If Saturday was a precursor to March Madness, then all of our brackets are more doomed than usual. Seven of the AP top 10 teams fell in a wild day of upsets, including every top six team. No. 1 Gonzaga, No. 2 Arizona, No. 3 Auburn, No. 4 Purdue, No. 5 Kansas, No. 6 Kentucky, and No. 9 Texas Tech all caught Ls.
The only top 10 teams to win were No. 7 Duke, and No. 10 Baylor, who played fellow top 10 team Kansas. (No. 8 Villanova is probably thankful they were off.) It was the first time ever every AP top six team lost on the same day, and also the first time seven of the top 10 teams lost on the same day, according to ESPN.
Keep these games in mind when you’re going all-chalk in your bracket. (After such an insane day, I only had the bandwidth to touch on the top six teams below, so please forgive me, Texas Tech fans.)
The one in-conference team that’s given Mark Few issues at Gonzaga has been St. Mary’s. The Zags trailed at half for only the third time this season, and this game ended in a loss like the previous two games.
Drew Timmie had one of his worst games of the season, and it was made worse by Logan Johnson dunking near his head. He made a business decision and opted not to contest, but that didn’t stop the already rambunctious from going crazy. The fans also had to be held off the court until the clock hit zero because there was no doubt they were going to end up on the parquet. If you’re looking for a team with a calm, veteran backcourt to upset a few teams in the tourney, the Gaels qualify.
Buffs’ fans also rushed the court after the Wildcats never got going, shooting sub-40 percent as a team. It was Colorado’s first win over a top 2 team in 30 years. Tristan di Silva finished with 19 points and finished off any hopes of an Arizona comeback with a 3 late in the second half.
The only Wildcat to make more than three field goals was backup guard Peele Larsson — he had four makes. The loss doesn’t hurt Arizona’s chances at a Pac-12 regular season title, and most of the top 10 losing shouldn’t negatively affect their shot at a 1 seed either.
Former UT coach Bruce Pearl isn’t welcome in Knoxville, but he didn’t get a Lane Kiffin goodbye as his team wasn’t able to come away with the win. The Vols rallied from 11 down in the second half, and used a 17-2 run to take control as the Tiger failed to score a bucket over an 8-minute stretch.
Auburn freshman Jabari Smith led all scorers with 27, but it was UT freshman Brandon Huntley-Hatfield’s 3 that sparked Tennessee’s big second half. If there are two coaches who scare the shit out of me in the tournament, It’s Pearl and Rick Barnes. Both coaches usually have good-to-great talent, and both always have games where it looks like their team doesn’t know how to shoot.
Sparty bounced back from a miserable showing against Iowa this week, and Tom Izzo tied Bobby Knight’s record for most wins by a men’s coach at a Big Ten school. Michigan State guard Tyson Walker hit a tie-breaking 3 with three seconds left in the second half to secure the win in East Lansing, and sent tears streaming down his coach’s face.
Usually rounding into tournament form, the Spartans were coming off three straight losses and five of six overall. Any more screw ups and they could’ve found themselves on the bubble. They needed a quality win and they got it.
By default, Baylor was the only top 10 team who hosted a game Saturday, and they used that home court to overcome a 28-15 early deficit to the Jayhawks. Bill Self’s red face and Ochai Agbaji’s 27 points were impressive but not enough to get the W. (The former did earn the Kansas coach a tech, though.)
Last year’s national champion trailed by a point at the break, but scored 49 in the final half to win by 10. Had Kansas went back to Lawrence victorious, it would’ve been a happy plane or bus ride home as it would’ve been accompanied by a Big 12 title.
The Hogs stayed hot, sending John Calipari’s team home with only their second loss in their past 10 games. Arkansas’ JD Notae and Wildcat center Oscar Tshiebwe each had 30 points, but Tshiebwe couldn’t come up with an offensive rebound in the finals seconds, allowing Arkansas to seal the win at the line. (A banked in 3 at the buzzer cut was only meaningful for those who had Kentucky +3.)
Bud Walton Arena was alive with Pig Sooie chants, and coach Eric Musselman did his best to hype the crowd with one arm in a sling. The last time Arkansas beat Kentucky in consecutive games was 2013-14. Had UK came out with a win, they would’ve been tied with Auburn for conference record. Regardless, both teams are still alive to win the SEC regular season title.