There weren't many opportunities to watch ranked teams play each other (there was just one, which is discussed below), but Saturday's slate provided many teams the chance to improve their resumes. Florida State and Northwestern took full advantage of their opportunities as they both knocked off Top 10 opponents at home, albeit in different ways.
Thursday was a big night for the Virginia Cavaliers as they were looking for their first win at Duke since 1995, and a victory over the sixth-ranked Blue Devils would raise their ceiling even higher.
The matchup between Ohio State and Illinois was anticipated by many for the individual matchup between the Buckeyes' Jared Sullinger and Illinois' Meyers Leonard. Then there was the ceremony honoring Lou Henson, the all-time winningest coach in Illinois history. But few people expected Brandon Paul to end up being the center of attention, which is exactly what happened in the Fighting Illini's 79-74 win at Assembly Hall.
This was the 221st meeting of the in-state rivals. Even though both schools were on winter break there was a sellout crowd of 14,499 at the McKale Center that was 99% red and blue and had only a few specks of maroon and gold.
The first Saturday of the new year proved to be far more exciting than anticipated, much to the detriment of ranked teams who took their show on the road. Removing #7 Missouri and #20 Marquette, who both lost on the road to ranked opponents (more on both of those games below), five ranked teams lost to unranked opponents with four of the losses coming on the road. The Big East provided the most intrigue, with #8 Connecticut and #9 Georgetown falling on the road while #10 Louisville lost in double overtime at home. So which of the three defeats is most concerning?
To understand the funk that Pittsburgh and Villanova are currently mired in, it may take this fact about the two teams they lost to on Thursday night. This is the first time as members of the Big East (since 2005-06 for both) that DePaul and USF have won conference games on the same night. Yes, allowing that to sink in underlines the gravity of the situation for both the Panthers and Wildcats, as both teams are in need of some answers at this point in time.
There's just one game between Top 25 teams on the schedule tonight, and it should be a good matchup of teams looking to further cement themselves as Big Ten title contenders. #12 Indiana (13-1) is 10-0 at Assembly Hall this season, and their wins over Kentucky and Ohio State are the most impressive pair of victories that any team in America can claim.
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- Bracketology: Saturday Night NCAA Tournament Projection
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