Winners and Losers of Week 11 in College Basketball
Against all expectations, Syracuse upset No. 1 Louisville on the road, despite playing without James Southerland.
The victory made the Orange one of the week's biggest winners, but Missouri wasn't as lucky without one of their best players. The Tigers were routed by 31 points at Florida, making them one of the week's biggest losers.
Here's a look at Syracuse, Missouri and Week 11's winners and losers.
Winner: Wichita State Shockers
With first place on the line, Wichita State beat Doug McDermott and Creighton in a classic Missouri Valley battle.
The Blue Jays' Ethan Wragge missed two good looks from three that would have tied the score in the waning seconds. But the Shockers held on at home, preventing Creighton from building a two-game lead atop the standings.
A struggling but talented Illinois State team also fell victim to Wichita State earlier in the week.
Loser: Indiana Hoosiers
Don't let Sunday's final score fool you—Indiana nearly squandered its 16-point second half lead, as Jared Swopshire brought Northwestern within five with 2:03 remaining.
The Hoosiers would fend off the Wildcats, but coming on the heels of Tuesday's home loss to Wisconsin, Indiana couldn't afford even a scare.
Indiana went 1-1 this week, but they essentially went 0-2 from a performance standpoint. That should be reflected in this week's rankings, and you know it will be a talking point in practice as the Hoosiers prepare for this week's games against Penn State and conference-leading Michigan State.
Winner: Cincinnati Bearcats
Without Cashmere Wright (knee sprain), Cincinnati beat Marquette in overtime thanks to a 36-point performance by Sean Kilpatrick.
The Golden Eagles are not a great team, but they carried a six-game winning streak and a perfect Big East record into the game, making the win notable for the Bearcats—especially considering Wright did not play.
Wright injured his knee in Wednesday's victory over DePaul. Though he sat the last 15 minutes, Cincinnati held on to beat the Blue Demons on the road.
Loser: Temple Owls
George Washington did not score in the final 7:53 of Wednesday's tilt with Temple. Had the Colonial offense not stagnated, the Owls could have dropped two games this week.
Temple escaped with an 8-0 run to close out GW, but the Owls were not as fortunate on Saturday, when they lost to a St. Bonaventure team that entered the weekend with an 8-8 record.
The win over Syracuse and the near-upset of Kansas seem more dated than Avril Lavigne, as the Owls have stumbled to a 2-2 A-10 record.
Winner: Valparaiso Crusaders
Since dropping the conference opener to Loyola-Illinois, Valpo has reeled off five consecutive wins, two of which came this week.
The Crusaders rallied from a 20-point, second half deficit to top Detroit on the road before downing Wright State in Saturday's clash for first place in the Horizon League.
With Butler out of the way, the Titans and Raiders pose the two biggest threats to Valpo's quest for a tournament bid. This week's results certainly make the Crusader's the league's team to beat.
Loser: NC State Wolfpack
Credit NC State for taking care of business last week against Duke. The Wolfpack were expected to beat the Ryan Kelly-less Blue Devils, and that's exactly what happened.
But NC State proved this week that it's still one of the country's most frustratingly inconsistent teams, capable of beating good teams but also susceptible to close games with the Clemsons of college basketball.
The Wolfpack beat the Tigers on Sunday, but they found themselves in a deadlock with 2:25 left to play. At home. Against a team with much less talent.
Earlier in the week, NC State lost at Maryland, which snapped a resume-shaking, two-game skid with the win.
Winner: Michigan State Spartans
Michigan State entered Saturday's clash with Ohio State at 4-1 in league play, but the Spartans hadn't beaten any of the Big Ten heavyweights. In their only opportunity, they fell at Minnesota.
But with a little help from Shannon Scott, Michigan State avoided overtime and topped the Buckeyes 59-56 at the Breslin Center to hold sole possession of first place.
The Spartans, who won at Penn State earlier in the week, find themselves in their most challenging seven-game stretch of the season. After playing Ohio State, they'll face Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, Purdue and Michigan in the next 23 days.
Loser: Missouri Tigers
With or without Laurence Bowers—and with or without homecourt advantage—Missouri would not have beaten Florida on Saturday.
The Tigers hadn't lost by more than 30 points since Michael Beasley and Bill Walker ganged up on a mediocre Missouri squad in Feb. 2008. The Gators beat them by 31 in Gainesville, making Wednesday's 17-point win for the Tigers seem meaningless—not that any victory over Georgia ever really holds all that much meaning in the first place.
It's painfully obvious now that the Gators won't be underdogs in any SEC game if they stay healthy, and the Tigers simply are on an entirely different level.
Winner: Syracuse Orange
Few people outside Syracuse's fan base thought the Orange, without James Southerland, would beat No. 1 Louisville at the KFC Yum Center. But Brandon Triche scored 23 points, and Michael Carter-Williams intercepted Peyton Siva's ill-advised pass in the waning seconds and deposited it for the game-winning bucket.
Syracuse, undefeated in conference play, stands alone atop the Big East, as Cincinnati visits the Carrier Dome tonight.
Loser: Boise State Broncos
After beating Creighton and ending Wyoming's perfect season, Boise State appeared to be more of a factor in the MWC the second time around.
But since topping the Cowboys, the Broncos couldn't close out New Mexico and got embarrassed by Air Force. They'll have plenty of chances to make up ground, but the 1-2 start to conference play has to be disappointing for head coach Leon Rice.
Winner: Colorado State Rams
Colorado State dropped its MWC opener to San Diego State in overtime, but the Rams responded with two wins this week.
First, they absolutely pummeled Air Force. Then, they held on to beat UNLV, extending the school record of consecutive home wins to 24.
When they face New Mexico on Wednesday, however, the Rams won't toe the Moby Arena floor. Instead, they'll find themselves in the Pit, with first place on the line.
Loser: San Diego State Aztecs
Few teams had a more disappointing week than San Diego State, which dropped to 2-2 in the MWC.
After escaping Colorado State in overtime on January 12, the Aztecs lost to UNLV at home and scored nine first half points at Wyoming en route to a 58-45 defeat.
The Running Rebels haven't been as formidable as billed, and the Cowboys had lost two of their last three after starting 13-0; adding insult to injury, Wyoming lost to undermanned Boise State before scoring 36 points against Fresno State.
Winner: South Dakota State Jackrabbits
The other SDSU, on the other hand, had a big week in the Summit League.
South Dakota State earned a 59-53 road win over previously undefeated Western Illinois, which in turn knocked off previously undefeated North Dakota State over the weekend. Now, the Jackrabbits, who easily beat IUPUI on Saturday, are 6-2 in league play and stand one game behind the Leathernecks and Bison.
A rematch with North Dakota State is on slate for Saturday afternoon. The Bison took the first meeting at their place, but the Jackrabbits should be the favorite at home.
Loser: Illinois Fighting Illini
After starting 12-0, Illinois has stumbled to a 2-4 record in its last six games.
The Fighting Illini lost to Minnesota and Wisconsin two weeks ago, and they figured to get back on track at home against Northwestern on Thursday. But the Wildcats had other plans, extending Illinois' misery.
The Fighting Illini absolutely have to win at Nebraska this week, as a daunting five-game stretch featuring Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Indiana and Minnesota looms in the near future.
Winner: Oregon Ducks
Oregon escaped with a win over USC before beating UCLA on Saturday to claim sole possession of first place in the Pac-12.
The Ducks won't face the Bruins or Arizona again in the regular season, making their perfect mark thus far all the more meaningful. Sure, they could drop a road game or two, but Oregon is in position to finish with a sterling conference mark.
Loser: Delaware Blue Hens
Delaware, the No. 2 pick in the CAA preseason poll, seemed to finally right the ship after a disconcerting 3-8 start. But losses to Towson and Northeastern this week precluded the Blue Hens from maintaining their hot streak—they had won five straight before losing to the Tigers.
Towson and Northeastern have exceeded expectations thus far, emerging as the conference's top dog, so the losses aren't as damning as they would have been on paper in the preseason. Nonetheless, the Blue Hens have to be disappointed they couldn't pick up even one of those wins while playing on their home floor.
Winner: Belmont Bruins
In its inaugural OVC season, Belmont has already disposed of two league heavyweights—Eastern Kentucky and Tennessee State—en route to a perfect 6-0 start in conference play.
The Bruins' RPI has already started to fall as a result of playing OVC competition, but at No. 32—down from No. 21—they would probably earn an at-large bid if the season ended today.
Murray State obviously stands in the way of a perfect league mark, and Belmont only plays the Racers on the road, a challenge for any mid-major. But the Bruins have set the tone that they will transfer their domination of the Atlantic Sun to the Ohio Valley.
Loser: Texas A&M Aggies
A win at Kentucky doesn't hold as much weight as it would have in any other John Calipari season. Nonetheless, Elston Turner and Texas A&M embarrassed the Wildcats last week, stirring the SEC and indicating they could be a factor in league play.
But the Aggies couldn't stick with Florida at home, and Alabama's Trevor Lacey beat them in the final seconds, sinking A&M to 2-2 in league play.
Winner: Butler Bulldogs
Without Rotnei Clarke, Butler beat Gonzaga on Roosevelt Jones' buzzer-beating floater.
Mark Few's squad held a 63-62 lead with the ball and just seconds left on the clock, but Jones stole the inbounds pass, raced up the floor and released his shot with a fraction of a second left.
Butler notched its signature win at Indiana and also beat UNC and Marquette in Maui. But the Tar Heels haven't lived up to their preseason ranking, making the defeat of Gonzaga all the more important from a resume-building standpoint.
Winner: Florida Gators
At this point, it's abundantly clear that the SEC belongs to Florida.
The Gators' smallest margin of victory in four league games is 21, and Billy Donovan's squad manhandled Missouri on Saturday. Even though Laurence Bowers sat with a sprained MCL and Florida played host, Missouri wouldn't have stood a chance with a healthy Bowers on their home floor.
The Gators are rolling.