Our quick thoughts on the week's results:
USC's Christmas present to its fans - and to the Pac-10 - was another marquee OOC win, this time over 20th-ranked UNLV in the finals of the Diamond Head Classic. The Trojans aren't just the clear front-runners at the moment for the third Pac-10 bid - they have the best OOC resume in the entire league.
It's no coincidence that USC's emergence has coincided with the reinstatement of transfer Mike Gerrity. The Trojans are 4-0 with their new senior point guard running the show, and he's averaging 14.8 points and 4.3 assists per night.
Nice resume-adding win for WVU over Ole Miss in Morgantown. The Mountaineers not only shot the ball well, but looked light years better on defense than they did in their near-loss to Cleveland State last time out.
Oral Roberts did its late founder pround Wednesday, upsetting New Mexico to knock the 12th-ranked Lobos from the ranks of the unbeaten. It was Oral's second win over a power conference school at the Mabee Center in two weeks (they beat Missouri back on Dec. 9.) Good luck getting anyone else to come visit.
What's gotten into USC? The Trojans now have two nice wins on their resume after upsetting St. Mary's in the semis of the Diamond Head Classic. Despite the loss, we still like the Gaels as a second bid out of the WCC.
The race for the Colonial title is going to be a tight one. William & Mary has the best resume so far, but preseason favorite Old Dominion is right behind them after they destroyed Charlotte at home.
For the second year in a row, Siena didn't do much much with a tough OOC schedule. The Saints looked every bit the MAAC favorite, though, in beating Rider (picked to finish third in the league) by 22 at the Pepsi Center.
Move over Tulsa, UAB has emerged at the best team in C-USA. The Golden Hurricane looked all sorts of awful in a 31-point loss to Nevada.
Illinois' miracle comeback against Clemson feels like it happened about a year ago. The Illini lost their second straight head-scratcher Wednesday, falling by 13 to a mediocre Missouri team.
It's official: the two best teams in the country right now are tied atop the Big XII. Kansas, who people like to (stupidly) pick apart because of their weak OOC schedule, annihilated Cal in Lawrence, while Texas beat its second top 10 team in three days in downing Michigan State. Do we really have to wait over a month for these two to play? Sigh...
Cal stinks right now.
Speaking of Kansas, their New Year starts with a pretty tough three game stretch - at Temple, home vs. Cornell, at Tennessee, at Nebraska. We'll give them an 85% chance of staying unbeaten through those four.
UAB cracked our Next Four Out list this week, and they'll be ranked even higher than that next bracket after their 10-point home win over Butler. Even with Tulsa losing last night to Nebraska, we aren't ready to crown the Blazers the best team in C-USA, but right now they're in the top two (sorry Memphis).
Butler's loss dropped the Bulldogs to 8-4 and has some throwing the word overrated around. Yes, Butler is not the 3 seed we thought they might be at the beginning of the year, but they do have wins over Northwestern, Ohio State, and Xavier and have played the 12th toughest schedule so far. The Bulldogs are probably looking at a 5-7 seed come March, depending on how many games they lose in conference (it won't be many.)
Head scratcher of the night: South Alabama 67, Florida 66. The Gators have now lost two questionable games in a row, but they aren't out of the bracket just yet. They can say good-bye to a single digit seed line, though.
Yikes of the night: Florida Gulf Coast 64, DePaul 61.
Games don't get much worse than what Texas A&M suffered through last night. They lost by 10 at Washington and lost their best defender, Derrick Roland, to a Theismann-esque leg injury. Ouch and ouch.
Of note: William & Mary (who we admit we like a lot more than some other people...just check the resume, though) picked up a nice road win at Big South favorite Radford.
It's not that Missouri State's loss at Arkansas was a "bad" one, but the Bears really could have cemented their spot in the bracket with a road win against an SEC team.
St. John's stay in our Field of 65 lasted all of a few hours. The Red Storm got outscored by 10 in the second half in a loss to Cornell at the Garden. The Big Red are going to be a very tough out for someone if they make the tourney; we might have them a little underseeded at a 13.
What's going on in Norman? Oklahoma's home loss to UTEP drops them to 8-4 on the season and all but assures they will have no OOC resume to speak of come March. Their last chance at a marquee OOC win comes New Year's Eve at Gonzaga (not gonna happen). Remember, this was a team picked to finish third in the Big XII.