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.
The Mountain West, similar to the Ivy League and Great West, had to start conference play later than other conferences due to the fact that they've got just eight members. Saturday marks the beginning of conference play and there are two key games to keep an eye on, most notably #22 San Diego State (14-2) hosting #12 UNLV (16-2) in the day's lone matchup of ranked teams.
NO. 3 NORTH CAROLINA (15-2, 2-0 ACC) AT FLORIDA STATE (10-6, 1-1 ACC)
Time/TV: 2 p.m./ESPN
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.
It may not be the "best" game on the schedule as Baylor visits Kansas State in what should be a very good Big 12 battle. But in terms of games that will definitely be remembered on Selection Sunday, there may not be a better game on Tuesday's slate than Florida State (9-6, 0-1) visiting Virginia Tech (11-4, 0-1). Both teams are looking to rebound from disappointing road losses on Saturday, as Florida State was blown out by Clemson and the Hokies fell at Wake Forest.
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?
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.
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.
In the midst of watching Tony Bennett's Virginia Cavaliers wrap up a good 67-54 win at Oregon on Sunday afternoon, the following statement trickled across my Twitter timeline: Virginia is the third-best team in the ACC. At 9-1 on the season coming on the heels of their first road victory of the season, the Cavaliers can definitely make that argument.