By Matt Norlander
Here’s everything you need to know about Thursday night’s slate of games …
Game of the Night: Don’t know if Rutgers is a tournament team — I don’t think it is — but it won an 85-83 double overtime game against Florida, which is a club many still believe is Final Four-caliber. It was Rutgers’ second win against a top-10 team at the RAC this year. (It defeated Villanova in February, which feels like five years ago, since ’Nova’s essentially trended down ever since that loss.)
Win to brag about: I hope Vandy’s 74-57 win gets as much credit as it should, because it’s damn impressive. It was also the first win over a ranked team this year for the ’Dores. Is this the signal of an ascendance for Vandy? Wouldn’t shock me. I can’t quit this team. As for Marquette: Bad loss. Really bad. Get to conference play and right yourself.
Loss to hide from: Losing at Belmont isn’t really hide-worthy, but Marshall falling 79-74 … I can’t help but feel this will amount to keeping the Herd on short list of teams that JUST miss The Tournament. Bruins aren’t an easy win, but Marshall needs to take one or two of these to prove it belongs.
Player who deserves improper benefits: Rutgers guard Eli Carter went for 31 points in 46 minutes and placed himself in the race for making a Big East team at season’s end. Carter was so much fun to watch. Without him, Rutgers falls, no question.
Player who does not deserve improper benefits: Every Florida guard who relented to old tricks: chucking up shots and thinking for themselves instead of optimizing Voltron (Patric Young) sooner. UF will put itself in much better position if its first options on offense are Young and using Erik Murphy in different spots.
Numbers don’t lie
- 85. Washington hit 17-of-20, 85 percent, of its free throws to pace itself to a 95-80 win over a game Oregon State.
- 0. Grambling State remains miserable and winless, loses to LSU and doesn’t crack 40 points (69-37), further emphasizing college basketball’s problem this season.
- 25. UNC has now won 25 straight at home, the longest streak since 1994 and also the longest streak in program history, surprisingly.
- 4. Four straight years Harvard’s defeated Boston College. The Crimson schooled B.C. 67-46.
Three other notable results
- Here’s a Valley result worth sharing. Illinois State is no pushover. It starts 1-0 in conference play with a 65-61 home win against Northern Iowa. The Valley chase is going to be terrific.
- Cashmere Wright. The Cincinnati guard took over down the stretch (he got away with an obvious travel while doing it), helping the Bearcats steal one away from Oklahoma, which doesn’t know how to win a slippery one on the road yet. Bearcats 56, Oklahoma 55.
- Stanford won a thriller in its Pac-12 opener against UCLA, 60-59. The Bruins had a chance to win it at the end, but Lazeric Jones -- a Bruin I love and one who scored 26 tonight -- was blocked by Josh Huestis with three seconds to go.
- I love late-starting West Coast Conference hoops. Saint Mary’s-BYU was good in the first half ... then SMC ran away with it, 98-82. BYU begins its WCC life 0-1 and really plenty of speculation about how good this team actually is surrounds the Cougars. Saint Mary's had a bad non-con, but it will likely make a tournament run.
- Iona will fall from the top of the Power Pyramid Monday. It’s final game of a nine-game stretch away from home ended in a loss, an 83-75 one against Hofstra.
- Memphis won 64-47 against Robert Morris tonight, which is a result that’s much more reassuring than most would believe. Bob Morris can play. Memphis needed this definitive kind of win. Stop looking at me like that.
- Tonight was Fordham’s first win against an ACC team. The Rams defeated Georgia Tech, 72-66.
On tap: Missouri at Old Dominion (ESPNU, 7 ET) is a sneaky one. George Mason is at College of Charleston in what amounts to Friday’s best mid-major battle. Don’t be surprised if Dayton runs Ole Miss out of the gym. (The game is in Dayton.) West Virginia travels to Seton Hall (ESPN2, 9 ET).