Ohio State-Wisconsin lived up to the hype.
Norris Cole went crazy.
And the Knucklehead Rule remained undefeated.
Let's recap all of it and more with the Weekend Look Back.
Best game of the weekend: The matchup was hyped all week and almost every national media outlet sent a representative. Then Ohio State took a 15-point lead, the Kohl Center grew quiet, and some of us started wondering whether it was reasonable to now seriously suggest an undefeated season is possible, at which point Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor went bananas and sparked a 30-8 run that led to Saturday's 71-67 win over the top-ranked Buckeyes. "It was unbelievable what he was able to do in such a short period of time," said teammate Jon Leuer, at which point -- as a fan of The Office -- I was tempted to drop a "That's what she said." Instead, I just wrote a column about Taylor's unbelievable performance and pointed out how the Cousy Award really messed up by not naming him one of 10 finalists.
Worst game of the weekend: A mismatch that never was supposed to be close never was close, and it didn't matter that Kansas played without injured standouts Josh Selby and Thomas Robinson. The Jayhawks still led Iowa State 45-26 at the half and won 89-66. Hopefully Kansas State can provide a stiffer challenge for Bill Self's team. Otherwise, Monday night will be boring.
|Philly guy Brad Wanamaker gets off a shot against 'Nova in Pitt's big win. (Getty Images)|
Loss to hide from: There's nothing wrong with losing to Georgia (or even losing to Georgia at home). But falling behind by 19 at the half is unacceptable, especially when you're down by 19 after 20 minutes because you only scored nine points in the first half like South Carolina only scored nine points in the first half Saturday. The good news for the Gamecocks is that they scored more than five times as many points in the second half. The bad news is that they still lost 60-56.
Player who deserves improper benefits: "Norris Cole could play for anybody," is something West Virginia coach Bob Huggins told me before his Mountaineers played Cleveland State earlier this season. I believed it then, and now I really believe it after Cole got 41 points, 20 rebounds and nine assists in Saturday's 86-76 win over Youngstown State. To put this in perspective, consider that Youngstown State didn't have any two players combine for that many points or any three players combine for that many rebounds.
Player who does not deserve improper benefits: Ravern Johnson missed five of the six shots he took and finished with a season-low three points in Mississippi State's 65-62 loss at Auburn. This marked Johnson's return from the two-game suspension he received after using Twitter to criticize what the Bulldogs run on offense. After Saturday's performance, he has no room to talk.
Why I'm smarter than you think: My Knucklehead Rule went 2-0 this weekend. First on Saturday afternoon, Seton Hall announced longtime knucklehead Keon Lawrence has been dismissed from the team. Then late Sunday night, former Kentucky knucklehead DeMarcus Cousins reportedly got into a fight with Sacramento Kings teammate Donte Greene, and now he's listed as "inactive" while the Kings decide whether to suspend him. Like I've always said, once a knucklehead almost always a knucklehead. And when I finally trademark the Knucklehead Rule, Cousins will be my logo just like Jerry West is the NBA logo. Bet that.
|More college hoops|
Why I'm dumber than I think: I wrote a column early this season about the strength of the Mountain West and suggested Colorado State would be good and even better than last season but still finish no better than fourth in the league. Saturday's 68-62 win over New Mexico pushed the Rams to 17-7 overall, 7-3 in the MWC. That's good enough to put them all alone in third of the MWC -- 1.5 games ahead of fourth-place UNLV -- and it might be enough to get Tim Miles into his first NCAA tournament.
Three things you should know before you go
1. Nolan Smith's push to challenge BYU's Jimmer Fredette and Ohio State's Jared Sullinger for National Player of the Year took another positive step Sunday. The senior guard got 18 points and five assists in Duke's 81-71 win at Miami. He's scored at least 18 in 22 consecutive games.
2. Missouri State and Wichita State both won Saturday and both improved to 12-3 in the Missouri Valley Conference. It's looking more and more like the regular-season finale between the two schools on Feb. 26 will decide the league title.
3. Marquette lost 69-60 at Georgetown on Sunday, after which the blog Cracked Sidewalks put things in perspective. Because I'm the man who continues to rank Marquette despite 10 losses, I enjoyed the post that details how almost nobody (except Pittsburgh, of course) wins road games against Top 25 RPI teams. Seriously, check it out and be enlightened. (Hat tip to the blog Ballin' is a Habit for bringing it to my attention.)
On tap: Kansas is at Kansas State on Monday night. Tuesday, Michigan State is at Ohio State. Wednesday, Georgetown is at Connecticut. Thursday, Washington State is at Arizona.
Final thought: Illinois coach Bruce Weber made headlines Friday when he told a radio show in Chicago that Demetri McCamey's recent struggles -- and by extension, the Illini's recent struggles, including Sunday's home loss to Purdue -- can be attributed to "the runners, the agents, the third-party people."
"They're all telling him he's an All-American and this and that," Weber said. "Then he stopped coming in to work hard and ... [do] all the stuff you need to do."
Do I believe this is true?
I have no reason to doubt Weber, and you'd be foolish to think runners and agents didn't begin making a move on McCamey after his strong start to the season, though the more likely scenario is that it began much earlier. If McCamey really stopped working, shame on him. But the reason I can't sympathize with Weber is because runners and agents are in the ears of players at every relevant basketball program, meaning Ohio State's Thad Matta, Texas' Rick Barnes, Kansas' Bill Self, Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, North Carolina's Roy Williams and all sorts of other people are dealing with the exact same issue.
There's nothing unique about the Illinois situation.
In fact, it's typical. So though I'm willing to call it a reason, I'm hesitant to accept it as an excuse. Truth is, if you don't have runners and agents around your program, you're probably not that good.