Top ranked teams in college basketball prove to be vulnerable

  • Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Oklahoma forward Romero Osby (24) reacts in front of Kansas’ Elijah Johnson (15), Ben McLemore (23) and Kevin Young (40) at the end of an NCAA college basketball game in Norman, Okla., Feb. 9. Oklahoma won 72-66. AP PHOTO/SUE OGROCKI

There were eight losses for six top-10 teams. No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 all went down. A total of 14 schools in the Top 25 had at least one loss.

All in one wild week for college basketball.

“It’s a crazy season, man,” Illinois forward Tyler Griffey said. “It is a crazy, crazy season.”

No kidding.

Six Top 25 teams lost on Saturday alone, including two of the top five. When the next Associated Press poll comes out Monday, it likely will have a new No. 1 for the sixth straight week — marking the second-longest such streak since the first rankings in 1949.

March Madness is weeks away, but February Frenzy is already in full swing.

Fourth-ranked Duke overcame early and late deficits to beat Boston College 62-61 on Sunday night, but seventh-ranked Arizona lost 77-69 to California and Illinois made 11 3-pointers in a 57-53 victory at No. 18 Minnesota.

“Nothing about today was easy,” Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “These are games anybody can lose, and throughout the country everybody is losing them. Our guys found a way to win against a team that was also deserving to win, so that’s a real good thing.”

For top schools, it’s been a rocky run. According to STATS, Top 25 teams lost to unranked teams 36 times from Jan. 17 to Feb. 6, the most in at least 17 years.

Top-ranked Indiana, No. 2 Florida and No. 3 Michigan each have dropped a game in the past week. The Hoosiers fell 74-72 at Illinois on Thursday and the Gators trailed by as many as 27 during the second half of an 80-69 loss at Arkansas last Tuesday night.

“It just goes to show you anybody can beat anybody on any given night,” Griffey said. “TCU beating Kansas, us beating Indiana: It’s an unbelievable year, but that’s what makes it exciting. That’s what makes it so much fun to play.”

Michigan was leading Wisconsin 60-57 on Saturday when Ben Brust got a perfect inbound pass from Mike Bruesewitz, took one dribble across halfcourt and connected for the tying 3-pointer as time expired in regulation. Brust added another big 3-pointer in overtime to lead the Badgers to a 65-62 victory.

“It was awesome, something I’ll remember forever, and I’m sure a lot of people will,” Brust said.

The Wolverines will need to forget this one in a hurry. They face rival Michigan State in East Lansing on Tuesday night.

Fifth-ranked Kansas also is looking at a quick turnaround after a 72-66 loss at Oklahoma on Saturday made it a three-game slide for the storied program for the first time in eight years. The Jayhawks host No. 13 Kansas State on Monday.

“It hasn’t been a good week for us by any stretch, but let’s be real,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “We were ranked No. 2 in the country seven days ago, and you don’t go from being a good team to a bad team overnight.

“We’ve had a couple of bad outings, but we’re still a good team.”

It turns out the losses by the Wolverines and Jayhawks were just a precursor to a five-overtime thriller at Notre Dame, where the No. 25 Fighting Irish erased an eight-point deficit in the final 51 seconds of regulation and went on to a 104-101 victory over the 11th-ranked Cardinals.

“Unbelievable,” Irish coach Mike Brey said. “I’m really proud of my team because many times we were down in the overtimes and kept fighting back. Everybody was part of it tonight. It’s one of those magical nights.”

It was the longest regular-season game in the history of the Big East. The previous record was a four-overtime game that happened 11 years ago to the day and also involved Notre Dame. The Irish beat Georgetown 116-11 in 4 OTs on Feb. 9, 2002.

It also marked the sixth time in the last eight meetings that a game between the Irish and the Cardinals went into overtime.

“It’s always overtime,” said Chane Behanan, who led Louisville with a career-high 30 points and 15 rebounds. “The strongest will survive.”

The current string of No. 1 swapping is the longest since 1994, when Arkansas, North Carolina, Kansas, UCLA and Duke alternated at the top seven straight weeks — the longest streak since Saint Louis debuted as No. 1 in the initial AP poll in 1949.

If the poll holds, the Blue Devils are poised to return to the top spot — whether they like it or not.

“It’s crazy to watch, but it’s very entertaining,” Duke guard Seth Curry said. “We’ve been the No. 1 team a few times this season. It’s not something we’re shooting for; we’re just trying to win games.”

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