Our quick thoughts on Wednesday's results:
As if the race for the Big East regular season title wasn’t convoluted enough, Georgetown further complicated things (and picked up a huge road win) by beating Pitt 74-66 at the Petersen Events Center on Wednesday night. Chris Wright scored 27 points to lead the way for the Hoyas, and Greg Monroe added 13 points and 11 rebounds. The loss snapped Pitt’s 31-game home court winning streak and cost them a chance to go 6-0 in the Big East for the first time in school history. It was only the Panthers’ third loss in 13 home games against ranked opponents since the Petersen Events Center opened in 2002. Bracket-wise, both teams might find themselves on the 3 line next week as a result of this one (Pitt down from a 2, Georgetown up from a 4). The Hoyas could also sneak up to a 2 with some favorable results over the weekend.
Why doesn't Sidney Lowe wear his red jacket for every N.C. State game? The blazer certainly had some luck in it Wednesday night, as the Wolfpack put a beatdown on Duke 88-74 at the RBC Center. It's the second nice win in two weeks for N.C. State, who won at Florida State last Tuesday. Duke, meanwhile, is now 0-3 in true road games this year (they are 3-0 on neutral courts). That's an important stat considering their schedule over the next 10 days. The Blue Devils play at Clemson on Saturday and then at Georgetown next Saturday with a home game against Florida State sandwiched in between.
The N.C. State fans get a solid B for their court rush. We love any rush that comes from both ends of the floor, but there seemed to be some tables in the way that made things a tad slow. Gotta tell security to get those out of the way next time. Nice job overall, though. Keep up the good work.
UConn was pretty sluggish in the first half in its first game without Jim Calhoun, but the Huskies exploded offensively after halftime en route 75-59 win over St. John's in Hartford. Jerome Dyson led UConn with 21 points and Stanley Robinson added 18 points and nine boards. The Huskies now turn their attention to what could be a season-defining game against Texas in Gampel on Saturday. A win will not only get them back in the bracket, but it will get them back in with a pretty nice seed, too. The Huskies are obviously going to have to play a heck of a lot better than they did in Ann Arbor this past weekend, but we won't dismiss their chances at pulling the upset. We won't go as far as to predict a UConn victory (who's going to guard Damion James and Dexter Pittman for the Huskies?) but we have a funny feeling this one is going to be real, real interesting. St. John's, meanwhile, falls out of the bubble discussion with the loss, and we don't expect them to get back in the mix anytime soon with their upcoming schedule ('Nova, WVU, and Pitt are three of their next four).
North Carolina's free-fall continued in eye-popping fashion Wednesday night, as they got smoked 82-69 at home by Wake Forest. The Tar Heels trailed by just two at half time, but the Demon Deacons were unconscious from behind the arc in the second half, hitting seven of eight second half threes to take control of the game. Freshman A.J. Harris had 20 points in the second half for Wake, who improved to 3-2 in conference with the win. The bigger story here, though, is Carolina, which has now lost three straight for the first time under Roy Williams and four of five overall. They've also officially taken over UConn's spot as most debatable bubble team in the country. It's important to keep in mind, even with all of their struggles, that Carolina still has two quality OOC wins on its resume (Ohio State and Michigan State), which means a 9-7 ACC record is all the defending champs will need to eventually get a bid. With that being said, they still have Duke twice and games at Wake Forest and Georgia Tech remaining, so it won't be easy. The good news is they have a few extra days to try and work out their issues since their next game isn't until next Tuesday at N.C. State.
Dear ESPN, "Announcer Swap" is stupid. Give us Dan and Dick back. Thanks.
After Temple's 32 point home loss to Kansas a few weeks ago, we lost a lot of confidence in the Owls. We are now back on their bandwagon after they were able to beat Xavier 77-72 and take sole possession of first place in the A-10. Xavier will need to bounce back quickly and take down URI on Friday if they want to remain in next week's bracket. Elsewhere in the A-10, Richmond lost at home to Charlotte by double digits. The 49ers were able to close out the first half on a 12-0 run and never looked back. It's a bracket-ousting loss for the Spiders, who have now lost two questionable A-10 games. To climb back into the bracket, they will have to win at home against Temple on Feb. 6.
It's not so much that William and Mary lost on the road to a respectable VCU team, but to get blown out by 22 is a totally different story. The game got out of hand in the second half, when the Rams went on a 18-5 run to blow open a 5-point halftime lead. The loss is a serious blow for the Tribe, who now fall to 4th place in conference. It also puts added emphasis on the showdown that they have with ODU this weekend. The winner of that game will find themselves in next week's bracket, and it would be tough to envision W&M having the ability to recover enough to put themselves back into the at-large mix should they lose.
What a crazy night it was for the top five teams in Conference USA. The biggest headline was that UTEP won at Memphis, snapping the Tigers' 64-game (64-game!) conference winning streak. Ironically enough, it was a Memphis native - Jeremy Williams - who led the way for the Miners, scoring 18 points and adding 12 rebounds in the victory. Elsewhere, UAB rallied from a 9-point deficit with five minutes play to beat Southern Miss 57-56 at home, Tulsa (who we put in the bracket this week as the C-USA automatic) came back from 15 down in the second half to win at Oral Roberts, and Marshall nearly pulled off the upset of the night but lost 68-60 at home to West Virginia.
Head-scratcher of the night: DePaul 51, Marquette 50. The Blue Demons snapped their 24-game Big East regular-season losing streak on a Mike Stovall jumper with 0.7 seconds left. How much has it sucked to be a Marquette fan this year?
Head-scratcher of the night, Part II: Kent State 89, Buffalo 54.
WTF of the night: The halftime score of the North Carolina Central-Savannah State game was...13-5. (13-5!!) Savannah State (the "5") was 1-of-16 from the field in the first half and committed 14 turnovers - and they WON the game 46-44 in OT. (They scored 5 points in the first half and won!) Unreal.
Of note: Kansas fought off a heck of an upset bid by Baylor, pulling away late to win 81-75 at Phog Allen Fieldhouse; Wisconsin edged Michigan at home; Michigan State beat Iowa at home; Villanova won at Rutgers; Cincinnati beat South Florida at home; Mississippi beat South Carolina at home; Dayton beat George Washington at home; Rhode Island beat Duquesne at home; BYU beat Wyoming at home; New Mexico won at Air Force; UNLV won at Colorado State; Old Dominion won at Delaware.