Upsetus Interruptus. There have been some exciting games this afternoon, but if you were hoping for an upset Saturday like last weekend, except for Temple losing at Duquesne and South Carolina winning at Florida, you’ve been left wanting. A few of the big boys took a while to wake up but they all pulled through. Duke waited until around the 11-minute mark of the second half to begin asserting its will on Virginia, but ended up having no trouble with the Cavaliers (76-60). Kansas struggled in putting Nebraksa away — the Huskers actually had a three in the air to tie it in the last seconds — but what really struck us in this game was, despite looking just moderately interested for the first 30 to 35 minutes, how confident the Kansas players suddenly looked late in the game, even while tied or up by only 1-2. After taking on this confident air, the Jayhawks then scored on six straight possessions consisting of four dunks, a layup, and a put-back — in other words, six scores within 10 inches of the basket. Bill Self would probably disagree, but as we watched, we never felt like Kansas would lose that game.
Wish You Were There. Northwestern to the NCAA Tournament? Put it out of your mind. After that 8-0 start, the Wildcats have gone into a flat spin and dropped five of their last eight. The two games they dropped to Michigan State within a 12-day span were not just games they needed but games they should have won, including today’s overtime loss in East Lansing. The difference between 11-5 (2-4) and 13-3 (4-2) feels bigger than two games, especially considering that NU has five road games left and the biggest names they’ll travel to are Minnesota and Wisconsin. We want Northwestern to make it to The Dance as much as anyone. This isn’t the year. You’ll more likely see Roger Waters take a job sitting next to Steven Tyler as a judge on American Idol.
But We Like You Both. The game that was the most pleasing to the eye so far today was Missouri at Texas A&M. The more we watch these two teams, the more we expect from them in March. Both teams knew they had a great shot for a resume’ win today and they stepped up and played a beauty: great passing, low turnovers, high intensity and hustle from both squads, and an exciting finish. Missouri’s highly-caffeinated, almost viral defense didn’t achieve its usual level of annoyance today, grabbing only three steals and forcing just nine turnovers out of the Aggies. What Mizzou fans should be worried about are the unforced errors the Tigers showed us late in the game when things were still in doubt. TA&M’s 13th straight win should put them into the top ten of the polls on Monday, including our own. At this point in the season, Texas A&M wins the award for the best team generating the least talk. Get ready to hear more about the Aggies, especially a certain Khris Middleton (28/7 on 9-16).
Getting Buff. Oh, we see you, Colorado. That’s a good Oklahoma State team you just beat and that’s a very cozy 14-4 (3-0) you’ve built for yourselves. The best part about watching the Buffaloes is that they’re driven by that stupendous guard tandem of Cory Higgins (23 pts) and Alec Burks (20/11), but yet those two gentlemen don’t settle for threes and love getting to the line — and they’re darn good at it (combined 21-22 today). Colorado played nine players against the Cowboys, seven of them guards, and still owned the offensive (14-5) and overall glass against OSU (34-22). Consider us impressed.
Two final notes: To Rick Majerus: good to have you back, Coach. And as far aswe’re concerned, this day of games is all about San Diego State going to the Pit to face Dairese Gary and a nice 13-4 New Mexico team (in progress, CBS College Sports). We’re going to learn a lot about the Aztecs tonight.