BASKETBALL BREAKDOWN

 

Ben Simmons and more, it turns out

One thought: Last week in this space, I warned college hoops fans to enjoy LSU star Ben Simmons while he was around since it seemed oh-so-crystal-clear that the Tigers, losers to the likes of Charleston and Wake Forest, weren’t making the NCAA tournament. Tuesday, Simmons’ teammates said not so fast. Perhaps the most intriguing part of LSU’s 85-67 upset of No. 9 Kentucky was not Simmons’ expected heroics but the fact that two other Tigers — Craig Victor II and Tim Quarterman — outscored him and matched or bested his 10 rebounds. Kentucky had a terrible night, true, but let’s ask this about the Tigers (9-5): Is this the start of something special? If so, it’s going to be fun to watch.

 

Weekend matchup

Vanderbilt at South Carolina (2 p.m. Saturday, ESPNU): The Gamecocks will still be undefeated when Vanderbilt — the biggest test yet to the unexpected streak — comes to town to try to shake things up. Despite that whole 14-0 business, folks even in Columbia are having a hard time believing the Gamecocks are for real, and the featherweight schedule hasn’t added any confidence points. But a win Saturday would raise some eyebrows.

By the numbers

– who treated the college basketball world to a three-overtime gem on Monday night — go at each other again.

6 The Big Ten’s RPI ranking, falling behind the Big 12, the Pac-12, the Big East, the ACC and the SEC in that order. The league hasn’t finished that low since 2009-10.

6 seed There’s a lot of season left, but former Gophers coach Tubby Smith’s Texas Tech squad is one of the early bracketology surprises.