Three top-10 teams took losses Saturday and another six teams in the AP Top 25 rankings bit the dust in a day full of upheaval in college basketball that had consequences near and far as conference races heat up.
No game was more consequential than in the Big Ten, where No. 15 Ohio State scored a huge 74-62 road win over No. 10 Wisconsin. The Buckeyes didn’t just get by — they dominated with an impressive wire-to-wire victory as they took the lead 13 seconds into the game and never relented. It was a surprising yet encouraging performance from an OSU team that, four days earlier, took a surprising home loss to Purdue.
Unranked Oklahoma scored an equally impressive win Saturday, ousting No. 9 Kansas 75-68 and leading for most of the second half. The win handed KU a devastating loss for its Big 12 title hopes and pushed its losing streak to three, its first three-game skid as a program since 2013.
As such, Ohio State is one of our biggest winners from the day while Bill Self’s Kansas team is one of our biggest losers. Here’s a full recap from Saturday in the sport as we sift through the rest.
Loser: Tennessee’s tumble continues
This time a week ago, No. 6 Tennessee was 4-1 in the SEC, 10-1 overall, and looking like the potential favorite to win the league. Fast forward a week, and the Vols now sit 4-3 in the league with two losses in two games this week, following a loss at Florida with with Saturday’s 73-64 home loss to No. 19 Missouri. This team has won with a top-flight defense and a just-OK offense all year, but it seems teams are figuring out how to beat the Vols. Or, rather, the Vols are finding ways to beat themselves. Between the two losses this week they committed 36 (!) turnovers and shot a dreadful 38 of 106 (35.8%). Compounding matters, Alabama improved to 8-0 in SEC play Saturday, so UT is now 3.5 games back in the standings. That’s a tough swing.
Winner: Mizzou’s Martin wins at old stomping grounds
Cuonzo Martin’s Missouri Tigers lost by 20 points to Tennessee — Martin’s former employer — earlier this season. But how sweet it must’ve been Saturday to avenge that loss against a now-top-10 Tennessee team and to do it at Thompson-Boling Arena, where he once coached.
Martin left Tennessee on his own volition to coach at Cal before landing at Missouri, and he’s taken the Mizzou program to new heights this season. After being picked to finish 10th in the SEC, the Tigers are tied for second in the league after the win. To be in that spot thanks to a momentous win at Tennessee has gotta be icing on the cake.
Winner: Ohio State gets huge road win
No. 15 Ohio State defeated No. 10 Wisconsin 74-62 on the road to claim its fourth win in five outings, maintaining its contender status in the Big Ten race all the while. The Buckeyes crushed the Badgers on the glass and got a big day from E.J. Liddell (20 points) and from their bench (20 points). It comes just four days after a disappointing home loss to Purdue but launches them forward with a ton of momentum with Michigan State, Iowa and Maryland on deck the next two weeks.
Loser: Kansas’ Self in uncharted territory
What was once a promising start to Big 12 play for Kansas — with a 4-1 open that included road wins over TCU and Texas Tech as well as home wins over Oklahoma and West Virginia — has crumbled for KU, and quickly. The Jayhawks are now 4-4 in the conference after dropping their third straight game Saturday on the road against unranked Oklahoma. It’s just the fifth time in the last 25 years a Bill Self-coached team has taken three consecutive losses, and only the third occurrence during his tenure at KU.
The schedule should ease a bit from here. Two of its next three are at home against unranked teams it’ll be heavily favored to beat. But at 4-4 in league play, Kansas, barring a miracle turn of events, is already out of the conference title race with more than half of league play still left on the slate. It’s an unusual turn of events for the Jayhawks, and a tough spot Self has seldom found himself in through the years.
Winner: Loyola (Md.) bettors
With under three seconds remaining in Saturday’s bout between Loyola (Md.) and American, bettors who had backed Loyola +2 were surely slumped. With American leading 71-68, Loyola’s potential game-tying 3-pointer from Jaylin Andrews missed long and left, and the hope looked dead. Alas, Santi Aldama, who scored a career-high 25 points, saved the day. Aldama scooped up the rebound on the block and scored as time expired to cash bets for Loyola +2 backers.
Loser: UConn’s fast fall from grace
Less than two weeks after joining the AP Top 25 poll for the first time since the 2016-17 preseason, UConn has now lost to St. Johns and to Creighton — in consecutive outings. It’s not a complete surprise given it is playing without potential All-American James Bouknight. But it’s a fast fall from grace after opening the season 7-1 and looking the part of a real contender in the Big East. The way it lost 74-66 Saturday to Creighton stings, too, because the Huskies were sleepwalking out of the gate. They shot 21.4% from the field in the first half — their worst first-half field-goal percentage since 2017 — and missed 16 of their first 20 shots to start the game. UConn recovered and made Creighton sweat it out, but that sluggish start put it in the hole from the jump.
Winner: Roy Williams’ dominance over NC State
North Carolina cruised past NC State 86-76 to improve to 10-5 on the season and 5-3 in ACC play. The win marked UNC’s fifth in its last six outings, but for Roy Williams, it was just another win over NC State in a career that’s almost exclusively been filled with him. He improved to 38-5 all-time as a coach against the ‘Pack with the win and to 33-5 vs. them during his tenure at North Carolina. One of those five came earlier this season by three points on the road, so it helps him avoid a sweep, too.
Loser: Structural engineering at Villanova
Providence’s game at No. 3 Villanova on Saturday had to be delayed not because of lighting issues related to actual lighting, but because lighting issues related to … the sun. That’s right, the sun. The sun glare that shined through Finneran Pavilion was so unbearable that halftime was extended so folks at Villanova could put up a black shade to fix the problem.
Whomever saved the day on the ladder with duct tape and shade is the real hero, but whomever didn’t foresee this being a potential problem probably needs to take a lap. Here’s a look at what they were dealing with, and why they decided to hit the pause before proceeding in a game the Wildcats won 71-56.
Loser: Clemson’s ACC title hopes
Clemson opened its season 9-1 overall and 3-1 in ACC play, looking the part of a serious threat to win the league. Then it lost to Virginia on Jan. 16 by 35. Then to Georgia Tech on Jan. 20 by 18. Then Saturday to Florida State by 19. For the visual learners, No. 5 — Hunter Tyson — is Clemson going for the ACC title. Malik Osborne is the representation of Clemson’s hopes being dashed in its last three games.
It was only a week ago that Jim Boeheim declared that he didn’t have answers for his defense after giving up 96 points to Pitt, including 64 in the second half. Downtrodden, he admitted, “We’re playing the best group we have.” One week later, it seems talk of the demise of the vaunted Syracuse zone defense was premature. Cuse gave up just 57 points Tuesday in a blowout win over Miami, then followed it up Saturday by dominating Virginia Tech 78-60. It’s the second-lowest scoring output by the Hokies all season, which comes just four days after Syracuse allowed the second-lowest scoring output by Miami all season.
Loser: Coach K takes Duke loss hard
Duke’s already-bleak NCAA Tournament resume took another hit Saturday with a 70-65 loss on the road to Louisville. It’s the program’s third consecutive loss, marking its first three-game losing streak since January 2016.
The Blue Devils still don’t have a quality win on their resume to date, and are 0-3 on the season against ranked teams and 0-5 now against teams ranked inside KenPom’s top-75. Don’t count out Duke yet — the return of Jalen Johnson has given this team new life and Matthew Hurt is playing the best ball of his career — but count the Louisville loss as another missed opportunity. Upcoming tilts against Georgia Tech and Clemson could be a nice spot to get right for Duke, but time to really establish itself as a tourney-bound team is quickly passing. At least Coach K is handling things well … [insert sarcasm here!]
Winner: Stanford hangs on for wild finish
Stanford led for well over 30 minutes of game time against No. 24 UCLA. It looked as if it had a win over the Bruins in the bag. But despite that, UCLA managed to tie it up in the final minute of regulation to force overtime, giving Stanford a real run for its money. Then Stanford pulled a rabbit out of its own hat, and voila: GAME.
Loser: Pitt has huge letdown after Duke win
Fresh off a 79-73 home win over Duke, Pitt coach Jeff Capel was apparently concerned about a letdown facing Wake Forest on the road Saturday. That concern proved prophetic: Pitt lost 76-75 in a stunner. It ended Wake’s six-game losing streak and handed Pitt its first loss since Dec. 22.
“We didn’t have the sense of urgency that we talked about in scouting for the couple of days that we had in preparation,” Capel said. “Our defense was poor throughout. We played against a team that was really hungry to win.”
Loser: Minnesota manhandled at home
Just one week ago, No. 17 Minnesota grabbed its most impressive win of the season, dominating then-No. 7 Michigan 75-57. It followed it up with a stunning dud Saturday, falling 63-49 to Maryland. It was’t just that Maryland rolled — it was Minnesota rolled over. Its 49 points is the lowest offensive output for the program since the Big Ten Tournament in 2019. Just a confounding loss for a very good Minnesota team against a Maryland team that has looked like one of the worst teams in the Big Ten at times this season.
Against No. 9 Kansas on Monday, Baylor star Jared Butler made three of his four 3-point attempts in the second half to build distance between his team and the Jayhawks in a 77-69 win. Against No. 15 Texas Tech in the game prior, he went 2-of-3 from 3-point range in the second half before fouling out — but not before drilling both in crunch time in the final five minutes. Then, against Oklahoma State on the road Saturday, he went a perfect 5-of-5 from 3-point range in the second half as he helped turn a close lead into an 81-66 blowout win. He’s not only enjoying an All-American-caliber junior season, but he’s quickly becoming one of the most reliable clutch-time guards in the college game.
Loser: Jerry Stackhouse is salty after loss
Vanderbilt lost its fifth consecutive game on Saturday, this one in lopsided fashion to Arkansas 92-71. Well, Vandy coach Jerry Stackhouse apparently hit a breaking point. After the game, he threw his team under the bus, called a freshman out by name and compared himself to … John Calipari. Here’s just a few quotes from a postgame press conference where he said a lot.
Here’s one: “Right now, we’ve got some guys that don’t want to play no damn basketball.”
Here’s another: “You hate to point to one thing, one guy, but it’s just — today, it was literally Myles Stute. I couldn’t even keep him in the game.”
Oh, and there was more: “I was listening to Calipari the other day … and I think we might have the same team, just with different names. It’s the same thing.”
Perhaps related, Stackhouse with the loss Saturday is 15-28 since taking over Vandy last season and 3-20 in SEC play. Calling out players probably isn’t going to help lure better ones to come play for you!
Winner: Kentucky notches quality win to stop losing streak
Kentucky got an impressive — and dare I say … dominant (?) — win at home over a quality LSU team. And it did it so Saturday by … outshooting LSU. Yes, by outshooting LSU. This is not a drill.
LSU has been one of the top-four 3-point shooting teams in the SEC for much of the season while Kentucky has consistently been in the bottom-two in that category, and yet the Wildcats shot 7-of-26 from 3-point range while the Tigers went a cold 4-of-23 from distance. For Kentucky, it couldn’t come at a better time, either. It was staring down a potential four-game losing streak that would’ve dropped it to 3-5 in SEC play. Now it heads to Tuscaloosa next week to face a top-20 Alabama team with some wind at its sails.