Still Unbeaten. #1 Memphis and #2 Kansas remained unbeaten through the weekend, and until both lose a game, this will be the top storyline for the last six weeks of the regular season. This is the latest point in a season that two teams have been undefeated since 2005 (Illinois and Boston College), and there are no signs that either team is slowing down soon. Kansas, the top defensive efficiency team in America, knocked the stuffing out of Nebraska 84-49, but we figure the Big 12 (#2 conf in both KenPom and Sagarin) is too tough as a conference for the Jayhawks to go 16-0 this year (est. KenPom chances of running the table = 38.5%). The real intrigue is whether Memphis (#2 defensive efficiency) will run the table until March, and given that they handled Gonzaga 81-73 in a workmanlike manner on Saturday, we’re feeling like Calipari’s team has a great shot at getting into the postseason unblemished (est. KenPom = 58.3%). He’s no stranger to this kind of pressure, either; remember, in 1996, UMass was 26-0 and #1 deep into February before finally losing a late A10 game to GW. That year also happens to represent Calipari’s sole trip to the F4, before Marcus Camby’s “homemade” bling ultimately led to its vacation by the NCAA. Both teams face somewhat tough opponents on the road Wednesday, however (Memphis @ Houston; Kansas @ Kansas St.), but if they survive those tests we might have a situation similar to 2004 when both Stanford and St. Joseph’s made it to the first week of March unbeaten. It must be noted, though, that neither of those teams made it to the F4.
The Truth About Duke. We were absolutely sure that Duke was going to lose at Maryland yesterday. After watching the first half, where James Gist and Bambale Osby seemingly scored inside at will, we were beyond absolutely convinced that the Terps were on track to beat their second top five opponent in eight days. So what happened? Duke 93, Maryland 84. We’re not going to pile on Gary Williams and his squad for their typical carelessness with the ball, etc., here – that’s what they do, and they were still able to beat UNC in Chapel Hill last weekend. No, we’re going to give all the credit to Duke for their hustle, resilience and clutch play down the stretch last night. It was funny, once Duke got the lead with 12 minutes remaining, we knew in our gut that the game was over. Sure enough, Duke methodically pulled away by getting after the loose balls, battling on the boards despite being undersized, and forcing some of those poor Maryland turnovers. We generally try to avoid the stereotypical “Duke is smarter” BS that you hear the Dick Vitale and Mike Patricks of the world prattle on about, but this year we have to give it to them. Duke plays with a very high basketball IQ, they absolutely get after you defensively, and they simply don’t beat themselves. They just don’t have enough of an inside attack to win another national championship this year, but Duke haters everywhere should prepare themselves for another depressing February and a #1 seed for the Devils in March.
Conference Muddling. The middle of the six BCS conferences are about as wide open as we can remember. In the ACC, after Duke (5-0) and Carolina (4-1), who is the third best team? There are nine other teams with either three or two wins. The Big East is even worse – after Georgetown (6-1) and Louisville (5-2), there are eleven teams with four or three wins, including an absurd six teams with identical 4-3 records. The Big 12, Pac-10 and SEC are a little better, but it’s the Big 10 that is the only league exhibiting true have/have-not behavior. Five teams have five-plus wins, five teams have two or fewer wins, and poor Iowa sits in the middle at 3-5.
Saturday Games. Here are the games that caught our attention on Saturday.
- Notre Dame 90, #23 Villanova 80. As soon as we think we’ve got ND figured out, they do something like this.
- Connecticut 68, #8 Indiana 63. We watched this game and still can’t figure this one out.
- Texas-Pan American 54, NJIT 42. 0-21 now… Circle the home date v. 4-19 Longwood on 2/4 as the breakthrough win.
- NC State 69, Florida St. 66. This was pretty much a must-win for the Pack.
- #19 Texas A&M 59, Oklahoma St. 56. OSU continues to struggle in the Big 12 (1-4).
- Arizona 84, Washington 69. Arizona is starting to look like the third best team in the Pac-10.
- Louisville 67, St. John’s 57. Terrence Williams with triple 8s (8/8/8 assts).
- UNLV 72, San Diego St. 69. A key road win in the Mtn West for Vegas.
- Virginia Tech 81, Boston College 73 (OT). Would the real BC please stand up?
- Oklahoma 77, Baylor 71. BU’s first B12 loss is at the hands of the surging Sooners (Blake Griffin with 17/15).
- Purdue 60, #11 Wisconsin 56. Very nice home win for the young Boilers (6-1 in the B10).
- Mississippi St. 88, #15 Ole Miss 68. MSU is starting to look a little like that team SEC:TGTBTD predicted back in September.
- Rutgers 77, #17 Pittsburgh 64. Nice egg-laying by Pitt in this one.
- Kansas St. 82, Iowa St. 57. KSU continues to surge (Beastley 33/15).
- #18 Drake 58, Northern Iowa 54. The class of the MVC continues to roll…
- #6 Washington St. 56, #25 Arizona St. Heartbreaking home loss for the Sun Devils.
- #22 Stanford 82, California 77. Once again, it appears as if Cal is the odd man out in the Pac-10.
- Richmond 80, #14 Dayton 63. Two straight blowout losses for the Flyers – what happened?
- #10 Georgetown 58, West Virginia 57. GTown just keeps sneaking by…
- #3 Tennessee 85, Georgia 69. Lofton came out of his shooting slump with 7 threes.
- #12 Texas 73, Texas Tech 47. DJ Augustin with 19 as Bob Knight continues to teach mediocrity.
- #21 Marquette 79, Depaul 71. MU’s backcourt combined for 44 pts.
- Arkansas 68, LSU 52. The John Brady firing watch continues…
- USC 95, Oregon 86 (OT). Forget what we said last week about Oregon always winning at home – tough weekend for the Ducks.
- #7 UCLA 85, Oregon St. 62. What’s laughable is that OSU thought they were in this game at halftime (43-39).
Sunday Games. A few more…
- #20 Xavier (OH) 77, Massachusetts 65. UMass has really fallen off, but Xavier continues to look fantastic.
- Florida 86, #16 Vanderbilt 64. Let’s remove Vandy and Ole Miss in favor of Florida and Miss St. in this week’s blogpoll, shall we?
- #9 Michigan St. 77, Michigan 62. We just can’t get a sense as to how good this MSU team really is (6-1 in the B10, but that one loss was so hideous!).
- Miami (FL) 75, Clemson 72. Miami really needed this win to avoid a freefall in the conference race.
- Syracuse 71, Providence 64. Both teams needed this one, Cuse got it.
- Georgia Tech 92, Virginia 82 (OT). Tremendous ending in regulation in this one, but Virginia has now earned itself last place in the ACC.