#1 North Carolina 77, Kentucky 59
Anybody who saw this game knows that it wasn't nearly as close as the final score might indicate. Despite the absences of Tyler Hansbrough and Marcus Ginyard, the Tar Heels were up 41-21 late in the first half before cruising to the easy win. But it didn't come without a cost, as 7'1" freshman Tyler Zeller broke his wrist and will be out for the season. The injury hurts, as Zeller looks like a pretty good player, but North Carolina is still deep on the inside even without Hansbrough. Deon Thompson had a great game, with a sick block to go along with 20 points and 9 rebounds. Freshman Ed Davis picked up some of the slack with Zeller gone, with 9 points and 10 rebounds during 23 minutes off the bench. It looks like Hansbrough will be back soon, possibly for their next game (tonight, at UCSB), and that is going to make them every bit the team we expected. The Marcus Ginyard injury really isn't affecting them that much because only North Carolina has a guy like Danny Green ready to start off the bench. To look at Kentucky briefly, this loss wasn't a big surprise. I don't think anybody expected them to come in and win this one. I'm still worried about their team depth, and I want to see something out of them. Some sort of a statement that tells us that they're ready to take the next step. If they don't blow out Delaware State or Longwood over the next week then that Kansas State game (next Saturday, the 29th) becomes even more important. Kentucky cannot struggle out of the gate like they did last year if they want to compete for a good Tournament seed.
#14 Oklahoma 82, #21 Davidson 78
This game is precisely why I don't understand people ranking Davidson so high. Yes, Stephen Curry is a great player. But who else can score? Curry had 50% of the team's field goals, 60% of their three-pointers and 70% of their free throws made. He scored 44 points and they still lost to an Oklahoma team that isn't yet in midseason form. Obviously Oklahoma also depends heavily on a star (Blake Griffin had a monster 25 points and 21 rebounds), but there's no question that they can still win when he isn't at his best. Davidson can't beat anybody who is any good unless Curry is playing out of his mind. And nobody plays at their best every game. People need to also understand that the SoCon is improved this season, and a 20-0 is not a given like it was last year. Don't get me wrong: Davidson is a very good team and they'll be a very scary opponent for anybody in the 2009 Tournament. But they're not a Top 25 team unless somebody else can step up as a good scorer/creator like Jason Richards was last season.
UAB 72, Arizona 71
What can possibly be said about this game that wasn't evident in the pictures of a horrified Russ Pennell as he watched Jamelle Horne intentionally foul Paul Delaney III with 0.8 seconds to go? To me, this game is what we're going to see out of Arizona all season. They unquestionably have Top 25 talent, with two superstars in Chase Budinger and Jordan Hill. But to say they're a team in flux doesn't say enough how big of a mess this program is. And even if this team does sneak into the Tournament despite more stupid mistakes that are sure to come from their young players, what happens to Arizona after Budinger and Hill leave? Nobody can ever take away the success that Lute Olson had at Arizona, but he really left this team in shambles.