Quite a bit was made of the team meeting called by UConn forward Alex Oriakhi on Friday, and how it may have sparked a revival of the reigning national champions. But maybe that should have been another red flag, given the first couple of paragraphs in the Hartford Courant recapping the Huskies' 69-46 win over Seton Hall.
There are better college basketball conferences than the Big 12 in 2011-12.
But there are none more entertaining.
Connecticut head coach Jim Calhoun knew heading into Wednesday's game that his struggling team, losers of three straight, needed some kind of spark to get things going. That meant shuffling the lineup, with Shabazz Napier and Alex Oriakhi being replaced as starters by Ryan Boatright and Roscoe Smith, and for a short time on Wednesday night the move paid off. UConn got out to a 13-7 lead at the first media timeout and generally played better basketball on the offensive end, which was likely the desired effect of the move.
For Syracuse fans watching Monday's game between the Orange and Cincinnati, the fact that the Bearcats made four of their first five three-pointers may have been a cause for concern. But the Bearcats made just four the rest of the game (with 20 more attempts), making it important to note that those deep threes that fall early more times than not are "fool's gold" against the Syracuse zone.
Monday's showdown between #3 Baylor and #7 Kansas gave the visiting Bears a great chance to make the statement that they were ready to dethrone a program that's won at least a share of the last seven Big 12 titles. Well while there's still plenty of basketball to be played before the regular season champion is determined, it's safe to say that Bill Self's team has no plans to simply hand over the top spot.
Throughout the history of the Big 12 Conference there has been one measuring stick for the rest of the league: Kansas. The Kansas (14-3, 4-0) program has won seven straight Big 12 regular season titles, and despite the early-season doubts of many Bill Self's team has the ability to extend that streak. And while there are multiple challengers there may not be a more talented one than #4 Baylor (17-0, 4-0), and Scott Drew's team is well-equipped to be the last team standing in April as well.
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.
While bowl games will garner most of the attention on Monday college basketball won't be taking the day off with leagues transitioning into conference play. One such matchup is the first game of Big 12 play as Texas A&M (9-3) visits Waco to take on #6 Baylor (13-0), and Billy Kennedy's Aggies can definitely use a win for resume reasons.
The matchup between #10 Florida and Rutgers on Thursday night was hyped up due to the return of Mike Rosario, who transferred from the New Jersey school following two seasons in New Brunswick. But his return was a subplot in what turned out to be one of the best games of the calendar year, with the focus by the end being Mike Rice's young guards. Eli Carter led the way with 31 points, seven rebounds and seven assists while Myles Mack knocked down some big shots late in regulation and during the overtime periods to lead Rutgers to the 85-83 double overtime victory.