Our quick thoughts on Sunday's results:
Purdue's certainly didn't look like a 1 seed in their first game without Robbie Hummel. The Boilermakers shot 30 percent from the field, got outrebounded by 26, and posted their lowest point total of the season in a 53-44 home loss. Raymar Morgan had 16 points and 11 rebounds to lead Michigan State, who will move up to the 3 line in our next bracket as a result of the win. The bigger story here, though, is the short-term future of Purdue. The fact that they lost to the Spartans wasn't totally shocking, but their offesnive struggles without Hummel were pretty eye-opening. At this point, we can't find a reason - even with all they've done so far this season - to keep them on the 1 line next week. We also think they'll have a difficult time getting past the semis of the Big Ten tourney with the team they have now, while Duke will a big favorite to get to at least the final of the ACC tourney. Needless to say, the committee will keep a close eye on how the Boilermakers fare over the next two weeks and determine their seed accordingly. They should have no problem with Indiana and Penn State this week, but if they were to lose, say, in the semis of the Big Ten tourney, an argument could be made for them to drop to a 3 seed. If they got to the final, they'd probably remain a 2. We'll have them the top 2 seed next week, with Duke taking over the last spot on the 1 line.
In case you were wondering, the last time the top three teams in the nation lost in the same week was Feb. 16-22, 2009, when Connecticut, Oklahoma and North Carolina all lost.
Just when it looked like UConn had turned the corner and was on its way to an at-large bid, the Huskies went out and made the already complicated Big East bubble that much messier. Their devastating 78-76 home loss to Louisville, on a Jorge Sosa lay-in with nine seconds left, dropped UConn to 7-9 in conference and set up a crazy final week of games in the Big East with three teams fighting for what looks to be two bids. The Huskies led by as many as 13 points in the first half on Saturday, but the Louisville defense forced UConn into 14 second-half turnovers and helped the Cardinals go up seven on two occasions. A three by Kemba Walker (who had 28 points) gave UConn a 76-75 lead with 1:39 left, but Louisville tied it on a Samardo Samuels free throw and won on Sosa's strong drive and lay-in. Walker drove the length of the floor on UConn's last possession, but his off-balance lay-up never hit the basket, giving the Cardinals the huge road win.
Louisville's win sets up an insane final week of games in the Big East. At 7-9, UConn now has to win at Notre Dame and at South Florida to have a good shot at a bid heading into the Big East tourney. The Cardinals are in for now and as long as they win one game this week, they are an absolute lock. The wild card in this whole mix is Notre Dame, which is suddenly 8-8 in conference and coming off two huge wins over Pitt and Georgetown. The Irish host the Huskies on Wednesday in an absolute must-win for both teams in South Bend. Even if they win that game, Notre Dame would have to win at Marquette next weekend to finish 10-8 and feel completely safe. We are going to have to really tough decisions to make tonight about the projected fates of all of the these teams, and we'll have to try to determine how many bids the Big East can get in the end. Nine bids would have been a good possibility had UConn taken care of business, but eight might be the number now thanks to Louisville's upset win. What a freakin' mess...
Thanks to some late heroics from Terrell Holloway, Xavier's quest for a fourthe straight A-1o title is still alive - barely. Holloway scored seven of his game-high 24 points in the second OT, leading the Musketeers to a huge 78-76 win over Richmond. The win was Xavier's 31st straight at home in conference, and it moved them a game ahead of the Spiders - and into a tie with Temple - for first place in conference with two games to play. With the schedule they have left, the Musketeers have to like their chances to win the title outright. They play at Fordham and at home against St. Bonaventure next week, while Temple has to go to Saint Louis before its season finale at home against George Washington. The Owls beat Xavier back on Jan. 20, which gives them the tie-breaker for the top seed in the A-10 tourney should the two teams tie. In terms of the bracket, Xavier will move up to the top of the 6 line (and maybe sneak onto the end of the 5 line) as a result of the win, while Richmond will likely hold firm on the 7 line.
Who said winning on the road in the Big East was hard? Marquette won its fifth straight conference road game on Saturday, edging Seton Hall 84-83 in overtime in Newark. It was the third straight OT win for the Golden Eagles, who have now played 13 games this season that have been decided by five points or fewer. The win moved Marquette to 10-6 in conference and it all but assured them an at-large bid barring a total collapse down the stretch. They host Louisville and Notre Dame next week, and if they win both games, they could finish fourth in the Big East and earn a coveted double bye in the Big East tourney. Even if they split, they'll be a lock for a bid, and if they lose both, one win in the Big East tourney would make them a pretty safe bet on Selection Sunday.
Head-scratcher of the day: Penn State 79, Northwestern 60. The Nittany Lions have three Big Ten wins this year. Two are against Northwestern - by a combined 30 points. Somewhere, Michael Wilbon is weeping.
Of note: Clemson won at Florida State (the Tigers will stay an 8 seed next week; the 'Noles will likely fall to the 9 or 10 line); Temple won at LaSalle (Juan Fernandez had 23 points and Lavoy Allen had 17 points and 21 boards for the Owls, who also won the Big 5 title with the 65-53 victory); Siena beat Marist at home; Weber State lost at Portland State.