Nebraska 70, #2 Texas 67
On one hand, you had to expect a Rick Barnes team to have at least one bone-headed loss down the stretch. There was no way Texas was going to continue their dominating play without a stumble. At the same time, Nebraska tried really, really hard to choke this game away. They led by 11 with 1:45 to go, and allowed Texas to go on an 12-1 run in the next 40 seconds to tie the game up. Brandon Richardson saved the game by attacking the rim on the ensuing possession and getting two points at the free throw line, and then hitting two more free throws late to leave Texas with only a desperation three-pointer at the buzzer.
Despite this loss, Texas is still in a good position. They are a game clear of Kansas with the head-to-head tiebreaker, and they don't have a ranked team left on their schedule. Assuming they earn at least a share of the Big 12 regular season title, a Big 12 tournament title will be sufficient for a 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. This game meant a lot more for a Nebraska team trying to claw their way to the bubble. Nebraska moves to 6-6 in Big 12 play with this win, which is good for sixth place. They also now move to 6-6 against the RPI Top 100 with wins over Texas and Texas A&M, along with bad losses to Texas Tech and Davidson. This win pushes their RPI up to 63rd, and their Sagarin ELO_CHESS will be very close to 60th as well. If they can finish 3-1 in their final four games I think that will get them right on the bubble as they head into the Big 12 tournament. Their next game will be on Wednesday night against Kansas State, and they will then head to Iowa State next Saturday.
West Virginia 72, #7 Notre Dame 58
I've seen a number of people blaming this loss on Ben Hansbrough fouling out. The reality is that he played the first 37 minutes of the game, during which he committed three fouls, and West Virginia was up by 13 at the end of that stretch. He did get called for two fouls late and fouled out - but that wasn't why Notre Dame lost. The reality was that they were going to need to be firing on all cylinders to win a road game at West Virginia. In this one they forced only four turnovers and shot 8-for-27 behind the arc. That's not going to get it done. This win will just about lock up an at-large bid for West Virginia. They have six RPI Top 50 wins (including Vanderbilt, Georgetown, Purdue and Notre Dame) and zero RPI 100+ losses. Their RPI is up to 19th and their Sagarin ELO_CHESS should move into the Top 25. At 8-6 in the Big East they will lock up an at-large bid for sure if they win two more games between now and Selection Sunday.
Notre Dame missed a chance here to pull within one game of Pittsburgh atop the Big East. It really doesn't matter, though, because they were likely going to lose another game or two down the stretch anyway. They still have to play Villanova and will head to UConn. Their next game will be Wednesday night at Providence - another game that's not a gimme. If the season ended now Notre Dame would likely be a 3 seed, and possibly a 4 seed. I can see them realistically moving anywhere between a 2 and a 5 seed.
#19 North Carolina 48, Boston College 46
This was a brutal game offensively for both teams. With 13:30 left in the first half the score was 4-0 North Carolina. The futility was, more than anything, due to poor shooting. North Carolina had a 38.6 eFG% (season average of 49.7%) while Boston College had a 33.7 eFG% (season average of 54.5%). The best player for the Tar Heels was Tyler Zeller, who was fairly unstoppable in the post and scored 16 points on 7-for-13 shooting. With as long as he is, he's got some moves in the paint that are effectively unstoppable. But UNC's guards were channeling their inner Larry Drew and spent most of their time rushing and turning the ball over instead of working it inside, like they had been doing lately. Boston College got a 5-for-19 shooting performance from Reggie Jackson, which has to be incredibly frustrating for them. All season long he's been their star who has shown up huge in their biggest wins, yet if he'd hit even 7-for-19 from the field they'd have won a gigantic road game at North Carolina. Normally you'd figure that a 5-for-19 shooting performance for Jackson at North Carolina would result in a 15+ point blowout.
Boston College continues to struggle against elite teams, and their record against the RPI Top 50 falls to 1-6 (the one win came against Texas A&M), and they've got a bad loss to Yale. Their RPI is 45th but their Sagarin ELO_CHESS is outside the Top 50. With the lack of a big win since November, I think if the season ended now Boston College would be one of the first teams out of the Field of 68. That said, their remaining schedule is very manageable, and I'd like to see BC go at least 3-1 in those games, beginning with a home game against Miami on Wednesday night. Their ACC record is 6-6 and it's really important for a team without a ton of non-conference success to have a +.500 conference record in a down ACC conference.
North Carolina moves to 10-2 and remains very much in the hunt for a regular season ACC title. They do have a road game at Florida State before they play Duke in Chapel Hill, but the reality is that an FSU team without Chris Singleton will be very beatable, even at their place. UNC's next game will be Wednesday night at NC State. This win actually pushes their RPI up to 10th, although their Sagarin ELO_CHESS will be closer to 15th. Right now they'd be a 4 or 5 seed if the season ended now. If they can win their final four regular season games (including the home game against Duke) they could be staring at a 3 seed, or even possibly a 2.