AP Top 25 Commentary: There was a major re-shuffling in this week's AP Poll. Only one team remained in the same spot: #18 Mississippi St. The big news is that Kentucky takes over from Syracuse atop the poll, but there were more interesting changes at the bottom.
While tonight's game between #4 Syracuse (20-1, 7-1) and Cincinnati (15-5, 5-2) may have lost a little luster from a national standpoint with both teams falling on the road Saturday, that shouldn't take away from the importance of Monday to Mick Cronin's Bearcats. The computer numbers are still a bit low although the Bearcats would most likely be a tournament team if the season ended today, so a win over a Top 5 opponent would be a nice line to add to the resume.
SYRACUSE (20-1, 7-1 Big East) AT CINCINNATI (15-5, 5-2 Big East)
Time: 7 p.m.
With the announcement that starting center Fab Melo would miss Saturday's game due to an unresolved academic issue, the chances that top-ranked Syracuse would remain undefeated took a hit. But few would have thought that the Orange would have few (if any) answers in the paint as a result of his absence, and that's exactly what happened at Purcell Pavilion. Jack Cooley scored 17 points and grabbed ten rebounds and Notre Dame led by as many as 18 points on their way to the 67-58 win, the eighth in school history over a top-ranked opponent.
On the heels of their first loss of the season, #3 Baylor (17-1, 4-1) returns home to take on #5 Missouri (17-1, 4-1) in a game that features a major contrast when it comes to team strengths. Scott Drew's Bears are one of the biggest teams in college basketball while Frank Haith's Tigers are neither as big or as deep in the frontcourt. That simply means that in addition to forwards Ricardo Ratliffe (13.9 ppg, 6.7 rpg) and Steve Moore (4.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg) all hands must be on deck of Missouri is to have any shot of leaving Waco with a victory.
NO. 1 SYRACUSE (20-0, 7-0 Big East) AT NOTRE DAME (11-8, 3-3 Big East)
Time/TV: 6 p.m./ESPN
Following Shabazz Napier's game-tying three-pointer most coaches would choose to call a timeout to draw up a play, risking the chance of the defense aligning and taking away the primary scoring option. But with the man he wanted to take the final shot already in possession of the basketball, Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin decided against calling a timeout and as a result his Bearcats are now 5-1 in the Big East.
It looks as if the schedule-makers in the Mountain West wanted to spark some serious national conversation about the conference from the beginning of league play because the first full week of play will feature all three expected contenders facing each other. Wednesday's slate features #16 San Diego State (15-2, 1-0), fresh off of their two-point win over UNLV, visiting The Pit to take on a New Mexico (15-2, 1-0) squad that's quietly won thirteen in a row.
Given how reliant Michigan is on the three-point shot, many would think it highly unlikely that John Beilein's team would win a game in which they shot 6-for-21 from beyond the arc. But thanks to a late basket from Stu Douglass and some solid defense on the final possession of the game, that's exactly what happened as the Wolverines beat in-state rival Michigan 60-59 at Crisler Arena. Trey Burke scored a game-high 20 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. and Zack Novak scored ten points apiece, but Novak's biggest contribution came on the defensive end of the floor.
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