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.
It was thought that Pittsburgh's loss at DePaul last week was the epitome of "rock bottom" for Jamie Dixon's program, which is still without injured point guard Tray Woodall. But in hindsight that high-scoring defeat at the hands of the Blue Demons was nothing compared to what happened at the Petersen Events Center on Wednesday night. Pitt scored the fewest points in their history as a Big East member, falling 62-39 at Rutgers in front of a stunned crowd.
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.
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.
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.
The question asked going into Temple's matchup with #3 Duke was whether or not they would be able to take care of business in the paint with the injured Micheal Eric still out. But by the end of the contest it was apparent that wasn't the biggest issue to be addressed for either team as the Owls won 78-73.
Seton Hall's struggles with Connecticut in their series have been well-doucmented, as the Pirates went into Tuesday's meeting having lost eleve straight dating back to March 3, 2001. That matchup between eventual NIT teams went down to the wire as the Pirates won 65-63. There would be no such suspense in Seton Hall's first win over the Huskies since 2001, as they stormed back from an early 11-2 deficit to win 75-63 in a game that wasn't as close as the margin would lead one to believe.
With the Baylor Bears achievig the highest ranking in school history on Monday it would have been easy for Scott Drew's team to suffer a letdown against Texas A&M. But the fourth-ranked Bears were ready from the start, scoring the first eight points of the game on their way to a 61-52 win that wasn't as close as the margin would indicate. The Bears shot just 35.7% from the field in the first half but still went into the break with a 30-17 lead thanks to their defense, which limited the Aggies to 21.4% shooting.