By Gary Parrish
Here’s everything you need to know about Wednesday's slate of college basketball games …
Game of the day: North Carolina trailed by eight in the second half and seemed set to lose to the team that Duke lost to before the Blue Devils beat UNC last week, which is to say, Miami. But the Tar Heels closed on a 37-20 run and won 73-64. Harrison Barnes finished with a game-high 23 points for the No. 8 Tar Heels. UNC is now tied in the loss column atop the ACC standings with Duke and Florida State.
Win to brag about: New Mexico got the quality win it needed at No. 13 San Diego State. The final score was 77-67. It was UNM's first victory all season over a currently ranked opponent, and now Steve Alford's team is alone atop the MWC standings heading into Saturday's showdown with No. 11 UNLV.
Loss to hide from: Illinois lost 67-62 at home to Purdue, and that's not something Bruce Weber could afford at this point in his career. The Illini coach is a good man in a tough spot. He's lost seven of his past eight, is probably on the wrong side of the bubble as I type, and, barring something wild, I'm not sure he's gonna be able to survive this. Weber entered the season on the hot seat. It's never been hotter than it is right now.
Player who deserves improper benefits: Marcus Denmon got 17 points on 10 shots in Missouri's 83-65 victory over Oklahoma State. The senior guard is averaging 21.8 points per game in No. 3 Mizzou's past four wins. He could be -- and probably should be -- a first-team All-American.
Players who do not deserve improper benefits: SMU is a Division I school that awards scholarships and everything, and yet the Mustangs could only muster 28 points in a 47-28 loss to UAB. The four starters not named Robert Nyakundi were a combined 2-of-24 from the field. That's ridiculous. SMU shot 17.4 percent from the field and 10.3 percent from 3-point range. That's also ridiculous.
Numbers don’t lie
- 9: That's the number of losses outside of But Walton Arena Arkansas has after its 77-58 loss at Tennessee. The Hogs are 0-9 outside of Bud Walton Arena, and five of those losses have come by double-digits. Meantime, the Hogs are 17-0 inside Bud Walton Arena.
- 9: That's the number of Big East wins USF has after its 65-51 victory over Villanova. The Bulls are 16-10 overall, 9-4 in the league. They're not quite on the bubble yet, but a strong finish to the regular season could get them there.
- 20: That's the number of wins 18th-ranked Indiana has after its 71-66 victory over Northwestern. It's the first time Tom Crean has won 20 games in his four seasons at Indiana, and it comes with five regular season games still left to play.
Three other notable results
- Iona beat Rider 75-62 to move to 13-2 in the MAAC and remain alone atop the league standings. Two more league wins and the Gaels will be the outright champions regardless of what happens elsewhere.
- Southern Miss trailed late in regulation but forced OT and managed to beat Tulsa 77-69 to remain in a tie with Memphis atop the Conference USA standings. Both teams are 9-2 in C-USA.
- No. 23 Notre Dame beat Rutgers 71-53 to improve to 10-3 in the Big East. The Irish are tied for second in the Big East with Marquette. Both schools are two games back of Syracuse in the loss column.
- Mount St. Mary's announced it has placed coach Robert Burke on administrative leave, which is a fancy way of saying he's been fired. Burke was 17-40 in two seasons. Assistant Matt Henry is the interim coach.
- Nate Wolters scored at least 30 points for the fifth time this season in South Dakota State's 80-57 win over North Dakota State. The junior guard finished with 30 points and five assists. He made 14-of-18 shots.
- Murray State clinched its third straight Ohio Valley Conference title with a 75-66 win over Southeast Missouri State. The 16th-ranked Racers are 25-1 overall, 13-1 in the OVC. Next up is Saturday's showdown with No. 21 St. Mary's. I'll be there. Can't wait.
On tap: No. 15 Wisconsin at No. 7 Michigan State highlights Thursday's schedule of games. No. 5 Duke and No. 20 Florida are also in action. Duke plays N.C. State while FSU gets Virginia Tech. Both need to win to keep pace with UNC in the ACC.