Conference play is in full swing across the country now, and there have been some early surprises as usual. Saturday brought more of them in a busy slate.
A big note of the day comes in the form of a question: who thought North Carolina would be the only winless team in the ACC three games in? For good measure, though, Duke is now 1-2 for the first time in seven years.
An additional note outside of the games: after losing at Towson, UNC Wilmington had an eventful trip home. Their first flight was delayed, then U.S. Airways wouldn’t let them get on the second flight. They go to Charlotte, but the bus broke down in Matthews, NC, just outside of there late Saturday night.
With that, here are some notes from some of Saturday’s games.
Syracuse 57, North Carolina 45: It would have been tempting to think North Carolina might win this given that they have seemingly played to the level of their competition. But in reality this was a bad matchup with their lack of perimeter shooting, and it showed.
Michigan State 87, Minnesota 75: Richard Pitino has the Golden Gophers getting better. Beating the Spartans in East Lansing was sure to be a tall task, and they’re not ready to pull that off just yet.
Wichita State 72, Missouri State 69: This is a big road win in overtime, and while there may be some who say the Shockers might run the table for the regular season, that talk should end now. Winning on the road is exceedingly tough in the Valley, and someone is bound to trip up the Shockers before March
Oklahoma 87, Iowa State 82: This win will probably get more people to pay attention to the Sooners. They showed plenty of potential in non-conference but were overshadowed by practically everyone else in the Big 12, including the Cyclones.
Florida 84, Arkansas 82: Arkansas had a chance for a big win, but couldn’t pull it out in overtime. This would have been the signature win that the Razorbacks lack, and might have also sprung them forward with a visit from Kentucky coming up on Tuesday.
Kansas 86, Kansas State 60: Kansas has lots of young talent, but they already figured one thing out: you get up to play the arch-rival.
Clemson 72, Duke 59: Will Duke remain ranked, as they have been for the last 126 weeks? The surging Tigers won this led by three players posting double-doubles. K.J. McDaniels had a huge game with 24 points and 10 rebounds, but Jaron Blossomgame did a good job of matching him with 14 and 14 and Landry Nnoko had 10 and 13.
UMass 73, St. Bonaventure 68: UMass hasn’t had it easy, but they’re 2-0 in early Atlantic 10 play, both coming at home. We’ll see how they respond with having to go on the road.
Memphis 79, Temple 69: It’s abundantly clear that this is not the Temple team of many years, but winning there – especially after doing so at Louisville a couple of nights earlier – is still impressive. Josh Pastner’s team appears to be turning a corner.
Saint Louis 67, Dayton 59: Saint Louis is now 6-0 on the road. With this, the Billikens re-assert themselves as one of the favorites in the Atlantic 10, as the conference has gotten plenty of pub in non-conference but most of it has gone to other teams.
Virginia 76, NC State 45: The Wolfpack have come back to earth quickly in ACC play and were humbled by a good Virginia team at home.
Georgetown 70, Butler 67: Another overtime thriller in Hinkle, and another that didn’t go the Bulldogs’ way. The Bulldogs are 0-4 in Big East play, losing three in overtime and all by five points or less.
Connecticut 84, UCF 61: Finally home, Connecticut gets on the board with their first AAC win.
Marquette 67, Seton Hall 66: The script is getting old, but Seton Hall was close, but not close enough – again. That might end up being the theme for this season.
Wyoming 52, Boise State 50: Just a couple of nights earlier, the Broncos had a chance to steal one at San Diego State but let it get away. Now they lose one at home, and have to make sure they don’t let it spiral into a season-changing losing streak.
Georgia Tech 74, Notre Dame 69: The Yellow Jackets get their first ACC win in their first conference home game. Daniel Miller had a big game (10 points, 13 rebounds) as they continue to try to manage without Robert Carter.
Boston College 62, Virginia Tech 59: This isn’t exactly a resume win, but perhaps it’s the first confidence boost the Eagles need as it came in Blacksburg. However, they can’t rest easy as Syracuse comes to town on Monday night.
Saint Joseph’s 84, George Mason 80: The tough sledding continues for George Mason, as they are now 7-9 and have lost three straight with UMass coming to town on Wednesday night.
Harvard 61, Dartmouth 45: Harvard wins the first game of Ivy League play convincingly over a good Dartmouth team.
Penn 77, Princeton 74: Another example of how you throw records out with a rivalry game. Penn has struggled thus far, while Princeton had a good non-league run and looks like a more formidable challenger to Harvard than first thought.
Drexel 93, Northeastern 88: A double-overtime thriller and yet another tough one that Northeastern ended up on the wrong side of. Chris Fouch had a career-high 31 points, including a huge three-pointer to clinch the game.
UMass-Lowell 71, Binghamton 59: Now UMass-Lowell gets their first road win over a Division I opponent. If you’re wondering, this puts the River Hawks in a tie for third place in America East right now at 2-1.