First, I watched Ohio State and Wisconsin, two teams desperate for a victory, play right down to the wire with Ohio State pulling off a 59-58 victory. I don’t usually watch one game at a time so I was flipping between Ohio State-Wisconsin and Dayton-George Washington. Then I noticed on the crawl how close BC-Notre Dame was and I switched over to that to see the end and the overtime. I feel for BC; it was a horrible way to lose.
Next came the best game of the day – Toledo, the best team in the MAC, and Ohio, one of three or four best and holding the home-court advantage, which is big in Athens, Ohio. Both teams had stretches of spectacular play and each seemed to take control of the game only to have the other team take it back. Finally, Ohio prevailed 95-90 in OT.
As if that wasn’t enough, I saw parts of other close games: Northwestern over Minnesota 55-54; Baylor over Oklahoma State 76-70; Saint Louis over George Mason 87-81 in OT; UMass nearly pulling off another sensational comeback before falling to Saint Joseph’s 73-68; and finally Syracuse beating Duke 91-89 in OT.
I have to own up to a bad mistake in last Friday’s blog. I wrote that UMass had lost two in a row when in fact they had lost two of three. Wins are tough enough to come by without having bloggers take them away from you.
Five rising: Nebraska: The Huskers, along with Penn State and Northwestern, are regarded as the bottom of the Big 10. Something has changed in Lincoln. The Huskers have won three of four and back-to-back conference games for the first time in their three years in the Big 10. The Huskers (10-1 at home) hold home victories over Ohio State, Indiana, and Minnesota.
Northwestern: I admit I thought Northwestern would be at the bottom of the Big 10 standings, but Chris Collins has started to turn things around in his first season as the Wildcats won three consecutive road games (Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota) in the Big 10 for the first time since 1960. This isn’t an NCAA team, but it’s a big accomplishment.
Texas: The Longhorns are for real. They have a six-game winning streak and have beaten all the good teams in the Big 12, including Kansas Saturday afternoon.
UTEP: Any fan of UTEP couldn’t have been optimistic when the Miners lost consecutive home games to Angelo State (what?) and Charlotte. Things have turned around as the Miners have won six straight and are tied for first in Conference USA with Southern Mississippi.
Virginia: The Cavaliers are an official Sully’s Court favorite. I love their team play, toughness and enthusiasm. After winning road games at Notre Dame and Pitt, the Cavs are 8-1 in the ACC, their best start since the days of Ralph Sampson.
Five falling: Central Michigan: Former Providence coach Keno Davis, son of former BC coach Tom Davis, is in his second season in Mount Pleasant and things have gone from bad to worse. The Chippewas are 7-13 and have lost all eight of their games in the MAC.
Houston: I know I’ve been tough on the Cougars this season, but how can they not be part of five falling after this road trip, an 80-43 loss to UConn and a 93-70 loss to Rutgers. Overall, they’ve lost four in a row and six of seven. Next up? Louisville.
Illinois Chicago: The days when coach Jimmy Collins would assemble a solid group of Chicago players and transfers to put together winning season after winning season are long gone. The Flames are 5-18 overall and -0-8 in the Horizon.
Texas A&M: The Aggies started the SEC season with three victories but have now dropped five straight. Grain elevator going down.
Virginia Tech: The season continues to be a disaster for the Hokies. They’ve lost eight in a row and the last two weren’t even competitive, 76-52 to BC and 80-60 to Maryland, against two teams that aren’t even close to being at the top of the ACC.
This week’s George Mason: Wichita State. The Wheat Shockers were challenged in the first half by Evansville, but asserted themselves in the second half to win their 23d straight without a loss.
This week’s Final Four: Arizona, Syracuse, Wichita State, Florida. I’ve been an Oklahoma State backer since November, but the Cowboys aren’t playing well enough anymore to be considered a Final Four team. There’s still time to rebound, but it’s going the wrong way right now.
This week’s national champion: Arizona.
- Michael Vega
- Mark Blaudschun
- Nancy Marrapese-Burrell