Week In Review Feb 18th-Feb 24th
As we get later into the season, the saying that floats around every college basketball analyst is, “Every game counts!” This past week was a prime example of how people take that saying to heart. To kick off Rivalry week, #3 Virginia went into #20 Virginia Tech on Monday and picked up a quad 1 win to add to their already impressive resume. Virginia then went to Louisville on Saturday and grinded out a win against the #15 team in the country. Virginia picked up two road wins against top 25 teams this week and was rewarded by ending the week tied at the top of the ACC.
Over in the Big 10, Purdue was able to survive in Bloomington as Matt Haarms was able to tip in a last second shot by Carson Edwards. Purdue picked up a crucial win to help their chances of winning the Big 10. #24 Maryland went to a red hot #20 Iowa who was on a four game winning streak with a lot of luck on their side. Iowa was down 66-65 with 7.8 seconds and had two chances to hit the go ahead basket, but Iowa’s luck had run out as Maryland picked up the road win. Michigan State went into Michigan and ended their 22 game home win streak and gained sole possession of first place.
As always, not much happened in the Pac 12 as the teams who should be in the tournament were able to avoid bad losses. Washington was able to take care of business against Colorado and Utah at home. Arizona State took down Stanford. And the Pac 12 is still a joke of a conference.
In the Big 12, the leader of the conference, Kansas State, won both of its games against West Virginia and Oklahoma State, but got a lot of help in its chase to end Kansas’s 14 year streak of winning the Big 12. On Saturday, we saw one of the most shocking and impressive win in the Big 12 this year. Texas Tech came out with a lot of energy and handed it to Kansas by shooting 60% from three making 16 of their 26 attempts. Kansas could not answer the red raiders and the game got out of hand very quickly. While we learned to never count a team out down by 25 points “cough, cough, Duke” this years jayhawks squad looked depletted. Fans could see that all of the off court issues got to the team and all hope was lost after the first 5 minutes of the game. That loss took a huge hit to Kansas run at a 15th consecutive Big 12 title. Kansas still has 4 games left on its schedule with a home game against Kansas State on Monday. They have chance to cut Kansas State lead to one game, but they will need a lot of help from the other big 12 teams.
The SEC gave us another exciting and controversial game between #5 Tennessee and #13 LSU. Last week LSU picked up a win at Kentucky on a tip in by standout big man Naz Reid. Many thought it was an offensive basket interference, but the reffes could not review it so LSU got the win. Now fast forward to the game on Saturday, and we were given a fantastic game. Both teams going back and forth, for every run Tennessee made LSU was able to answer. The game went into OT and was setting up to be an instant classic, until the refs made a very controversial call with .6 seconds. Tennessee got the ball with 8 seconds after LSU tied the game on a tip in. Lamonte Turner took the ball up the court and elected to shoot a three instead of using Tennessee’s last time out. He missed and on the rebound Grant Williams crashed into Javonte Smart with .6 seconds remaining in the game. Smart would make both shots and get LSU a win and tie for 1st place in the SEC. Kentucky was easily able to take care of Missouri and Auburn without graduate transfer Reid Travis.
The ACC had a rough week in the headlines. The week seemed promising with Zion Williamson playing in his first North Carolina vs Duke rivalry game and the hype was there. Fans paid thousands of dollars for seats, ESPN advertisements, and even the 44th president Barack Obama was in Cameron Indoor stadium. It was going to be the game of the year, until Zion broke through his shoe. This was a scare for the basketball world seeing the projected top pick in the NBA draft get hurt. Later on in the night, the basketball world received news that Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim accidentally hit and killed a man on the freeway. Jorge Jimenez got out of his car after hitting another person and was struck by Boeheim’s car. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Jimenez family. Boeheim was able to coach the duke game on Saturday, which they lost 75-65.
In the non Power 5 conferences, Gonzaga won its games this week and looks to take over the top spot in the rankings after Duke’s loss. Marquette handled Butler and providence, while Villanova lost its 4th and 5th straight games. Marquette now holds a 1.5 game lead on Villanova in the Big East. Over in the Metro Atlantic Athletic, Iona took down Canisius to take over 1st place. While Nevada had a hiccup against San Diego State, it still sits in first place in the Mountain West.
This was a crazy week that had a lot of ups and downs. February and March are what college fans live for because of the excitement that every game counts. I can’t wait to see what happens with all of the conference races. We again want to send our prayers to the Jimenez family who is going through a tragedy.