Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The NCAA Tournament selection committee's
tasks of picking a field and assigning seeds are never easy.
This season, those tasks will be next to impossible thanks to a continuous flow
of unprecedented upsets that have continued to stir up the conversation and
It is amazing the difference one year can bring. It was pretty clear that
Kentucky was destined for the No. 1 seed in the Big Dance for most of the
2011-12 season. This season, it appears at least three top seeds are still up
for grabs with the conference tournaments right around the corner.
"I think what you saw today is why we all love college basketball," said
Michigan head coach John Beilein after his fourth-ranked Wolverines were dealt
a shocking, 84-78 loss by Penn State on Wednesday. The Nittany Lions came into
the contest without an 0-14 record in Big Ten Conference games, but that did
not stop them from providing their student section with an excuse to rush the
The Wolverines were once owners of the No. 1 ranking, but have gone 3-4 since
the day they were deemed the nation's best. The seat atop the polls is no
longer a throne for lounging. It is more comparable to a chair at a speed
dating event before time inevitably gives someone else a shot to try their
Although only Indiana, Duke, Michigan and Louisville have earned the honor,
there was a five-week span before the Hoosiers reclaimed the No. 1 ranking
while a new team occupied the position each week.
The rest of the top 25 has played a game of follow the leader. While some have
been more notable than others, 19 different ranked teams have endured a loss
over the past 15 days with the majority of the setbacks coming courtesy of
unranked foes. The past seven days have been riddled with thrilling bouts both
inside and out of the Top 25.
Miami (Fla.) set the tone for this week's parity on BracketBuster Saturday when
it was completely demolished at Wake Forest, 80-65. The following day, the
18th-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes rallied from a six-point halftime deficit to
upset the No. 4 Michigan State Spartans, 68-60, in Columbus.
On Monday, Marquette handed Syracuse its second loss in a row while No. 6
Kansas needed the help of a controversial call late in regulation to escape on
the road with an overtime win over Iowa State. The Jayhawks may have
finished off February on a positive note, but they began the month with three
straight losses, including a 62-55 setback at TCU in what may have been the
most unexpected result of the season.
Villanova added another blemish to its NCAA Tournament resume on Monday after
Seton Hall overcame a four-point deficit in the final 13 seconds to snap the
Wildcats' three-game winning streak.
The night after the Pirates basked in victory was even crazier as three of the
four ranked teams to take the floor were upset. Indiana once again fell as the
No. 1 team as it was handed a 77-73 loss by Minnesota, Florida fell by six
points at Tennessee and Memphis had its 18-game winning streak snapped in
Cincinnati by Xavier.
Although seven of the top 25 teams to take the floor on Wednesday took care of
business, there were a couple that didn't get the memo that the upset bug was
going around. Arizona dropped an 11-point decision at USC after Penn State's
victory versus Michigan.
The Missouri Valley Conference provided some commotion under the radar as Drake
upset Indiana State, Southern Illinois defeated Northern Iowa and Evansville
collected its first win in Wichita in over 12 years with a 59-56 victory over
the Shockers. Wichita State's loss has made its bout scheduled for Saturday
with Doug McDermott and Creighton the deciding game for the MVC regular season
The final day of the month delivered a bundle of activity. Outside of the Top
25, UT Martin generated a shocker as it defeated Murray State, 69-68, in the
Racers' own building. Also, Niagara failed to clinch the Metro Atlantic
Athletic Conference regular-season title as it was bested by nine points at
home by Rider.
The 25th-ranked Louisiana Tech Bulldogs protected their newly acquired ranking
with a rout of Utah State, but the other four Top 25 schools that saw action
faced greater challenges.
Coach Dana Altman's Oregon Ducks needed to overcome a nine-point deficit to
complete the season sweep of their Civil War series with Oregon State, which
came in with a 3-12 Pac-12 record. Ohio State needed a late rally to get past
Northwestern despite the Wildcats only trotting out seven scholarship players.
Third-ranked Duke fell behind early to Virginia in front of a sellout crowd at
John Paul Jones Arena and the Cavaliers kept the foot on the gas all night en
route to their first win over the Blue Devils during the Tony Bennett era.
With Coach K's squad falling, Mark Few's second-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs seemed
like a very likely candidate to rise to the pinnacle of the polls. However,
they had to get by a feisty BYU squad first. Gonzaga coasted with ease to a 20-
point victory over the Cougars at home four weeks ago, but the game was
completely different with the stakes raised in Provo, Utah. Thanks to a stellar
performance by All-American candidate Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga hung on for a five-
point win after a very physical 40 minutes.
The Bulldogs will conclude their regular season on Saturday when the 11-19
Portland Pilots visit the McCarthey Athletic Center. A victory could lift
Gonzaga to its first-ever No. 1 ranking, which would mark the first time a West
Coast Conference school occupied the top spot since Bill Cartwright led San
Francisco to the top over 30 years ago.
Although on paper Gonzaga should have no trouble with Portland, it is clear
nothing can be taken for granted at this point.
While the Bulldogs have been solid all season long, there is no telling what
this year's NCAA Tournament will bring. A trip to the Final Four is going to be
a realistic possibility for more schools than ever before. The titillation of
February was tremendous, but it was all only a precursor to the imminent
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