SMU (17-5. 6-3) took a significant step toward bracket safety by dropping 58 on Memphis (16-5, 6-3) to defeat the Tigers by 15 at Moody Coliseum. Markus Kennedy scored 21 and grabbed 15 rebounds to lead the way for the Mustangs. Meanwhile, Russ Smith had 27 for Louisville (18-4, 7-2) which completed a season sweep of UCF (9-10, 1-7).
First-place Saint Louis (20-2, 7-0) got a major scare from visiting George Mason (7-14, 0-7), as the Billikens needed overtime to stay perfect in the A10 and keep the Patriots winless. VCU (18-4, 6-1), now in sole possession of second place, handed Richmond (14-8, 4-3) its second heavy defeat this week, as the Rams pulled away late to win by an 81-70 count. Not to make any promises, but I suspect that costs the Spiders a place in Tuesday's bracket projection. The Rams now have second-place in the A10 all to themselves, thanks to shorthanded George Washington's (17-4, 5-2) loss at Dayton (14-8, 2-5). The win snapped a four-game skid for Southwestern Ohio's bubble team.
St. Joseph's (15-6, 5-2) opened up a 16-point halftime lead on UMass (17-4, 4-3), then held on for a 73-68 victory that pushed the Hawks into a tie for third with GW. The Minutemen, who started the season 16-1, has dropped three of its last four. UMass' next opponent, La Salle (12-9, 4-3), snapped a three-game losing streak by defeating Duquesne (10-10, 2-5).
The game of the day was that the Carrier Dome where Syracuse (21-0, 8-0) -- soon to be the number one team in the land -- defeated Duke (17-5, 6-3) after overtime in what may go down as an all-time classic. Not too shabby for the pair's first meeting as conference members. Rasheed Sulaimon's three at the buzzer forced the extra session, while Rakeem Christmas' block of Rodney Hood all but sealed victory for the Orange with 15 seconds left in OT. C.J. Fair scored a career-high 28 for Syracuse, while Jerami Grant contributed 24. However, Jabari Parker, Amile Jefferson, and Andre Dawkins all fouled out for Duke.
North Carolina (14-7, 4-4) got back to .500 in the ACC by taking care of N.C. State (14-8, 4-5) in a game both teams needed for their NCAA hopes. In Tallahassee, Clemson (14-6, 5-3) gave itself a nice boost by handing Florida Stat. (13-8, 4-5) its third consecutive loss. The Seminoles have tumbled from safety to bubble insecurity in that span.
Among the lower-tier bubble teams, Notre Dame (12-10, 3-6) needed overtime to beat Boston College (6-15, 2-6), while Maryland (13-9, 5-4) smoked Virginia Tech (8-13, 1-8) by 20, and Wake Forest (14-8, 4-5) lost at home to Georgia Tech (12-10, 3-6).
Kansas' (16-5, 7-1) unbeaten Big 12 run ended in Austin, where Texas (17-4, 6-2), which is now all alone in second place, dominated the Jayhawks from tip-off, winning by 12. Baylor (14-7, 2-6) snapped its five-game skid in a big way, defeating Oklahoma State (16-5, 4-4) in Stillwater -- a win that could very well be what the doctor ordered for the Bears. In Ames, Iowa St. Cyclones (16-4, 4-4) avoided a season sweep at the hands of Oklahoma (17-5, 6-3), topping the Sooners by six. Finally, West Virginia (13-9, 5-4) stunned Kansas State (15-7, 5-4) in Morgantown. That's the second decent win in a row for the Mountaineers, who remain a good distance away from the bubble, thanks to a weak non-conference schedule.
Seton Hall (13-9, 4-5) picked up a huge quality road win by toppling Xavier (15-6, 5-3) in Cincinnati, 68-60. Curiously, three of the Pirates four Big East wins have come on the road. Meanwhile, the Musketeers have dropped three of their last five. Marquette (12-10, 4-5) followed its big Thursday night home win over Providence with a 74-59 drubbing at the hands of St. John's (13-9, 3-6). The Friars (16-6, 6-3), meanwhile, responded to that loss by defeating DePaul (10-12, 2-7) by five in Rosemont.
Struggling Ohio State (17-5, 4-5) won at Wisconsin (17-5, 4-5) in a game that featured one of the sloppiest finishes of the season. The teams combined for two field goals (both by Aaron Craft) and eight free throws in the game's final four minutes. The Buckeyes and Badgers now sit a half-game behind Northwestern (12-11, 5-5), which is now fourth in the Big Ten race, after a 55-54 win at Minnesota (15-7, 4-5). The Golden Gophers have now dropped three of four and aren't totally safe. Later, Iowa (17-5, 6-3) put another nail in Illinois (13-9, 2-7) coffin, defeating the last-place Illini by seven in Champaign.
The conference's top two remain in place, as San Diego State (19-1, 8-0) dropped Colorado State (12-10, 3-6) at home and New Mexico (17-4, 8-1) dominated San Jose State (6-16, 0-10) on the road. However, there was some drama in the meeting between the Mountain West's two bubble teams in Las Vegas. Boise State (15-7, 5-4) appeared to have a huge win in hand at the under-four timeout at the Thomas & Mack Center, leading UNLV (15-7, 6-3) by 11. Then the Runnin' Rebels went on a 17-2 run, capped by Kevin Olekaibe three with 20 seconds left, to win 73-69. At this point, the Broncos will need to claim the Mountain West's auto bid to dance.
California's (15-7, 6-3) Justin Cobbs hit an incredible step-back jumper with 0.9 seconds left to hand Arizona(21-1, 8-1) its first loss of the season. Making matters worse for the Wildcats, forward Brandon Ashley injured his foot early in the first half, while Nick Johnson was bothered by a nagging hand injury all night. Naturally, the game was not without some controversy, as some of the Haas Pavilion crowd rushed the floor after Cobbs' shot, while there was still time left on the clock. The officials refused to call a technical, however, and there was no way back for the Wildcats.
Elsewhere, Colorado (16-6, 5-4) won for just the second time since Spencer Dinwiddie went down with a torn ACL, defeating Utah (14-7, 3-6) after overtime in Boulder. Stanford (14-7, 5-4) was victorious in its bubble battle with Arizona State (16-6, 5-4), while Oregon Ducks (15-6, 3-6) took care of USC (10-12, 1-8) in Eugene. On the other hand, Washington (13-9, 5-4) slight hopes took a hit with a loss at Washington State (9-12, 2-7).
Florida (19-2, 8-0) may very well move up to No. 2 in the polls following Arizona's loss and a dominating 69-36 victory over Texas A&M (12-9, 3-5), which has dropped five in a row.
Missouri's (16-5, 4-4) late rally fell short against Kentucky (16-5, 6-2), as the Wildcats prevailed 84-79. Remember, the Tigers were the final team in last week's projection, but a midweek win over Arkansas may be enough to keep them in. The Razorbacks (13-8, 2-6) lost yet again on the road, falling to LSU (14-6, 5-3) by 14 in Baton Rouge. Mississippi (15-6, 6-2) came back from 15 down to defeat South Carolina (8-13, 1-7) and avoid what would have been an absolutely horrible loss. Tennessee (14-7, 5-3), which handled Ole Miss at midweek, will get an at-large look for Tuesday's bracket, thanks to an impressive 17-point win at struggling Alabama (9-12, 3-5).
There were a pair of significant non-conference games of today, both involving Big East squads. Georgetown (12-9) picked up a vital win for its NCAA hopes, downing Michigan State (19-3) at Madison Square Garden in the second game of an afternoon doubleheader. The loss might just cost the Spartans a place on the top line of Tuesday's bracket. In Philadelphia, Villanova (19-2) completed a perfect Big Five campaign by routing hapless Temple (6-14) at the Liacouras Center.
American U. (14-7, 10-0 Patriot) kept its perfect Patriot League record intact by defeating Holy Cross (12-10, 6-4). Robert Morris (12-11, 7-1 NEC) wasn't so lucky, as they fell at home to Central Connecticut State (6-15, 2-6). Meanwhile, Stephen F. Austin (20-2, 9-0) barely kept its unbeaten run in the Southland going, as the Lumberjacks defeated transitional Incarnate Word (16-5, 4-4) by just two. In the Sun Belt, Georgia State (15-6, 8-0 Sun Belt) needed a pair of desperation threes and overtime to defeat Texas-Arlington Mavericks (9-12, 4-5) in Atlanta. However, Utah Valley's (13-8, 7-1) perfect start to the WAC season ended with a thud in Las Cruces, where preseason favorite New Mexico State (17-7, 6-2) hammered the Wolverines.
Canisius (16-7, 10-2 MAAC) drubbed woeful Fairfield (4-18, 1-10). Ohio (16-5, 5-2) knocked Toledo (18-3, 6-2) out of first in the MAC and likely out of the at-large hunt, thanks to a five-point overtime win at the Convo.
North Dakota State (16-6, 5-2 Summit) fell out of first place in the Summit League, thanks to a loss at Denver (11-11, 4-3). Green Bay (18-4, 8-1 Horizon) rebounded from its Wednesday loss to Valparaiso by defeating Wright State (13-12, 5-5).
In a pair of major West Coast Conference contest, Gonzaga (20-3, 10-1) opened up a three-game lead at the top of the league by defeating San Francisco (14-9, 7-4). Meanwhile, BYU (15-9, 7-4) leapt over St. Mary's (16-7, 6-4) in the bubble pecking order by using a big second half to defeat the Gaels in Provo.