Greetings, BBN! Big milestone this weekend: First Saturday of February!
That means a loaded hoops slate that’ll only be topped by the four ones to come before Champ Week and Selection Sunday! Lots of bubble teams and Final Four contenders alike on the court this weekend, and we saw some major action during the week as well.
Kentucky continued to improve in SEC play since their loss to South Carolina way back in the distant past, Kansas beat K-State in the Sunflower Showdown rematch, Xavier won a critical Big East game, and Florida pulled off a stunning upset in Gainesville. Lots to talk about, so let’s get to it!
Tennessee tripped up in road tilt with Gators
Not much has been said about the Florida Gators this season, mostly because not much has been needed. On Wednesday night, however, the Gators changed that and their season as they turned a lifeless 12-9 record into an intriguing 13-9 bubble resume that has a win over the #2 Vols. It is just Tennessee’s second league loss, the other of course being to the team with the greatest tradition in college basketball. They are now in a tie with Auburn for second in the conference trailing 9-0 Alabama by two games as the SEC’s standings start to resemble football.
#19 Florida Atlantic’s incredible winning streak comes to an end
The FAU Owls have never had a season as big as this one, and while their nationwide-best 20-game losing streak was snapped Thursday night at UAB, they’re still on a mission and are one of the best mid-majors in the country. If they bounce back from the loss and charge into Champ Week with just their two losses, they won’t even have to worry about the C-USA Tournament.
Kentucky wins at Ole Miss, moves into tie for 3rd in SEC standings
Now that’s a sign things are heading in the right direction! With Tuesday’s win the ‘Cats are now 6-3 in the league and tied with Florida for 3rd place—a big improvement over 1-3 a few weeks ago. Still on the bracket bubble due to lack of big wins, but a game with Arkansas looms to change that.
Best of the rest:
- #13 Iowa State blows 23-point lead at Texas Tech as Red Raiders get first league win
- #16 Xavier edges #17 Providence for separation in Big East
- #4 Alabama squashes Vanderbilt 101-44 in record-setting blowout
Indiana-Purdue rivalry reignites in Bloomington
What a year it is for the Hoosier-Boiler rivalry with the Hoosiers finally getting back onto the national scene with Andre Woodson and Purdue dominating the sport with a 22-1 record and the #1 ranking in hoops. Few games are more intense than these ones—get ready for war.
Kentucky hosts Gators in battle for sole possession of 3rd place in the standings
For what it’s worth, the winner will be 7-3 and 3rd in the conference while the loser will be 6-4 and 4th. But the main thing is that either UK will beat Florida and we’ll be happy, or UK will lose at home to the 13-9 Gators, give their resume more life, and we’ll be grumpy.
Gonzaga travels to Saint Mary’s in the annual “Maybe the Zags will lose” game
The BYU and Saint Mary’s road games are the only ones with any level of difficulty attached to them most years for the Zags in WCC play, but even then they usually win because they are ready for them and expect a tough fight. Still, they might drop another game here! They’ve already lost to Loyola-Marymount at home, so this might be a different kind of year for them in the WCC. The Gaels are 9-0 in the standings, though, with the Zags 8-1, so if Saint Mary’s wins they might be able to ride to an outright regular season title, which no team besides Gonzaga has won since they did it in 2011-12.
Projected 1-seeds & Bubble Watch
Purdue, Alabama, Houston, and
Tennessee Kansas are currently Joe Lunardi’s top four in his latest bracket, as the Jayhawks are right back at the big top after their short-lived losing streak and Tennessee unexpectedly lost at Florida. The current last four in Lunardi’s field are Kentucky, West Virginia, Nevada, and Oklahoma State. I’m not sure why the ‘Cats went down even though they won Tuesday, but it’s a volatile part of the bracket.
The Big 12
The strength of the Big 12 is absurd this year and needs a brief mention. Texas leads the league at 7-2 & 18-4 overall, and four teams below them are tied at 6-3: Kansas, K-State, TCU, and Iowa State. All five of these teams are projected top four seeds, as is Baylor, and right behind them are bubble squads Oklahoma State and West Virginia. They might get 8 of their 10 teams in, and six of them as top four seeds! No wonder Kansas had a three-game losing streak and is still on the top line. Perhaps a team from the league will win it all for the third year in a row?