Kentucky’s shakiest performances this season have come when the No. 4 Wildcats have missed someone due to injury, which is why there was some reason to doubt how they would handle Saturday’s rematch with No. 25 Alabama. This time around, both TyTy Washington and Sahvir Wheeler were unavailable due to injury.

But despite missing their two primary ball handlers and getting hit with an early barrage of 3-pointers from the Crimson Tide, Kentucky countered with a sterling offensive performance in a 90-81 victory. The outcome, paired with No. 2 Auburn’s upset loss at Florida, injected new drama into the SEC standings with just two weeks now remaining in league play.

Auburn entered Saturday’s slate of college basketball games looking secure atop the SEC standings and secure on the No. 1 seed line for the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers were named the second overall seed in the NCAA March Madness Men’s Bracket Preview to begin the day and enjoyed a two-game lead in the league standings as they prepared to tip-off at Florida.

But their loss against a Florida team on the bubble was a reminder of why Saturday’s bracket preview is only that: a preview. There are still three weeks to go until Selection Sunday, and that means there is plenty to be sorted out.

Let’s take a look at Saturday’s winners and losers and see who delivered and wilted as the intensity ratchets up with the postseason on the horizon.

Winner: Florida’s NCAA Tournament résumé

The Gators entered Saturday as one of the “First 4 Out” of the projected NCAA Tournament field, according to CBS Sports Bracketology Expert Jerry Palm. They had dropped seven straight Quad 1 opportunities since a Nov. 24 win over Ohio State and were coming off a crushing 56-55 loss at Texas A&M on Tuesday. But Florida finally added some much needed meat to its résumé with its 63-62 upset of Auburn. Eventually, students made their way onto the court in celebration of the win, which improved Florida to 17-10 (7-7 SEC). For more on the upset and Palm’s projection of how it will impact Auburn’s seeding, check out the full takeaways.

Winner: Kansas handles business

Any win in the Big 12 this season is an accomplishment, and that’s especially true on the road. So, even though it was first-place Kansas knocking off last-place West Virginia, the No. 6 Jayhawks still deserve a salute for handling the Mountaineers 71-58. WVU pulled within 44-43 at the 12:40 mark, but KU put the clamps on after that to maintain a two-game lead in the conference standings. Ochai Agbaji led the way for the Jayhawks (22-4, 11-2 Big 12) with 23 points while David McCormack contributed a double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds. KU was the fourth No. 1 seed in Saturday’s bracket preview, and it took a nice first step toward positioning itself to be in that same position come Selection Sunday.

Winner: North Carolina gets redemption

Just three days after suffering a humiliating 76-67 Quad 3 home loss against Pittsburgh, North Carolina bounced back in a moment of desperation on Saturday. The Tar Heels were on the wrong side of Palm’s bubble and 0-7 in Quad 1 games entering a road game against a hot Virginia Tech squad. UNC got it done with a 65-57 victory that actually made its defense look good. The Hokies shot just 38% from the floor as their six-game winning streak came to an end. UNC’s NCAA Tournament bid is far from secure, but a loss would have been disastrous. Finally, the Tar Heels can claim a Quad 1 victory.

Loser: Chris Beard gets swept by former school

Texas opened the season with a roster seemingly ready-made to compete for a title in Year 1 under Beard. Texas Tech, on the other hand, opened the season outside the top 25 with a first-time head coach in Mark Adams hoping, somehow, to not lose the magic it had generated under Beard in Lubbock. My, oh my, how the turn tables!

The Red Raiders toppled Texas in Austin on Saturday 61-55 to complete the season sweep of their former coach, establishing in the process their bona fides as a top-10 team and – arguably – the hottest right now in the great state of Texas. The party in Lubbock tonight should be a big one. 

Now, the Longhorns haven’t totally lost their step; they’ll be a top-four seed on Selection Sunday, they have a ton of talent and Beard remains one of the sport’s greatest tacticians. But Saturday was a painful reminder for them against a very familiar foe that, at least thus far, this season hasn’t lived up to expectations. 

Winner: Shorthanded Kentucky overcomes Alabama

Coming off its first double-digit loss in more than a calendar year, and without the services of Sahvir Wheeler and TyTy Washington, Kentucky bounced back into the win column in style Saturday at home in defeating Alabama, 90-81.

The Wildcats dug out of a 13-point first-half deficit, and with a shorthanded roster, got a big 25-point explosion from guard Kellan Grady to lead the way in the win. Meanwhile, steady-as-ever Oscar Tshiebwe added 21 points and 14 boards in the effort as coach John Calipari rode a short bench and stuck with it to the bitter end.

“We needed two days to get ready with how the hell are we going to play?” said Calipari after the game about game prep knowing he’d have a shorthanded roster. “Who are the subs? Do we sub? Do I use my timeouts to give them rest? That’s what I did today. I said, ‘Look, we’re riding this group.'”

The win – combined with Auburn’s subsequent loss to Florida – puts UK just one game back of first place in the SEC standings with a very runnable stretch of LSU-Arkansas-Ole Miss-Florida to close out the regular season.

Loser: TCU misses out

With Baylor missing two of its three leading scorers in Adam Flagler and LJ Cryer, and already without big man Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua for the rest of the season, TCU had a perfect opportunity to go on the road and pick up a big-time Quad 1 win that would cement its place in the NCAA Tournament field. But the shorthanded Bears had other plans. With a rotation consisting of just six players, the No. 7 Bears outlasted the Horned Frogs 72-62 in a game that featured just four made 3-pointers. TCU (16-8, 5-7 Big 12) entered as a projected No. 8 seed in Palm’s Bracketology and shouldn’t suffer much harm due to a road loss against a quality foe. But it’ll feel like it should have been more competitive against an injury-saddled Baylor squad.

Winner: James Bouknight’s UConn cred

There is officially one tried-and-true test to determine whether a former player is, or is not, legendary at the school. And I propose it has a name: The Bouknight Test, named after ex-UConn star James Bouknight. Here’s why: Bouknight was ejected from UConn’s game Saturday for apparently standing on the court with his phone. From courtside seats, I should add. But he passed the test that hereby carries his name for this reason: He simply side-stepped his own ejection with a hesi-fake and scooted over into the student section to catch the action. Huskies fans initially booed the ref who tried to give Bouknight the boot, then absolutely loved it when he simply moved to a different section. Legendary move. 

On the court, UConn got a win in front of Bouknight, too, downing Xavier 72-61 to claim its third straight win and set up a major home tilt vs. Villanova on Tuesday.

Winner: Jacob Grandison lifts Illinois

Bad Illinois showed up the last two times the Fighting Illini played on the road in double-digit losses against Purdue and Rutgers. But good Illinois made an appearance at Michigan State on Saturday as the No. 12 Illini picked up a 79-74 win over the No. 19 Spartans to pull even again with Purdue atop the Big Ten standings at 12-4. Kofi Cockburn turned in 27 points and nine rebounds for Illinois, which is just another day at the office for the 7-footer. 

It was an offensive outburst from Jacob Grandison that arguably made the difference for Illinois. His 24 points marked the most he’s scored in a game since transferring to Illinois from Holy Cross after the 2018-19 season. His offensive explosion also came after he made just 2 of 14 shots over the team’s previous two games. Illinois coach Brad Underwood said Grandison was in the gym at 3 a.m. after Wednesday’s loss at Rutgers. “Good things happen to you when you tackle adversity and come out the other side of it,” Underwood said.

Loser: Georgia’s disintegration continues

Things have gotten so bad at Georgia that its athletic association put out a statement Saturday morning, apparently in an effort to try to diffuse speculation about how a dispute within the staff might impact head coach Tom Crean’s job status. After a halftime incident involving assistant coach Wade Mason and director of player development Bryan Fish reportedly turned physical last week in UGA’s game against LSU, Mason, according to multiple reports, has been suspended with pay. 

It’s not hard to see why things are disintegrating. Georgia got smacked 85-68 at home by a bad Ole Miss team on Saturday and dropped to 6-21 (1-13 SEC). Making matters worse, Crean was inadvertently caught venting on a media Zoom call after the game. Aside from the 1943-44 season, when Georgia went 0-2 in SEC games amid World War II, its worst-ever conference record is 1-13. Without a win in its last four games, UGA will finish the season 1-17 in league play.

Winner: Wake Forest picks up double-bubble win

Saturday’s matchup between Notre Dame and Wake Forest was a “double bubble affair” with the Demon Deacons in particular need of a victory. They entered on a two-game slide slotted as one of Palm’s “First 4 Out” of the projected NCAA Tournament bracket. When Notre Dame – a projected No. 8 seed entering the day – built a 12-point lead late in the first half, it looked bleak for Wake. But the Demon Deacons got a monster second half from Alondes Williams and pulled out a 79-74 victory. Williams, who is making a strong push for ACC Player of the Year, scored 17 of his team-high 23 points after halftime as Wake Forest improved to 21-7 (11-6 ACC). Notre Dame (19-8, 12-4) got 24 from freshman Blake Wesley but came up just short of its bid for a third Quad 1 win.

Loser: LSU blows 14-point lead

LSU led by 14 in the first half at South Carolina and looked ready to extend its winning streak to four games before allowing the Gamecocks to rally for a 77-75 victory. While the Tigers’ vaunted defense did force 20 turnovers, they allowed Jermaine Couisnard to go off for a career-high 33 points on 12 of 18 shooting. With a game at Kentucky looming Wednesday, LSU (19-8, 7-7 SEC) is in danger of slipping below .500 in league play once again after it appeared to have righted the ship.

Winner: Arkansas takes down Tennessee

It was Tennessee that was featured in the bracket preview as a No. 3 seed, but Arkansas made its case to be considered the SEC’s third-best team on Saturday in a 58-48 win over the No. 16 Volunteers. The No. 23 Razorbacks have now won 11 of their last 12 since an 0-3 start to SEC play. The two will rematch on March 5 at Tennessee to close the regular season, but for now they are even at 10-4 in the league standings behind Kentucky (11-3) and Auburn (12-2). 

Loser: Ohio State falls at home

Ohio State was among those with a case for inclusion on the No. 4 seed line in Saturday’s bracket preview. But the Buckeyes made the selection committee look smart for leaving them off. Their 75-62 loss to Iowa marked the Hawkeyes’ first Quad 1 victory of the season, and it was Ohio State’s first home loss. The Buckeyes scored just 24 points in the second half, which made an Iowa team not known for its defense look like a gritty juggernaut.  

Winner: North Texas just keeps winning

North Texas won a Conference USA showdown against UAB 58-57 and extended its winning streak to 12 games thanks to a clutch shot from Tylor Perry in the final seconds. The Mean Green are in position to secure C-USA’s automatic NCAA Tournament bid and reach the Big Dance in consecutive seasons for the first time in program history. Even if it falters in the league tournament, North Texas may have a solid at-large case. And its fifth-year head coach Grant McCastland may find himself in demand soon. The former Baylor point guard and ex-Bears assistant clearly knows how to run a program.

Loser: North Carolina A&T falls at buzzer

Take a close look at this buzzer-beater from Campbell’s 64-63 victory over North Carolina A&T. Should it have counted? The relatively subdued reaction from the Camels during what should have been a celebratory moment suggest that even they believed the buzzer had sounded before the shot attempt. Salute to Rickey Clemons for what will go down as the game-winner. But it sure looks like the basketball was still in his hands when the buzzer sounded.

Winner: Merrimack’s Mikey Watkins

Take a bow, Mikey Watkins. This acrobatic finish from Watkins in the final seconds won the game for Merrimack over Sacred Heart. Seriously, how did he get all the way to the rim and get that shot up without it being blocked? Watkins is listed at just 5-foot-11.

Winner: Iowa State wins two straight

Consecutive victories over TCU and Oklahoma wouldn’t typically be cause for a Big 12 program to rejoice. But if there was ever a team that needed a two-game winning streak — against anyone — it was Iowa State. The Cyclones slipped to 3-9 in league play last Saturday, which made their NCAA Tournament résumé a conundrum. But after crushing the Sooners 75-54 on Saturday, ISU is 18-9 (5-9 Big 12) and can exhale just a bit. They were a projected No. 8 seed entering the day, according to Palm. Barring a late collapse during a manageable stretch of West Virginia, Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Baylor to end the regular season, the Cyclones appear to be in good shape. 

Loser: Loyola Chicago takes a home loss

Loyola Chicago entered the day as a projected No. 10 seed in the NCAA Tournament but still on the bubble, according to Palm. An 83-76 home loss to Drake dropped the Ramblers to just 2-4 in Quad 2 games, though, and could make the last three weeks before Selection Sunday a little nerve-wracking. At 20-6 (11-4 MVC), Loyola can ill-afford another regular-season slip-up against the likes of Illinois State, Evansville or Northern Iowa entering the MVC Tournament.

Winner: Bucknell in the clutch

Take a bow, Andrew Funk. This contested 3-pointer lifted Bucknell to an overtime victory over Lafayette. Funk finished with 20 points to lead the Bison.