While most of the nation was captivated by the battle for the Big East football title between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, Ohio State was blowing out Eastern Michigan in Columbus 111-60. But it was a costly win for the Buckeyes, who lost All America guard Evan Turner for eight weeks with two broken vertebra in his back. Turner suffered the injury on a dunk attempt early in the first half, landing squarely on his back on a fall after being fouled. The original thought of head coach Thad Matta was that the junior would be OK but that was before the tests were done at the hospital.
Friday afternoon's meeting between #7 Duke and #13 Connecticut had all the pregame hype of a championship bout. With the all-time series tied at four wins apiece (Connecticut having won the last four meetings) this was seen as the latest chapter in the short yet captivating novel being written by these two national powers. But by the end of the game it felt as if this were a hardwood replay of Manny Pacquiao soundly whipping Miguel Cotto.
A lot of attention has been sent the way of Friday's NIT Season Tip-Off final, which matches Connecticut and Duke in their ninth all-time meeting. The Huskies have won the last four in the series and are coming off of their most impressive showing of the season. The small forward matchup of Kyle Singler (Duke) and Stanley Robinson (UConn) should be worth the price of admission but there are also issues that both teams would like answers to both now as well as down the line.
A champion will be crowned out in Maui when Gonzaga takes on Cincinnati on ESPN. Both teams played well in semifinal wins on Tuesday, and there are some intriguing matchups to be seen. Matt Bouldin and Steven Gray going up against Deonta Vaughn and Cashmere Wright, Yancy Gates and Robert Sacre banging inside and a pair of talented freshmen (Lance Stephenson and Elias Harris) can all be seen in this one.
This is the time of year when college basketball takes a step back in terms of nationally televised games in favor of college football, but there are some intriguing games on the schedule. Kentucky, who's been lights out offensively but hasn't defended at the level that John Calipari desires, hosts a dangerous Rider team licking its wounds following a 79-46 beating at the hands of Virginia. Duke hosts the defending Big South champions in Radford and big men Artsiom Parakhouski and Joey Lynch-Flohr will look to hang with the deep Blue Devil frontcourt.