With games at #13 San Diego State and against #11 UNLV this week, Steve Alford's New Mexico Lobos had a great opportunity to not only take control of the Mountain West but also make a statement nationally.
KANSAS STATE (17-8, 6-7 Big 12) AT NO. 10 BAYLOR (22-4, 9-4 Big 12)
Time: 1:30 p.m. (12:30 p.m. CT)
After a 15-2 run gave Louisville a 51-46 lead with 3:38 remaining it seemed as if the Cardinals were well on their way to an eighth straight win over #2 Syracuse. In a contest that featured some ugly offense, a five-point margin seemed to be near insurmountable despite the Orange's many talented players. However a Brandon Triche jumper just 18 seconds later would start a 6-0 run, which ended with a C.J. Fair bucket with 2:11 to go to give Syracuse the 52-51 win.
Despite the fact that the distance between first and second place is just two games with five to go many have conceded the regular season crown to #2 Syracuse (25-1, 12-1), and rightfully so as the Orange have been head and shoulders above the rest of the conference. The race to observe has involved the other three double-bye slots, and #18 Louisville (20-5, 8-4) is a player in that regard. That makes Monday's game at the KFC Yum! Center an important one, with the Cardinals also in position to use the win to bolster their resume from an NCAA tournament seeding standpoint.
The matchup between the two best teams in the SEC was expected to be a competitive affair, one that would challenge John Calipari's squad and show how much of a national title contender they really are. The answer was an emphatic one, as Kentucky controlled the game on both ends of the floor in a 78-58 win that didn't seem all that close in the second half.
There are better college basketball conferences than the Big 12 in 2011-12.
But there are none more entertaining.
Tuesday's night matchup between #9 Michigan State and Illinois wasn't a pretty affair, as neither team could establish much of a rhythm on the offensive end of the floor. Whether it was due to good defense or just an inability to make shots on a consistent basis, neither the Spartans nor the Fighting Illini had much succes on that end of the floor. But when it's all said and done what matters is the result, which was a 42-41 Illinois victory as Brandon Paul made two free throws with 45 seconds remaining.