It is not March yet, but the madness in Men’s College Basketball is already upon us. With 4 of the AP Top 10 teams going down, Saturday January 20th was a wild basketball day.
#2 Michigan (17-1) vs. Wisconsin (12-6)
After suffering back-to-back four point losses, the Badgers looked to bounce back against the undefeated Michigan Wolverines. The Wolverines have never had a better start in school history at 17-0, but the Badgers decided they were not going to be the 18th victim of the Wolverines’ incredible season. In his redshirt senior season, Ethan Happ has been exceptional, averaging just under 20 points a game and on Saturday, his stellar play continued. Happ dropped 26 rebounds and grabbed 10 boards en route to the Badgers’ upset victory. After being down by 6 late in the second half, a three-point shot by Isaiah Livers brought the Wolverines within three. While upset hopes diminished as the Wolverines stormed back, Happ had different ideas. With three points and an assist in the final minute of play, Happ was able to crush the Michigan comeback attempt. After the final buzzer, red shirts flooded the floor and the Badgers handed the Wolverines their first loss of the season 64-54. Badger coach Greg Gard commemorated his teams’ resilience after the game, “This group’s mentality, even with the struggles we’ve had, has always been a fighter’s mentality”.
#7 Kansas (15-3) vs. West Virginia (9-9)
After being ranked at the 13 spot in the pre-season poll, this season for the West Virginia Mountaineers has been one to forget. At 9-9 and sitting at 1-5 in the BIG 12, the Mountaineers were only hoping to show up against the powerhouse Kansas Jayhawks. After a tight battle throughout the whole game, junior Dedric Lawson and sophomore Marcus Garrett hit a pair of layups to increase their lead to 6 with about 2:34 left to play. Kansas did not score again. After grabbing a Lagerald Vick airball, Jermaine Haley took the ball up the court, finished the go ahead lay-up with 15 seconds left to play and secured his perfect shooting night going 5-5 from the field. Those two points capped off a 7-0 run to close out a win for the Mounties and gave the Jayhawks their third loss of the season. Maybe this upset win will light a fire under the Mountaineers and get them on track to be the team everyone thought they would be.
#4 Virginia (16-1) vs. #1 Duke (15-2)
After suffering a loss to Syracuse at home on Monday night, which was just their fourth loss against an unranked team at home EVER , the Duke Blue Devils looked to get back on the winning train last night, and they did. Once again, the Blue Devil freshmen led the charge. First year players RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson combined for 57 of 72 points in the win.. The Blue Devils shot 63% in the second half against a defensively strong Virginia Cavaliers team. Virginia was not able to stop Duke’s offense or able to score on offense.. The Cavaliers missed 11 of 12 shots in a nine minute stretch late in the fourth quarter. A three pointer made by Kyle Guy brought Virginia within three, but it was too little to late. The Cavaliers suffered their first loss of the season as the Blue Devils got a bounce back win 72-70 and proved they are still great even without star point guard Tre Jones.
#8 Texas Tech (15-3) vs. Baylor (11-6)
Freshman transfer Jared Butler shined bright in the Baylor Bears upset win over the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Butler dropped 19 points, 14 of them coming in the second half to go along with his five assists and only one turnover. His play earned high praise from Texas Tech coach, Chris Beard. “He was fearless, played with courage, looked like he was having a lot of fun out there,” Beard said on Butler’s performance last night. Texas Tech started the game hot, jumping out to a 23-10 lead early in the first 9 ½ minutes of the game. However, the Bears went on their own 23-6 run to close out the half with a 33-31 lead. After going down by 13, the Red Raiders scored 11 straight points to cut the lead to two. Jared Butler responded with 6 unanswered points to slow down the Red Raiders. The Bears were able to hold their lead and hand Texas Tech their second loss in four days, 73-62. The Baylor Bears are 7-7 against Top 10 teams in the last three seasons, and that excellent play against other great schools continued again last night.
What a day. We started with two undefeated teams, and ended with zero. There will be a definite shift in the AP Top 25 rankings. It was a day full of madness, and the great part is, the real madness has not even started yet.