So much Saturday action: Will UNC be unranked Monday? How can Purdue right the ship? How is Pitt doing this?
Love that these Saturdays with so many games are back. They make for a pain in the ass when it comes to recaps, but all the action is well worth it. Entrenched in the middle of another season we are, and it feels damn cozy.
— Did North Carolina showed any signs of improvement in losing 73-71 to Georgia Tech? Sure, after losing 24-8 early — just like they did against Clemson — the Heels came all the way back. But was it a game of growth in the loss? Williams went to empty his bench … again. Sure, a career-best 24 from Will Graves is great, but the cat is now not only out of the bag; it’s taunting us by jumping all over the furniture. UNC doesn’t know what it can be. Its weaknesses are more obvious than a lot of other clubs’. It’s the first time since 2007 UNC’s lost back-to-back games. First time the team’s lost this many games this early in a in season in seven years. And the Yellow Jackets look to be a true helter skelter team. Lose to Georgia, beat Duke, lose to Virginia, beat North Carolina.
— Better win for Northwestern or a worse loss for Purdue? I asked the Wildcats to prove it, and they did; a 72-64 win they really needed, for sure. NU hasn’t won against a team ranked as high as sixth since Michigan State in 1979. Still, they’re only 2-3 in the Big Ten. Plenty left to do there. Purdue is now spinning its wheels, and it’s not just the absence of Lewis Jackson, though no point guard has become the sign blinking above this team’s head as it brings the ball up the floor.
— West Virginia is halfway to my prediction of losing six gamges this season before the NCAA Tournament. They look good (really good) against teams that don’t have the natural talent they do. When they’re matched up with a boxer their size, issues sprout up. Hell, the game shouldn’t have been so close, but Syracuse tried to choke it away. Many folk in CNY are starting to believe this team’s Final Four dreams can come true. 72-71 Orange, and they would almost own the rights as the Big East’s best, but …
— Pittsburgh will not go away, and we all need to get used to it. Sure, Edgar Sosa almost hit the game-winner as time expired, and that would’ve been great, but it also would’ve overshadowed Louisville’s implosion in the final two minutes. 82-77 in OT for the Panthers after the Ville blew a 68-63 with 40 seconds remaining. Samardo Samuels’ 25 went for naught, and Nasir Robinson (get used to these names, folksO had 26, 11 rebounds and made 11-of-14 from the field.
— Big Ten game you’ve already forgotten about: Illinois couldn’t get it done, losing 73-63. Michigan State all alone in the Big Ten right now. We’ve heard this song before. Kalin Lucas played like the Kalin Lucas I know and love. Illinois will not overcome bad shooting this season. It was forced into that kind of play yesterday.
— Is Kansas State’s 87-81 win over Colorado on the road a springboard to knocking off wounded Texas? Not buying it. Boulder not such the easy win Big 12 coaches secretly thought it would be.
— Virginia 75-57 over Miami. Don’t want to pull a muscle patting myself on the back just yet.
— Tennessee’s 71-69 overtime win over Ole Miss gave us a worthwhile game in a conference that might not give us a lot this year. Chris Warren didn’t play at his best, and I think the Rebels can point to that for why they couldn’t win in regulation. Volunteers are now 4-0 since Pearl handed out suspensions. Cameron Tatum and Melvin Goins are expected to return next week, by the way; they’ve been reinstated.
The Musketeers are trying to grab the A10 by the throat yet again.
— Wisconsin and Ohio State. Didn’t these teams just play? Yep, Dec. 31. And Ohio State returned the favor last night, winning 60-51. Evan Turner was great in the second half, though David Lighty had a team-high 18 points.
— Don’t overlook this: Baylor getting a comfortable 83-70 win at home over Oklahoma State. The 14-2 Bears will remain ranked.
— Plenty of drama/good hoop in the Queen City: Cincinnati-Notre Dame went down to the wire, and with it tied at 58, Cinci got a last-second bucket from Yancy Gates to win, 60-58. They finally get a close win after falling short the past month. And Xavier-Dayton’s 78-74 finish made me look lucky yet again. Musketeers are trying to grab the A10 by the throat yet again.
— Cal-Washington, a battle of the two best teams in the Pac-10? It didn’t look like it. Predictably, the hot team coming in didn’t show up. The 84-69 UW win wasn’t competitive, and Cal falls to 11-6 overall.
— Oklahoma avoids a depression and manages a 66-61 win over now-14-4 Mizzou.
— Clemson only gets a 73-70 win over N.C. State on the road. Felt like that would be a tricky spot for the Tigers, and they get out alive. N.C. State has more guts than I gave them credit for.
— Kansas 89-63 over Texas Tech. The loss was like popping the lid to release the pressure, I think. That, and Texas Tech is fluttering away with its season.
• Hassan Whiteside was two blocks shy of another triple-double in Marshall’s 89-79 win over Tulane.
• Temple won 76-64 over UMass. Miss the days when that game meant something.
• Mississippi State almost blew it against Georgia, but got to 15-3 with 72-69 win at home.
• Missouri State ended its at-large chances by losing on the road to Bradley.
• Maryland ended Boston College’s hopes by winning on the road today, 73-57.
• Florida State 63, Virginia Tech 58. Will Hokies lose in many a close game yet again?