Our quick thoughts on Saturday's results:
Even this late into the season, there are a handful of teams in our bracket that are seeded based more on potential than actual performance. Near the top of that list coming into Saturday's action was Georgia Tech. They aren't there anymore. Thanks to Gani Lawal, who scored 21 points, and thanks to a solid defensive effort that shut down the potent Duke offense, the Yellow Jackets pulled off a 71-67 win over the 5th-ranked Blue Devils. Instead of a ticket to Bubbleville, Georgia Tech will now likely be a low 7 or a high 8 seed come Monday. Duke will move down (but not fall off) the 2 line as a result of the loss.
(Dear Georgia Tech fans, that court rush was pretty weak. Gotta work on that...)
It's become officially impossible for opponents to win in the Kohl Center. Last month, Wisconsin famously knocked off Duke at home in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, and on Sunday they knocked 4th-ranked Purdue from the ranks of the unbeaten with a 73-66 win. The key to the upset was the play of sophomore guard Jordan Taylor, who scored a career-high 23 points (15 more than his season average) in place of the foul-ridden Trevon Hughes. Thanks to the win, Wisconsin will remain on the 3 line next week, despite struggling at Michigan State earlier in the week. Purdue should have fallen off the 1 line beacuse of the loss, but Duke's loss means the Boilers will stay a 1 next week.
The Pit may not be as difficult to play in as the Kohl Center, but New Mexico had won 19 straight there heading into Saturday's game against UNLV. The Runnin' Rebels, who came in desperate for a resume-building win, didn't let that streak reach 20. Kendall Wallace scored a career high 21 points for UNLV in a convincing 74-62 win that not only earned the Rebels a split on the road for the week, but secured them a spot in our bracket next week. The Lobos, meanwhile have now lost three out of five after a 12-0 start, and currently sit at 0-2 in the MWC. They'll take a tumble from the 4 line this week, and probably land somewhere in the 7 range.
Jim Calhoun has seen a lot of amazing individual performances in his Hall of Fame coaching career, but he'd probably be hard-pressed to find many that were better than the one Austin Freeman put on in the second half on Saturday. The junior guard, who was invisible in the first half, scored 28 points after halftime, almost single-handedly erasing a double-digit UConn lead and leading Georgetown to an improbable 72-69 win at the Verizon Center.
With the loss, the Huskies will continue to slide closer to a double-digit seed in our next bracket. Eight weeks into the season, they still have no standout wins on their resume, and they are staring at two more tough tests this week - a home game against Pitt and a road game at Michigan.
Welcome to the bracket, Missouri. The Tigers, who came thisclose to sneaking into our field last week, catapulted their way in on Saturday, knocking off 10th-ranked Kansas State 74-68 at home. Missouri went ice cold for a 10-minute stretch in the second half but never faded away, eventually taking the lead for good on a Zaire Taylor three with 33 seconds left. They'll likely debut as a 10 or 11 seed in next week's bracket.
Texas Tech has now lost its last two road games by a combined 54 points. Their latest road debacle came Saturday night at Oklahoma State, where they got pasted, 81-52. The Big XII is getting more crowded by the day, and if the Red Raiders want to avoid getting lost in the shuffle, they'll need to turn things around in a hurry. They play three of their next four at home, beginning with a huge one against Missouri on Wednesday.
Oklahoma State, meanwhile, has a case to be an at-large next week, but they're probably going to come up just short. Despite this win, they still have the eighth best resume out of the Big XII. They also play three of their next four on the road (Oklahoma, Baylor, Kansas State), where they've only played twice all season. They got blown out at Tulsa and won by just a point at Stanford.
West Virginia has to be thrilled they won't be making any more trips to the state of Indiana this season. The Mountaineers got crushed at Purdue on New Year's Day, and on Saturday 70-68 at Notre Dame in a game that wasn't close until the very end. The Irish led by 20 at the half, but West Virginia fought back. The Mountaineers actually had a chance to win the game at the buzzer, but Da'Sean Butler's three rattled out. The loss will probably knock WVU off the 2 line (they'll likely be replaced by Villanova), while ND will be one of the Last Four In or Last Four Out on Monday morning.
No major conference team may have had a worse week than Cincinnati. After losing at home to Pittsburgh on Monday, the Bearcats lost on the road Saturday to a Seton Hall team that has been pretty allergic to winning over the last couple of weeks. Cincinnati's days as a 5 seed are long gone; they might be close to double that come Monday.
Not even a big game from Evan Turner could save Ohio State from another Big Ten loss. Turner had 19 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists in his second game back from injury, but the Buckeyes fell at Minnesota to drop to 1-3 in conference. If they don't sweep two very tough games next week (at Purdue and home against Wisconsin), Ohio State - which has now lost four straight road games - will be on the wrong side of the bubble next Monday.
There's a good chance the SEC will be a six-bid league on Monday after Vanderbilt's upset of Florida at home. The Commodores, who have an OOC resume that features wins at home against Missouri and at St. Mary's, handed the Gators their first loss in an SEC opener since 2001.
Elsewhere in the SEC, Mississippi State added a huge win to its mediocre resume by winning at Mississippi. After losing at Western Kentucky on Wednesday, the Bulldogs were headed to the bubble list had they lost to the Rebels. Instead, they'll probably stay close to the 7 seed they had coming into the week.
It was not DeMarcus Cousins Poster Giveaway Night in Lexington on Saturday. Someone forgot to tell Travis Leslie.
Miami may have had the softest resume of any big conference team in our field over the last two weeks, but the Hurricanes finally legitimized themselves against Wake Forest Saturday night. James Dews' put-back with 29 seconds left gave Miami the lead for good in what was a see-saw game throughout.
Richmond suffered a poor loss at Saint Louis on Saturday, but they also picked up some good news that will help keep them in the bracket for another week. Mississippi State's win over Mississippi and Missouri's win over Kansas State further strengthened Richmond's OOC resume, and should take some of the attention away from the fact that the Spiders now have five losses.
Northern Iowa continued to make its case for an at-large on Saturday, winning easily at Illinois State to improve to 5-0 in the MVC. The Panthers' victory was also huge news for the Valley, whose chances at two bids rests on UNI getting an at-large berth. The front-runner for that second Valley spot continues to be Wichita State, who won at Creighton today to improve to 15-2 overall and 4-1 in the league. Depending on how things go the rest of the weekend, the Shockers could find themselves on the Last Four In list on Monday.
Of note: Villanova handed Marquette another close Big East loss, winning 78-76 at home; Baylor crushed Oklahoma, snapping a 30-game losing streak to the Sooners; Kentucky struggled but held off Georgia at home in its SEC opener; BYU picked up a nice road win at UTEP; Texas blew out Colorado to remain unbeaten; Gonzaga won at Portland; Dayton beat Duquesne at home in OT; Texas A&M won at home against Nebraska; Michigan State won easily at Iowa; San Diego State lost at Wyoming; William & Mary won at Drexel.