Unbeaten Syracuse putting record on the line
Ennis' buzzer-beater enabled Syracuse to improve to 5-0 in games decided by five points or less, and 11-0 when the margin is 10 or less. Certainly, it helps to have a cool customer such as Ennis running the show in the stressful final moments, but Orange coach Jim Boeheim gives credit to the entire team for its execution. "Probably the way we've played for the first 36-37 minutes of most games, we probably should be about 20-4 or 19-5," Boeheim said. "But the last three or four minutes, we've been just about perfect in all those situations. We've been able to finish games."
So Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart receives a three-game suspension for pushing a fan at Texas Tech and later apologizes, and the fan says "sorry" and promises to stay away from games for the rest of the season. So what? That just means fans elsewhere will insult, berate, and curse an opposing player. Yes, Smart got the punishment he deserved, but what's to stop fans from repeated bad behavior? "All fans should look in the mirror and say, 'Would you want your son or daughter or grandson or granddaughter to act like that in any setting?' Why we accept it at sporting events blows my mind," St. Joseph's coach Phil Martelli said.
Talking seed lines
One of the main topics at this week's conference call with Wake Forest athletic director Ron Wellman, Division I men's basketball championship committee chair, was that teams no longer will be moved down or up one seed line in a region to satisfy the old principles of bracketing. New rules cover how early teams from the same conference can meet in the NCAA tournament. If they play each other once during the regular season, they can compete in the third round. If they meet twice during the season, then they'd be able to clash in a Sweet 16 game. But if they play three times, including a matchup in the conference tournament, they'd have to wait until the Elite Eight to compete.
Haves and have-nots
Thanks to Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com for pointing this out: The top five teams in the American Athletic Conference hold a 31-2 record against the AAC's bottom five going into Friday night's rescheduled games. The top five, all of which were ranked in this week's AP Top 25, range in RPI from Cincinnati at No. 14 to SMU at No. 39. But the RPI gap between the Mustangs and South Florida, which is next at 150, is an astonishing 111 spots. Central Florida is the lowest-ranked RPI team at No. 213. Temple is 177.
Watch your mouth!
From Memphis comes word that Tigers coach Josh Pastner has indefinitely suspended reserve center Dominic Woodson for using inappropriate language on the bench during Wednesday night's win over Central Florida. "I did not like some of the language he used," Pastner said in his postgame interview about banishing Woodson to the locker room in the second half. "So I said, 'See ya.' " Woodson had been ejected in Memphis' previous game against Gonzaga after committing a Flagrant 2 foul. According to all reports, Pastner does not curse.
Expatriate of the week
Aaric Murray, the former Glen Mills School star, continues to score prolifically for Texas Southern, averaging 23.8 points, fourth-best among Division I teams. Murray, who also played at La Salle and West Virginia, also averages 8.2 rebounds, 2.3 blocks, and 9.5 free-throw attempts while shooting 48.2 percent from the field and 72.9 percent from the line. He has posted four games of 30 points or more, including a career-high 48 points in December against Temple.
Games of the Week
Florida at Kentucky, Saturday at 9 p.m., ESPN: The only two nationally ranked teams in the SEC meet for the first time this season, giving the Gators a chance to show why they not Syracuse, Arizona or Wichita State are the best team in the land.
Memphis at Connecticut, Saturday at noon, ESPN: The Huskies, whose last three victories have come by an average of 33.3 points, look for the season sweep of the Tigers.
Virginia Commonwealth at St. Louis, Saturday at 2 p.m., ESPN2: A showdown of the Nos. 1 and 2 teams in the Atlantic 10 Conference, with the Billikens seeking their 17th consecutive victory.
Wisconsin at Michigan, Sunday at 1 p.m., CBS3: The Wolverines picked up a victory a little more than four weeks ago in Madison; the Badgers would like to return the favor in Ann Arbor.
Texas at Iowa State, Tuesday at 7 p.m., ESPN2: The Longhorns have won eight of their last nine games entering this weekend and are making a run at Kansas for first place in the Big 12.
Duke at North Carolina, Thursday (time TBA), ESPN: The rescheduled game that was postponed on Wednesday night may find the Blue Devils looking ahead to their rematch against Syracuse in two days.