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.
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.
While most of the country will be captivated by the BCS Championship Game, there are suitable alternatives on the college basketball schedule for those not interested in watching the rematch. The game that stands out has to be Cincinnati (12-4, 2-1) visiting #11 Georgetown (13-2, 3-1) with both teams looking to bounce back from losses suffered on Saturday afternoon. The situation may be even more important for the Bearcats, who despite their seven-game win streak ahead of their last-second loss to St.
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?
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.
ST. JOHN’S (7-5) AT NO. 9 CONNECTICUT (11-1)
The final day of 2011 features one of the most anticipated games of the college basketball season, a rivalry game that captivates an entire state and is one of the best games in college basketball. #4 Louisville (12-1), fresh off of a lost to Georgetown in their Big East opener, visits #3 Kentucky (12-1) in what should be a spirited battle at Rupp Arena. The Cardinals have played just one road game this season but it was also one of their best efforts as they won at Butler without the then-injured Peyton Siva.
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.
Thursday is the final "busy day" on the college basketball schedule before Christmas and there's important business to address in St. Louis: Braggin' Rights. Undefeated and eighth-ranked Missouri (11-0) looks for its third straight win over #24 Illinois (11-1) in the series, and despite the change in head coach the Tigers remain one of the most balanced teams in the country.