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The asterisk. The ignorant fan's way of sweeping something real under the rug, all in the name of human decency. Or something. As long as there's a perceived slight going on in the sporting world, there will always be those who continuously slap on the asterisk label as a mini-protest of sorts. It never works.
Kansas head coach Bill Self doesn't want to hear one iota about people lessening the significance of his 11-point victory over No. 2 ranked Ohio State on Saturday. But that doesn't mean a legit case can't be made that his win should be knocked down a peg or two. After all, without Jared Sullinger on the floor, who did Kansas really beat?
Sullinger's absence deprived us of two things: 1.) A great head-to-head battle with KU's Thomas Robinson, and 2.) A chance to see two top 25 teams face off in a crazy environment. It's important to note that we saw neither of these. The Buckeyes could theoretically still be a top 25-caliber squad without their big man in the mix, but the fact that it's even debatable only highlights Sully's true importance to this team.
Some have already anointed the Jayhawks and are blindly tossing out faith that Self will wrap up another Big 12 title, all on this game alone. But we're not so sure we witnessed some earth-shattering breakthrough. Sure, Kansas handled an Ohio State team that has plenty of talent on paper, but one that was playing in a brutal venue without the best player in college basketball. That's a big difference from going full-strength on a neutral court.
It's just a shame that we didn't get a chance to watch these schools at their best, because from the way we see it, the result we ended up getting hardly tells us much of anything. A good team playing at home beat a pretty good team by 11 points. That's all it was. No asterisk needed.
* Josh Pastner, stuck in neutral: "People expect us to beat Murray State." (Memphis Commercial Appeal)
* (Chicago Tribune)
* Alabama played the odds and utilized three big men to suffocate a weary Detroit squad (The Birmingham News)
* Frank Martin's Wildcats were nearly upset, and they have some glaring defensive issues to iron out (The Mikan Drill)
* Winning by default: Stony Brook shot 5 for 32 from the field in 1st half to gift-wrap an Eagles win (BC Interruption)
Murray State - Now 10-0 on the season, the Racers are actually in a position to *gasp* run the table. Beating Memphis was the last serious hurdle from a non-conference perspective, and it will likely be up to Ohio Valley competition if Murray State is truly going to lose a game before March. A 30-win season is a lock at this point, but the fact that this team might flirt with greatness is more than enough reason to hop aboard the bandwagon.
Iona - Hardly a pleasant afternoon for the MAAC favorites, the Gaels came out flat in the second half of a 19-point loss to Marshall. Iona managed to shoot an impressive 53.2% from the field, but grabbed just 16 rebounds and struggled all game on the glass. Worst of all, the legend of Scott Machado might be fading away right before our eyes, as the star point guard continues to turn the ball over at a surprisingly-high rate.
- The 6'6" sophomore posted one of the craziest stat lines you'll see for a guy on the winning side of a 40-point blowout: 25 minutes, 31 points, 10 rebounds, 2 blocks. The amazing part is that Rubit took 22 shots, which is nearly one attempt per minute he was on the floor.
52 - Free throws attempted by Montana State in a 75-73 loss to UC Riverside. The Bobcats ended up making 40 freebies, but sank only 15 field goals in 40 minutes.