#15 Notre Dame 69, #6 Georgetown 55
Everything was clicking for Notre Dame in this one, and they did a great job of grinding this game out against Georgetown. The Hoyas always play tough defense, and Notre Dame just kept hitting their shots, from the field and at the line. The Irish are now 12-1 with only that loss to Kentucky, and wins versus Wisconsin, Georgetown, Cal, Gonzaga and Georgia. Looking at the talent on the team I wouldn't think that they can win the Big East title, and I'm certainly not going to project them right now to finish higher than about fourth, but in no way can we count them out. Mike Brey has done a tremendous job finding the players that fit his system, and getting them to minimize their errors. As for Georgetown, this is not the way they wanted to start Big East play, but you can't be shocked at losing a game once in a while on the road against a quality opponent. Nobody is going to go undefeated in the Big East this season. The Hoyas have a relatively easy stretch coming up before playing Pitt at home on January 12th. They are still a serious contender for the Big East title.
#24 Wisconsin 68, #13 Minnesota 60
Wisconsin did well here to hold off a Minnesota team that the past few years has given them trouble because of their length and size, but it's a result that I expected. Wisconsin isn't too underrated at 24th, but Minnesota is way overrated at 13th. Like UConn, they won a couple of good games at an early season tropical tournament and then cruised through mostly cupcakes. They are a Tournament quality team, but more like the sixth or seventh best team in the Big Ten. The Gophers have to be ready to bounce right back, however, with a road game at Michigan State up on New Year's Eve. If they lose that one then they'll presumably beat Indiana at home, but then will head to Ohio State with a severe chance of falling to 1-3 in the Big Ten. Their schedule will ease up after that, but there is always a risk of a team falling apart mentally during a losing streak in conference. As for Wisconsin, they are always nearly unbeatable at home, and the difference between a good season and a bad season for them is winning on the road. They'll get a great test next, heading to Illinois on January 2nd. They also have a road game at Michigan State coming up on January 11th, but I actually think Illinois will be the tougher task for Wisconsin based on the personnel and the homecourt advantage.
Rhode Island 67, Boston College 65
This was a bizarre game from Boston College. They are usually so fundamentally sound, and inexpicably played terribly here. They committed 18 turnovers in this game and shot only 69% from the line. Even after this game they're still 10th in the nation in offensive turnover percentage, and are hitting over 75% at the line, so this was just one of those days. Weird things happen to major conference teams over holiday break, getting ready for conference play. Rhode Island took advantage, getting themselves into a better position for an at-large run. Other than this win their best victory was over Drexel, and they have losses to UIC and Quinnipiac, so they've got ground to make up. They head to Florida on January 3rd, but even with a victory there they'll need to go at least 12-4 in Atlantic Ten play to have a realistic shot at an at-large bid. Boston College has a bad loss to Yale, but they have wins over Texas A&M, Maryland, Cal, Providence and Indiana. They still have to head to South Carolina, and a win there will help them make the case to earn an at-large bid if they only go 10-6 or 9-7 in ACC play.