March Madness, In February

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Karnowski is one of the key contributors to Gonzaga's current #1 ranking in the AP Poll.

By Jack Woodard, Staff Writer

College basketball is at the point in the season where teams on the bubble of making the tournament need to put some good wins on their schedule. The top teams also need to win to keep their hopes for a high seed alive. When underdogs are playing to keep their season alive, you can throw the standings out the window.

It was a historic weekend in college basketball. Six top ten teams were upset, tying the record for most all time. Overall, eight teams in the top 25 were upset on Saturday. It certainly was a great day for college basketball fans to just sit back, and watch the mayhem unfold.

Number 1 and 2 ranked Gonzaga and Villanova were some of the teams that took care of business, winning on Saturday. #19 South Carolina, just barely escaped an upset against Georgia, winning 77-75.

The day started out with #17 Maryland playing #23 Purdue at home. With a loss, Maryland would fall to second in the Big Ten standings. Despite the game being close in the first half, Maryland was winning for the whole majority of it. The halftime score was 36-34. In the second half, Maryland went on an 8-0 run propelled by Kevin Huerter and the Terps captured their largest lead of the game at 52-40. Purdue would refuse to quit, however. Purdue answered with a run of their own and cut the deficit to 52-51. The game would stay close for the rest of the way. Purdue fought through losing their star, Caleb Swanigan, to fouling out. With 6.5 seconds left, Purdue had an inbounds play just past halfcourt. They trailed 72-71. This seemed like it would be the last play of the game. Carson Edwards passed the ball in and was given it right back. He would go to his right and charge towards the basket and he went up for the layup and drew the foul. The freshman drilled both free throws and Purdue had a one point advantage. Maryland would need a miracle. With 2.1 seconds left, they threw the ball the length of the court and it was intercepted by Isaac Haas. He raised the ball to the air in celebration and started walking to his bench, but he did not realize the clock did not expire. He was called for a travel. Maryland had a second chance. With 0.5 seconds left, Maryland inbounded it from under the Purdue basket to Huerter. He let and off-balance three-pointer fly and missed. Purdue survived against Maryland for the first upset of the day.

While that game was going on #9 Virginia was at the Carrier Dome taking on Syracuse. Jim Boeheim would have his 1,000th win if his team could pull off the upset at home. Virginia led by 12 at halftime. Syracuse went on a furious 19-2 run to find themselves ahead halfway through the second half, 41-36. The game remained close. In the final minute, Virginia’s London Perrantes hit a three to bring Virginia within one point, but no matter what they did, Syracuse had an answer. They came right back down the court and hit a layup. Syracuse pulled out the 66-62 upset and fans stormed the court. Boeheim said that his 1,000th win was one of the best of his career.

Later at 2:00, #3 Kansas hosted Iowa State at Allen Fieldhouse, a place where Kansas barely ever loses and the Jayhawks had a 51 game win streak there coming into this game. Kansas looked unbeatable in the first half and took a 52-38 lead into the break. Iowa State needed a win here to keep here tournament hopes alive, and they would not give up that easily. Iowa State would shoot the lights out of Allen Fieldhouse, hitting 18 three-pointers to come back. Late in the game, the Cyclones trailed by two, but Monte Morris hit a three and gave them an 82-81 lead. Kansas would tie it with a free-throw, and Frank Mason III missed a buzzer-beater and the game would go to overtime. With 26.7 seconds left, Iowa State led by one, when Donovan Jackson hit a corner three to give Iowa State a 90-86 lead. With time 2 seconds left Kansas trailed by 3 and Svi Mykhailiuk fired a deep three that barely even hit the rim, time expired and Iowa State shocked the crowd at Allen Fieldhouse beating Kansas 92-89.

In a Big East battle, #22 Creighton faced off against Xavier. The winner of this one would be in second place in the conference. Both teams came into this one missing impact players as Creighton’s Maurice Watson Jr. and Xavier’s Edmond Sumner are both out for the season. Creighton used their explosive offense to build a 43-34 halftime lead. Creighton led for most of the second half, but Xavier relied on their three-point shooting to come back. With 2:49 left, Xavier led 75-70. With 47.5 seconds left Creighton hit a big three and made it a one-point game. Creighton had their chances under 15 seconds left to survive, but a missed layup and then a careless turnover out of bounds gave Xavier the 82-80 win.

Kansas State traveled to play #2 Baylor. Baylor at 20-2 had not lost at home yet this season. A win for Kansas State could help their tournament chances. This one started out as a blowout. Kansas State quieted the home crowd in the first half leading building a 37-22 lead at the half. They led by as many as 19 points in this one and Baylor could not find their flow. With 13:37 to go in the game, Kansas State’s defense was still shining as they had a 46-28 lead. This is where Baylor had enough. Johnathan Motley slammed home a dunk making the score 49-38. The fans went crazy as Baylor climbed back into it. With 3:18 to go, Baylor was still down 51-44, when Ish Wainright stole the ball and had a fast break. His layup was blocked, but Motley was there, Johnny on the spot, and he dunked it cutting the deficit to five. With 1:40 left Kansas State needed a basket to quiet this crowd and they found the answer. On an inbounds play, Kamau Stokes hit a fade-away jumper in the corner making it a four-point lead. With 45 seconds left Manu Lecomte hit a deep three and Baylor only trailed 55-54. After a mad Kansas state free-throw, Baylor needed a response. They had an inbound pass under the basket with 1.6 seconds left. The ball was lobbed in the air to Johnathan Motley, who caught it in the air just inside the free-throw line. He stayed in the air and let the shot fly, but Kansas State’s D.J. Johnson came flying in for the block as time expired. Kansas State shocked Baylor 56-54.

In the what was probably the most anticipated matchup of the week, #5 Arizona battled #13 Oregon in Eugene. This one was expected to be a close game possibly coming down to the wire, wrong. Oregon went on a 19-0 run in front of their home crowd and led 38-11 in the first half. Oregon led 38-18 at halftime, hitting 10 out of 14 from beyond the arch. They would not stop there. Oregon shot 64% from beyond the arch in this one. The second half was not much different than the first as Oregon finished with an 85-58 beating of Arizona.

Later that night #7 West Virginia fell to Oklahoma State, 82-75. Oklahoma State now has the largest win streak in the Big 12 at five.

In another highly anticipated match up, #8 Kentucky traveled to Gainesville to play #24 Florida. The Gators absolutely dominated the boards in this one, finishing with 54 rebounds, which was 25 more than Kentucky. The Wildcats were tough in the first half, but the Gators led 34-26. The second half was a beat-down on Kentucky. Florida exploited Kentucky’s weaknesses and got the big win, 88-66. Kentucky has been trending in the wrong direction lately.

With all these upsets in February, fans are more and more excited for March. Justin Reicher, a freshman, said, “The games over the weekend were certainly very exciting for fans and it showed that no matter the record, in college both team will play as hard as possible. This is the time of year when teams need to prove that the are worthy to be in the Big Dance and rack up some quality wins. I can’t wait for March.”

This was definitely the craziest weekend of the year in college basketball and it is only February. March Madness is coming soon, and it looks like we could have absolute chaos on our hands.