March Madness Comes Early

John Madeira, Staff Writer

“March Madness” is among the most exciting times of the year for sports fans, and this year the madness has arrived early.

For the fifth straight week the AP number one team in the country lost, second only to a streak of eight straight weeks in the 80s.

The madness started Tuesday, February 5, with the number two ranked Florida Gators going down to the Arkansas Razorbacks by a score of 80-69, suffering their first loss in SEC play.

Just 24 hours later, the number five ranked Kansas Jayhawks suffered a shocking defeat to the TCU Horned Frogs, who were statistically the worst team in the Big 12. The loss prompted sharp criticism from the Jayhawks head coach, Bill Self. Self said in a post-game interview that the Kansas team that shot 29% from the floor and scored 13 points in the first half was perhaps the worst Kansas team that’s ever been on the floor, except maybe the early Kansas teams that lost to the Topeka YMCA.

Also on Wednesday, unranked teams Indiana State and Providence knocked off 16 ranked Creighton and 17 ranked Cincinnati respectively.

Thursday saw the AP number one ranked Indiana Hoosiers, who had just beaten then ranked number one Michigan the week before, suffer a defeat on the road to the Illinois Fighting Illini.

19 ranked Oregon and 21 ranked Missouri also got bitten by the upset bug when they lost to unranked teams Colorado and Texas A&M in Pac 12/SEC games.

On Saturday the trend continued for two of the nation’s elite. The Kansas Jayhawks lost for the second time that week, this time falling short against the Oklahoma Sooners, giving the team its first three game losing skid since 2005.

Saturday also saw number three ranked Michigan fall on the road to the Wisconsin Badgers. Wolverines guard Tim Hardaway Jr. hit a contested three point shot with just two seconds left in regulation, giving the Maze and Blue a three point lead.

Wisconsin inbounded the ball, and Wisconsin guard Ben Burst hit a half court, running shot as time expired to force overtime. In overtime, he also hit the game winning three point shot with under a minute left to give the Wolverines their third loss of the year.

Saturday also featured a prime time match up in the Big East with number 11 Louisville visiting number 25 Notre Dame.

The highest scoring game of the year became an instant classic as the Fighting Irish squeaked out a three point victory in the fifth, yes fifth, overtime. The game was the longest Big East regular season game to date.

The next week started similar to the last, this time number seven Arizona fell to unranked California by a score of 77-69.

The hometown Pittsburgh Panthers have also played their role in the Madness, upsetting the then number six ranked Syracuse Orangemen and then a week later took down the number 17 Cincinnati Bearcats.