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College Basketball Roundup: Finals Week Edition

The annual lull before conference play kicks into full gear

Jimmy V Classic - Illinois v Texas Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

Greetings, BBN!

In this roundup we’ll look at this week’s action, which was a bit less than usual with students around the country taking or prepping for finals this week and next instead of playing week-night basketball games. Several big games went down though: #2 Texas is no longer undefeated, Gonzaga avoided a scare, and of course on Sunday Kentucky beat Michigan to get their first quality win of the season. This weekend also has a big blockbuster Saturday in a mega-showdown: Louisville vs. Florida State!

Let’s get rolling.

This Week

UK wins in the U.K.

Tricky part about saying “UK” outside of the Bluegrass State? They think you mean England. Both were in the same place Sunday afternoon when the Wildcats beat Michigan to improve to 6-2, avoid falling to 5-3, and get a blue and maize feather in their cap midway through nonconference play. Cason Wallace was the MVP, hitting all four of his threes in a game where Kentucky finally landed blows from beyond the arc.

#17 Illinois takes down undefeated #2 Texas

In a battle of orange, the Fighting Illini prevailed in overtime against the mighty Longhorns to get a marquee victory to go with their UCLA win as trophies to show off to the selection committee come March. They are now 7-2 and before long could find themselves in the top 10, where they were in 2021 as they earned a #1 seed.

Best of the rest:

  • Gonzaga survives scare from sneaky good Kent State
  • UNC drops fourth straight in loss to Virginia Tech to fall to 5-4

This Weekend

Alabama at Houston in rematch of epic game at Coleman Coliseum

This one’ll be a biggie. The 9-0 Cougars are hosting their biggest home game of the year as they face off against the 7-1 #8 Alabama Crimson Tide, who beat them by a point in a thrilling 83-82 shootout in Tuscaloosa last season and now try to go for two in a row. Houston hasn’t allowed 60 points in any games yet. Will this be the first?

Game of the year: 0-8 Louisville at 1-9 Florida State

Could you ever have imagined an ACC game like this? Two big-time hoops programs off to some of the worst power conference starts ever seen squaring off in December in a battle for the title of pretty much “the worst team in college basketball”. They’ll have a rematch February 4th in Louisville too! Maybe that’ll be even bigger with 0-18 vs 2-19 or something! I have no idea what watching this game will be like: a 38-39 “nail-biter?” A 110-109 triple overtime defensive embarrassment? Game of the year, people.

Best of the rest:

  • Kansas at Missouri with the Tigers 8-0
  • Maryland vs Tennessee in Brooklyn

Fast Breaks

Total unbeaten teams remaining

10 teams have yet to take a loss this season as the calendar turns to December, down from 15 last week. The remaining teams are Houston, UConn, Purdue, Virginia, Auburn, Mississippi State, Utah State, Missouri, UNLV, and New Mexico.

UNC should bounce back, but if they don’t might make history

Remember the Tar Heels were the #1 preseason AP team, but are 5-4 right now. Granted those losses were close ones to good teams, but an NCAA Tournament resume requires a comfortable distance between the number in the win column and the number in the loss column at the end of the day. They’ve already made history in how quickly they’ve gone from #1 to out of the poll—could they also make history by becoming perhaps the first AP preseason team to ever miss the NCAA Tournament? Highly unlikely for sure, but you never know...