WEST VIRGINIA (15-6, 5-3 Big East) AT NO. 4 SYRACUSE (21-1, 8-1 Big East)
Time/TV: 1 p.m./ESPNU
Consistency has been an issue for the Oklahoma State Cowboys this season, and it's been an issue for highly-touted freshman Le'Bryan Nash as well. After scoring 21 points in the Cowboys' 71-68 loss to Iowa State (which ended at the buzzer on a Scott Christopherson three) Nash scored just four points in a 66-58 home loss to Kansas State. But the Dallas native brought his "A-game" to Gallagher-Iba Arena on Wednesday night, making 12 of 18 shots from the field to score 27 points while also grabbing four rebounds in Oklahoma State's 79-72 win over #2 Missouri.
With the announcement that starting center Fab Melo would miss Saturday's game due to an unresolved academic issue, the chances that top-ranked Syracuse would remain undefeated took a hit. But few would have thought that the Orange would have few (if any) answers in the paint as a result of his absence, and that's exactly what happened at Purcell Pavilion. Jack Cooley scored 17 points and grabbed ten rebounds and Notre Dame led by as many as 18 points on their way to the 67-58 win, the eighth in school history over a top-ranked opponent.
On the heels of their first loss of the season, #3 Baylor (17-1, 4-1) returns home to take on #5 Missouri (17-1, 4-1) in a game that features a major contrast when it comes to team strengths. Scott Drew's Bears are one of the biggest teams in college basketball while Frank Haith's Tigers are neither as big or as deep in the frontcourt. That simply means that in addition to forwards Ricardo Ratliffe (13.9 ppg, 6.7 rpg) and Steve Moore (4.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg) all hands must be on deck of Missouri is to have any shot of leaving Waco with a victory.
Following Shabazz Napier's game-tying three-pointer most coaches would choose to call a timeout to draw up a play, risking the chance of the defense aligning and taking away the primary scoring option. But with the man he wanted to take the final shot already in possession of the basketball, Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin decided against calling a timeout and as a result his Bearcats are now 5-1 in the Big East.
It looks as if the schedule-makers in the Mountain West wanted to spark some serious national conversation about the conference from the beginning of league play because the first full week of play will feature all three expected contenders facing each other. Wednesday's slate features #16 San Diego State (15-2, 1-0), fresh off of their two-point win over UNLV, visiting The Pit to take on a New Mexico (15-2, 1-0) squad that's quietly won thirteen in a row.
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.