#24 Florida 57, #6 Kansas State 44
I've been talking for some time about the fact that Kansas State is overrated. The computers view them as a borderline Top 25 team, and I think that's about right. Kansas State relies far too heavily on streaky outside shooting. Even against a team like Florida that struggles with interior defense, K-State seemed satisfied to launch threes, at a 3-for-19 clip. That said, they still should have won this game. The Gators had 9 more turnovers and 5 fewer offensive rebounds, meaning 14 fewer possessions. No matter how badly a team shoots they'll generally win when they get 14 more possessions. Florida is still a flawed team, and despite this win I don't see the Gators seriously contending in the relatively weak SEC. As for Kansas State, they are likely the third or fourth best team in the Big 12 and they remain in the hunt for a very good Tournament seed. Their next game is Tuesday night against UNLV. Florida moves to 8-2 with this win and a win over Florida State. They have a few cupcakes ahead before heading to Xavier on December 31st. They open SEC play against Ole Miss on January 8th.
West Virginia 74, Cleveland State 63
This was one of the games I was most anticipating this morning, believe it or not. The reason: Cleveland State was probably the biggest enigma in the country. They entered the game 12-0, but without anything close to a quality win. The computers were fairly impressed, but I still wanted to see them play a quality team, and they did acquit themselves pretty well. They struggled a bit with West Virginia's length and athleticism in the post, but the reality is that they won't see a frontcourt like WVA's anywhere in the Horizon League. Cleveland State's guards were very impressive, and I'll be curious to see how they respond on Wednesday against South Florida. If they're as good as the computers think, they should win that game. As for West Virginia, they've gotten lost in the Big East shuffle, and they're quietly 8-2 with wins over Vanderbilt, Duquesne and a 24 point thumping Oakland (looking more impressive now than it did at the time). Their ability to get hot behind the arc means that they should pull off a big upset or two in Big East play, so they should make the NCAA Tournament if they can get to 10-8 in Big East play. They open against St. John's on December 29th.
Texas A&M 71, Arkansas 62, OT
This game was all about intensity. Arkansas came out with fire and took the early lead, and had a nine point second half lead when a fight broke out. That's when Texas A&M woke up from their slumber and flexed their muscles. Once they got the game to overtime Arkansas didn't have a chance - they're just not as talented or as deep. The star for Texas A&M was Khris Middleton, who has been the star all season long. The leading scorer for the Aggies had 31 points on 10-for-16 shooting. Texas A&M is now 10-1 with wins over Washington and Temple, and shouldn't be tested again until they open Big 12 play with the two Oklahoma teams. Arkansas has arguably actually been the best team in the SEC West, although that's not saying much. And it's hard to make too many judgments of them because their schedule has been so soft. That will change rapidly when January rolls around with back-to-back games against Texas and Tennessee. As good as the Arkansas won-loss record is, I just don't see them even getting close to the bubble this season - they're in rebuilding mode.