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Top of the Arc - December 5, 2008

Dec. 5, 10:15 a.m.: Michigan State and Michigan already fell in surprising fashion. Then came Louisville’s stunning loss to Western Kentucky. And now Connecticut barely survived last night against Buffalo, eking out a two-point victory.

Buffalo had a chance to tie or win the game in the final seconds, but Buffalo’s catalyst Rodney Pierce, who averages nearly 19 points per game, passed up a shot and made a bad pass amid congestion. Pierce told reporters afterward that he drove to the basket but saw Hasheem Thabeet coming his way. So he chose to pass. U-Conn Coach Jim Calhoun was shocked Pierce did not shoot.

Buffalo’s football program now gets its chance at an upset tonight against Ball State in the Mid-American Conference title game. As for Connecticut’s basketball team, the Huskies remain among the top national championship contenders. But it is becoming evident that college basketball’s top tier this season consists of one team: North Carolina.

Scottie Reynolds (23 points) and Corey Stokes (22 points) each played well as Villanova whipped up on Houston Baptist. 'Nova is 8-0 but has been largely untested aside from a victory against Rhode Island. That changes Tuesday when Jay Wright's club faces a Texas team fresh off a home victory over UCLA. Villanova's preseason is now officially over.

Last night proved a great night for the Big 12 and another sour evening for the Pac-10, which is significantly weaker than it was last season. Two of the Pac-10's top teams, UCLA and USC, both fell in the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series. In beating UCLA, A.J. Abrams matched his career-high for the Longhorns, whose only setback was a one-point loss to Notre Dame in Maui. Texas looks like a legit Final Four contender, while UCLA is still trying to find itself.

USC shot better than Oklahoma, outrebounded the Sooners and held Blake Griffin to only six rebounds. Sooners Coach Jeff Capel felt his team was fortunate to win and remain undefeated.

One of the night's wildest games occurred in Cleveland, where Butler emerged with a two-point win over Cleveland State after Zach Hahn made a three-pointer with 1 second left. There were three lead changes in the final 19 seconds. Here is the lede by David Woods in the Indy Star:

CLEVELAND -- After more clanks and clunks than could be found at a county fair's rigged arcade, Butler's Bulldogs snatched the prize away.

In other news, Texas and North Carolina are working on the details of a four-game series that would start next season, according to this report.

By Eric Prisbell  |  December 5, 2008; 10:15 AM ET
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Props to UConn for playing a home and home with Buffalo. No props to Nova for playing Houston Baptist. Come on Wright, your schedule is weak (aside from Texas next week and URI).

Posted by: Kev29 | December 5, 2008 10:48 AM

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