With the final month of regular season play just two days away, the focus turns to the resumes that teams have put together in hopes of being one of the 68 teams in the NCAA Tournament. While Frank Haith's Missouri (19-2, 6-2) has no such concerns at this point the team they visit on Monday night isn't in the same position. Rick Barnes' young Texas (13-8, 3-5) need to improve their resume and soon if they're to return to the NCAA Tournament.
For Syracuse fans watching Monday's game between the Orange and Cincinnati, the fact that the Bearcats made four of their first five three-pointers may have been a cause for concern. But the Bearcats made just four the rest of the game (with 20 more attempts), making it important to note that those deep threes that fall early more times than not are "fool's gold" against the Syracuse zone.
While tonight's game between #4 Syracuse (20-1, 7-1) and Cincinnati (15-5, 5-2) may have lost a little luster from a national standpoint with both teams falling on the road Saturday, that shouldn't take away from the importance of Monday to Mick Cronin's Bearcats. The computer numbers are still a bit low although the Bearcats would most likely be a tournament team if the season ended today, so a win over a Top 5 opponent would be a nice line to add to the resume.
With the announcement that starting center Fab Melo would miss Saturday's game due to an unresolved academic issue, the chances that top-ranked Syracuse would remain undefeated took a hit. But few would have thought that the Orange would have few (if any) answers in the paint as a result of his absence, and that's exactly what happened at Purcell Pavilion. Jack Cooley scored 17 points and grabbed ten rebounds and Notre Dame led by as many as 18 points on their way to the 67-58 win, the eighth in school history over a top-ranked opponent.
Light schedule tonight with Ivy League Fridays not really getting going on a consistent basis until next weekend, but there are some entertaining matchups to keep fans occupied. Both MAAC matchups consist of top-half (of the standings) teams taking on squads hoping to avoid "First Round Friday" in March's conference tournament. One such game is Iona hosting Rider on ESPNU, and while Tommy Dempsey's Broncs have been a major disappointment this year they have the firepower necessary to keep up with the Gaels.
On the heels of losses at Seton Hall and Rutgers, with the leadership capabilities of the team being questioned both within and outside of the locker room, Connecticut needed a win over West Virginia in a big way. But the Huskies didn't play with that sense of urgency out of the gates, as the Mountaineers grabbed eight offensive rebounds to UConn's zero on their way to a 33-28 lead. If the rebounding wasn't bad enough the turnovers were, as the Huskies turned the ball over nine times leading to 15 Mountaineer points.
While most of the country will be captivated by the BCS Championship Game, there are suitable alternatives on the college basketball schedule for those not interested in watching the rematch. The game that stands out has to be Cincinnati (12-4, 2-1) visiting #11 Georgetown (13-2, 3-1) with both teams looking to bounce back from losses suffered on Saturday afternoon. The situation may be even more important for the Bearcats, who despite their seven-game win streak ahead of their last-second loss to St.
With conference play beginning for many leagues this week (a few conferences began their league slate in early December) it's a good time to look back on some of the top performers. Enter CHN writer Jon Teitel, who put together his all-conference teams for each of the leagues.
The "Braggin' Rights" game between Illinois and Missouri is alway an intense affair, with the fans in the stands split by the halfcourt line and both teams understanding what's at stake before they even hit the floor. This season's game was no different, although for a good portion of the first half it seemed as if the undefeated Tigers were on their way to a romp. Bruce Weber's team refused to fold, and once Missouri got out of control Illinois was able to mount their rally.
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