A few undefeated schools suffer first blemishes entering conference play

Hope everyone’s holiday season was both fun and festive.

Rather than recap the games each day from December 26 to January 3, there were several interesting stories of note.

Coach Mick Cronin steps aside due to health reasons

On Friday, Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin decided to take an advisory role and step down from full-time coaching the Bearcats.  Great news that on Saturday, the Bearcats won 56-50 over SMU led by Farad Cobb tabulating 15 of his 18 points in the second half.

Several schools fall from the ranks of the unbeaten

Sterling Gibbs’ 20 points helped fuel Seton Hall past Villanova in Big East play, 66 in overtime.  Meanwhile, Notre Dame used Jerian Grant’s 24 points to spark the Irish to a big-time win at Purcell Pavilion, 83-76 in double overtime over Georgia Tech.

In the Big 12, West Virginia surprised TCU on the road 78-67 while Iowa State suffered their second defeat of the season 64-60 at home to South Carolina.

Other teams that are looking impressive entering conference play are LSU (11-2) and new Big Ten entrant in Maryland (12-1).

Battle of 2014 National Semifinal may mean early curtains for one school

At the Indoor Swamp in Gainsville, UConn and Florida went back-and-forth for the balance of the 40 minutes.  However, Ryan Boatright used his 2014 championship pedigree to score 14 points along with six rebounds and 6 assists.  The defending champs rallied from 13 points down in the second half to post a rather impressive 63-59 road win over the struggling Florida Gators.  UConn made 17 of 20 free throws, while the Gators were only 8 of 20.  Billy Donovan’s squad is currently 7-6 and is in serious danger missing out on the 2015 NCAA Tournament.  All of their losses in non-conference play were to teams they were expected to beat and that will not sit well when the Committee deliberates and brainstorms over teams with similar resumes come March.

Among mid-majors, there were a few surprises

Utah State won at the buzzer and Butler, yes Butler–won at the Garden over previously regarded St. John’s.

There will be plenty of fun games throughout the month, as ESPN alone will have tons of excellent ACC action–mostly involving Louisville, North Carolina, Syracuse, mixed in with a little Duke here and Notre Dame there.

I will try my best to post some periodic updates during the next two months–sometimes at night during the week and some weekends when the games matter most (since I, like most people, are trying to fill some loose ends and try to earn a few extra bucks for going to legitimate websites that can help fill PayPal accounts faster than your aunt’s favorite sweater from the late 1970’s that might sell for big bucks on eBay).

Ten weeks (or 70 days) remain until Selection Sunday.

This is where the true fun begins.  See you again real soon.  Have a great week.


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