Sunday was not a good day to be a top ten team, much as the polls in college basketball are ultimately meaningless. Three teams ranked there played on Sunday, all on the road, and none of them won. It capped off quite a weekend in college basketball with the top teams.
First, Duke went over to Raleigh to take on an NC State team that has played well thus far, though under the radar. Trevor Lacey, an Alabama transfer, has had a solid season for the Wolfpack, and he came up big on Sunday with 21 points on 8-13 shooting, leading a 55 percent shooting effort in an 87-75 win over the Blue Devils. Jahlil Okafor had 23 points on 8-11 shooting and 12 rebounds for Duke, but the Blue Devils shot below 37 percent. Take out Okafor and Quinn Cook, who had 18 points on 6-1 shooting (4-7 on three-pointers), and Duke’s other three starters shot a combined 5-27 from the field, and Rasheed Sulaimon was 4-12 off the bench.
Next, there was Wisconsin, who was without big man Frank Kaminsky due to a concussion. Then Traevon Jackson went down in the second half with a leg injury, so the Badgers were in some rough shape. To their credit, Rutgers took advantage and came away with a 67-62 win over the Badgers in Piscataway. Myles Mack scored 19 of his game-high 21 points in the second half, and fellow senior Kadeem Jack added 20 points. Rutgers shot over 54 percent from the field.
Finally, we head out west in one of the last games of the night. Oregon State got the first signature win of the Wayne Tinkle era, getting a late basket to break a 56-56 tie and holding off Arizona 58-56 in Corvallis. Arizona shot just under 38 percent from the field, while allowing the Beavers to shot over 51 percent, and that added up to the end result. Oregon State is now 11-4 overall and 2-1 in the Pac-12, and Tinkle has a nice recruiting class coming in for next year, so he’s off to a nice start.
Add Sunday’s result to Kentucky needing overtime to beat Texas A&M a day earlier, and we get a reminder: any team can win on any given night, and we shouldn’t start handing out Final Four bids or a national championship trophy to anyone right now. No team is invincible no matter how talented and/or deep they may be.
Staying in the Big Ten, Northwestern gave Michigan State all they could handle and then some, but the Spartans took over in the extra session for an 84-77 overtime win. Travis Trice had a double-double with 18 points and 10 assists. Northwestern is 1-2 in Big Ten play, but they will be a tough customer as this young team grows. Also, Nebraska beat Illinois 53-43 in Lincoln, sending the Illini to 1-3 in Big Ten play.
Syracuse improved to 3-0 in ACC play with a 70-57 win over Florida State behind 28 points from Trevor Cooney. The Orange aren’t the powerhouse they have been some other years, but they started with two road wins and now add this one, so they should be a more confident bunch. However, it wasn’t all good for the Orange, as freshman forward Chris McCullough went down with a knee injury in the first half and never returned. He will evaluated further on Monday.
Heading out west, UCLA kept California’s struggles going, beating the Golden Bears 73-54 in Westwood. The Bruins seem to be coming to life with two straight wins, while California is 1-3 in Pac-12 play. Stanford beat USC 78-76 in the other game on the night, getting 21 points, 10 rebounds and five assists from Anthony Brown to improve to 3-1 in Pac-12 play.
Wichita State and SMU both took care of business on the road, with the Shockers beating Loyola (Ill.) 67-53 and the Mustangs beating UCF 70-61.
The national championship game in football will get most of the attention, and as such it’s also a limited slate on the hardwood. Highlights:
- Monmouth travels across the state to take on Rider in an early showdown of 4-1 teams in the MAAC.
- An in-state non-conference battle takes place as UTSA heads to UT Pan American.
- It’s a busy night in the MEAC and SWAC, with 3-0 NC Central hosting Savannah State and fellow 3-0 team Norfolk State traveling to Bethune-Cookman in the MEAC.