A number of bizarre things have been going on in the college sports world lately. Wasn't Texas Tech supposed to win the Cotton Bowl and Utah supposed to lose the Sugar Bowl? In basketball, Syracuse wasn't supposed to barely scrape by against 5-8 South Florida yesterday, ‘Nova, I have no words for your loss to Marquette on Thursday, and Baylor, what happened against South Carolina?
And so, with a number of tough matchups on tap for today -- both men and women -- I was certain nothing could surprise me. I was prepared for anything. Key word: was.
Thank you, DeJuan Blair and the Lady Vols for always keeping it interesting.
- No. 3 Pittsburgh and No. 11 Georgetown clashed in one of the most anticipated games of the season. Why? Well, considering Pitt has cruised to an undefeated record, Georgetown recently knocked off No. 2 Connecticut and today's game was a rematch of the last two Big East tournament title games, I think it's obvious. What wasn't obvious, however, was Pitt's 70-54 blowout of the Hoyas on their home court. Three players scored in double-figures for the Panthers, including Blair, who recorded his ninth double-double this season with a team-high 20 points and 17 rebounds. Along with Blair's monstrous game, the Panthers outrebounded Georgetown 46-21. The Hoyas hadn't been whooped this bad at home since an 18-point loss to Temple in 2004, while the Panthers haven't had this good of a start since their 15-0 beginning to the 2005-06 season.
- But while Georgetown lost at home, Minnesota continued to cruise on its own court. The 21st-ranked Golden Gophers downed No. 24 Ohio State 68-59 behind Lawrence Westbrook's 15 points and Minnesota's solid performance on the boards. Coming off its first loss of the season to No. 10 Michigan State on Wednesday, in which the Spartans outrebounded the Golden Gophers 41-22, Minnesota retaliated against the Buckeyes with a 42-30 advantage on the boards.
- On the women's side, "Player of the Day" honors goes, without a doubt, to Renee Montgomery. The point guard dropped 21 points and had six assists to join Diana Taurasi and Jen Rizzotti as the only UConn players to tally 1,500 points have 500 assists in their careers. Oh, and she also led her team to a 76-63 victory over LSU. No. 1 Connecticut had a two-point lead in the second half before Montgomery went off, scoring 10, dishing out three assists and grabbing a steal in an 18-3 run for the Husies. Maya Moore contributed 17 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks, while Tina Charles added another 16 points. Just another double-figure victory for UConn.
- In what has become one of the biggest, if not the biggest rivalry in women's college hoops, No. 8 Tennessee and No. 15 Rutgers battled in New Jersey in a rematch of the 2007 title game (which Tennessee won). And it was quite the show. Pat Summitt's Lady Vols rallied from its biggest deficit in school history to knock off the Scarlet Knights 55-51. Tennessee was behind 33-13 at the half and didn't take the lead until only 1:30 remained in the game when Angie Bjorkland hit a jumper to give the Lady Vols a 51-49 advantage. She then sealed the victory at the charity stripe as the seconds ticked off the clock. Tennessee has won nine of its last 10 meetings with Rutgers, and now, Summitt is just six victories shy of 1,000 career wins.
- While the Lady Vols got it done in New Jersey, their men's team fell in Kansas. With four players scoring in double figures, and guard Sherron Collins leading the way with 26 points and nine assists, the unranked Jayhawks handed No. 18 Tennessee its third loss of the season, 92-85. Kansas shot 51.5 percent from the field and held the lead from the start. Unfortunately for Tennessee, the road ahead may not get any easier as it heads home to take on No. 17 Gonzaga.
- Rough day for the Bulldogs. Though senior captain Terrance Woodbury scored a career-high 27 points, Georgia had almost as many turnovers (23) before succumbing to Missouri 83-76. The home loss drops Georgia's record to 9-5, while Mizzou rolls to 12-2 and its best start in 10 years.
- It's debatable which fact is more surprising here: (A) No. 7 Notre Dame was upset by St. John's 71-65, or (B) Kyle McAlarney went 1-for-5 from three-point range. The Red Storm's Paris Horne shut down the Fighting Irish's shooting ace, while D.J. Kennedy led St. John's in points (20), rebounds (10), assists (4) and steals (2). Despite losing, Luke Harangody managed to put up a game-high 28 points and grab 14 rebounds.
- Poor Rutgers. The men this time. In their toughest stretch of the season - they face the top three teams consecutively - the Scarlet Knights were destroyed by No. 2 Connecticut, 80-49. Though absent from the sidelines (shingles, a cold and an overall yucky feeling) coach Jim Calhoun moved up to seventh among the most winningest coaches in Division I history with 786 victories.