Rutgers 67, #8 Connecticut 60
After a horrid start to the season, Rutgers is starting to get a reputation as a giant-killer. Just nine days after Florida fell to the Scarlet Knights, it was Connecticut falling victim here. The biggest problem UConn had was that they took the ball out of the hands of Jeremy Lamb, their best player. He fouled out after playing only 24 minutes, but even when he was on the floor the offense was being run through Shabazz Napier instead of him. Lamb finished with only 9 shot attempts and a single assist. Napier just isn't as efficient of a player, and UConn really struggled to play efficient offense. Both their turnovers (20) and their turnover rate (28.8%) were season highs. Rutgers took advantage of those turnovers (they had 9 steals) to get a bunch of easy baskets. They needed those baskets because they struggled to score in the half court against the long, active UConn defense. Even with all those steals, Rutgers only scored 1.00 PPP.
Rutgers isn't a threat for an at-large bid, of course. They are still only 9-7 overall with a bunch of bad losses (Princeton, Richmond, USF, LSU and Illinois State) to offset those two big wins. But they are improving and will almost surely pull another upset or two the rest of the way. They'll play at Pittsburgh on Wednesday, and then at West Virginia next Saturday.
UConn is now only 2-2 in the Big East, with a surprisingly soft resume. They have wins over Florida State, Harvard and Arkansas, along with bad losses to UCF and Rutgers. Their Sagarin ELO_CHESS will slip close to 40th after this loss. They'll try to bounce back on Monday against West Virginia. Next Saturday they'll play at Notre Dame. Both of those teams have been playing well the past couple of weeks, and neither will be an easy beat.
Arkansas 98, #16 Mississippi State 88
I've had some Mississippi State fans really angry at me for not putting the Bulldogs into my bracket, but the reality is that they only got this #16 ranking through inertia. They are 4-1 in games decided by seven points or less, and even with that they don't exactly have an impressive set of wins. They beat West Virginia and Arizona, and have a bad loss to Akron. They might end up making the NCAA Tournament, but they're a bubble team at best. In no way will they earn a 4 or 5 or 6 seed, which is what most other people making brackets currently have them as.
Mississippi State will have a decent shot at an at-large bid if they can reach 9-7 in conference play. If they finish 8-8 and win a game or two in the SEC tournament then they'll have a shot as well. At 0-1 they'll play Tennessee on Wednesday, and then will get Alabama next Saturday.
Arkansas had a tough loss to Houston to start the season but has been playing a lot better the past few weeks. I think this team is finally starting to understand the Mike Anderson system. They've turned up the pace and are putting pressure on teams, even though they lack the talent that Anderson's teams had at Missouri. Even without any quality non-conference wins, it's not inconceivable that they could get onto the bubble if they can go 9-7 against an imbalanced SEC schedule (even though the SEC got rid of the basketball division officially, Arkansas is still playing the same schedule they'd have had in the old SEC West). They'll play on the road at Ole Miss next, on Wednesday.
#23 Virginia 52, Miami (Fl) 51
This was an ugly, ugly game. Virginia ground this game into a 57 possession battle. Both teams shot under 40% from the field and there were a combined 15 assists. Miami had multiple chances on the final possession of the game to get the win, but Virginia played sound defense and didn't foul, hanging on to an important win. Honestly, this is Tony Bennett basketball. He doesn't have the talent to score a lot of points but his teams will slow things down and just make it very difficult for opponents to score. They're 330th in the nation with 62.7 possessions per 40 minutes played, and are 12th in the nation in Pomeroy defensive efficiency. They're second in the nation to only Wisconsin in points allowed per game. The concern with that type of play without any real explosive scorers is consistency (Mike Scott is an excellent player, but he's not an explosive scorer who can take the team on his back). The ACC has a bunch of bad teams this season, and Virginia can't afford bad losses.
The Cavaliers are 14-1 in this game, though they've played a soft schedule. A win over Michigan is their only against the Pomeroy Top 80, and they've got a bad loss to TCU. Their Sagarin ELO_CHESS is up at a very nice 20th or so (we'll see what the exact number is in the morning), but it's precarious. They're only a bad loss or two from the bubble. They have a huge game coming up on Thursday at Duke. They won't get a return visit from Duke, so a loss there will mean that their only chance for a real big win this season will be during their home-and-home with North Carolina, or else in the ACC tournament.
Miami is not a bad team. They were rated 68th in the Pomeroy ratings before this game, and won't drop after a one-point loss at Virginia. But they haven't been able to close the deal against quality opponents. They are 0-5 against the RPI Top 75, with a bad loss to Ole Miss. They'll have to get to at least 9-7 in ACC play to have a shot at an at-large bid, and they're now 0-1 heading into a road game at North Carolina on Tuesday night. Their next game after that will be at home against Clemson.