Wow.. simply wow. College basketball is fun. You can take your Super Bowls and endless weeks of repetitive buildup.. I'll take college basketball any day of the week. Just so happens Saturday is the best day of the week though.. and yesterday was about as wild as it gets. Lets begin our journey..
Florida is crazy good. The Gators have been blowing away the SEC, East or West, home or away, with ease. The Gators are 8-0 in league play, 2 full games ahead of 2nd place Kentucky. These two teams meet next week in Lexington.. but I just don't see the Wildcats winning.
The Gators are one of four teams around the country that are still perfect in conference play. Holy Cross is 9-0 in the Patriot, Winthrop is 9-0 in the Big South, and Memphis is 9-0 in the CUSA.
Wisconsin has just 1 conference loss.. and is now tied with Ohio State for the Big Ten lead. The Buckeyes picked up a big road win at Michigan State today.. and because they host the Badgers later in the season, have to be considered the conference favorite at this point.
UNC is now a 2-conference loss team.. after losing to.. NC State? If you were to have told me Tyler Hansbrough would have 24 and 8, and that Ty Lawson would have a money 21 point, 7 assist, 1 turnover game (his best game ever).. I would have said UNC would have won by 20 points.. But the Wolfpack got solid production from their dependable starting five and won a well-fought game. State is probably the thinnest team in the country, with 5 guys who basically play all their minutes (think Arizona but worse).. yet depth wasn't a factor. The Heels got nothing out of Thompson or Stepheson, and Reyshawn Terry had a miserable game (fouling out in 15 minutes). What's really odd about this game is that NC State won despite turning it over 21 times to just 12 for UNC.
Still, as big a deal as the #3 team losing is.. its not nearly as big a deal as Texas A&M's huge win at Kansas. The #8 team beating the #6 might not seem so special.. but this is monstrous. Not only has A&M never beaten Kansas in the decade-long history of the Big 12.. but no Big 12 South team had ever won a game in Allen Fieldhouse. 0 for 31 heading into today. That's nuts.
After a back and forth first half, Kansas actually led most of the 2nd half, up by as many as 62-52 with 6 minutes to go. Acie Law capped a big 23 point, 7 assist game by leading the Aggies back to the win, including hitting the go-ahead three.
Though A&M was 8th in the Coaches Poll, they were just 10th in the AP. They could however jump to as high as 4th this Monday.. maybe 3rd. Florida's obviously still #1. But after Wisconsin lost earlier in the week and then UNC fell today, 2 and 3 are up for grabs. UCLA will almost certainly jump up to #2.. but then 3rd will be between Ohio State, Wisconsin, or A&M. Of course its conceivable both of those teams will go 3-4 and then UNC will be 5th.. but I think the new Big 12 overall leader deserves better than the spot Kansas held before today.
Besides UNC and Kansas, #9 Oregon is the other Top 10 team that lost on Saturday. The Ducks are in a slump, having lost two-straight and 3 of 4, and could fall all the way to the 18-20 range. The Ducks fell at USC, who is now 18-6 overall and seriously deserving of a look in the Top 25. The Trojans were 31st by votes last week, but there's not many new opening this week.
The upset bug also hit the 11-25 range as well.. as #14 Oklahoma State, #18 Virginia Tech, #19 Notre Dame, #21 Clemson, #23 Texas, and #25 Indiana all lost. The most surprising of these games was Notre Dame losing to South Florida. Before Saturday, the Bulls were just 3-21 in Big East games since joining the league last season. But they do have McHugh Mattis.. and that was enough to knock off a Top-25 team yesterday. Mattis had 23 points and 16 rebounds, though oddly the small forward known for his defensive presence (4 bpg) had only 1 block. The Irish were just 21st in the AP Poll.. and are obviously in serious danger of falling out now. If that happens, and the team that replaces them isnt Georgetown, it would leave the Big East with just two teams in the Top 25.
Like Georgetown, Southern Illinois deserves a serious look by the voters. The Salukis were 29th in the AP last and won another impressive MVC game.. at Wichita State. As usual, the Salukis won behind a suffocating defense, holding the shockers to 28% shooting.. and this game was in Wichita.
None of these games though, teams in the Top 25 or fighting for the Big Dance, really mattered. What did matter yesterday was Iona finally getting their first win of the season. The 1-22 Gaels picked up a 12-point victory over Rider. With Siena coming to town next Friday, its possible Iona could be looking at a two-game winning streak. The Gaels lost by just a point (61-60) at Siena on Thursday.. and with their new found confidence, could be in line line for another win.
Iona's win now puts the onus on North Florida. The Ospreys have avoided the bad press of Iona (if there's really such a thing as bad press) by beating 2 non-D1 teams earlier in the year. But UNF still hasn't beaten a Division 1 team yet! As far as I'm concerned, UNF was tied with Iona going into today, but is now alone as college basketball's lone winless team.
- Dribble me softly -