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The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

Five top 15 teams lost Saturday. Which should be most worried?

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Ricardo Ratliffe (Getty Images)

Four of the top 15 teams in this week's AP Top 25 lost on Saturday, some in more surprising fashion than others. Here's an assessment of what went wrong for each of them and how concerned each of them should be:

Kansas State 75, No. 7 Missouri 59: Missouri suffering its first loss at Kansas State wasn't all that shocking, but the margin was definitely a surprise. The Tigers trailed by 19 at halftime and never made much of a second-half push. What's alarming about this loss for Missouri is the way Kansas State exploited its size advantage in the paint by attacking the rim off the dribble, getting the thin Tigers frontcourt in foul trouble and abusing them on the glass. The Wildcats out-rebounded Missouri 36-22 and pulled down 41.9 percent of their chances to grab offensive boards. The Tigers have masked their lack of size and interior depth quite well up until this point against a mediocre non-conference schedule, but more formidable frontcourts await than Kansas State's. If the Wildcats enjoyed success in the paint, how will Kansas or Baylor do?

(Panic level: Guarded)

Rutgers 67, No. 8 UConn 60: Back-to-back ugly losses at Seton Hall and Rutgers have exposed where UConn misses Kemba Walker most: His maturity and leadership. The Huskies have plenty of backcourt talent to replace Walker's production, but they miss the intangibles the All-American provided. They showed little urgency and appeared to simply go through the motions in Saturday's loss to a wildly inconsistent Rutgers team that followed up its recent win over Florida with puzzlingly poor performances against South Florida and West Virginia. Whereas in the Seton Hall loss UConn got little out of anyone besides Jeremy Lamb, this time it was Shabazz Napier who shouldered too heavy a burden. Napier had 23 points, but no other Huskies player had more than 10. UConn also continues to get next-to-nothing out of Alex Oriakhi, its top big man during last year's title run. Oriakhi had six points in 15 minutes Saturday.

(Panic level: Elevated)

West Virginia 74, No. 9 Georgetown 62: Even though the Big East is trying to keep West Virginia tethered to the league for the next two years, Georgetown would probably prefer the Mountaineers leave as soon as possible. The Hoyas lost their fifth in a row to the Mountaineers and their fourth in five games at WVU Coliseum. Georgetown had rallied from 17 down to beat Marquette earlier in the week, but the Hoyas lacked both the firepower and the defensive fortitude to storm back from another double-digit deficit. Guard Truck Bryant scored 25 points, forward Kevin Jones added 22 and Georgetown shot just 40.4 percent from the field. It was a lackluster performance from the Hoyas, but they were overdue for a clunker considering how well they had played of late.

(Panic factor: Low)

Notre Dame 67, No. 11 Louisville 65, 2OT: It was only two weeks ago that Louisville fans' biggest concern was refuting critics who suggested the undefeated Cardinals weren't worthy of their No. 4 ranking. Now Louisville has lost three of its past four games with three out of four on the road up next. The biggest issue right now for Louisville is the health of guard Peyton Siva, who lacks the explosiveness he had earlier this season as a result of a nagging ankle injury. He has scored in double figures only once in Louisville's past six games and he committed 23 turnovers during that stretch. Siva wasn't the only one who struggled Saturday as wings Chris Smith and Russ Smith combined for five points on 2-for-12 shooting and Rakeem Buckles missed 6 of his 8 shots. Louisville has made a habit of finding a way to win close games at home against inferior teams, but the Cardinals do it again on Saturday. Perhaps that means Louisville is starting to regress toward the mean.

(Panic level: Elevated)

Tennessee 67, No. 13 Florida 56: For a team that has been touted as a potential Final Four contender this season, Florida has shown a disconcerting tendency to struggle against mediocre opponents. First came a stunning Dec. 29 loss at Big East bottom feeder Rutgers, followed by Saturday's listless performance in Knoxville against a rebuilding Tennessee team whose best previous win was probably UNC Asheville. Erratic shot selection and an inability to get the ball inside to Patric Young are season-long issues that have plagued the Gators, but it's their defense that may be the biggest long-term concern. Tennessee shot 51 percent from the field on Saturday, no surprise considering Florida is ninth in the SEC in both points per possession allowed and field goal percentage defense.

(Panic factor: Elevated)

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