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Saturday Notes – February 6, 2016

February 7, 2016 Columns, Your Phil of Hoops No Comments

This college basketball season has been quite the treat, and Saturday epitomized that. For the first time in ten years, the top two teams in the AP poll lost on the same day. This just further demonstrates that there are many teams who could hoist the national championship trophy in April.

It wasn’t a great day to be a favorite, as it wasn’t just Oklahoma and North Carolina that had setbacks. A few others lost, with some suffering a potentially critical blow as regards their NCAA Tournament at-large hopes. A few conference races also got more interesting.

With that, here are notes from a number of the day’s games.

Kansas State 80, Oklahoma 69: The Wildcats didn’t play much of a non-conference schedule, so if they were going to have even a prayer at being an NCAA Tournament team, they needed some big wins in Big 12 play. They got it on Saturday, so they might now figure into the picture.

Notre Dame 80, North Carolina 76: A tough week for the Tar Heels, although you give a lot of credit to the Fighting Irish, who have had a somewhat up-and-down season but have been better than you might think to this point.

Virginia 64, Pittsburgh 50: A convincing road win for the Cavaliers that shows how good this team is, even though they’re not perceived to be nearly as good as a year ago.

Louisville 79, Boston College 47: The Cardinals show no ill effects in their first game since the postseason ban was announced. Yes, it was winless (in the ACC) Boston College, but the Cardinals could easily have mailed it in, too, after Friday’s announcement.

Virginia Tech 60, Clemson 57: The Hokies continue to be tough at home and pull off another nice win there, while the Tigers continue to have some difficulty winning on the road.

Villanova 72, Providence 60: The road team wins both games between these two teams this season. Villanova could take over the top spot in the AP poll.

Maryland 72, Purdue 61: A strong win by the Terrapins over a Purdue team that has hardly fallen flat, but certainly hasn’t been as good in Big Ten play as they were in non-conference.

West Virginia 80, Baylor 69: Your first place team in the Big 12 is West Virginia, a team that has already looked like a title contender and now has the lead to show for it.

Arizona 77, Washington 72: Ryan Anderson (22 points, 15 rebounds) continues to be a steadying force for the Wildcats, who now climb into a tie for third with the Huskies at 7-4.

South Carolina 81, Texas A&M 78: A big win for the Gamecocks, who to this point had an NCAA Tournament resume that some would knock easily. I have contended that it’s deceptively good, but now they have this quality road win that can’t be knocked down, led by 25 points from Sindarius Thornwell.

Kentucky 80, Florida 61: A convincing win over a good team like this is big for this Kentucky team. It gives an idea of just what this team is capable of doing, especially Jamal Murray, who had 35 points.

LSU 88, Mississippi State 77: It’s fair to say that this is the game LSU fans have long been waiting for from Antonio Blakeney, who scored 31 points as the Tigers are now all alone atop the SEC.

George Washington 72, VCU 69: A year ago, the Colonials were manhandled in Richmond in a game that started out okay. This time, they rally from a halftime deficit to get a quality win they needed and end the Rams’ 12-game winning streak.

Memphis 63, Cincinnati 59: The Tigers will only reach the NCAA Tournament with an automatic bid at this point, but they can still make life difficult for teams like Cincinnati, as Shaq Goodwin (20 points, 11 rebounds) did on Saturday.

Seton Hall 69, Georgetown 61: Speaking of teams that will only reach the NCAA Tournament with an automatic bid, Georgetown could have used this one on the road. The Hoyas’ resume is lacking thus far, and while this wouldn’t have made them a lock by any means, it still hurts them.

Illinois State 58, Wichita State 53: The Redbirds were the last team to beat the Shockers in the Valley, and they do so again. They are quietly hanging around in contention, though this is still very much the Shockers’ to lose.

San Diego State 78, New Mexico 71: With this win, the Aztecs are firmly in command in the Mountain West, up three games on everyone else.

Air Force 61, Boise State 53: Meanwhile, at this point, the Broncos look like they will be “strictly automatic” as far as the NCAA Tournament is concerned.

Pacific 77, Brigham Young 72: A very damaging home loss for the Cougars, who had hoped to keep pace with other contenders. More importantly, this might be a fatal blow to any NCAA Tournament at-large hopes, as quality win opportunities the rest of the way are going to be very hard to come by.

UNCW 90, Northeastern 73: The Seahawks are the first CAA team to 10 conference wins, as Kevin Keatts continues to get this program going again. Chris Fleming led the way by not missing a shot on the evening: 25 points on 11-11 shooting from the field and making both of his free throws.

Oakland 67, Cleveland State 57: Significant in this win by the Golden Grizzlies that keeps them right in the race in the Horizon League is that Kahlil Felder didn’t lead them in scoring – it was Jalen Hayes, who had a big double-double with 15 points and 14 rebounds. Felder had 13 and 11 assists for a double-double of his own.

Yale 83, Cornell 52: The Bulldogs stay on top in the Ivy League, maintaining as Columbia and Princeton both won as well.

Stephen F. Austin 72, Houston Baptist 66: A career night for Thomas Walkup (35 points, 12 rebounds) keeps the undefeated Lumberjacks’ winning streak going at nine.

Wagner 72, Mount St. Mary’s 51: This was a surprise, as it was a Northeast Conference showdown and the Seahawks ran away in the second half.

St. Francis (Pa.) 91, Central Connecticut 82: Your individual stat line of the day may be Ronnie Drinnon’s 23 points and 20 rebounds in this one, which establishes career highs in both categories and gives the NEC’s leading rebounder 12 double-doubles on the season.

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