Posted by Ryan Clark at 3:11PM

Texas slid to sixth in both polls this afternoon following back-to-back losses on the road. The Kentucky Wildcats ascended to the top spot as the nation’s lone undefeated team, while Kansas moved up to second in both rankings.

The K-State Wildcats took a slight dip after a home loss to Oklahoma State, even though they were the first team to knock off Texas with a Big Monday victory earlier in the week. KSU is 11th in the media poll and is ranked 13th by coaches. Baylor is the only other Big 12 representative, checking in at 24th in the Associated Press rankings, although Texas A&M, Missouri, and Oklahoma State all received votes in both polls.

* * * * * * * * * *

The Longhorns also took a dive in Joe Lunardi’s latest Bracketology, sliding to the 2-seed line in the Salt Lake City regional. In Lunardi’s mock bracket, Texas is paired with 1-seed Syracuse, an absolute nightmare match-up for a Longhorn team that is paralyzed by zone defenses.

The Jayhawks maintained their hold on a 1-seed, but were moved to the Houston regional that the Longhorns vacated. Lunardi awarded five other bids to the Big 12, putting K-State (3-seed), Baylor (5), Missouri (8), A&M (9), and Oklahoma State (11) in the mix.

Posted by Ryan Clark at 12:24PM

Ed Davis notched a double-double on opening night
(Photo credit: Gerry Broome/Associated Press)

Welcome to the first in our daily series recapping the previous night’s action around the country. As the season rolls on, this morning scoreboard check will include unranked Big 12 teams, as well. And as a catch-all disclaimer, it should be noted that on some mornings, sleep just seems more valuable than the scoreboard rundown.

#4 North Carolina 88, Florida International 72 – After all of the off-season controversy surrounding the alleged mix-up in scheduling this game, it appears that perhaps Isiah Thomas didn’t have that much to worry about. Thanks to a ridiculous 26 Tar Heel turnovers, the Golden Panthers were able to keep the game respectable for much of the night, never falling behind by more than 26 points.

For Carolina, the bright spot of the night was the defense. The Heels blocked eight shots and held the Panthers to 30% shooting in the first half. Ed Davis led the block party for Carolina, swatting away four shots to go with his double-double performance of 13 points and 11 rebounds. Deon Thompson led all scorers with twenty.

#12 California 75, Murray State 70 – The final score indicates a much closer game than what actually transpired out west, but it also makes way for concerns about the Bears’ killer instinct. Mike Montgomery’s squad built a lead as big as 18 points in the second half of this one, but the hot-shooting Racers hit 53% of their shots in the second stanza and refused to give up.

The backcourt combination of Jerome Randle and Patrick Christopher provided 31 points for the Bears, including Randle’s 10-of-11 shooting from the charity stripe. Cal lost the battle on the glass by a 30-29 count, and had a meager 1.25 assist-to-TO ratio.

#17 Ohio State 100, Alcorn State 60 – The least competitive game of the night also gave us the least information about a Top 25 team. With the Buckeyes cruising the whole way, Thad Matta was able to go deep on his bench, dishing out at least thirteen minutes to ten different Buckeyes.

Jon Diebler hit 6-of-9 treys in a 22-point performance, but the standout star of the night was Evan Turner. The junior from Chicago held down point guard duties and logged a triple-double with fourteen points, ten assists, and 17 rebounds.

If the dominating win wasn’t enough to get Buckeyes excited about the new season, big man Dallas Lauderdale is expected back for Thursday’s game against James Madison.

#25 Syracuse 75, Alabany 43 – It didn’t take long for Jim Boheim to get over the 800-win hump, reaching that milestone in the first game of the 2009-10 season. The Orange bounced back quickly from their embarrassing exhibition loss to Le Moyne, decimating the Danes with suffocating defense. Syracuse forced 32 turnovers, including 21 steals, and held their opponents to just 27% shooting from the floor. Former Iowa State Cyclone Wes Johnson had six of the Syracuse steals and added twelve points and eight rebounds.

Guard Andy Rautins had to leave the game with just over fourteen minutes left. After jumping to pass to big man Arinze Onuaku, he landed on an opponent’s foot and twisted his ankle. Rautins wore a walking boot the rest of the evening, and his status is still in doubt for Wednesday’s game against Robert Morris.

Posted by Ryan Clark at 5:45PM

The college basketball season is now just fifteen minutes away. Here are your TV listings for the night:

Florida International at #4 North Carolina – 6 P.M. CST, ESPNU
The biggest story of the night will undoubtedly be the regular-season coaching debut of Isiah Thomas, although the new may have already started wearing off following a loss to the NAIA’s Northwood in an exhibition on Wednesday night. For the defending-champion Tar Heels, the key storyline in early November will be how the team moves forward following the loss of Tyler Hansborough, Wayne Ellington, and Ty Lawson. The return of Marcus Ginyard following last year’s foot injury will definitely provide senior leadership, something the Heels will likely need for their quintet of ESPN Top 100 recruits.

Alcorn State at #17 Ohio State – 6 P.M. CST, Big Ten Network
This is a guaranteed yawner from the opening rounds of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, but fans will get their first look at how the Buckeyes have matured following an offseason where nearly the entire team returned. The only key piece missing from last year’s squad is big man B.J. Mullens, who left for the NBA after just one season. Dallas Lauderdale will be expected to fill the void this year, although he will likely be missing this early season matchup as he recovers from a broken finger he suffered in preseason practices.

Albany at #25 Syracuse – 8 P.M. CST, ESPNU
Iowa State transfer Wesley Johnson lit up the scoreboard in Syracuse’s exhibition on Tuesday night, dropping in 17 second-half points en route to a 22-point performance. Unfortunately for the Orange, it came in an embarrassing loss to D-II school Le Moyne. To be fair, Syracuse was experimenting with man-to-man for much of the game, a drastic departure from Jim Boheim’s famously stingy zone D. But the result certainly raises eyebrows in a season where pundits are wondering if this young Syracuse team can handle the rigors of the Big East conference. A convincing win over the visiting Danes would help to wash away some of the bad taste that is already tainting this season.

Murray State at #12 California – 10 P.M. CST, ESPNU
In what is likely going to be a down year for the Pac-10 Conference, hopes are high for the talented and experienced Golden Bears. Cal returns four starters from last year’s team, including a pair of senior guards in Patrick Christopher and Jerome Randle. It’s a well-proven axiom that solid backcourt play leads to quality results in March, so many expect the Bears to be dancing into the second weekend. If you can’t stay up to watch this one, be sure to set the DVR and get your first look at the Best Team Nobody Knows.

Posted by Ryan Clark at 12:36PM

After a week’s absence in the blogpoll, we’re back in the mix with today’s ballot. Here are our votes, with the official compilation poll to come later today:

Rank Team
1 Pittsburgh
2 Connecticut
3 Oklahoma
4 Memphis
5 North Carolina
6 Louisville
7 Duke
8 Missouri
9 Wake Forest
10 Michigan St.
11 Villanova
12 Marquette
13 Clemson
14 Arizona St.
15 Kansas
16 Gonzaga
17 Purdue
18 Illinois
20 Washington
21 Louisiana St.
22 West Virginia
23 Xavier
24 Florida St.
25 Texas

It was an interesting week with losses by half of the top ten teams from the last poll. Only Wake Forest and UConn suffered their defeats at the hands of other top ten teams, while North Carolina, Michigan State, and Oklahoma all lost on the road to unranked opponents. As a result, it was a little easier to ignore the instinct to slide teams up and down based on the most recent results and instead reshuffle everyone based on their complete body of work this season.

The middle of the pack all held their own by winning their games this week, but our votes differed slightly from the consensus of last week’s blogpoll, when we didn’t submit a ballot. We chose to slot Marquette ahead of Clemson based on a more robust list of quality wins, although they could quickly take a nosedive with an absolute nightmare of a schedule awaiting them over the final two weeks. The Golden Eagles have to face UConn and Louisville this week before closing the season with a road trip to Pitt and a home game against Syracuse.

After that quality in the middle of the poll, things were a bit dicier with the lower rankings. Five of the bottom seven teams lost a game this week, and practically every other team that could have been considered for the 24th or 25th slot dropped at least one game as well. LSU slides up two spots to No. 21 in our ballot, but it’s more a reflection on the lack of other candidates than a rousing endorsement of the Tigers. They are playing in an incredibly weak SEC, leaving a home win over Washington State as their only remarkable victory this year.

The full compilation ballot will be released later this afternoon.

Posted by Ryan Clark at 5:23AM

#4 Pittsburgh Panthers 78, #8 Syracuse Orange 60 – Pitt bounced back from their first loss of the season in convincing fashion, blasting the visiting Orange at the Pete on ESPN’s Big Monday. The Panthers were able to overcome Andy Rautin‘s five three-pointers by dominating on the glass, outrebounding their opponents by a 37-24 margin. DeJuan Blair was an unstoppable force, posting 20 and 12, while Sam Young came alive in the second half to lead the team with 22 points.

Kansas Jayhawks 73, Texas A&M Aggies 53 – The Aggies were the last visiting team to win in Allen Fieldhouse, all the way back in February of 2007. But Texas A&M stole that game behind the heroics of Acie Law, who they sorely missed in last night’s contest. The Jayhawks owned this rematch from start to finish, thoroughly dominating the contest much more than the 20-point margin would indicate. The Kansas D forced 20 turnovers on the night and held every single Aggie player to eight points or less.