Almost certainly now, Monday night will bring us a matchup between No. 1 and No. 2. And we won’t even have to wait a week to see it.
Before the College Football Cartel, er, Playoff contests its championship game next week, we’ll have a real treat tomorrow night. Oklahoma-the likely No. 2 team on Monday-will travel to Phog Allen Fieldhouse to face the almost-certain No. 1 team in Kansas, and with the bowls and NFL regular season over, the game will have center stage on ESPN.
Both teams impressed in their own way to remain in line for their promotion in the polls next week. The Jayhawks could not have been more authoritative in their 102-74 blowout of Baylor. Kansas was ahead 24-4 before the Bears could get the license of the truck that hit them, and the Jayhawks singed Baylor’s zone with 53.7% shooting led by 24 points from Wayne Selden.
The Sooners tuned up for the showdown with another showdown, edging Iowa State 87-83. Oklahoma trailed most of the game but showed toughness in rallying at home with eight second-half three-pointers. Ryan Spangler put up 20 points and 12 boards and Buddy Hield worked through a rough shooting night to score 22.
This will be the second time the two schools will meet as 1-vs.-2. The two squared off in the 1990 Big Eight Tournament-ironically as the No. 2 and 3 seeds in the semifinals. Oklahoma was No. 1 ranked and the two seed that year and defeated second-ranked/third-seeded KU 95-77. To add even more of a twist, both teams’ seasons were over just over a week later, as neither got out of the second round of the illustrious 1990 NCAA Tournament.
The two schools are longtime rivals the way it is (they also famously met in the 1988 NCAA title game), meaning it won’t get much better than this. For those who think polls are meaningless, it’s true, they are. But they still add to the sport, giving us all games to look forward to, just like this one.
- Hoopville’s Phil Kasiecki hits the day’s biggest games with his recap here.
- Among the stud performances of the day: Bucknell guard Chris Hass scored a career-best 40 points as the Bison won at Army 84-76 to move to 2-0 in the Patriot League. LSU freshman Ben Simmons scored 36 points and added 14 rebounds as the Tigers showed some life in a 90-82 win at Vanderbilt. Isaiah Taylor also totaled 35 for Texas, but in an 82-74 losing effort against Texas Tech. Anton Wilson scored 34 for Detroit as the Titans rallied to defeat Youngstown State 96-87. Finally, Cane Broome of Sacred Heart scored a career-high 33-nearly half of his team’s points in the Pioneers’ 69-65 win at struggling Robert Morris.
- A special mention goes to Hawaii’s Aaron Valdes, who notched a big-time triple-double with 16 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists in a 94-59 blowout of Howard. The Rainbow Warriors are now 11-2 and will be fun to watch in the competitive Big West.
- Michigan played without star Caris LeVert in its 79-56 blowout of Penn State on Saturday. LeVert missed the game for unspecified reasons, but the hope is it isn’t related to the foot injury that cost him part of last year.
- The Pac-12 wastes no time facing off rivals against each other early in league play. The latest examples are Arizona going to Tempe to face Arizona State (2 p.m. EST, FS1) and Oregon taking on a sellout crowd at Oregon State (7 p.m., FS1).
- Another big Pac-12 game has Utah at California. The Utes try to avoid going winless on their Bay Area trip. Colorado also is attempting the same when it plays at Stanford (10 p.m., ESPNU).
- Wake Forest has been a pleasant surprise so far, but the schedule starts getting tougher, starting with a trip to Louisville (8 p.m., ESPNU). Per coach Rick Pitino’s website, the Cardinals will be without guard Trey Lewis for the game after the team’s second-leading scorer (14.7 points per game) sprained his ankle in practice Friday.
- Ohio State looks to keep rolling when it hosts Illinois (5 p.m., BTN).
- Despite its start, George Washington has been scarce on national TV so far this year, but you can catch the Colonials hosting Fordham (7 p.m., NBCSN).
- A rematch of last year’s Conference USA tourney final has Middle Tennessee State at UAB.
Have a relaxing Sunday.