College basketball posed an intriguing question this past weekend: Do you prefer a blowout on Friday, controversy on Saturday, or depression on Sunday?
If you have a TV—or as I was lucky enough to grab on Saturday at Rupp Arena, a front-row seat—you could have it all.
Purdue pounded West Virginia on New Year's Day, the same day news broke that four Tennessee basketball players were arrested after the Volunteers tamed rival Memphis on New Year's Eve.
In a second in-state rivalry, Kentucky's DeMarcus Cousins let elbows fly against Louisville Saturday while vaulting the Wildcats to 15-0.
And in perhaps the worst news, self-imposed sanctions doomed a revived USC squad's postseason hopes on Sunday.
Some reactions from the weekend:
Kansas Wins, Plays Second Fiddle—Again
The poor Jayhawks.
They finally faced a Top-25 opponent in Temple on Saturday but fell into the misfortune of handing the Owls an 84-52 loss—their worst since 1993.
So what's the mainstream conclusion? That Temple wasn't worthy of its No. 18 ranking.
Why? Because nobody was watching Temple and Kansas, but rather Kentucky and Louisville.
If it weren't for Texas' too-close-for-comfort 76-70 win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, more No. 1 votes would continue to sway to the Longhorns' benefit.
More critics would assume the Jayhawks were overrated simply based upon a non-conference schedule that fell apart as soon as the season started.
And Kansas would have edged more toward falling from the ranks of No. 1 in the nation for winning. Against a Top 25 team. Because Temple wasn't good enough, and it's too difficult to believe the Jayhawks are capable of running the table.
West Virginia Finally Goes Down; Syracuse Gets Beaten Down
Of all the remaining unbeatens heading into this weekend, the pick of which was going to lose was obvious—and West Virginia did, to Purdue last Friday.
Like any Bob Huggins-coached team, a little composure, a lot of defense, and a good inside game were all it took to knock the Mountaineers off the pedestal that Seton Hall and Marquette came so close to last week.
It's not that West Virginia is a bad team. They have enough size and depth to reach the Final Four. But this is Purdue's year thanks to a stellar junior class that includes Robbie Hummel, E'Twaun Moore, and JaJuan Johnson.
It's Syracuse, however, that was the surprising loss.
As the Orange blazed through a non-conference schedule that included California, North Carolina, and Florida, they were the ones playing physically.
In typical Pittsburgh fashion, the Panthers beat down Syracuse at its own game on Saturday, narrowing the list of unbeatens to four.
Didn't O.J. Mayo Play Two Seasons Ago?
If so, then why can't USC visit the Pac-10 and NCAA Tournament this season?
The people at fault (at the least) are former Trojans coach Tim Floyd and Mayo, and Athletics Director Mike Garrett is now known as the man of two scandals with Reggie Bush's situation still under investigation.
However, that has nothing to do with why transfer Mike Gerrity, who, along with current coach Kevin O'Neil, has USC surging, can't make anything of it in March.
The NCAA can take the wins. Take the money. Take USC Athletics Director Garrett to court.
Do whatever. But don't do it to the current players, because they didn't get benefits when Mayo was at USC, and now they're going to do anything but benefit from his departure.
Odds And Ends
Second...No matter what fate befalls New Mexico in Mountain West Conference play, the Lobos are worth penciling in for at least one NCAA Tournament win this season.
So they lost to Oral Roberts' stingy seven-man rotation. But New Mexico put a signature win on its resume with a 68-66 victory over Dayton last Friday.
Third...In a game worth looking forward to all weekend, Duke hammered Clemson with more of that pesky Blue Devils defense. Lack of athleticism has been the knock on Duke all these years. This season, that stops.
Lastly...If you haven't checked out Chandler Parson's 75-foot buzzer beater that lifted Florida over North Carolina State Sunday night, please do. Right here . It really is worth a look.