The Start of the Madness
Madness. A word that is all too familiar for college basketball fans and teams everywhere. The Cinderella team, the busted brackets, and the constant heart-pounding moments. Even when your team isn’t in, you still are suspended from the edge of your seat as you watch the ball float through the air. But, it seems this year the college basketball gods have brought us an early sneak peek.
Throughout the first 10 weeks of the season, the number one team has lost 5 times. Its the first time that has happened in the past ten years. In these losses, the number one team has also averaged a very low 64.2 points which is also the lowest in the past ten years. The worst number of all has been the average BPI for teams that have knocked off the one seed which is 98.2. Although upsets are a common element of college basketball, the first ten weeks have shown us many unprecedented surprises.
State Farm Classic- #1 vs #2
This 2019 State Farm Classic featured games between the top four teams in the country going head to head. Two bluebloods going at it in the very first week of the season as #1 and #2. Not only that but this game was also played in Madison Square Garden. Overall, both teams played fantastically on both sides of the ball in their season debut. But in the end, it would be turnovers that would plague MSU. the Spartans would turn the ball over 16 times throughout the game. They also struggled from beyond the arc shooting 5-26. Missing 3 of those three pointers inside 2:45 didn’t help the cause. Not to mention a stellar performance from Tyrese Maxey who had 26 points including a late dagger 3 with about 1 minute to go. An overall bad game for Michigan State ultimately leading to the loss 69-62.
Evansville Purple Aces
After Kentucky came off a pair of wins against Michigan State and Eastern Kentucky they awaited Evansville in Lexington. No one expected, thought, or even believed that an upset was possible. From the tip off all the way to the buzzer Evansville played really well. They would also lead for most of the game. Every time Kentucky got close the Aces would extend the lead. It all ended when Maxey had a good look at a 3 that was ultimately short. And when no one was looking another one seed would leave their spot at number one. “To come here is a dream come true, we took advantage and we made history,” said Evansville guard DeAndre Williams. Evansville would steal a win away from Kentucky 67-64, which paved a path for Duke to take over at number one.
On November 26, the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks went to Durham, North Carolina to pay a visit to Duke. Although SFA had been a decent team in the past years they were 28.5 point underdogs in this game. SFA took that to heart as they forced 22 turnovers and stayed with Duke the whole game. At one point Duke would even lead by 15 points, yet the Lumberjacks kept chipping away until they forced OT. With 19 seconds to go in regulation, Gavin Kensmil laid the ball in to send the game to OT. With the clock winding down in overtime, SFA forced its 22nd turnover of the game barely tipping the ball in their direction. The loose ball was grabbed by Kensmil who passed it ahead Nathan Bain. Bain raced down the court and laid it in as the buzzer sounded. This would be the biggest victory in SFA history as another one seed fell.
2019 runner up
The Jimmy V Classic featured the national runner up vs the #1 team in the nation. The Cardinals had come off back to back wins against Michigan and Pitt heading into the matchup against Chris Beard’s unranked Texas Tech. Similar to the previous upsets Tech stayed in the game throughout the first half and even came out with the 31-28 lead at the half. The Red Raiders would come out of the second half even stronger by getting easy buckets inside the paint. With about 13 minutes to go, TJ Holyfield had an open look at 3 but instead used a pump fake to get by his defenders. When his defender jumped he took the ball straight to the basket for a layup. An easy bucket that Louisville just didn’t contest. The rest of the game would be more of the same as Texas Tech dominated the Cardinals. This would open up a path for the Kansas Jayhawks who had a looming date with Villanova.
Wildcats rock the Jayhawks.
The Jayhawks rolled into Wells Fargo Center after holding on to the number one spot during week 6. After back to back blowout wins, they had to get ready for a tough game against a ranked Villanova team. Both teams went back and forth trading buckets with Villanova primarily relying on threes. 15 of their 23 points in the first half were from behind the arc and they were 10-41 on the day. As both teams battled back and forth, Kansas would make it a four point game off of a layup with 1:49 to go. A steal by Villanova led into a fast break and an easy layup to make it 55-53 with 1:11 to go. Villanova would get another stop on defense and move the ball down the court taking the clock to 22 before swishing a three. The crowd immediately erupted as Villanova took the lead 56-55 with 20 seconds to go. After a missed free throw and a turnover, Kansas would get another chance with 4 seconds to go. Unfortunately this time the layup didn’t fall as the Jayhawks fell in Philidelphia.
After the fall of the Jayhawks, Gonzaga took over at number one and held that spot through week 10. During that time they beat Detroit, Portland, Pepperdine, San Diego, and Loyola Marymount. The historic numbers in the first 10 weeks show that the number one team in college basketball is going to have one heck of a season. From Michigan State to Kansas everyone is getting their shot and ultimately failing to hold it. With all this madness happening so early in the season, we can already tell that when March is going to one exciting month.
Top photo by Yahoo Sports, sports.yahoo.com