Connecticut, Indiana and Memphis are all in precarious positions as the college basketball season begins to take center stage in February. And all lost Wednesday night in important games in their respective conference races.
For U-Conn., forget about winning the Big East. After dropping a 58-44 setback at Georgetown on Wednesday, the defending national champions have lost four straight games and six of eight games. They have not won since beating Notre Dame on Jan. 14. The Huskies were ranked fourth in the preseason Associated Press Top 25, receiving two first-place votes. That seems like ages ago.
Hey, maybe the Huskies have everybody right where they want them. Remember, they finished 9-9 in Big East play last season and went on to win the Big East tournament and the NCAA tournament. But there is no Kemba Walker to carry them this season.
Not too long ago, Indiana was one of the nation’s hottest teams and probably the best feel-good story in this season. This is a Hoosiers team that beat Kentucky and Ohio State before New Year’s Day.
But after Wednesday’s 68-56 loss at Michigan — no shame in that defeat — the Hoosiers have lost five of seven games, falling to 5-6 in the nation’s toughest league. Worse news, up next are Purdue, Illinois and Northwestern, three formidable teams all in the hunt for postseason berths.
No, the sky is not exactly falling for Memphis. But just when you think it is safe to jump back on the Tigers’ bandwagon, they suffer a setback in an important game. On Wednesday it was a 75-72 loss at Southern Mississippi in a battle for first place in Conference USA.
A talented Memphis team was ranked 11th in the preseason AP Top 25. The Tigers have been unimpressive during the course of the season, losing to most of the good teams they played except their first meeting against Southern Mississippi and non-league games against Belmont and Miami.
Conference USA is competitive at the top. And it is a better league than, say, the Pac-12. But there is no guarantee when things shake out that the league gets any more than two NCAA tournament berths at most. Memphis’ margin for error is small.
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