Let’s face it- most games go as predicted. You can usually look at the prediction at www.kenpom.com and the home team will win as expected unless the visiting team is ranked 40 spots above them. So we focus here on “game changers,” just the games that change where teams are projected to be seeded, etc. Here are the six results with the biggest impact tonight in order:
||at Kansas State
||at Wake Forest
1. Alabama. Preseason www.valueaddbasketball.com ranked Alabama 30th and Kentucky 18th, which would make Alabama the favorite at home. Kentucky was almost exactly where we predicted at 16th in www.kenpom.com coming into the game, but Alabama was a disappointing 66th and projected to miss the tournament and be a 4-point underdog on their home court. Being able to beat the projection by eight points to pull out a huge 4-point win could put the Tide back on track to make the tournament.
2. Villanova. Even as the road team, No. 2 Louisville was a 14 point favorite over No. 81 Villanova. It would still be a long-shot for Villanova to make the tournament, but Louisville will need to bounce back to get back in line for a No. 1 seed.
3. Kansas. The Jayhawks were a 5-point favorite and won by four, so about what was expected. But that was a small and crucial margin of error visiting their rival for first place in the tough Big 12, so this is a huge win in a dangerous place for a 16th straight win to look every bit like a No. 1 seed and national contender.
4. Michigan State. The Spartans were a 5-point underdog going into Wisconsin to face a Badgers team that had just stunned the Hoosiers in Indiana. The huge 2-point win for 18th ranked Michigan State against the 15th ranked Badgers is key for seeds.
5. Illinois. While the Illini was favored to win by four at No. 151 Nebraska, the fact that they were able to blow them out by 20 points was key to stop the bleeding for a team that started like a top 10 team but had fallen to No. 60 before the game.
6. Wake Forest. At No. 138, Wake Forest will not make the tournament, but like Villanova they were able to hurt a conference opponent. At No. 29, NC State was expected to pull off a 7-point road win and instead dropping a game hurts their seeding chances.
7. Houston Baptist. OK, the 334th team going on the road and upsetting the 306th best team is hardly news, except that Houston Baptist had lost eight straight and looked like the might have never won again before going into Missouri-Kansas City today.