Our quick thoughts on Thursday's results:
For Purdue to be considered a serious contender to win the Big Ten, the Boilermakers had to avoid getting beat a second time this season by Wisconsin. And that's exactly what they did Thursday night in West Lafayette, squeaking past the Badgers 60-57 to move to within a half game of Wisconsin for second place in conference. E'Twuan Moore led the way with 20 points for the Boilers, who have now won three in a row overall. With Georgetown losing, Purdue might be able to sneak onto the end of the 2 line with a win over Penn State on Sunday. Wisconsin doesn't play again until Tuesday's showdown against Michigan State at the Kohl Center, where they are a perfect 12-0 on the year.
Georgia Tech's name might not be at the top of the ACC standings, but no one has beaten more quality opponents in conference than the Yellow Jackets. They already had wins over Duke, Clemson, and Carolina under their belt, and on Thursday night they added the streaking Demon Deacons to that list, too. D'Andre Bell led five Yellow Jackets in double figures with 16 points and Tech held the potent Wake offense to just 32 percent shooting in a dominant 79-58 win. Next up for the Yellow Jackets is a tune-up against Kentucky State (why?) on Saturday and then a game in Cameron Indoor next Thursday. Wake Forest, meanwhile, is off until Tuesday when they face Miami at home. As disheartening as this loss might be to Demon Deacon fans, they can rest well knowing that of all the tourney-caliber ACC teams, they might have the easiest schedule of the bunch left. They're done with Duke, their remaining road games aren't all that tough (at FSU on March 3 might be the toughest), and they have GT, Carolina, and Clemson coming in.
Virginia Tech was down 10 points with less than four minutes to go at Virginia, but the Hokies stormed back to steal a huge road win, 76-71 in OT. VT scored 13 unanswered points after being down 62-52 with 3:44 left and almost won the game in regulation, but Sammy Zeglinski hit a 25-footer right before the buzzer for Virginia to send the game to overtime. The loss knocks the Cavaliers out of the bubble discussion for the moment, and keeps the Hokies in line for a bid next week if they can win at Miami on Sunday. VT also has Carolina and Clemson coming in next week, which gives them even more chances to prove themselves bid-worthy.
Mississippi State might have played its way out of the field by losing at Arkansas. The Bulldogs were a somewhat generous 9 seed this week, but after a second straight road loss - this time to a Razorbacks team that was 8-11 overall and 1-2 in the SEC coming in - their resume isn't looking very attractive at all. Considering the schedule they have coming up next week (games at Vanderbilt and at Florida), it might be time to bail on the Bulldogs even if they take care of business against LSU at home this weekend.
Cal's win at Arizona State may not seem like much given that the Pac-10 is a one-bid league right now, but it's results like this that may help the league get two bids when all is said and done. The Bears are now 6-2 in conference and have won five of their last six overall. If they can continue this roll and get finish 14-4 or maybe even 13-5 in conference, they'll be in a good position to get an at-large if they slip up in the Pac-10 tourney.
Of note: Gonzaga erased a 14-point halftime deficit to win at Santa Clara; Pittsburgh beat St. John's at home; Seton Hall lost at South Florida; Mississippi won at Auburn; Xavier beat Duquesne at home; Old Dominion beat Georgia State at home; St. Mary's won at Pepperdine; Siena won at St. Peter's; Oakland lost by 24 at IUPUI; Charleston lost at Davidson; Northern Colorado lost at home to Montana.