Last year around this time Kentucky was having its worst season since John Calipari took over the program in 2009.
That team that finished 9-16 feels long gone.
Saturday’s convincing win over Florida showed the Wildcats are only going to keep on getting better this month with March Madness around the corner. Kentucky is also making a strong case for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, with a top-four NET score and five marquee victories, including an 18-point win over currently projected No. 1 seed Kansas.
In other action, there was a slew of upsets with No. 7 Houston and No. 14 Wisconsin getting bounced against unranked opponents at home.
A look at the winners and losers from Saturday’s games:
Kentucky: The Wildcats (21-4, 10-2) took care of business at home against Florida in a 78-57 victory that keeps them in the SEC title race alongside Auburn. Double-double machine Oscar Tshiebwe (27 points, 19 rebounds) continues to be a dominant force in the paint for a surging UK team that’s won five in a row. Coach John Calipari has a team with multiple weapons and Tshiebwe gives this squad a backbone.
Arizona, The Wildcats (21-2, 11-1) drubbed Washington in Pac-12 play, improving its mantle as the top team in the league and further bolstering its case as a projected No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Coach Tommy Lloyd’s group can score at will in the paint, hardly relying on three-point shooting in its dynamic offense. International standouts Azuolas Tubelis (21 points, 10 rebounds) and Bennedict Mathurin (25 points) continue to carry this team. Arizona leads the nation in assists per game, and that unselfish play was on full display vs. the Huskies.
Villanova: The Wildcats (18-6, 11-3 Big East) staved off a tough Seton Hall team behind a balanced team effort, as all five starters scored in double figures in a 73-67 home win. It was a needed victory because No. 15 Villanova faces league leader No. 11 Providence on the road Tuesday for a game with both Big East title and NCAA Tournament seeding implications.
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North Carolina: The Tar Heels (18-7, 10-4 ACC) obliterated Florida State 94-74 for a statement home victory that drifts North Carolina, a bubble team, further into safety zone on the projected NCAA Tournament bracket. At one point in the first half, UNC was beating FSU 20-1. Coach Hubert Davis is getting this squad to hit its stride offensively and it helps when the three-pointers are falling like they were in this one, including six treys from Caleb Love.
Michigan State: The Spartans (18-6, 9-4 Big Ten) pulled away from a pesky Indiana team at home, 76-61, fueled by 44 points from their bench. It was a much-needed win for Michigan State coming off back-to-back losses in Big Ten play. Now coach Tom Izzo’s group stays in the running for the Big Ten Conference title and stays locked in as a projected No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Miami (Fla.): In a battle between two ACC bubble teams, the Hurricanes (18-7, 10-4 ACC) outdueled Wake Forest, 76-72, clawing back from a 13-point deficit and forcing the Demon Deacons into 17 turnovers. With both teams projected as No. 10 seeds in the latest USA TODAY Sports bracket projection heading into Saturday, this outcome means Wake Forest drifts further into the danger zone while Miami stays safe.
Wisconsin: The Badgers (19-5, 10-4 Big Ten) fell on their home court to Rutgers, 73-65, an outcome that takes them out of first place in the Big Ten Conference race. It also could push them from a comfortable No. 2 seed to a No. 3 seed on the projected NCAA Tournament bracket. Wisconsin shot 4-for-19 from three-point range as a culprit in this loss.
Houston: The Cougars (20-4, 9-2 AAC) got out-played on their homecourt in a 69-59 loss to Memphis. Houston had 19 turnovers and couldn’t find an offensive rhythm all game while the Tigers’ Landers Nolley II (20 points) paced a balanced attack for the upset. Coach Kelvin Sampson’s team has now lost two in a row after getting upset by SMU earlier this week – spiraling in the wrong direction this time of year.
Texas: The No. 20 Longhorns (18-7, 7-5 Big 12) were coming off an upset win over Kansas but couldn’t pull off another vs. No. 10 Baylor, getting out-rebounded and out-muscled in an 80-63 road loss to the Bears, who lost Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua to an ugly knee injury.
Oklahoma: The Sooners (14-11, 4-8) had No. 8 Kansas on the ropes with a chance to tie or win the game on the final possession, but Jordan Goldwire’s shot fell short in a 71-69 loss. That would’ve been a much-needed signature road victory for this bubble team but now Oklahoma could drift towards one of the “last four in” or “first four out” on the projected bracket.
Marquette: The Golden Eagles (16-9, 8-6) fell to Big East bottom-feeder Butler 85-79 on the road and have now lost two in a row after a road loss to UConn earlier this week. Marquette, No. 19 in the Coaches Poll, might be one of the streakiest teams in the country, having lost four straight in December and won seven consecutive games in January. Right now this February slip is equating to a projected No. 5 or No. 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Michigan, The Wolverines (13-10, 7-6) started the day on the outside looking in as a bubble team. Saturday’s 68-57 loss to Ohio State at home didn’t do this team any favors. Michigan’s 24-point win over Purdue helped resuscitate its at-large bid chances but there just aren’t enough wins on the profile so this team needs to keep bulking up its lacking résumé if it wants to go dancing. It doesn’t get easier, with two road games (vs. Iowa and Wisconsin) on tap.
Follow college basketball reporter Scott Gleeson on Twitter @ScottMGleeson,