Our quick thoughts on Saturday's results:
Regular season games don't get much more exciting or intense than Kansas-Kansas State was on Saturday night. There were 14 ties and 20 lead changes in the game, which wasn't decided until Sherron Collins (who was suffering from leg cramps) converted a ridiculous lay-up (and got fouled) with 13 seconds left in overtime, leading Kansas to a 81-79 win. Collins finished with 16 points and Cole Aldrich added 18 points and 11 boards for the Jayhawks, who will be No. 1 in the polls and the No. 1 overall seed in our bracket on Monday. Jacob Pullen had 22 for Kansas State, which again proved that it is worthy of a spot on the 3 line. The Wildcats probably won't be able to catch Kansas in the race for the Big XII title, but right now they're playing like the second best team in what might be the deepest league in the country.
It's tough to top the Cameron Crazies, but the purple-clad student section at the Octagon of Doom has established itself this season as one of the loudest and most creative groups in the country. The atmosphere in Manhattan on Saturday night was unbelievable.
Remember when Texas was a 1 seed? Remember when they were a 2 seed? After the Longhorns' latest loss - at home to Tweety Carter (27 points) and Baylor in OT on Saturday - they very well could find themselves on the 3 line in Monday's bracket. The 'Horns have now lost three of their last four games, and it could get worse as they have to go on the road to face Oklahoma State and Oklahoma this week. Baylor, meanwhile, now has a signature road win on its resume, and has a good chance given its remaining schedule to finish fourth in the Big XII. The Bears play Iowa State at home and at Texas A&M next week.
Georgetown put on quite a show for the commander in chief on Saturday, destroying Duke 89-77 at the "grayed out" Verizon Center. Chris Wright and Greg Monroe each scored 21 points for the Hoyas, who shot 71.7 percent from the field in the victory. It was Georgetown's third win in three tries this season against ranked non-conference opponents, and depending on how the rest of the weekend plays out, it could keep the Hoyas on the end of the 2 line next week. At worst they will be at the top of the 3 line. The same could be said for Duke, who might stay a 2 (over a team like Purdue) because of their status as the favorite in the ACC.
It took UConn all of seven days to spoil last weekend's win over Texas. The Huskies capped an 0-2 week with an awful loss to Marquette at the XL Center, which dropped them to 13-8 overall and 3-5 in conference. Jimmy Butler's floater with 2.4 seconds left won it for the Golden Eagles, who led by double digits late in the first half. The loss will not only knock UConn out of our bracket next week, it may knock them out for a while - or maybe for good. With games at Louisville (on Monday), at Villanova, and at Syracuse left, it's very difficult to see the Huskies finishing any better than 10-8 or 9-9 in conference. Marquette, meanwhile, might be the odds-on favorite right now to be the Big East's seventh bid. Their schedule the rest of the way is not that tough at all, plus they play three of their next four at home, which includes a home date with Pitt on Feb. 18.
Kentucky avenged its loss to South Carolina with a statement win over Vanderbilt in Lexington. The Wildcats jumped out to a 19-point lead in the first half, and despite some foul trouble, was able to maintain a double-digit lead for most of the game. DeMarcus Cousins led the way with 21 points and 10 rebounds for Kentucky, who will slide down, but not fall off, the 1 line next week. Thanks to their win at Tennessee earlier in the week, Vandy will stay in the low 5/high 6 range.
Two Big East powers narrowly avoided the upset bug on Saturday. Syracuse erased an 18-point first half deficit to beat DePaul 59-57 and West Virginia came back from 12 down midway through the second half to edge Louisville 77-74. The Orange will hang on to their spot on the 1 line with the victory, and the Mountaineers will stay put on the 3 line. Syracuse has two very winnable games next week (vs. Providence, at Cincinnati), while West Virginia hosts Pitt on Wednesday and plays at St. John's on Saturday.
Gonzaga needed a huge second half comeback to escape with a win against Santa Clara its last time out. The Zags weren't nearly as lucky on the road against San Francisco on Saturday night, as they lost to the Dons 81-77 in overtime. Gonzaga took a 10-point lead early in the second half, but made just five field goals over the final 17 minutes of regulation to let the Dons back in it. San Francisco hit three three-pointers, including two by Dior Lowhorn, in OT to seal the win. The loss snapped Gonzaga's 22-game WCC winning streak and will knock them down a seed line or so next week. For the time being, it also dropped them into a first-place tie in conference with St. Mary's, who beat Loyola Marymount on Saturday night.
Rhode Island officially wrapped up a spot in the bracket next week by taking care of business at home against George Washington. The Rams led by as many as 16 points in the first half against the Colonials and held on late to improve to 5-2 in conference. They'll debut in the 10-11 range next week.
The already complicated race in the Colonial got even more confusing on Saturday thanks to Old Dominion's loss at Northeastern. The loss drops ODU into a second-place tie with the Huskies at 9-2 in conference. They're both a behind red-hot George Mason, which won at home against James Madison on Saturday for its ninth victory in its last 10 games. ODU remains the only at-large possibility out of the Colonial, and we'll have to decide Sunday night if we want to keep them in next week as the league's automatic.
Mississippi State couldn't have hoped for a better Saturday. They beat LSU handily at home, and perhaps more importantly, they saw another team (UConn) lose its spot in next week's bracket. We still aren't sold on the Bulldogs as an at-large worthy team following their loss at Arkansas, but they may sneak onto the Last Four In list on Monday because there won't be a whole lot of teams banging down the door to replace them.
Demetri McCamey's buzzer-beater not only gave Illinois a two-point win over Indiana, it may have thrust the Illini into next week's field. The Big Ten is likely going to get five bids in the end, and if Minnesota loses as expected at Ohio State tomorrow, Illinois would have the conference's fifth best resume. The Illini play at Iowa on Wednesday and then host Michigan State in what could be a season-defining game in Champaign next weekend.
Is UTEP the best team in Conference USA? That's up for debate, but there certainly isn't anyone playing better right now, especially on the road, than the Miners. Their 74-65 double-overtime win at UAB on Saturday night was their fifth straight victory, and it was their second huge road win in as many weeks. The Miners won at Memphis last Wednesday, and in beating the Blazers Saturday, they moved into a first place tie in conference. For the past two weeks, we have had Tulsa in as a place-holder out of C-USA, and our main reason was the Golden Hurricane's perfect home record. With the way UTEP has played away from home, we may have to re-evaluate our thinking.
Cornell left no doubt as to who the valedictorian of the Ivy League is, destroying Harvard 86-50 in Ithaca on Saturday night. The Big Red never trailed and used a 17-0 run midway through the second half to blow the game open. Harvard's Jeremy Lin (good story on him in SI this week) scored 19 points, but all five Cornell starters also ended up in double figures. The talk coming into this game centered the possibility of a two-bid Ivy if Harvard were to win. That talk can stop now.
Head-scratchers: Rutgers 74, Notre Dame 73; SMU 70, Memphis 60.
Of note: Missouri beat Oklahoma State at home; Florida State won at BC; Michigan State beat Northwestern at home; Cincinnati beat Providence at home; Texas A&M beat Texas Tech at home; Temple beat LaSalle at home; Charlotte won at UMass; BYU beat Utah at home; New Mexico won at TCU; Northern Iowa won by one at Missouri State; Dayton won at St. Bonaventure; Tulsa won at Central Florida; Richmond beat Saint Louis at home.