West Virginia ended Portland's marvelous run in the 76 Classic, but not until the Pilots turned themselves into the talk of Feast Week.
Handing Ben Howland the worst loss of his UCLA tenure will do that.
Portland (5-1) had already beaten Oregon this season, but cemented itself as one of the mid-majors the big boys want to avoid after demolishing the Bruins and edging Minnesota on back-to-back nights.
The Pilots may not be done surprising BCS schools, either. A Dec. 19 trip to Washington remains before they turn their attention to the WCC schedule. Looks like Gonzaga, San Diego and St. Mary's have some competition.
Speaking of the Zags, they're in 5 Things to Watch this week. But first, the ACC-Big Ten Challenge awaits.
|Deon Thompson and Draymond Green fight for a rebound in the 2009 NCAA championship.
Is this the Big Ten's year?
The ACC has won this event every year, which is a little ridiculous. Sure, the ACC is lauded as the better conference, but even if that's true – because that's debatable – how has the Big Ten never won this thing?
It's come down to one game five times in 10 seasons, including last year's event, which the ACC took 6-5. Can the ACC really win 'em all?
Virginia-Penn State kicks off the event on Monday (ESPN2). Five more follow on Tuesday and Wednesday. The biggies – the title rematch between UNC and Michigan State, Wake Forest vs. Purdue, Clemson vs. Illinois, B.C. vs. Michigan and Duke vs. Wisconsin – land on both days, so watch both nights. (A complete schedule is here.)
So who wins?
This season's been strange. Michigan's dropped two straight, UNC has struggled and N.C. State is unbeaten. That's me saying "Could Minnesota lose at Miami? You bet." If the home teams all win, the Big Ten takes it. (The Only Colors has more on the home game issues for the Big Ten.)
But that would mean Duke losing to Wisconsin, Maryland losing to Indiana and Virginia Tech falling to Iowa. All three of those are hard to swallow. If the ACC can't pull off all three of those wins though … this is the year. So keep an eye on the Duke-Wisconsin game. That winner takes the event.
A day to remember
That last batch of ACC-Big Ten games aren't the only hoops action to watch on Wednesday. There are at least 11 other intriguing games you should pay attention, if not head to the nearest sports bar with the most screens available.
All the games are listed below (all times ET), with a short reason why you should care.
Arkansas at Oklahoma, 8 p.m. (revenge game for Sooners)
Cal at New Mexico, 9 p.m. (6-0 Lobos will be handful for Bears)
Missouri at Vanderbilt, 9:30 p.m. (Important game come bubble time for both)
Siena at Georgia Tech, 7 p.m. (
GaelsSaints could use the résumé boost)
Dayton at Miami, Ohio, 7 p.m. (Flyers can't afford to lose one to my favorite quote)
Pittsburgh at Duquense, 7 p.m. (Not really an "away game" but a good one)
Western Kentucky vs. South Carolina, 7 p.m. (Hilltoppers pull the upset)
Northern Iowa vs. Iowa State, 8 p.m. (Mo Valley's best against future pro Craig Brackins)
Oklahoma State at Tulsa, 8 p.m. (Cowboys will have hands full against Jerome Jordan)
UNLV at Arizona, 9 p.m. (Rebs just beat Louisville,
Cards'Cats are next)
Washington State at Gonzaga, 9 p.m. (This one needs more than one line)
A reason to stay up late
East Coasters should do themselves a favor and find this game on the tube. How often do you get to see tournament winners matchup like this? The Zags just won the Maui Invitational, while the Cougs took the Great Alaska shootout.
Gonzaga's already been through the wringer against the BCS schools, but this one's a little different. Wazzu may as well be a cross-town rival since they play pretty much every year. The Cougs took games in 2006 and '07, but that's about it.
Can Klay Thompson – he of the 43-point performance against San Diego – carry the Cougs, or will Gonzaga's big men wear down Washington State? I say stay up late and see.
The race for 2,000
Hoopheads and fans of Kentucky and North Carolina can't wait to see which school reaches 2,000 career victories first. (More on that here.)
But Saturday allows the two to go head-to-head – and maybe even let UNC make up a little ground (the Heels are four behind through Sunday). And rest assured, Big Blue Nation badly wants to win this one.
For starters, it's at Rupp Arena. The Heels have won the last five (dating back to 2004) and hold the overall edge, 21-10. Also, a loss would likely be Kentucky's first of the season (it plays UNC Asheville Monday), and would cut into its overall lead.
Those reasons are more than enough to motivate the 'Cats.
Another blue blood showdown
No. 1 Kansas travels to Westwood to face the reeling Bruins on Sunday, but it could be a slightly different UCLA squad than we've seen thus far.
The Bruins (2-4) are coming off a loss to Long Beach State and have a week to prepare to prepare for KU. They'll be motivated, ready – few coaches prepare for a foe better than Howland – and should finally have freshman Tyler Honeycutt. He missed the first six games with a stress reaction in his right leg and gives them an inside presence they desperately need.
Still, this is Kansas. Even if Cole Aldrich has an off-day, the Jayhawks can throw wave after wave of players at the Bruins. Mostly, it'll be another good test for Bill Self's squad, which has beaten up on inferior opponents at home (they've beaten Hofstra, Central Arkansas, Oakland and Tennessee Tech by an average of 39 points) and escaped against Memphis on a neutral court.
Which Jayhawk team shows up Sunday?