Indiana Hoosiers' Legitimacy and 10 Things We Learned This Weekend
Indiana upset Kentucky, Yancy Gates threw some punches at Kenny Frease and other Xavier players, and Ohio State fell to Kansas without Jared Sullinger.
What can we make of the above and what else did the weekend teach us? Does Butler have what it takes to return to the Final Four?
Read on for the 10 things we learned this weekend.
Long Beach State Never Quits
Long Beach State is 4-5, but Dan Monson's squad is the nation's best sub-.500 team.
The 49ers, who upset Pittsburgh, have lost to San Diego State, Louisville, Kansas and UNC. However, unlike most mid-majors, Long Beach kept the perennial juggernauts' backs against the wall.
Casper Ware and Co. forced overtime at San Diego State—one of the most raucous environments in college hoops—and while they lost to Louisville by 13 points, they cut a 15-point second half deficit to five with under seven minutes to play.
Against Kansas, Long Beach trailed by double-digits in the second half but cut the lead several times. Kansas consistently responded but Long Beach refused to quit, trimming the deficit to five with three minutes left before losing by eight.
After leading UNC 45-40 at halftime, the 49ers entered "danger zone" as the Tar Heels took a 72-61 lead with under nine minutes to play. Instead of rolling over, like many mid-majors would, the 49ers cut the deficit to six and remained in the game until the final minute.
These 49ers never quit, and you can bet that they've gained a tremendous amount of confidence from these games.
They'll be an absolutely terrifying 13-seed.
Cincinnati Sure Can Talk, but the Bearcats Need to Learn to Walk
Before Saturday's Crosstown Shootout between Xavier and Cincinnati, Sean Kilpatrick added fuel to one of college basketball's most potent rivalries.
The sophomore guard told WQRT-AM in Cincinnati that he's a better player than Tu Holloway and that he didn't think Holloway would start for Mick Cronin's Bearcats.
Even a first-time observer of the two wouldn't have drawn the same conclusion after Kilpatrick's dreadful performance in Cincinnati's 23-point defeat. The shooting guard shot 3-of-12 from the floor for 11 points while Holloway went for 17 points and six dimes—including two beautiful full-court passes.
After the game-ending brawl, a clearly infuriated and embarrassed Cronin told the media, "If my players don't act the right way, they will never play another game at Cincinnati."
His tough-guy stance indicated that Yancy Gates, who threw several punches during the fight, would never again don a Bearcats uniform. Cronin certainly would have received kudos from most non-Cincy fans, but he didn't back up his words—Gates will return to Cincinnati's lineup after a six-game suspension.
Looks Like Indiana Is Indeed Legitimate
Cody Zeller signed with Tom Crean, and Indiana fans became hopeful of a turnaround. Then, the Hoosiers rolled out to an 8-0 start to 2011-12, but Indiana's easy schedule left many skeptical of the Hoosiers' viability as a legitimate threat in the Big Ten.
Saturday's 73-72 upset of Kentucky confirmed Indiana's legitimacy, though, as the Hoosiers refused to succumb to the No. 1 Wildcats.
Ohio State will be a tough matchup for Indiana, but the Hoosiers can certainly compete with the Wisconsins and Michigans of the Big Ten.
Check out this piece by B/R's Jacob Rude.
Ohio State Needs Jared Sullinger
Though many analysts picked Ohio State to beat Kansas, Saturday's result proved the Buckeyes need Jared Sullinger.
Thomas Robinson scored 21 points on 7-of-9 shooting and the Jayhawks out-rebounded the Buckeyes by three.
Ohio State can survive against Texas-Pan American without Sully, but Thad Matta desperately needs his big man against better opponents.
Harvard Is Resilient
After Harvard fell by 14 points to UConn, Keith Wright tweeted this.
He—unlike Sean Kilpatrick and Mick Cronin—backed up his words on Saturday, when Harvard beat Boston University 76-52. Wright contributed eight points and nine rebounds.
Though Harvard will probably drop out of the AP Top 25, the Crimson proved their resiliency this weekend. They're still one of the best mid-majors in the country.
Gonzaga Has a Way to Go
Two consecutive losses dropped Gonzaga from Bleacher Report's Top 25.
The Bulldogs turned the ball over a combined 35 times against Illinois and Michigan State, and the Fighting Illini and Spartans torched Gonzaga's porous defense—both opponents shot better than 50 percent.
Unlike many other years, the WCC crown and an NCAA tournament berth are not guarantees for Mark Few's team. The Bulldogs will need to bolster their defense and cut down on turnovers if they want to survive against St. Mary's, BYU and the rest of the conference.
Creighton's Not a Top 25 Team... Yet
Yes, Creighton overcame a 17-point deficit at San Diego State, but this weekend proved the Blue Jays are not yet a top 25 team.
Doug McDermott scored 26 points and snatched 10 boards. However, his team scored just 71, tallied 24 total rebounds and lost by nine to St. Joseph's.
McDermott is great—one of the best mid-major players in the country. This team, though, will not be a top 25 team until more players step up because McDermott's torrid start—24 ppg and 60.6 percent three-point shooting—won't persist through March.
It just won't.
Butler Doesn't Have It
You won't see Butler in the Final Four this year, and you might not even see the Bulldogs dance at all. That became clear after Saturday's loss to Ball State dropped Butler to 4-6.
The Bulldogs never would have lost to Ball State with Shelvin Mack, Matt Howard or Gordon Hayward. It just never would have happened.
That's the difference between the runner-up teams and this year's squad—Brad Stevens doesn't have a star or a PTPer, as Dick Vitale would say.
Andrew Smith's size is important to this team and Khyle Marshall could become a star, but neither compares to Mack, Howard and Hayward. Not even close.
The Horizon League is deep this year, and Butler could be in serious trouble.
Herb Pope Is on a Tear
Herb Pope has played himself onto the NBA Draft watch.
The 6'8" senior, who hasn't scored fewer than 16 points in a game this year, is averaging 21.9 points and 11.3 boards.
Pope went for 26 and 14 in Seton Hall's 68-54 win over Wake Forest on Saturday, and the Pirates are 8-1 with wins over VCU and St. Joseph's.
Oregon State Is... Still Oregon State
Yes, Jared Cunningham's torrid start caught the nation's attention, but Oregon State beat a young, rebuilding Texas and lost by two to a Festus Ezeli-less Vanderbilt.
The Beavers proved they're still, well, the Beavers of Oregon State this weekend, losing to Idaho. At home. By 14.
So much for that.