Posted by Ryan Clark at 2:34AM

Top 25 Action

#11 Texas Longhorns 78, Baylor Bears 72 – The Longhorns escaped Waco with their 23rd consecutive win over Baylor, leaning on a nineteen point night from sharpshooter A.J. Abrams. The senior guard was hot early, but went through long stretches of absolute silence, including a nine-minute scoreless bout to open the second half. Damion James logged another double-double in the winning effort, posting a line of fourteen and twelve. Full post-game thoughts and numbers will be headed your way this afternoon.

#16 Purdue Boilermakers 64, Wisconsin Badgers 63 – He only had eight total points on the night, but Robbie Hummel provided three huge ones when he hit the go-ahead trifecta with a minute left to propel Purdue to their fifth-straight win. Meanwhile, the Badgers continued their free fall through the standings, suffering their fifth consecutive loss. It was also their third loss this season at the friendly confines of the Kohl Center after posting an impressive 113-7 home record during Coach Bo Ryan’s first eight years in Madison.

Mississippi Rebels 85, #24 Kentucky Wildcats 80 – It was a rough welcome to the Top 25 for Kentucky, who lost their first game since cracking the poll on Monday. David Huertas dropped 21 for the Rebs — nineteen of them in the second half — to earn their first victory in ten tries against the Wildcats. The loss was the first conference blemish for Kentucky, who still holds the half-game lead over Tennessee, a team they soundly beat on the road earlier this month.

Big 12 Games

Colorado Buffaloes 55, Iowa State Cyclones 49 – Jeff Bzdelik and the Buffaloes shook the monkey off their back last night, winning their first conference game and climbing into a four-way tie for most futile team in the Big 12. Despite allowing Iowa State a robust 48% success rate from the field, Colorado was able to claim the home victory by sinking seven more free throws than their opponents. Craig Brackins once again led the way for the ‘Clones, dropping in 24 points in the losing effort. The performance marked the seventh time in his last nine games that Brackins has cracked the 20-point plateau.

Posted by Ryan Clark at 12:50PM

If you had a chance to watch the Davidson/Oklahoma NIT regional final last night, you may have been watching the two best players in the country go back and forth. Perhaps it’s a bit of hyperbole, but it’s tough to not gush when watching Blake Griffin dominate with a sick line of 25/20 against a Davidson team led by Stephen Curry‘s 44 points. As a Texas fan, I’m certainly not looking forward to the combo of Little Griffin, Big Griffin, and Willie Warren twice this year, but am looking forward to seeing Curry and the Wildcats take on West Virginia in person just before the Horns play Villanova.

The Texas cities making bids for the Final Four went two for three earlier today, when the NCAA named Arlington and Houston future Final Four sites. The 2014 event will be held at the new Cowboys space station out in Arlington, while Reliant in Houston will follow up their 2011 Final Four with another in 2016. San Antonio was one of five cities whose bids were not selected.

It seemed that perhaps Ole Miss could make a run as a darkhorse NCAA candidate with the SEC having a bit of a down year. But after losing Trevor Gaskins at the start of the year, the Rebels took another huge blow when junior guard and leader Eniel Polynice had season-ending knee surgery. It’s a tough break for Andy Kennedy and the Rebs, who were bringing in a serviceable freshman class to compliment the nucleus of a team that started 13-0 last year.

Posted by Ryan Clark at 4:30PM

With the quartet of 1-seeds now set for next weekend’s Final Four in San Antonio, attention has turned to breaking down the teams, match-ups, and storylines surrounding Kansas, North Carolina, UCLA, and Memphis. But lost amidst the hype on the Riverwalk are a pair of games being played tonight in New York…games that could offer a glimpse into the future.

Once a proud post-season tournament, the NIT is now something of a March afterthought. But since the NCAA took charge of the tournament in the 2006 season, the “other” Final Four could be seen as a stepping stone to future post-season success. In the two NIT tournaments run by the NCAA, five of the eight semifinalists were selected to the following year’s NCAA tournament. And with the rebuilding Buckeyes and Baby Gators in tonight’s semis, chances are quite good that this group of teams could make some noise next March.

Ricky Harris is hungry for an NIT title
(Photo credit: Kevin Rivoli/Associated Press)

UMass matches up with that young Florida team in tonight’s first semifinal, tipping off at 6 P.M. The Minutemen are the semifinal team that looks least likely to go on to future NCAA success, but their balanced scoring attack means that they might not see too big of a drop-off as they head into the 2008-09 Atlantic 10 season. Both Ricky Harris and Chris Lowe will be returning after a year in which they’ve averaged more than 10 points per game, and the addition of point guard David Gibbs could keep things running smoothly.

While Ole Miss has a fairly large recruiting class, their collection of 3- and 4-star talent ranks that class quite low in the SEC. But with freshman Chris Warren leading the team in scoring at 15.7 points per game, next year’s Rebels could build upon an 07-08 season in which they started with 13 consecutive wins. Sophomores David Huertas and Eniel Polynice should also provide some veteran leadership in next year’s backcourt, but Ole Miss will need to address their issues in the post to parlay this year’s success into future rewards.

Nick Calathes is already a star for the Baby Gators
(Photo credit: Matt York/Associated Press)

The crown jewels in tonight’s semifinals are Ohio State and Florida, the two teams who met in last year’s NCAA championship. With both teams being hit hard by early entries, the 2007-08 year has been something of a rebuilding season. But despite the fact that these two teams have a combined 19 underclassmen on their rosters, both were in bubble discussion until the 11th hour this March.

While coaches Thad Matta and Billy Donovan certainly earned their paychecks by performing admirably with such young teams this year, the future looks even brighter. Florida and Ohio State have incoming recruiting classes that are currently ranked 5th and 6th nationally by Rivals.com, and both are being considered by numerous studs in the 2009 class as well.

So, if you’re not in the mood for baseball quite yet, tune in tonight to catch some quality teams playing for their own post-season glory. There are certainly some future stars in this bunch, and you can get an early glimpse at some teams that will be making noise next year.

Tonight’s NIT schedule:
Massachusetts (24-10) vs. Florida (24-11) – 6 PM CDT, ESPN2
Mississippi (24-10) vs. Ohio State (22-13) – 8 PM CDT, ESPN2

Posted by Ryan Clark at 6:08AM

Sure, there might be bowl games on today, but there’s wall-to-wall hoops action on ESPN2 and some local action on FSN for those in the south. A full listing of games on tap can be found a few paragraphs down, but for now let’s get to scores and news from the college basketball world.

Butler survived a scare at Southern Illinois, beating the Salukis on A.J. Graves’ 28-foot buzzer beater. It was only the fifth loss in the last 87 home games for SIU, who fell to a disappointing 5-6 mark with the defeat. Butler, meanwhile, is only one win away from running the table in their non-conf slate, having only lost to Horizon League foe Wright State.

Ole Miss is still undefeated! The Rebs knocked off Southern Miss, 78-58 in Southaven, moving to 12-0 for the first time in school history. And if that weren’t historic enough for Ole Miss, it is also the school’s first 12-game winning streak since 1926. With Alabama A&M next up on Wednesday, it looks like the streak should continue.

The Weber State Wildcats spoiled Eddie Sutton’s return to coaching, knocking off the San Francisco Dons, 62-54. Bitter Beer Face gets his next shot at 799 against the horrible Utah Valley State Wolverines on Monday night, but the Dons are pretty horrible themselves. Ought to be quite a thrilling match-up.

Chad Ford’s new draft rankings are out, and he’s got D.J. Augustin slotted 10th ($$). Fellow Big 12ers Darrell Arthur and DeAndre Jordan also cracked the Top 10, checking in at 7th and 5th, respectively.

Can anyone run the table this season? Fox Sports’ Dick Weiss won’t call it a lock just yet, but he concludes the Tigers have the best shot at it. While I don’t think they will put together six wins in a row come March, they definitely have a shot at an undefeated regular season. Their second-half defense against Big East power Georgetown was practically a clinic, and that was likely their toughest opponent on the schedule. The C-USA should be a cakewalk, but the Tigers could still potentially stumble against Arizona, Tennessee, or Gonzaga, although those three opponents will be played at home in the FedEx Forum.

Ready for a long day on the couch spent channel flipping between basketball and football? We’ve got you covered. ESPN2 has action all day long, starting with the Wisconsin/Texas game (11 AM CST), followed by San Diego/Kentucky (1 PM), Tennessee at Gonzaga (3 PM), OU against West Virginia (5 PM), Pitt and Dayton (7 PM), and that Arizona/Memphis matchup in the nightcap (9 PM). Local fans can check out Texas A&M hosting Florida A&M on FSN, tipping at 1 PM CST.