might sweep the series with Pitt to earn the Big East title. Certainly their strong offensive rebounding in this game, despite the loss, should give them confidence against Pitt's big front line.
#8 Texas 61, Oklahoma State 46
It wasn't too surprising to see Texas struggle early in this game, suffering from a hangover after their big win over Kansas, but they opened up a lead late in the first half and expanded it to a pretty impresive 15 point win in Stillwater. Oklahoma State did have four more offensive rebounds and four fewer turnovers, but that was mostly because they were settling for long jumpers while Texas was attacking the rim. OSU hit only 32% from the field for the game. Texas is now 5-0 in Big 12 play, although their tough schedule continues, with a home game against Missouri on Saturday followed by a road game at Texas A&M on Monday. All of their computer ratings are now in the Top Ten, other than their RPI (which is 12th). If the season ended now they'd probably be a 2 seed, and they can move up to a 1 seed if they win the Big 12 regular season or tournament title. As for Oklahoma State, this is yet another thumping in Big 12 play, coming off a 19 point loss to Baylor and only two weeks after a 13 point loss to Texas A&M. Their Sagarin PREDICTOR and Pomeroy ratings have plumeted out of the Top 75, although their RPI and Sagarin ELO_CHESS remain near 50th. They are 2-6 against the RPI Top 100 and 12-0 against everybody else, with those wins coming against Missouri State and Kansas State. If the season ended now they'd probably be narrowly out of the Field of 68. They are 2-4 in Big 12 play and likely need to get to 8-8 to go Dancing. Right now Pomeroy projects a 7-9 finish, so it will be close.
Memphis 77, UCF 61
The wheels are falling off UCF right now. After a 14-0 start they've now lost five straight. Offensively they've been putrid, and that continued here with a horrendous 36.3% eFG% and 22 turnovers. Memphis is spotty offensively and tends to devolve into one-on-one offense, but with super-athletes like Joe Jackson and Will Barton they're going to score enough points to beat teams that can't score at all. Central Florida is now in dead last in Conference USA with a 1-5 record, and though 5-2 against the RPI Top 100 they have only a win over Florida amongst the RPI Top 50, and they have RPI 100+ losses to Houston, Rice and East Carolina. Their RPI is 63rd and their Sagarin ELO_CHESS will be around 75th when the new numbers come out tomorrow morning. They have a chance to bounce back with a home game against UAB next, followed by a road game at UTEP. But the way things are going I don't expect much bouncing back. As for Memphis, they have won four straight and have their Sagarin ELO_CHESS back up close to 40th in the nation. That said, they have no wins against the RPI Top 45 and also a loss to SMU. So assuming they won't get a big win the rest of the way (I don't see a big win left on their schedule) they will likely need to get to 12-4 in CUSA play to earn an at-large bid.