If a groundhog can predict an early summer by simply looking for his shadow, then a gopher can certainly signal an early beginning for March Madness™ by punching the No. 1 ranked team in the mouth. In fact, Tuesday night was not a good night to be nationally ranked and on the road. Indiana, Florida and Memphis all dropped road games Tuesday night—none more impressive (or maddening, for some) than Minnesota’s gritty home win over the top-ranked Hoosiers—sending March Madness bracketologists and bubble watchers into a tizzy.
For fun, let’s look at what’s happened over the past couple nights in the Top 25.
Monday Night Massacre
Marquette Squeezes the Orange. The Orangemen are backing their way across the finish line. After beat four straight ranked opponents, Syracuse dropped two in a row (Georgetown, Marquette). A win against 10th ranked Louisville this week will right the ship.
KU Escapes a Cyclone…Thanks to Wobbly Officiating. I hardly ever hang a win or loss on officiating. But there’s no question Kansas got away with murder Monday night. They know it. Iowa State knows it. The Big 12 knows it. No such thing as a bad win, agreed. But there is such a thing as a gift-wrapped win.
Gopher Punched. A bitter, bruising road loss to an under-achieving Minnesota team in the B1G isn’t the end of the world for Indiana, but it does mean their margin for error is down to razor-thin territory if they want to win the B1G regular season championship and earn the No. 1 seed in the Midwest. That season-ending game at Ann Arbor just took on even more importance. For Minnesota, it was a crucial, signature win that probably moved them off the bubble.
Tennessee bites the Gators. The injury bug caught up to Florida at the worst possible time. Despite Gators’ high national ranking and relatively down year for the SEC, they haven’t wrapped anything up yet. Surprisingly, second place Alabama is looming large in their rearview mirror right now.
Memphis Meltdown. Just when the Tigers started earning some respect, they trip on the road at Xavier. Not sure how much this loss hurts Memphis right now. They could still easily earn a No. 4 or No. 5 seed in the tournament.
Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Iowa at No. 1 Indiana. The Hoosiers need to right the ship before their last two regular season games vs. Ohio State and Michigan. A loss would surely trigger the panic button in Bloomington.
Freakin’ Gonzaga. If they win at BYU Thursday and at home vs. Portland Sunday, the Zags could finish their regular season with an improbable No. 1 ranking. A two-loss season is impressive, but c’mon, man. Whom have they played?! Gonzaga’s 1-2 vs. ranked opponents. They could end up being the weakest No. 1 seed in the field this year.
No. 5 Miami at No. 3 Duke. With the Hoosiers’ loss, no game takes on greater significance than this battle for the ACC championship. If the ‘Canes win, the ACC regulars season championship is theirs…and possibly a No. 1 seed. A Duke win changes everything.
No. 9 Michigan State at No. 4 Michigan. The entire state of Indiana will be cheering for Sparty in this one. The Wolverines need this win to have a fighting chance for the B1G crown and a potential No. 1 seed. If the Spartans win, they make a case for earning a No. 2 seed, at best. Either way, no conference tournament will have more intrigue than the B1G in a couple weeks.
The final regular season rankings next Monday should be interesting.