Saturday, January 23, 2010

Remember Jan. 23 on March 14

A monster Saturday in college basketball had dozens of games that will have major implications for Selection Sunday. Here’s a look back at some of the most important goings-on of the day:

- With its loss to Michigan State at home, Minnesota has now lost four of five and is 3-4 in the Big Ten. The Golden Gophers have wins over Butler and Ohio State, but it needs to be more consistent on the road the rest of the season. 1-4 away from home isn’t going to cut it. On the other side, It’s going to take a lot for Michigan State to not win the Big Ten title at this point. The Spartans are 7-0 in the conference, and the team in second, Wisconsin, is still without Jon Leuer.

- It’s still tough to get a read on Mississippi State. The Bulldogs have losses to Rider, Richmond, Western Kentucky and now Alabama. As for the Crimson Tide, their wins over the Bulldogs and Baylor could come in handy if they get into the mix come March.

- St. John’s is not even in the bubble discussion anymore, while Villanova is cruising towards possibly being a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

- What is going on in the Sun Belt? With Western Kentucky’s home loss to Middle Tennessee State, six teams have at least five league wins.

- On “upset Saturday,” Purdue, Baylor, Kansas, Missouri, Vanderbilt, Temple, Texas A&M, Mississippi, Notre Dame, Butler, Cornell, Kentucky, Harvard and Georgetown all avoided the disease by beating inferior opponents. FYI, I don’t really see why it’s being called “upset Saturday,” but hey, I’m not ESPN.

- Dorenzo Hudson’s last-second lay-up to beat Boston College kept Virginia Tech in the hunt for an at-large bid. The Hokies have a terrible RPI and SOS, and they don’t have any noteworthy wins, so they are going to need to continue winning games like this.

- Marquette might be No. 22 in the country according to, but its close losses might have done them in. Yet another single-digit defeat – this time to Syracuse – dropped them to 11-8.

- Although William & Mary has by far the best at-large profile in the CAA, finishing in fourth place won’t get the job done. With the Tribe’s loss to Old Dominion, they are now two games behind ODU, Northeastern and George Mason in the standings.

- Tied at the top of the ACC standings? Virginia and Maryland, both 3-1. The Terrapins need to pick up some more marquee wins, but they are building a solid at-large resume.

- Clemson might not be in line for another late-season swoon, but the Tigers’ two double-digit losses to Duke could prove they are not ready to beat elite teams just yet.

- Wake Forest is looking better and better lately. The Demon Deacons might have lost Jeff Teague and James Johnson, but they play much better team basketball than last season, and will go further in the NCAA Tournament than that team did too.

- Obviously the biggest game of the day was Connecticut dominating the second half against Texas and knocking off the Longhorns. The Huskies now have a marquee win to hang their hat on, and could be over their struggles of late. As for Texas, the Longhorns are still primed for a No. 1 seed, but they might drop a seed line in the upcoming mock brackets.

- Although Ohio State didn’t really need it, a win at West Virginia would have been tremendous in its quest for a top-four seed. However, the Mountaineers took over the second half and were able to knock off Evan Turner and the Buckeyes. It’s a big win for West Virginia too, as it had lost three of five going into the week before beating Marshall on the road and then the Buckeyes today.

- Can you say “bubble battle”? Northwestern went on a late run to defeat Illinois and improve to 14-5 overall. The loss dropped the Fighting Illini to just 12-8 overall; they have now lost three in a row. Wins over Clemson, Vanderbilt and Northwestern look good, but they need to improve their overall record in a hurry.

- Kansas State followed up its huge win over Texas by . . . losing at home to Oklahoma State? The Cowboys’ first road win over a top-10 team in 52 years gives them a marquee win and adds some meat to what was already a decent computer profile. As for Kansas State, the Wildcats could be in for a tough few weeks as three of the next four are on the road, and the lone home game is against Kansas.

- Oklahoma looked to be back in the mix with wins over Oklahoma State and Missouri last week, but the Sooners dropped games to Texas A&M and Texas Tech this week to fall back. Texas Tech needed a win to stay in the at-large hunt, and the Red Raiders got it by knocking off Oklahoma. They still need to pick up some big wins in the coming weeks, though.

- Richmond kept its at-large hopes alive by beating George Washington, but Dayton had a brutal loss to Saint Joseph’s, a sub-150 team in the RPI. Dayton dropped to 14-5 overall, and is hanging a lot of its NCAA bid hopes on a November win over Georgia Tech.

- Also in the Atlantic-10, Xavier defeated Rhode Island in a battle of conference bubble teams. Xavier needed another good win, while Rhode Island needs to start backing up its gaudy RPI.

- UAB has been living on the edge for a few weeks now, and continued that trend by beating Marshall by two. The Blazers have won six in a row by single-digits, with the last three coming by a combined four points. UTEP, Tulsa and Memphis also won in Conference-USA.

- The Missouri Valley could have trouble garnering multiple bids this season, especially after Saturday’s results. Wichita State lost on the road to Drake by 14, while Illinois State dropped one in overtime to Southern Illinois.

- I don’t know if the Pac-10 could be worse if it tried. There are only four teams with remote at-large hopes, and three of them lost on Saturday – Washington State, Washington and Arizona State. At least California won. The chances of this conference getting one bid come Selection Sunday get greater by the day.

- In the Mountain West, UNLV picked up a nice road win at TCU, while New Mexico defeated Colorado State. In the biggest game of the day, BYU held off San Diego State late in the game to defeat the Aztecs on the road by three. The Cougars could be a real threat in March if Jonathan Tavernari gets his touch back.

- Gonzaga shook off a poor first half against Loyola Marymount to win by 16. The Bulldogs could be in line for another top-four seed in the NCAA Tournament.

- Weird day in the WAC. New Mexico State gave up 61 points in the second half to San Jose State, and dropped to 5-2 in the league. Utah State defeated Idaho on the road, while Nevada lost by 10 to a mediocre Fresno State team. Louisiana Tech is the league’s only legit at-large candidate, and they kept those chances alive with a late win at Hawaii after dropping one at San Jose State on Wednesday.

- Chandler Parsons kept Florida in the NCAA Tournament hunt earlier this month with a 60-footer to beat North Carolina State at the buzzer, and he did it again on Saturday against South Carolina. After Devan Downey made a tough lay-up to put South Carolina up one with 5.1 seconds remaining, Parsons took a pass from Erving Walker and knocked in a three at the buzzer to give the Gators a win. Florida is only 14-5, but at least they’re in the at-large mix. A 12-7 record wouldn’t have done that for them.

- After competitive losses to Kentucky, Mississippi and Mississippi State, I think everyone knew that Georgia was going to break through eventually. Well, that day was Saturday, as the Bulldogs blew Tennessee out of the building from the opening tap. Georgia’s combo of wins over Georgia Tech and Tennessee is as good as any two January wins by any other team in the country. 

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