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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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College basketball winners and losers: SEC teams make their mark

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Senior F Henry Coleman III (15) gurads Florida Graduate G Zyon Pullin (0) during Texas A&M’s game against Florida on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024 at Reed Arena

Winner: Gonzaga’s first Quad 1 win

The Bulldogs have found themselves in an unfamiliar place this season. They currently sit third in the West Coast Conference with a 8-2 record, trailing San Francisco and Saint Mary’s.

However, the biggest problem for coach Mark Few’s squad has been trying to get its first Quad 1 win of the year. Going into Saturday’s matchup with No. 17 Kentucky, the Zags were 0-5 in Quad 1 games, but were able to snatch a 89-85 victory on the road over the Wildcats for their first Quad 1 victory of the year.

This was huge for the Bulldogs, as they don’t have many other opportunities for Quad 1 wins. The rest of their schedule is packed with Quad 3 and 4 matchups, but the remaining two Quad 1 games they have are the final two games of the regular season versus San Francisco and Saint Mary’s.

If Gonzaga can finish the rest of the year undefeated, it can increase its place in the WCC standings and give itself a chance at a better seed for the NCAA Tournament.

Loser: Wisconsin

Coming into February, the Badgers were 8-1 in the Big Ten and ranked No. 6 in the nation.

Wisconsin fell to Nebraska 80-72 in overtime to kick off the month and things quickly turned for the worst for the Badgers. They had a 6-point loss to Purdue at home and two Quad 2 losses against Michigan and Rutgers.

And for the record, Michigan and Rutgers enter this week in the bottom four of the conference. Michigan has a 3-10 conference record while Rutgers is 5-7 in the Big Ten this year, including its 22-point victory over Wisconsin this past weekend.

The good news for the Badgers is that their remaining conference schedule isn’t that bad. They have matchups with Ohio State, Iowa and Indiana, who they’ve already beaten, and have a home matchup with Maryland, who enters this week third to last in the conference.

But the problem arises in the last three games of the season. The Badgers will face off against No. 10 Illinois, have a rematch with Rutgers and travel to Purdue.

It’s not all bad for Wisconsin right now, but if it loses to any of its Quad 2 or 3 opponents coming up, it may be a serious issue for seeding come Selection Sunday.

Winner: Florida cracks another win against a top-15 team

Coming into another matchup with another top-15 team in No. 12 Auburn, the Florida Gators have gone 1-3 against the likes of then-No. 13 Baylor, then-No. 6 Kentucky (twice) and No. 6 Tennessee with a lone win against the Wildcats in their second matchup.

Though they’ve come agonizingly close, losing to Baylor by 4 and Kentucky by 2, the Gators leveled revenge and drowned out the Tigers at home to finally crack another win against a top-15 team.

It was only a matter of time for the Gators to get rolling, especially with their high-octane offense. Ranked No. 12 in the country in points per game and No. 1 in the country in rebounds, they hit their stride just a couple of weeks ago, going on a four-game win streak against SEC teams like top-dog teams Georgia and Kentucky.

Though a loss to Texas A&M prevented a would-be six-game win streak, Florida is in a strong position to go on another run. With potential wins against Alabama and South Carolina coming up, a top-25 ranking is in the making.

Loser: New Mexico

New Mexico’s season has been another strong one so far, picking up where it left off last year. It’s treated the Lobo faithful to multiple win streaks of 11 and five games, and they’ve been in the top 25 for their winning efforts.

However, the one thorn in its side, or its Thanos, is UNLV. New Mexico has dropped both of its games to UNLV, both at home and on the road.

One of the best offenses in the country coming in at No. 16 in points per game, the Lobos on paper should be cruising past the Runnin’ Rebels. UNLV’s offense and defense aren’t anything special either, with its rankings showing up only after clicking the “show more” button and scrolling down for a bit.

In both games, UNLV outshot New Mexico no matter where it’d be. During the first matchup, the Runnin’ Rebels smoked the Lobos from 3, making eight more from downtown than New Mexico and having a lead up to 20 at one point.

Then in the second game, the script flipped.

The Runnin’ Rebels were slowed down from 3 as it was their turn to only knock down two. Though they were cold from outside, they still out-shot New Mexico around the field and erased a 12-point deficit to come out on top once again.

Even if New Mexico goes on an undefeated run to close out the season, UNLV will still hold bragging rights for the rest of the season.

Winner: South Carolina, but not because of its own victories

The Gamecocks have been the Cinderella darling of the SEC this season after being picked to finish last in the preseason, as they now sit atop the rankings, tied with Alabama.

South Carolina has — after blowing through a weak non-conference — racked up wins over the likes of Tennessee, Kentucky and Ole Miss to propel it to No. 11 in the country and a projected No. 5 seed, according to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi. But its biggest victory this past week didn’t even come on a court it played on.

Sure, the victory over Ole Miss is a solid one, but the real boost — at least in regards to a conference title — came in the form of losses from both Auburn and Tennessee to clean up some of the logjams at the top of the conference.

The last time the Gamecocks won an SEC regular-season title was 2009, and they look like the frontrunner now this year, especially if they continue to blitz through the conference as they have been.

The only thing holding South Carolina back from being declared a potential lock as regular-season champs is the rest of its schedule, with road games at Auburn, Mississippi State, A&M and Ole Miss still left and home matchups against Florida and Tennessee to put the cherry on top.

Loser: Those horrible Houston Christian throwback uniforms

Retro basketball jerseys are usually a slam dunk — pun intended. Who doesn’t love a good throwback? It brings together everyone, young and old. But man, did Houston Christian miss with its throwbacks this past week.

From the big husky dribbling on the front, which would be cool on a shirt or even on the bottom of the shorts, to the blue and orange pinstripe shorts, it’s a mess. This sensory overload of a uniform looks like it stole extra pairs of Indiana’s candy cane warmup pants, chopped them at the knees and underwent some Frankenstein-esque dying sequence to get to the final product.

These uniforms must be here to stay, however, since it’s the Huskies’ second year in a row to don the throwbacks. On the bright side, despite having to have photos of themselves taken in these uniforms, HCU did walk away with a win over Incarnate Word, which is debatably all that matters.

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About the Contributors
Eli Meschko
Eli Meschko, Sports Writer
Eli Meschko is a journalism senior from Boerne, Texas, and is minoring in communication and sports management. Eli has covered football, men's basketball, baseball, softball, hockey and track & field. Eli also writes for Dave Campbell's Texas Football as an intern. After graduation, Eli plans on pursuing a career in sports media or public relations.
Justin Chen
Justin Chen, Sports Writer
Justin Chen is a journalism senior minoring in sport management and communication. Justin has covered football, men's basketball, volleyball, baseball and swim & dive. Justin also writes feature NBA pieces and covered the Miami Heat for Sir Charles In Charge. When not writing, he likes to frequent the gym, support Arsenal and watch anime.
Hunter Mitchell, Associate Sports Editor
Hunter Mitchell is a sport management senior minoring in journalism. Hunter has covered football, men's and women's basketball, baseball, volleyball, softball, hockey, cross country, track and field, along with swim and dive. Hunter's favorite sport is college basketball, and he is a member of the U.S. Basketball Writer's Association. Hunter also hosts weekly episodes of the Home Turf sports podcast.
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