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The 5 biggest winners and losers from the weekend that was in college basketball

Six weeks from now, we'll all be filling out brackets. The picture of the teams we will be picking to win and lose got just a little bit clearer on the final weekend of January.

Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

College basketball fans have just one month left to traverse before the "this is March" tweets can start flowing like wine, and that's exciting. With the calendar having now officially flipped to February, let's look at the teams that most helped and most hurt themselves on the final weekend of January.


1. Texas A&M

Before their loss at Arkansas last Wednesday, Texas A&M had been the team quietly keeping its head down and rolling through conference play while the rest of the college basketball world burned around them. The 74-71 loss to the Hogs put Billy Kennedy's team under more of a microscope, as people began asking aloud who this top five team had really beaten outside of Baylor.

They aren't asking anymore after Saturday's 72-62 triumph over an Iowa State team that was riding a four-game winning streak that included triumphs over No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 4 Kansas. The Aggies held one of the most electric offenses in the country to their lowest point total of the season and a stunningly low .849 points-per-possession. Winning the SEC is still on the forefront of A&M's collective mind, but the triumph over Iowa State could wind up being the difference of an entire seed line on Selection Sunday.

2. Florida

The SEC may have only won three of the games in its weekend Challenge with the Big 12, but two of them were enormous. Michael White's first Florida team had come so close in games against Texas A&M, Michigan State, Vanderbilt and Florida State, but finally notched a major victory with an 88-71 beatdown of ninth-ranked West Virginia.

The Gators entered the game with the mindset that they weren't going to allow West Virginia to assume its typical bully role, and that goal was achieved before the ball was even tipped.

Florida never trailed, and wound up taking its biggest step yet towards making it back to the NCAA Tournament.

3. Virginia

The "pretender" talk surrounding Tony Bennett's team this year had been more about his squad's actual performance than the way the Cavaliers were beating the best teams in the country, which was the case the past two seasons. Virginia entered Saturday's game at Louisville ranked No. 11, but a miracle comeback (and a miracle shot) against Wake Forest was the only think keeping it from being 0-4 on the road in ACC play.

Bennett knows that he's going to have people who doubt his team until it makes a deep run in the big dance, but the contingent of fans saying the Cavaliers are a lock to not make it out of the first weekend are noticeably hushed on the Monday after UVA's dominant 63-47 victory over the Cardinals. While the primary takeaway from the performance has seemed to surround the question of Louisville's legitimacy, it's impossible to completely overlook the fact that Virginia finally looked like the squad that has won the last two ACC regular season titles.

4. Oklahoma

Sure, it was a narrow win over an eight-loss team from the SEC that isn't a sure thing to even make the NCAA Tournament, but anyone who follows college basketball knows that Oklahoma's performance at LSU was more impressive than that.

This was the spotlight moment for the second half of LSU's season, and everyone knew the talented Tigers would take advantage. In the end, though, Oklahoma not only pulled out a dramatic victory in a tough environment, but Buddy Hield solidified himself as the unquestioned front-runner to be named national Player of the Year.

Hield's 32 points, a large chunk of which came during Oklahoma's furious late rally, became the story of the game, regardless of how many times the announcers and studio analysts attempted to shift the focus to Ben Simmons. All in all, it was an extremely productive Saturday for the Sooners.

5. Saint Joseph's

Rhode Island had yet to lose at home and was favored by two on Saturday despite hosting a Saint Joseph's team that came to town with a 12-0 road mark and a 17-3 record overall. The massively slept on DeAndre Bembry posted 15 points and 10 rebounds as the Hawks made a large statement to the Selection Committee with a 64-55 triumph.

Phil Martelli's program hasn't won a game in the big dance since Jameer Nelson and Delonte West were carrying the Hawks to the Elite 8 in 2004, but maybe this is the season.


1. Louisville

On a weekend where home teams were mostly dominant, Louisville suffered its first home defeat of the season, and it came in the form of a hammering from a Virginia team that had been awful on the road. The humbling 63-47 defeat left the Cardinals still in search of their first win over a top 25 team, and has college hoops writers all over the country questioning if Rick Pitino has a legitimate top 20 squad. They'll have an opportunity to quickly address both of those issues with North Carolina coming into their house Monday night.

2. Butler

A month ago, there was talk that Chris Holtmann might be the early favorite for national Coach of the Year. Now, it's looking almost more likely than not that his team is going to miss the NCAA Tournament.

Butler's 75-69 loss at Marquette on Saturday dropped them to 3-6 in the Big East, a worse mark than every team in the conference save for the lowly duo of DePaul (1-8) and St. John's. (0-9). If they don't take care of business in their next three games against Georgetown, Seton Hall and St. John's, it's probably not going to matter if they pull top 10 upsets over Villanova and/or Xavier in the middle of February.

3. Marshall

The Thundering Herd's only shot at making the field of 68 is to win the Conference USA Tournament, but they're still right in the thick of the race for the league's regular season title, an achievement which is important for any college basketball program. That quest was dealt a massive blow on Saturday when league-leading UAB dealt Marshall an 81-78 loss that is likely still being talked about in Huntington because of the way it went down.

With a chance to win the game in the final seconds, Marshall's Ryan Taylor was very clearly slapped across the arm. Not only was the foul not called, but the ball went out of bounds off of Taylor, ensuring the Blazer victory.

UAB, which stunned Iowa State in the big dance a year ago, is now 18-4.

4. Miami

The Hurricanes have the friendliest final month schedule of any of the top contenders in the ACC, but that might not matter if they keep dropping games like the one at NC State on Saturday. Miami let Cat Barber do basically whatever he wanted as he dropped 30 points and led his team to an emphatic 85-69 upset of the 15th-ranked 'Canes.

5. Hawaii

Hawaii's quest for a perfect Big West season died on Sunday, and surprisingly, it died at home. Former Maryland standout Nick Faust dropped 28 as Long Beach State rolled over the Rainbow Warriors, 78-64. The loss was just Hawaii's third of the season and only its second at home, joining a narrow 84-81 defeat at the hands of top-ranked Oklahoma on Christmas Eve.