The masses gather round college basketball, assured there’ll be drama. Why? Maybe this snapshot of a sport will help explain. One tempestuous weekend in February.
Could all this happen in 30 hours? Yes it could, and just did.Eighteen games went to overtime this past weekend. Thirty-five games were decided by three points or less, or one possession.
Eleven teams in The Associated Press Top 25 lost, starting with No. 1 Arizona. When the weekend was done, Syracuse and Wichita State were the only unbeatens left; one having survived in overtime and the other coming back from 15 points down.
In the Big Ten, Northwestern won a third consecutive road league game for the first time since the Eisenhower administration, 54 years ago. After losing their first three conference games by an average of 25.3 points, the Wildcats have won five of their past seven. They now have more Big Ten victories than Ohio State, Wisconsin or Indiana.
In the ACC, Duke scored 89 points and lost. Virginia scored 48 points and won.
In 45 minutes, Syracuse and Duke combined for 180 points, and only 16 turnovers. A crowd of 35,446 -- seemingly only about 20 of them not wearing orange -- showed up to watch a match between two coaches who now have 1,915 wins. Both Jim Boeheim and Mike Krzyzewski appeared to savor the birth of a new ACC dream date. “Great rivalries,” Krzyzewski said later, “don’t have to be built on hatred.”
In the Big 12, Texas made it four wins in four consecutive games against ranked opponents for the first time in school history, holding Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins to seven points. Three days before, he had a career-high 29.
In the Pac-12, Utah lost in overtime to drop to 14-7 on the season. The seven defeats have come by a combined 26 points.
In the Missouri Valley, Wichita State fell 15 points behind Evansville but won to stay perfect. It is the sixth time this year the Shockers had to rally from a double-digit deficit.
Georgetown and Baylor each took five-game losing streaks into the weekend -- and beat top-10 teams.
Florida held Texas A&M to 36 points, a figure the A&M football team topped 11 times last season. The Gators are now 19-2. The last two times they started 19-2, they won the national championship.
California beat Arizona with a jumper with 0.9 seconds left.
Stephen F. Austin beat Incarnate Word with a tip-in at 0.6. It was the 28th home win in a row for the Lumberjacks, who in January went 25 days without a home game.
Virginia beat Pittsburgh with a 3-pointer at 0.4, off a set screen play the Cavaliers had worked on for weeks. “I haven’t hit it one time in practice all year,” said Malcolm Brogdon, who made it.
Sacramento State beat Weber State 78-75 in a game that had two 3-pointers in the final second. First, Weber State hit one to tie at 0.7. Then Sacramento State’s Dylan Garrity threw in a 75-footer to win. “It was the most surreal moment I’ve ever witnessed in my entire life,” he said afterward.
Oakland’s Travis Bader made his 461st career 3-pointer. Nobody in history has ever made more.In the Atlantic 10, first-place Saint Louis was at home against 13th-place George Mason. Saint Louis needed overtime to win.
Davidson, which started the season 4-10 thanks to playing five ranked teams, pushed its Southern Conference record to 8-1.
In the Big East, St. John’s won for the fourth time in five games. Sixteen days earlier, the Red Storm had been 0-5 in the league.
In the Summit League, IPFW took over sole possession of first place. The Mastodons are 18-6, meaning they have more wins than Indiana or Purdue or anyone else in the state of Indiana.
San Diego State went 8-0 in the Mountain West, its best start in league play in 93 years of basketball. The same day, Steve Fisher won his 300th game as Aztecs head coach. The 65-56 win against Colorado State was the 11th time this season San Diego State held its opponent to less than 60 points.
Michigan had not lost a game in seven weeks. Then the Wolverines were gunned down Sunday at Indiana by Yogi Ferrell, who took eight 3-point shots and made seven. The same Yogi Ferrell who was 3-for-15 in 3-pointers his previous three home games.
By the end of Sunday, Cincinnati, not Louisville, was firmly atop the American Athletic Conference. The Big East, with home offices in New York City and filled with so many traditional East Coast powers, was being led by newcomer Creighton, 1,200 miles away in Omaha, Neb.
Syracuse and Virginia were 1-2 in the ACC, with Duke barely clinging to a tie for third. Never in the six decades of ACC history have neither Duke nor North Carolina finished in the top three in the standings.
Ohio State and Wisconsin -- both ranked No. 3 in the nation at some point this season -- were tied for fifth place in the Big Ten, where nine of the 12 teams had .500 conference records or worse.
“There’s so little separation,” Michigan head coach John Beilein said of his league. “Just look at the scores of the games. No. 1 and No. 12 are like [a few] points apart, so now what is the middle going to look like, if 1 and 12 are just a possession or two? It’s the way it’s going to be all year long. Maybe we’ll have a whole bunch of teams finish 9-9. Have the NCAA try to pick that one.”
In the first of 161 Division I games this weekend, with an 11 a.m. ET tipoff Saturday, Campbell took 30 of its 48 field-goal attempts from beyond the 3-point arc, had the last attempt bounce off the rim, and lost 61-58 to Coastal Carolina in front of a record home crowd.
In the 161st game of the weekend, finished just before the Super Bowl, Oregon State beat UCLA to complete its first home sweep of the Los Angeles conference schools in 24 years.
Crammed in between were the unsung, the upsets and the unexpected. One weekend in college basketball. Also, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow Sunday on Groundhog Day. That means six more weeks of the regular season.