It's finals week at colleges and universities across the country, which means sleepless nights, plenty of caffeine and a noticeable lack of quality college basketball. The first two characteristics don't really affect us. The third is a body blow.
No. 14 Wisconsin 60, Milwaukee 54
No. 17 Mississippi St. 75, Florida Atlantic 68
No. 20 Michigan 63, Arkansas Pine-Bluff 50
GAME OF THE NIGHT: Middle Tennessee 65, Belmont 62
MTSU squandered a 13-point second half lead, but blocked a pair of Belmont three-point attempts in the final minute to preserve a 65-62 win over the Bruins. Belmont defeated Middle Tennessee in double overtime just three weeks ago.
This was MTSU's first victory over their in-state rival since 2007, and an excited home crowd responded by storming the floor after the final horn sounded.
Even though the Blue Raiders are a quality mid-major team, the loss is a huge blow to Belmont's outside shot at a potential at-large bid. The Bruins have zero wins that will make anyone on the NCAA Tournament committee swoon, and Marshall (whom they play twice) is the only semi-quality opponent remaining on their schedule.
Belmont shouldn't have an issue rolling through the Atlantic Sun Tournament, but it still would have been nice to take the floor in March with that safety net.
UPSET OF THE NIGHT: None
MTSU over Belmont is about as close to an upset as the evening provided. Again, blame shmeducation.
PLAYER OF THE NIGHT: Marcus Jordan, Central Florida
MJ of C-USA tied a career-high with 28 points as UCF improved to 7-2 with a 77-65 win over North Carolina A&T.
LaRon Dendy, Middle Tennessee - Led the Blue Raiders with 20 points, nine rebounds and four assists in their huge home win over Belmont.
Drew Valentine, Oakland - Hit 8-of-10 shots on his way to scoring 20 points and grabbing 15 rebounds in an easy win over Rochester College.
Alec Brown, Green Bay - Went for 20 and nine in a 69-61 victory over Michigan Tech.
Jaime Serna, UC-Santa Barbara - Scored 22 points, had six assists and blocked a key shot (one of his five blocks) in the closing seconds to lead UCSB to a 65-61 win over San Diego.
J'Covan Brown, Texas - Scored 23 points despite playing limited minutes in the Longhorns' 93-40 romp over Nicholls St.
IMAGE OF THE NIGHT:
Renardo Sidney pulls off the "scoring while appearing to be wearing pants" look to perfection in No. 17 Mississippi State's seven-point win over Florida Atlantic.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: "Some guys can handle Twitter, some can't." --Memphis head coach Josh Pastner talking about his team's lack of focus in the wake of a home loss to Murray St. that dropped the Tigers out of both major polls.
TEN TO END:
1. In its 93-40 win, Texas held Nicholls State without a field goal for 15:37. That's more than 3/4 of a half. I majored in math...I didn't major in math.
2. If you read just one thing about college basketball today (besides this, I guess), make it this Ian O'Connor piece on Iona head coach Tim Cluess.
3. Last Saturday's game between Kentucky and Indiana on ESPN drew 3.5 million viewers. That's a monster number for a college basketball game in early December.
4. No. 14 Wisconsin let a 17-point lead over Milwaukee dwindle all the way down to three before Jordan Taylor buried a clutch three to put the Badgers up six with 40 seconds left. Wiscy fans have to hope that this will help Taylor snap out of his recent shooting funk and get the Badger offense back on track. Milwaukee, which is 1-28 all-time against Wisconsin, might have been able to pull the upset if it hadn't gone 7-of-17 from the free-throw line.
5. No. 20 Michigan had 17 assists on 22 made field goals in its 63-50 win over Arkansas Pine-Bluff. The Wolverines led 32-8 at one point.
6. No. 17 Mississippi St. avoided an upset loss to Florida Atlantic for a second straight season by rallying from a one-point deficit in the final eight minutes to post their ninth straight victory. Dee Bost led the way for the Bulldogs with 19 and 10.
7. Villanova trailed Boston U. 26-23 at the break before playing arguably their best half of basketball this season to post a 68-43 victory.
9. It took two overtimes for Alcorn State to claim a 106-101 victory over NAIA Point University on Tuesday. The Braves have still not beaten a Division-I opponent since Feb. 26, 2011.
10. Wyoming knocked off UC-Irvine 58-48 to improve to 10-1 on the season. Those ten victories match the Cowboys' win total from all of last season. Credit first year head coach Larry Shyatt for the turnaround.