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Weekend Look Ahead: St. Mary's-Murray State best of BracketBusters

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Is St. Mary's at Murray State what we hoped it would be?

No.

A few losses screwed it up.

But it's still great and worthy of leading the Weekend Look Ahead.

Top game: It was supposed to be the highlight of BracketBuster weekend, and still is, I guess. But I liked this game better when it looked like the future WCC champ (Saint Mary's) would be visiting the nation's lone undefeated team (Murray State). Now there's no guarantee that SMC will be the WCC champ considering the Gaels have dropped two of their past three. And Murray State lost to Tennessee State last week, meaning they're no longer undefeated. So this matchup has lost some of its luster and a lot of its hype. But it's still Matthew Dellavedova -- if he plays -- vs. Isaiah Canaan, and a pair of teams capable of advancing to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament squaring off. So I can't wait to get there, sit courtside and watch it unfold.

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Another interesting matchup: The assumption is that either Michigan State or Ohio State will win the Big Ten, but Michigan still has a chance -- especially if the 17th-ranked Wolverines can upset the sixth-ranked Buckeyes on Sunday. The good news for Michigan is that the game is at the Crisler Center, where the Wolverines are undefeated. The bad news for Michigan is that Jared Sullinger still plays for Ohio State.

Yet another interesting matchup: Two Mountain West schools have been ranked most of this season but the school currently atop the league standings has not. That's probably changing Monday regardless of what happens when UNLV visits New Mexico. But it's definitely happening if the Lobos back their Wednesday victory over No. 13 San Diego State with a Saturday victory over the 11th-ranked Rebels.

Guaranteed to be a blowout: Clemson is 0-55 all-time at North Carolina. This Clemson team is 13-12 and unranked. This North Carolina team is 22-4 and ranked eighth. I could write more but I think you know what's happening Saturday in Chapel Hill.

Guaranteed to be an upset: Arkansas is 17-0 at Bud Walton Arena. Florida is 3-5 in away games. So what the hell? Give me the unranked Hogs over the 14th-ranked Gators on Saturday in Florida assistant John Pelphrey's return to Fayetteville.

Player trying to keep rolling: I'm not sure how Jeff Withey became impossible to guard and keep off the boards, but that's pretty much what he has been lately. The 7-foot center is averaging 20.3 points and 12 rebounds in Kansas' past three games. If he keeps this up, the fourth-ranked Jayhawks will cruise past Texas Tech on Saturday, and then we'll have to start debating whether Withey should replace Thomas Robinson as KU's National Player of the Year candidate. (Not really, but you get the point.)

Player trying to get rolling: Arnett Moultrie has averaged 11 points and 8.5 rebounds in Mississippi State's past two games, which isn't bad. But it's not the 16.5 points and 10.8 rebounds he's averaging for the season, and perhaps that's why the Bulldogs have dropped two straight heading into Saturday's game at Auburn.

Three things you need to know

1. A Kentucky win over Mississippi combined with a Florida loss at Arkansas will allow the top-ranked Wildcats to clinch at least a share of the SEC regular-season title ... on Feb. 18. Has a power conference championship ever been clinched this early in the modern era? I don't know the answer, but I doubt it.

2. Connecticut will play its fifth game since Jim Calhoun took a leave of absence for health reasons on Saturday when the Huskies host No. 12 Marquette. UConn is 2-2 under acting coach George Blaney with wins over Seton Hall and DePaul and losses to Louisville and Syracuse.

3. My colleague Matt Norlander is in Indianapolis experiencing the 834th annual mock bracket gathering, and late Thursday they established that in this hypothetical world Kentucky would be the No. 1 overall seed. The overall seeds after that in order were Syracuse, Missouri and Ohio State.

Final thought: I must admit, it took longer than I anticipated. But on Thursday night, finally, we got our first public confrontation between Jelan Kendrick and one of Jelan Kendrick's Ole Miss teammates, and the Knucklehead Rule has struck again. For those unfamiliar, Kendrick is the McDonald's All-American who was such a mess after enrolling at Memphis that Josh Pastner dismissed him from the team before he ever played a game. Kendrick fought with teammates, argued with everybody and was basically just crazy. He subsequently landed at Ole Miss because Ole Miss was in no position to turn down a McDonald's All-American. Andy Kennedy had to gamble on the problematic talent. So he did. And it hasn't gone all that well.

The 6-foot-7 freshman is averaging 4.5 points per game.

He was 0 of 6 from the field in Thursday's loss to Vanderbilt.

Then he got into a public altercation with teammate Reginald Buckner.

The incident serves as the latest example that hotheads rarely change, and as a reminder that character matters. Again, I don't blame Kennedy for taking Kendrick because the natural gifts were worth the gamble for a program like Ole Miss. But this was always most likely to turn out this way. Anybody surprised is foolish, naive or unaware of the Knucklehead Rule.


Gary Parrish is a senior college basketball columnist for CBSSports.com and frequent contributor to the CBS Sports Network. The Mississippi native also hosts the highest-rated sports talk radio show -- The Gary Parrish Show -- in the history of Memphis. He lives in that area with his wife, two children and a dog.
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