College Hoops Player of the Day for Saturday, January 29, 2011
The way Top 25 teams are falling like so many dominoes, the pollsters might want to take a look at the Atlantic 10, where two, maybe three teams should find their way into the NCAA tournament come March.
Those two or three would be Temple, Duquesne and Xavier. The Musketeers in particular have been pounding the opposition in their conference, their latest being an 85-62 romp at Richmond, in which junior guard Tu Holloway - 12th nationally in points per game at 21.1 - poured in a season high 33 points.
The victory was the 7th straight for Xavier, all against conference foes. All but one of their recent wins have been by double digits. Only Dayton and George Washington came anywhere close, losing 81-76 and 81-74, respectively.
Holloway scored from everywhere on the floor, and hit 17-of-17 free throws as the Spider defenders simply couldn't handle him.
NOTABLE: There have been more upsets this week than anyone expected; losses to Top 25 teams continue to mount. There is the distinct possibility that these wins by unranked teams are not actually upsets, but more indicative of the leveling of talent across the conferences.
Naturally, there are some teams that have risen above the fray, most notably, Ohio State, Pitt and Kansas, each which won on Saturday, though the Buckeyes and Panthers were in nail-biters. Top-ranked Ohio State went down to the wire at Northwestern, skipping past the Wildcats by a 58-57 score.
#2 Pitt withstood a challenge at Rutgers, emerging with a narrow, 65-62 victory. #6 Kansas had a much easier time with Kansas State, whipping the Wildcats, 90-66. Also in the Big 12, #7 Texas easily beat #11 Missouri, 71-58. Both the Longhorns and Jayhawks were winners at home, but look like the clear leaders in the conference.
Elsewhere, ranked teams were dropping by the hour. #23 Louisville downed #5 UConn in overtime, 79-78. The 21st-ranked Hoyas defeated #8 Villanova, 69-66, and #12 Purdue held home court for a 73-61 win over #16 Minnesota.
The biggest surprise of the day came when the Lobos of New Mexico bounced #9 BYU, 86-77, just days after the Cougars had beaten #4 San Diego State. The Aztecs regrouped on Saturday for a 96-57 rout of Wyoming.
Syracuse, ranked #9 along with BYU, lost their 4th straight game, falling at Marquette, 76-70. Penn State continued to flex its muscles at home, whipping #16 Wisconsin, 56-52.
There were more: Clemson beat #22 Florida State, the only team to have beaten Duke this season. Mississippi state beat #24 Florida, #13 Texas A&M fell at Nebraska and unranked Arkansas defeated #19 Vanderbilt, 89-78, on the Commodores' home court.
With all those losses, it's really difficult to classify these games as upsets. More to the point, it appears teams are going through growing and learning phases, as teams that didn't start well are beginning to find their ways and the crowd of traditional leaders is losing theirs.
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