See what I did there?
There were some truly strange results this weekend, headlined by the game-winning-shot-that-never-should-have-counted above. Other highlights included a Hall of Fame coach getting ejected in the first 3 minutes of a game, a couple more top-5 teams losing, and the weirdest team in the country getting weirder.
Before getting into some bullet points about the various games, one general observation. This season has been the most fluid in terms of which teams appear to be poised for deep runs in March. I could make a pretty convincing argument for something like 20 teams right now but yet there are only about 4-6 teams I have any serious confidence in. Two of those teams played each other yesterday. Another team I would have said that about lost badly to Wisconsin. Yet another team lost on the lousy no-call above. It’s been a season high on drama but seemingly lacking in truly excellent teams. The tournament should be complete chaos.
- The ending of the Virginia-Duke game was off the charts crazy between Malcolm Brogdon’s no-look layup to give UVA the lead and Allen’s “buzzer-beater.” There’s a great recap of that whole series complete with videos here. It’s not worth harping on the obvious here, but I do wonder about the replay system currently in place. It was immediately obvious that Allen not only traveled before leaving his feet to attempt the shot but that he landed before releasing the ball. Now, I don’t want replay for potential traveling violations, even for game-deciding shots, but for up and down calls that require no judgment? Those should definitely be reviewable. If you’re already looking at the play anyway to make sure he got the shot off on time I really don’t understand why they couldn’t also determine that the shot should never have happened.
- The following ranked teams lost on Saturday: #2 Maryland, #3 Oklahoma, #7 Virginia, #11 Oregon, #13 Louisville, #15 Texas A&M, #18 Purdue, #21 Baylor, #23 USC, #24 Texas, and #25 Wichita State. That’s nearly half of the top 25. Some of these losses are understandable: Virginia obviously shouldn’t have lost but even so, losing at Duke is no big tragedy. Ditto Oklahoma losing to Kansas (even though it was at home and they didn’t play all that well), Texas losing at Iowa State, and USC losing at Arizona. The other games, though….
- Wichita State’s loss is particularly troubling and just reinforces the disconnect between the national narrative around the Shockers and the results. Right now they’re probably sitting right on the bubble. The secondary story is about the team they lost to, Northern Iowa, which continues to have the most confusing resume of any team in the country. They’ve beaten North Carolina, Iowa State, and Wichita State but have lost to Missouri State, Loyola, Indiana State, and Colorado State. That’s just strange.
- Notre Dame notched another quality win by knocking off Louisville, and not even needing multiple overtimes to do it. They’re certainly looking like a more dangerous team than they did about a month ago.
- The Pac12 continues to make barely any sense, at least to me. I can’t figure out if it’s a deep conference with several good teams or just a mediocre conference with none. Oregon looked like the clear class of the conference until Arizona’s little resurgence of late, then they dropped a game to Stanford. I just don’t know. Maybe Bill Walton can explain it the Conference of Champions to me. Probably not, though.
- So, let’s talk about Maryland for a second. What the hell was that? I know Wisconsin can be tough at home but this game was in College Park. Just when I was all ready to declare Maryland to be one of the best 3-6 teams in the country I’m back to seriously doubting them.
- Another team with a terrible home loss: South Carolina. Just an embarrassing effort. I’m still thinking this team is going to be sweating bullets a month from today.
- Both Providence and Dayton narrowly escaped troubling defeats. Providence nearly blew a 20 point halftime lead to Georgetown and Dayton had to get a late 3 to stave off Rhode Island. At least Dayton managed to buck an 11-year trend of losing in Rhode Island and managed to do so without one of their most important players. Providence continues to underwhelm.