College basketball roundup: 14 ranked teams fall in exciting week full of upsets
It was not a great week for programs in the AP Top 25.
Fourteen ranked teams suffered losses since last Monday’s latest poll release, including seven in the top 10. Three of those teams in the top 25 found the loss column twice.
From unranked upsets to top 25 battles, here’s a rundown of every ranked team to go down in this crazy final week of January.
No. 1 Villanova | Losses: Marquette
The madness came early this year with a trio of top four upsets this past Tuesday night, marking the first time three such teams lost on the same day since 2012.
The most shocking upset of the night came in Milwaukee, where the nation’s top team dropped its second game of the season to unranked Marquette. The Golden Eagles came back from 13 points down in the second half and two free throws from Kevin Reinhardt (19 points) with 11 seconds left sealed the 74-72 court-storming upset.
Last year’s national title hero Kris Jenkins was the epitome of the Wildcats’ struggles, going 0-for-7 from the field.
No. 2 Kansas | Losses: No. 18 West Virginia
Not long before Villanova’s demise, the team directly below it in the poll also fell on the road to a very good Mountaineers team on Tuesday night.
Kansas’ 17-game conference play winning streak was snapped in an 85-69 loss in Morgantown, as WVU dominated in the paint behind a big day from forward Esa Ahmad (27 points).
The Mountaineers have now defeated the Jayhawks four straight times at home.
The week did end on a positive note for the Jayhawks, however, as Kansas prevailed in Saturday’s battle of bluebloods against No. 4 Kentucky.
No. 4 Kentucky | Losses: Tennessee, No. 2 Kansas
Kentucky came into this season with an undefeated record under coach John Calipari at home as a top-five ranked team. The Wildcats have now lost two such games in 2016-17.
The second came Saturday in that aforementioned 79-73 loss to No. 2 Kansas. Kentucky let a five-point halftime lead slip away at Rupp Arena as the Jayhawks exploded for 52 points in the second half.
The kiss of death came with eight minutes left in regulation, where Kansas went on an 11-0 run to take back the lead and bury Kentucky in a 10-point deficit heading into the final five minutes.
Saturday’s defeat was the backend of a two-loss week that started with an 82-80 conference loss to Tennessee. The big three of Malik Monk, De’Aaron Fox and Bam Adebayo combined for 63 points but Robert Hubbs’ 25-point performance for the Vols was enough to hold off the Wildcats.
No. 6 Florida State | Losses: Georgia Tech, Syracuse
Florida State rose all the way to No. 6 in the AP poll to start this week, riding the coattails of a 4-1 stretch against five straight ranked ACC opponents. Talks of the Noles emerging as conference title favorites and Final Four contenders gained steam.
But then, of course, FSU dropped two straight games to unranked Georgia Tech and Syracuse.
The Seminoles were dismantled in Atlanta by the Yellow Jackets, scoring just 15 points in the first half of a 78-56 blowout on Wednesday, and were manhandled again in an 82-72 setback in the Carrier Dome on Saturday.
Finding an offensive rhythm was clearly a problem in both games, as FSU fell into inescapable holes early on. It’s hard to see the Seminoles falling into a prolonged slump with the talent on their roster, but at least this week, there will likely be a steep fall in the rankings.
No. 8 UCLA | Losses: USC
It’s been rough sledding for the high-scoring Bruins. A week after narrowly escaping Utah and dropping a Pac-12 battle with No. 7 Arizona, the suddenly susceptible Bruins were downed again by USC Wednesday night.
The offense once again showed up with Isaac Hamilton (20 points), Lonzo Ball (15) and Aaron Holiday (15) all posting big games, but defense remains an issue. The loss marked the fifth straight game UCLA allowed at least 80 points.
Shaqquan Aaron led the way for USC with a game-high 23 points and four other Trojans reached at least double digits in a balanced effort.
No. 9 North Carolina | Losses: Miami (Fla.)
No chair is safe from Roy Williams when the Tar Heels put together a sloppy performance like in Saturday’s 77-62 defeat to Miami (Fla.).
North Carolina fell behind by 17 at the half and got little production from two of its best offensive weapons in Joel Berry and Kennedy Meeks (combined for 1-of-11 shooting for seven points).
Meanwhile, Miami freshman Bruce Brown lit up the UNC defense for a career-high 30 points and four 3-pointers to pace the Hurricanes to their first top 25 win of the season.
No. 10 Oregon | Losses: Colorado
Not even the hottest team in the nation was exempt from this list of casualties, as Oregon fell for the first time in 18 games to an underrated Colorado team 74-65 on Saturday.
The Buffs held the Ducks’ offense in check with a feisty defense (eight steals) and added eight 3-pointers on offense to take control early on in Boulder.
Oregon rallied back and tied the game at the 8:49 mark of the second half but an 11-1 run from Colorado soon after put the game out of reach.
Payton Pritchard was the Ducks’ highest scorer in the loss with 19 points while Dillon Brooks (nine points) and the rest of the offense was stymied by Colorado’s defense. For the Buffs, Derrick White led the way with 23 points.
No. 11 Butler | Losses: Georgetown
Don’t look now, but Georgetown has now won four of its last six games – including back-to-back top 25 wins this past week.
Butler was the second of these victims, falling 85-81 at home Saturday in a game that featured 19 lead changes.
Butler had a chance to move that total to 20 in the final three minutes of regulation, after Avery Woodson hit a 3 to bring the deficit to two. But Georgetown finished the upset off with a 6-2 run, helped by a key block by Jessie Govan with 1:42 left to preserve the lead.
Butler could have moved into first place by itself with a victory. Instead, it slides into second behind Villanova.
No. 12 Virginia | Losses: No. 1 Villanova
What a game this was for a Sunday matinee in late January.
Villanova was moments away from losing its second straight game before Donte DiVincenzo’s tip-in at the buzzer landed Virginia on this crowded list of fallen ranked teams.
The Cavaliers appeared to have the perfect defensive game plan set up and held the Wildcats to 22 points after one half. But Villanova nearly doubled that total in the second frame and worked it back to a tie with 5:32 left. From that point, there would be eight lead changes and four ties the rest of the way.
Tied at 59-59, Villanova’s Josh Hart drove in the lane and put up a floater that bounced out to a waiting DiVincenzo for the tip-in with one second left.
That follow-up spoiled a 15-point breakout performance from Virginia’s Ty Jerome, a chance at a sixth straight win and an all-important opportunity to take control in the ACC.
No. 14 Notre Dame | Losses: No. 12 Virginia, Georgia Tech
The Fighting Irish have shown grittiness all season long in close contests and last-second finishes. And for the most part, Notre Dame has prevailed come gut-check time.
Not this week though.
The Fighting Irish lost a top 15 matchup with Virginia on Tuesday when London Perrantes shined with 22 points and the Cavs’ elite defense held the Irish to 54 points.
The loss marked Notre Dame’s first defeat in South Bend this season and dropped it out of a tie for first place in the ultra-competitive ACC conference.
The Irish’s tough week continued into Saturday when Georgia Tech’s Josh Okogie converted on a lay-up right before the buzzer to give the upstart Yellow Jackets a 62-60 upset win in front of their home crowd.
No. 16 Creighton | Losses: Georgetown
If there were any questions about Maurice Watson Jr.’s value to Creighton, that was answered this week in the Bluejays’ crushing 71-51 defeat to the hot Hoyas on Wednesday.
Creighton has now lost two straight games since starting 18-1 and look like a considerately different team on both ends of the floor without its starting point guard, whose season came to an end a few weeks ago due to a torn ACL.
The Bluejays finished 1-of-18 from 3-point range and were outrebounded 42-32 in the blowout loss that was spurred by a 26-12 Georgetown run to close out the opening half.
Creighton still has some respectable pieces sans Watson, including Justin Patton and Marcus Foster who combined for 32 of the team’s 51 points against the Hoyas. But the supporting cast must step up now as the Bluejays look to bounce back during the latter half of their Big East schedule.
No. 17 Duke | Losses: North Carolina State
Nothing has come easy for the preseason favorite Blue Devils this year, who are stuck at 4-4 in conference play after a 1-1 week.
Struggling North Carolina State knocked off Duke at Cameron Indoor for the first since 1995 on Monday in an 84-82 comeback effort led by freshman star Dennis Smith Jr.
Smith finished with a game-high 32 points – not including a crowd-silencing dunk after the final buzzer to put an exclamation point on the Wolfpack’s stunner.
Duke blew a seven-point lead in the waning five minutes of regulation and squandered its chance at tying the game in the final seconds after Jayson Tatum lost control of the ball, leading to the Smith steal and post-buzzer dunk.
No. 20 Purdue | Losses: Nebraska
If there was one theme in this week of unpredictable upsets and entertaining top 25 battles, it was that no top team was safe when going on the road.
That much proved true up to the final top 25 upset of the week when No. 20 Purdue was stunned by under-.500 Nebraska in Lincoln.
Double-double machine Caleb Swanigan lived up to that title with 14 points and 14 boards to complement solid games from Dakota Mathias (19 points) and Carsen Edwards (16) but Purdue couldn’t come up with the final strike in a back-and-forth affair.
Nebraska’s Michael Jacobson’s putback with 42 seconds left on the clock put Nebraska ahead for good and ensuing free throws clinched the Huskers’ first win in six games.
No. 24 Xavier | Losses: No. 19 Cincinnati
The Crosstown Shootout rivalry is always fun. It’s even more entertaining when both have those top 25 rankings in front of their names.
That was the case in Thursday’s matchup in Cincinnati, with the Bearcats coming out with bragging rights in an 86-78 finish.
In an unsurprisingly physical game, Xavier pulled ahead early after catching fire from 3-point land. Trevon Bluiett led the Musketeers’ charge with nine of those 3s and 40 points in the game.
The second half belonged to Cincinnati however, as the Bearcats rallied back for an 11th straight victory and a key nonconference game statement.