Forde observations: Love leads Xavier

Eight o'clock thoughts:

  • Xavier comes much closer to punching an NCAA ticket with a big victory at Florida. The Musketeers had a week to stew on their beatdown at Dayton and came out flying in Gainesville. But most impressive was the fact that Xavier lost its big lead and never folded. Rookie head coach Chris Mack called a good timeout at the 10:32 mark of the second half with the game tied, and his team responded with a 12-2 run and kept the lead the rest of the way.

    You also have to enjoy a solid senior like Jason Love. "Senior" can be a dirty word in the quixotic world of college basketball these days, but he's a success story. The post man has improved his scoring from 6.7 points as a junior to 11 as a senior, and his rebound numbers from 5.9 to 8.4. Against the Gators, Love had 20 points and 10 rebounds, showcasing his growth over his career.

  • The SEC was supposed to be much improved this year -- and I bought the hype -- but it's still nothing special. Kentucky is easily the best of the bunch, with Vanderbilt and Tennessee following, but after that it's a muddled mess. The SEC West might not have a single NCAA team in it.

  • Wayne Chism is going to test his injured ankle pregame to see whether he can go against Kentucky. If Chism isn't 100 percent, Tennessee has no chance in Rupp Arena. Even with him, the Volunteers might not have a chance.

  • When compiling my potential home-underdog upset list earlier today, I should have paid more attention to the Colonial Athletic Association. James Madison (3-11 in the CAA coming into the game) knocked off VCU (9-5 coming in). And William & Mary is up 14 at halftime on Northeastern, which entered the contest 12-2 in the league.