College basketball is entering the final stretch of the regular season, and if Thursday night was any indication, we are in for one hectic month of March.
Three top 10 teams fell on the road to unranked conference foes as part of Thursday's slate, which included the end to the nation’s (previous) longest winning streak and another wild night in the Big Ten.
Cincinnati’s winning streak snapped
The No. 5 Bearcats visited Houston as one of the hottest teams in the country, riding a 16-game winning streak and knocking on the door of a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Instead, the Cougars (20-5, 10-3), who inched their way closer to a tournament bid, played spoiler in a 67-62 win to give Cincinnati (23-3, 12-1) its first loss in AAC play.Houston received a strong all-around effort with Devin Davis leading the way with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Corey Davis Jr. also chipped in 16 and Rob Gray 13, with Armoni Brooks adding 12 points off the bench for the Cougars. It's worth noting that this was Houston’s first win over a top five team in the AP poll since it defeated Memphis in 1996.
Ahead of Thursday's game, NCAA.com correspondent Andy Katz referenced this weekend as the toughest two-game stretch for Cincinnati, who now hosts Wichita State on Sunday. The Shockers escaped Temple with a 93-86 victory at home Thursday night.
DOWN GOES NO. 5 CINCINNATI— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) February 16, 2018
A 16-game win streak has been snapped, and the party is on in Houston. pic.twitter.com/qZRfRjpxZz
Purdue keeps skidding
What’s happened to the No. 6 Boilermakers?
After winning 19 in a row dating back to last week and rising as high as No. 3 in the AP poll, Purdue has dropped three consecutive games in Big Ten play, with the latest coming against unranked Wisconsin in a 57-53 loss in Madison.
Carsen Edwards scored a game-high 22 for the Boilermakers, but it was Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ with 21 points and 10 rebounds that guided the Badgers to their first win over a ranked opponent this season.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, the last time a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament endured a three-game losing streak during the regular season was in 2013 when both Kansas and Louisville earned top seeds.
Earlier this week, the NCAA committee revealed its Top 16 teams at the time, with Purdue coming in at No. 4 overall on the list (No. 1 seed in West regional). While the losing streak isn’t the end of the world for Purdue — the Boilermakers have dropped all three games by a combined eight points — it will likely need to close out the regular season on a high note and make a deep run in the Big Ten tournament if it wants to find itself as a top seed come Selection Sunday.
Slow start haunts Ohio State
The Nittany Lions continue to be No. 8 Ohio State’s kryptonite this season.
Entering Thursday night’s matchup, the Buckeyes were 13-1 in conference play with their lone loss coming against Penn State. That Jan. 25 game ended with a Tony Carr buzzer beater in Columbus.
In round two, Penn State jumped out to a 24-point halftime lead and cruised to a 79-56 win in State Park. The Nittany Lions shot 15-of-31 from the field and made 50 percent of their 3-pointers attempted in the opening half while the Buckeyes shot just 8-for-29 and missed all seven attempts from 3. Carr was once again the man, scoring 16 of his 30 points in the first half. He also added five rebounds and three assists.
Penn State making a push for March!— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) February 16, 2018
Tony Carr's 30 points carry Nittany Lions to big 79-56 win over No. 8 Ohio State. pic.twitter.com/Zvwa7RsUmt
Ohio State (22-6, 13-2) is now tied atop the Big Ten standings alongside Michigan State, but the the Buckeyes own the tie-breaker after their 80-64 head-to-head win on Jan. 7. Purdue sits in third place with a 12-3 record in conference play.
This year’s Big Ten tournament at Madison Square Garden is as wide open as it's ever been, and as Thursday showed, a lot more craziness will probably happen between now and then.