With conference wins on Wednesday night, the North Carolina Tar Heels (currently ranked #1) and Kansas Jayhawks (#6 and certain to move up) look like locks for at least the Elite 8 come tournament time.
Carolina looked a little shaky at times in their 79-69 win over Virginia, but they were up against a motivated team and will be virtually every game from here on out. The Tar Heels will continue their improvement under coach Roy Williams and got a boost of sorts when Duke fell to Georgia Tech, 74-63.
The Blue Devils don't seem to have quite the depth to go deep in the tourney, though the Yellow Jackets, despite road losses at Miami, Vanderbilt and Clemson, may be the sleeper in the ACC.
As far as the Big 12 is concerned, Kansas left little doubt about where they expected to be at season's end, whipping up on rival Oklahoma State, 87-57, in their conference opener.
Kansan Brandon Rush, a big-time scoring guard with an impeccable pedigree, led the way with 18 in the game. The two-headed monster of JamesOn Curry and Mario Boggan only totaled 20 between them. Boggan was especially ghastly, hitting only 4 of 16 from the field. You can pretty much write off the Cowboys for the tournament as they simply do not have the talent nor the motivation to move through the field.
Speaking of teams that don't have it, the Connecticut Huskies may not even make it to the Big Dance this season. They're very young, starting all underclassmen for coach Jim Calhoun. On Wednesday, the second-longest current home win streak (31 straight) came to an end when Marquette dumped the Huskies 73-69. It wasn't very pretty. UConn shot only 32% and the schedule gets more demanding from here on out.
#12 Butler was upset by Illinois-Chicago, 73-69, while #7 Pittsburgh took out DePaul, 59-49.
On Thursday night, the Pac-10 was the focus, and the top teams came through with wins. #10 Arizona topped Oregon State, 83-72. #20 Oregon survived on the road 60-55 over Arizona State. #22 Washington State also won away from home, topping Cal, 73-56.
In the same time zone, but different conference (WAC), #19 Nevada was a winner at San Jose State, 72-63.
With no Top 25 teams in action on Friday, I'll be bummin', but promise to be back tomorrow morning with some previews.
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