Despite the fact that the distance between first and second place is just two games with five to go many have conceded the regular season crown to #2 Syracuse (25-1, 12-1), and rightfully so as the Orange have been head and shoulders above the rest of the conference. The race to observe has involved the other three double-bye slots, and #18 Louisville (20-5, 8-4) is a player in that regard. That makes Monday's game at the KFC Yum! Center an important one, with the Cardinals also in position to use the win to bolster their resume from an NCAA tournament seeding standpoint.
With first place on the line in Columbus the expectation was that #11 Michigan State and #3 Ohio State would play a tight, physical affair. And that's exactly what it was, with the visitors from East Lansing seeming to be the more comfortable of the two teams in the first half. Michigan State shot 46.9% from the field but the reason for their 35-25 lead at the half was their defense, as they limited Ohio State to 33.3% and forced eight turnovers.
For Syracuse fans watching Monday's game between the Orange and Cincinnati, the fact that the Bearcats made four of their first five three-pointers may have been a cause for concern. But the Bearcats made just four the rest of the game (with 20 more attempts), making it important to note that those deep threes that fall early more times than not are "fool's gold" against the Syracuse zone.
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.
Monday's showdown between #3 Baylor and #7 Kansas gave the visiting Bears a great chance to make the statement that they were ready to dethrone a program that's won at least a share of the last seven Big 12 titles. Well while there's still plenty of basketball to be played before the regular season champion is determined, it's safe to say that Bill Self's team has no plans to simply hand over the top spot.
Throughout the history of the Big 12 Conference there has been one measuring stick for the rest of the league: Kansas. The Kansas (14-3, 4-0) program has won seven straight Big 12 regular season titles, and despite the early-season doubts of many Bill Self's team has the ability to extend that streak. And while there are multiple challengers there may not be a more talented one than #4 Baylor (17-0, 4-0), and Scott Drew's team is well-equipped to be the last team standing in April as well.
On the heels of losses at Seton Hall and Rutgers, with the leadership capabilities of the team being questioned both within and outside of the locker room, Connecticut needed a win over West Virginia in a big way. But the Huskies didn't play with that sense of urgency out of the gates, as the Mountaineers grabbed eight offensive rebounds to UConn's zero on their way to a 33-28 lead. If the rebounding wasn't bad enough the turnovers were, as the Huskies turned the ball over nine times leading to 15 Mountaineer points.
Is Oak Hill Academy better than your average low-level D1 team? Paul Elkins debates his brother on this question:
With the college basketball season finally on the horizon, the game that's been overlooked by many in conference realignment will once again have the center stage. Perennial contenders will once again make a run at a national title while some new faces will pop up as well. The first four-part preview will focus on the conferences, and more specifically who will win each of the 32 leagues. In the final part of this series, the final eight conference champions are selected.