We're smack in the middle of early season tournament time, which means more college basketball at more different hours of the day than any point between now and March. But before drunkenly barreling head first into this week's action (Maui!), we must first look back at the glorious weekend that was.
HOW THE TOP 25 FARED LAST WEEK:
1. North Carolina (3-0) beat MVSU 101-75.
2. Kentucky (3-0) beat No. 12 Kansas 75-65; beat Penn State 85-47; beat Old Dominion 62-52.
3. Ohio State (3-0) beat No. 7 Florida 81-74; beat Jackson State 85-41.
4. UConn (4-0) beat Wagner 78-66; beat Maine 80-60; beat Coppin State 87-70.
5. Syracuse (4-0) beat Manhattan 92-56; beat Albany (NY) 98-74; beat Colgate 92-47.
6. Duke (4-0) beat Michigan State 74-69; beat Davidson 82-69.
7. Florida (2-1) lost to No. 3 Ohio State 81-74; beat North Florida 91-55.
8. Louisville (3-0) beat Butler 69-53.
9. Pittsburgh (2-1) lost to Long Beach State 86-76.
10. Memphis (1-0) beat Belmont 97-81.
11. Baylor (3-0) beat San Diego State 77-67.
12. Kansas (1-1) lost to No. 2 Kentucky 75-65.
13. Xavier (3-0) beat IPFW 86-63; beat Miami (Ohio) 66-60.
14. Wisconsin (3-0) beat Colgate 68-41; beat Wofford 69-33.
15. Arizona (4-1) beat St. John's 81-72; lost to Mississippi State 67-57.
16. Alabama (5-0) beat Oakland 74-57; beat Maryland 62-42; beat Wichita State 70-60; beat Purdue 65-56.
17. Michigan (3-0) beat Towson 64-47; beat Western Illinois 59-55.
18. Vanderbilt (3-1) beat Bucknell 80-68; beat N.C. State 86-79.
19. Texas A&M (3-1) lost to Mississippi State 69-60; beat St. John's 58-57.
20. Cincinnati (2-1) beat Jacksonville State 73-59; lost to Presbyterian 56-54.
21. Marquette (4-0) beat Norfolk State 99-68; beat Winthrop 95-73; bear Mississippi 96-66.
22. Gonzaga (3-0) beat Washington State 89-81; beat Hawaii 73-54.
23. California (3-0) beat Austin Peay 72-55.
24. Missouri (3-0) beat Mercer 81-63; beat Niagara 83-52.
25. Florida State (4-0) beat UCF 73-50; beat Stetson 79-66; beat South Alabama 80-39.
BEST TEAM: Alabama
The Crimson Tide captured the Puerto Rico Tip-Off by topping Maryland, Wichita State and Purdue in a trio of games where they were never really pushed. The result is that 'Bama is 5-0 for the first time since 2006.
Purdue entered Sunday's championship game averaging just under 85 points per game, but Alabama held the Boilers to just 5-of-22 from behind the three-point line in a 65-56 victory. No one has scored more than 60 against the Tide this season.
Last year, 'Bama - which won the SEC's West Division - became the first SEC team in history with more than 10 conference victories to be left out of the NCAA Tournament. The reason for that was a hideous non-conference resume, which included an 0-3 performance at the Paradise Jam. That shouldn't be an issue this year, as Anthony Grant's club already has three solid wins (four if you count a 17-point victory over an Oakland team that could win the Summit League) and its first tournament title since '07.
BEST GAME: Oregon State 100, Texas 95 (OT)
While most of the sports world was fixated on a handful of football finishes that guaranteed chaos once again for sports' most unforgivably awful postseason, the Longhorns and Beavers were playing one of the more exciting basketball games of the young season.
Oregon State junior guard Jared Cunningham hit 20-of-23 free-throw attempts and scored a career-high 37 points as the Beavers bounced Texas in a Legends Classic semifinal Saturday night. The Longhorns - playing with Kevin Durant (and Royal Ivey and CHRIS MIHM!) watching from the bench - had led by as many as seven in the second half.
The win propelled Oregon State to a 4-0 start for the first time since 2000. They'll play for the tournament title on Monday night against No. 18 Vanderbilt.
BIGGEST UPSET: Presbyterian 56, No. 20 Cincinnati 54
The Blue Hose ended the second half on a 24-7 run to pull the biggest stunner of the young college basketball season.
The loss is especially brutal for Cincinnati because of how incredibly weak the Bearcats' non-conference schedule is. Basically, UC will have zero opportunities to erase this embarrassment before Big East play. They're also now playing with the added pressure of knowing how devastating a second major upset before the new year would be.
BEST PLAYER: Shabazz Napier, Connecticut
Napier became just the ninth Husky in school history to record a triple-double when he notched 22 points, 13 assists and 12 rebounds in an 87-70 win over Coppin State on Saturday. He also says he's thinking of cutting his rat tail.
ALL WEEKEND TEAM:
Shabazz Napier, Connecticut - See above
Mike Moser, UNLV - Gets a nod for the second straight week after a 23 point, 17 rebound, 6 assist effort against Morgan State. The UCLA transfer is the nation's leading rebounder.
Herb Pope, Seton Hall - Followed up a double-double against St. Joe's Friday night with a 32-point, 9-rebound performance against Northwestern in the Charleston Classic championship game on Sunday. The Pirates lost, 80-73.
Jared Cunningham, Oregon State - As noted earlier, Cunningham dropped 37 in an overtime win over Texas on Saturday. He also brought down nine rebounds in over 43 minutes of court time.
John Jenkins, Vanderbilt - Put the 18th-ranked 'Dores on his back by hitting 10-of-16 shots and scoring 28 points in a 7-point Legends Classic semifinal victory over NC State. Jenkins led a 10-2 Vandy run to close the game and helped avoid a second upset loss in as many weeks.
FIVE WEEKEND WINNERS:
1. St. Louis throttled former head coach Lorenzo Romar and Washington at Chaifetz Arena on Sunday. The Bilikens jumped out to a 50-25 halftime lead before cruising to a 77-64 victory. Rick Majerus’ team looked like an A-10 contender, committing just eight turnovers while shooting 53 percent from the floor, including 43 percent on 3-pointers. They unleashed a lethal inside-outside attack with bulky forward Brian Conklin scoring 25 and speedy guard Kwamain Mitchell adding 18.
2. Playing without star point guard Peyton Siva, Louisville still managed to leave Hinkle Fieldhouse with a 16-point victory over Butler. The Cardinals led by just one at halftime, but senior captains (and walk-ons) Kyle Kuric and Chris Smith took over the game in the second half. Afterward, Bulldog head coach Brad Stevens said U of L could be an "April team" if they ever get healthy.
3. After opening the Puerto Rico Tip-Off with a soul-crushing 91-90 loss to Purdue, Iona won the tournament's fifth-place game by hammering Maryland 89-63. The 26-point margin of victory was the Gaels' largest over a BCS opponent since 1983. MoMo Jones led the scoring with 22 while backcourt mate Scott Machado added 15 points and 15 assists. The MoMo/Machado combo is quickly making Iona a must-watch. Here's hoping they win the MAAC so casual college basketball fans will get a chance to see the show come March.
4. Mississippi State became the season's first upset victim when they fell to Akron in regional play for the 2K Sports Classic two Wednesdays ago. But the Bulldogs managed to quickly erase that image by beating a pair of ranked teams on back-to-back nights to win that same tournament. A night after running Texas A&M out of Madison Square Garden, MSU handed No. 16 Arizona its first loss of the season, 67-57. Arnett Moultrie celebrated his 21st birthday by scoring 19 points and grabbing 10 rebounds on his way to being named tournament MVP.
5. Beating LSU, Tulsa and Seton Hall may not be quite enough to get Northwestern into the NCAA Tournament for the first time, but it's a solid start. The Wildcats struggled with, but ultimately defeated, all three on their way to claiming the Charleston Classic title. Junior guard Drew Crawford scored 72 total points in the three wins and was named tournament MVP.
There's zero question that Ben Howland is on the hot season in LA, but playing Nelson in Maui after this would be teetering dangerously close to pathetic.
NUMBER OF NOTE: 89
That's the number of points Grinnell College junior Griffin Lentsch scored in a 145-97 win over Principia College on Saturday. Lentsch’s scoring output surpassed the previous D-III mark of 77 points set by former Grinnell star Jeff Clement in 1998. The total is third-highest ever in college basketball, placing behind just the 112-point performance by Clarence "Bevo" Francis of Rio Grande in 1954 and the 110-point output by Frank Selvy of Furman, also in 1954.
EQUALLY NOTABLE QUOTE: "I didn’t think I would ever score that many points." --Griffin Lentsch
Be a lot cooler if you had.
TEN TO END
--Washington freshman point guard Tony "Murder T. Wrote" Wroten is 10-for-25 from the free-throw line after four games. That isn't good.
--In its first appearance since going on the road and shocking No. 9 Pittsburgh by ten, Long Beach State fell in overtime at San Diego State 77-73 on Saturday. The win moved the Aztecs' home winning streak over unranked opponents to 47.
--Belmont and Middle Tennessee State may have played the mid-major game of the year on Saturday, with the Bruins prevailing 87-84 in double overtime. The game was the Maui Invitational regional championship. MTSU, which beat UCLA by 20 in Los Angeles on Nov. 15, had been looking for its first 5-0 start in 25 years. The pair will meet again on Dec. 13.
--Texas' J'Covan Brown is the nation's leading scorer at 29.3 ppg.
--Sean Keeley is all over the Bernie Fine investigation at Syracuse. The Orange honored Fine by leaving his seat on the bench empty during their 82-47 thrashing of Colgate.
--Arkansas' leading scorer Marshawn Powell suffered a serious knee injury in practice last week and missed the Razorbacks' 87-78 loss to Houston on Friday. Powell was averaging 19.5 ppg. An update on his status is expected at some point on Monday.
--The NCAA has finally made a decision on Connecticut freshman Ryan Boatwright, announcing that he must sit out six games for improperly receiving a plane ticket during his AAU days. Boatwright has already missed four games, so he could make his debut as early as UConn's final game in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.
--The highest scoring team (to have played more than one game) in the country right now is...Marquette? Not ordianrily known as an offensive juggernaut, the Golden Eagles have posted 91, 99, 95 and 96 points in their impressive first four victories.
--Walt Hazzard, John Wooden's first real star at UCLA, passed away on Friday.
--Apparently USC feels so bad about the glitter and glam of the Tim Floyd era that they're simply not going to score this season. Their dedication to this movement reached a new high on Saturday with a 42-36 loss to Cal Poly.