Sunday, January 9, 2011

Postgame Shootaround: Upset Saturday

All in all, a grand total of eight ranked teams lost last night, and two more bit the dust today. (albeit to opponents that were also ranked) The list of upsets cut the number of unbeaten teams to five from seven; and proved that while some teams are overrated, some others may just be all they're perceived to be. Without any further ado, here's a look at the prospects going forward for each of the eight upset victims from 24 hours ago. On a side note, top-ranked Duke is being tested by Maryland as I write this, but the Blue Devils have taken a 32-31 lead into the locker room at the half in Cameron.

#8 Missouri (defeated by Colorado 89-76)
There are still a lot of positives to be taken from the Tigers simply due to their sideline presence. Mike Anderson's "40 Minutes of Hell" system has done very well in Columbia, and Mizzou is still one of the top three teams in the Big 12. Going on the road wherever you are usually puts you at a disadvantage, but the Tigers should bounce back well at home against Nebraska Wednesday night.

#11 Kentucky (defeated by Georgia 77-70)
Many have been talking about the Bulldogs and their status as an SEC up-and-comer; and given the abundance of freshmen in John Calipari's rotation, it really isn't much of a shock to see the Wildcats suffer an in-conference defeat this early in the year. If nothing else, most of the country finally got a look at Trey Thompkins and his massive potential. Kentucky should return to their winning ways Tuesday night when they welcome Auburn into Rupp Arena.

#12 Texas (defeated by #9 UConn 82-81 in overtime)
Kemba Walker was the difference in this game. The Huskies have him, the Longhorns don't. It's just that simple. The fact that Texas was able to stay with the Player of the Year frontrunner for so long speaks volumes about just how far Rick Barnes' squad has come. I still believe Texas is the clear No. 2 in the Big 12, (behind Kansas) and they get three games (on the road at Texas Tech before Oklahoma and Texas A&M invade the Erwin Center) to show that before their January 22nd collision with the Jayhawks at Allen Fieldhouse. You'll hear it in this space first: The Longhorns are the biggest threat to Kansas' NCAA-record home winning streak in recent years, and it's not hard to see them walking into Lawrence and taking it to Bill Self's team.

#13 Georgetown (defeated by West Virginia 65-59)
The Hoyas have uncharacteristically dropped three of their first four to open Big East play whil relying heavily on the three guards that make their motor run. While Austin Freeman, Chris Wright and Jason Clark are all solid players, the fact remains that Georgetown lacks a dominant big man following Greg Monroe's departure to the NBA. Julian Vaughn and Hollis Thompson (not to mention Henry Sims) are still not ready to fill the massive hole Monroe was able to plug for two years. In addition, the Hoyas have been very erratic from long range while at the same time yielding threes in large numbers against the opposition. It doesn't get any easier for Georgetown with Pitt coming into town on Wednesday. In fact, a Hoya loss (which is likely considering just how good Pitt is) could seriously damage their NCAA Tournament chances unless they could go on a run late in the season.

#17 Kansas State (defeated by Oklahoma State 76-62)
The Wildcats may just be one of those overrated teams. After their run to the Elite Eight last year, people penciled K-State in as a Final Four contender despite the loss of guard Denis Clemente, who really was the heart and soul of Frank Martin's team in Manhattan, Kansas. Fast forward just a few months and K-State is proving that you don't know what you have until it's gone. With Clemente, this is a completely different team; one that would likely be firmly entrenched in the Top 5. To make matters worse, Jacob Pullen and Rodney McGruder haven't been themselves all season. Colorado comes into the Bramlage Coliseum on Wednesday fresh off their upset of Missouri and looking to catch lightning in a bottle twice.

#18 Central Florida (defeated by Houston 76-71)
Let's be honest, we all knew UCF probably wouldn't be able to run the table this season. However, doing it as long as they did is a credit to the Golden Knights, who are still the C-USA frontrunner given the Jekyll and Hyde nature of Memphis since Calipari left for Kentucky. (nothing against Josh Pastner) Marcus Jordan has proven to be more than just the son of the greatest player of all-time, and he will lead UCF into battle against Southern Miss in what should be a return to the success his team has enjoyed throughout the season.

#19 Michigan State (defeated by Penn State 66-62)
Some losses are just inexplicable. Penn State hasn't exactly sent chills down the spines of Big Ten opponents, and the Spartans are among the best in the nation when they're on their game. Yet Sparty yielded a 6-1 run over the final two minutes at the Jordan Center to give the Lions a surprising (in every sense of the word) home win. Unfortunately for Spartan fans, the time to use Kalin Lucas' recovery as an excuse is running out. Michigan State could very well be a team judged mainly upon their Final Four run last March, and it doesn't get easier with Wisconsin making the trip to the Breslin Center Tuesday night.

#24 Vanderbilt (defeated by South Carolina 83-75 in overtime)
Honestly, the fact that the Commodores were ranked is more surprising to me than Carolina defeating them, as the Gamecocks still have several members of the team that upset Kentucky a year ago. While Vandy is still a tournament contender in the SEC, their Top 25 status came primarily as a result of an easy nonconference slate. In fact, don't be surprised if Kevin Stallings' squad loses their next one against Georgia.

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