Night Court: The most important game is not what you think it was

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer
Members of the 1963 Loyola NCAA men's basketball championship team cheer on current player Christian Thomas. (AP)

Here's everything you need to know about the night cap of games from Saturday. Want to know how the early stuff panned out? The stats and details and reaction from us? Borzello took Afternoon Delight and did a delightful job with it.

Game of the Night: Florida gagged away a really good road win.

Mark Lyons hit a running, contested, falling-out-of-bounds layup with 7.1 to go. The game was erratic, and Florida should have won, but that's how college basketball teams go on the road and perform sometimes. Florida's still a good club, but was this a learning experience or something of a haunt? If you saw the game, Arizona definitely deserved to lose. It still got slippery with the ball in the final minutes, as Florida was doing its best to give away the game.

Goodman was there and he'll be the one to write long off this one. It will be up on the site soon.

What else we'll be talking about in the morning: Hoops-wise, here's what we should be talking about.

ESPN.com's Dana O'Neil was one of a few writers this week who wrote a tremendous lead-up piece to the 50-year annivesary on the Game of Change. Though it's now been played (Loyola beat Mississippi State, 59-51), I still can't recommend enough for you to go to the official website on this. Mississippi State and Loyola of Chicago played in a very important game five decades ago, and that breakthrough was created again today. It ended then like it did today: Loyola with a win. It's such a proud thing. Something that college basketball's other big games overshadowed, and of course the Newtown, Conn., tragedy has rightfully taken away so much of our reaction and ability to embrace sports this weekend.

Also, Michigan State played host, as the state did for that tournament game in the '60s, to a commemoration game, as the Spartans played Tuskegee, honoring some of the first black aviators in Armed Forces history. Incredible event. One of college hoops' best this year, if not the best. Seriously.

"We've done a lot of neat things, but this kind of tops it all," MSU guard Keith Appling said to the Associated Press afterward. "I'm glad we were able to be a part of it."

That's a good win: Creighton over Cal.

Creighton went into Cal and didn't mess around. Wins like this signal why the Bluejays will be deserving of their inevitable four seed. The final: 74-64. How about this defense? Creighton held Cal's best player, Allen Crabbe, to 6-of-26 from the floor and no 3s. Doug McDermott clicked himself to a cool 34.

Also, one of Cal's players crashed into a cameraman. Ouchie.

But that's a bad loss: Ohi-noooo.

Ohio just eliminated itself from Monday's Power Pyramid. The Bobcats lost at home to Winthrop, 50-49, and in doing so gave Winthrop its first win over a D-I team this season. Awful loss. That's like swigging sour milk. This can happen to teams amid finals and, less frequently, the lead-up to Christmas break (in which players don't really get much of a break at all, really).

Numbers to figure:

  1. 12: The unbeatens remaining. They are Arizona, Cincinnati, Duke, Eastern Kentucky, Illinois, Michigan, New Mexico, Syracuse, Cincy, Michigan, Illini, Wyoming.
  2. 26: The amount of points scored in a game tonight by a Division I basketball team. USC beat UC Riverside 70-26. This should never happen.

Other outcomes of note:

  • Gonzaga gets back on a good track by breezing past K-State, 68-52, in Seattle. Zags will be fine. Bruce Weber's new team isn't dancing this year, though. Call it too early and whatnot, but I'm not seeing it.
  • Anthony Grant did his former team, VCU, a solid by agreeing to play the Rams on the road. Problem is, Shaka Smart's VCU group is better than Grant's Alabama club. Result: 73-54, Rams.
  • Random: Michigan played in Brooklyn Saturday night for a winter classic of sorts. Against who? West Virginia, naturally. The Mountaineers didn't have Aaric Murray and promptly lost 81-66.
  • A big game for small teams: South Dakota State earned a 68-67 overtime win at Montana. Both teams could very well be tournament teams this year.

Notebook:

-- If there's another must-link here aside from the Game of Change one from above, it's gotta be Jim Boeheim going tête-à-tête with the local media over the Michael Carter-Williams shoplift bust from last weekend. Syracuse beat Canisius 85-61, and then of course nobody wanted to talk about that. So Boeheim makes reference to the Bernie Fine stuff as well. And realignment. And his upcoming 900th win which he doesn't give a damn about. All in all, sounds like an all-timer, which is saying something for Boeheim.

-- Quiet reminder that Dayton is now 8-2. Two more wins and you'll start to hear more about the Flyers, I'm guessing.

-- Wow. Georgia is 2-7 after losing 81-78 in overtime at home to skiddish Iona. Mark Fox may not be coaching this team next season. Definitely won't if Georgia doesn't get to 15 wins.

-- Gonzaga's now 3-0 against the Big 12 this season and still has two more games against the league left.

-- This is cool. Hornsby's son plays for UNC-Asheville, thus:

-- The other half of the fantastic Crossroads Classic ended with Notre Dame winning 81-68 over Purdue.

 
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