Tennessee proved on the court what Bruce Pearl infamously suggested off it before the Volunteers faced off against Charlotte.
Yes, Tennessee has enough weapons.
Not plenty of them. Not its best arsenal. Not the cupboard Pearl expected heading into a season in which his team started No. 10 in the nation.
But did Pearl ever expect to beat the No. 1 team in the nation, even with an additional four weapons on the roster?
Probably not, because as Kansas coach Bill Self said after Tennessee handed the Jayhawks their first loss of the season Sunday, “I don't know if Tennessee was a team until this past week. I don't know if Kansas is a team yet.”
These Volunteers are worse for the wear—a rare attribute for a college basketball team halfway through the season but lacking an identity. And rather than fall into the middle of the Southeastern Conference pack, Tennessee may challenge Kentucky for the top spot.
At which time the Wildcats could be No. 1 in the nation, and another target for a bunch of Volunteers with a renewed sense of each other thanks to a statement from Self.
Speaking of No. 1...
Texas or Kentucky?
The Longhorns knocked off Colorado this past weekend by a score of 103-86 and skimmed by Arkansas earlier in the week, 96-85. Looking for flaws, it's easy to say Texas allowed a few too many points in both contests.
It's also easy to say Kentucky doesn't deserve No. 1 after allowing Georgia within two points with only 50 seconds left to play at Rupp Arena on Saturday. The Wildcats went on the win 76-68, but the message was clear: The SEC won't be Kentucky's playground as much as many (including myself) may have thought.
As for who should be No. 1, the decision is a no-brainer until one or the other loses a game.
Kentucky beat North Carolina, but Texas beat them worse.
Kentucky beat Connecticut, but Texas beat Michigan state worse.
Kentucky beat Indiana and Stanford, but Texas beat Pittsburgh and Southern California.
So the Longhorns are No. 1—not just for taking the extra opportunity to play a decent schedule, but also for making those decent teams look indecent.
About those Boilermakers
Don't get me wrong. Purdue is a good team.
The Boilermakers have a trio of juniors that anyone would be glad stuck around and may only get better if E'Twaun Moore, Robbie Hummel, and JaJuan Johnson stay for their senior seasons.
But they lack the firepower. The “wow” effect. The thing that would separate Purdue from the rest of boring, beating, bruising Big 10 basketball the same way Michigan State has done in years past.
Like I said, the Boilermakers have a good team. A Top 25 team, and maybe even a top-15 team.
Are they Texas, Kentucky, or even Villanova good? Nope—that's like talking about a whole different league—a league that doesn't let Wisconsin get a foot in the door.
Georgetown's 19-point comeback victory over Connecticut says so much more about the Huskies than it does the Hoyas. Because Jim Calhoun-coached teams just don't do that, even when facing a John Thompson III-coached team.
Notre Dame is a Big East Conference burnout waiting to happen. Sure, the Irish knocked off No. 8 West Virginia last Saturday, but they did it by playing only seven players—five of which recorded 30-plus minutes. Oh, and Notre Dame shot 20 free throws on its home court compared to West Virginia's four. That makes a person think.
Duke was lured into a close game Saturday and eventually fell to Georgia Tech along the same lines as West Virginia. Lost in the shuffle of a Yellow Jackets' upset days after being upset themselves by Georgia, the Blue Devils were somewhat exposed. When Duke fell into foul trouble, the bench didn't get deeper. The same seven played basically the whole game. In doing so, the Blue Devils showed their weakness may be a short bench.
First...The Pit has worked wonders this season for New Mexico in wins over Dayton, Creighton, and Texas Tech. The magic stopped against UNLV, and the Lobos dropped their third game of the season while leaving little reason to stay ranked.
Second...Missouri's upset victory over Kansas State snapped the Wildcats' 10-game winning streak but pushed the Tigers' streak to eight.
Third...It doesn't matter who Mississippi State is playing when the Bulldogs hit five of their first eight three-point shots. Mississippi State will compete at that point, and Ole Miss fell victim to another Bulldog shooting spree last weekend.
Fourth...After amassing wins last weekend, Pittsburgh and Louisville unexpectedly joined Villanova as the only unblemished Big East teams in conference play. Two of Nova's three conference victories are over Marquette—each by two points.