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What A Crazy Day In College Hoops Saturday Was

One of the greatest days of upsets ever.

NCAA Basketball: Gonzaga at St. Mary’s
 Feb 26, 2022; Moraga, California, USA; Even he can’t believe it: Saint Mary’s Gaels guard Alex Ducas (44) celebrates with fans after the game against the Gonzaga Bulldogs at University Credit Union Pavilion.
Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Based on Saturday, you’d think it’s already March. Well, close enough! Look what happened.

  • Number nine Texas Tech fell to TCU.
  • Number six Kentucky lost to #18 Arkansas.
  • Number five Kansas lost to #10 Baylor.
  • Number three Auburn lost to #17 Tennessee.
  • Number four Purdue lost to Michigan State.
  • Number two Arizona got killed by Colorado.
  • And Number one Gonzaga was thoroughly outclassed by St. Mary’s.

The top six teams all lost for the first time since the 1948-49 season. Coach K was probably still in diapers.

The Gonzaga-St. Mary’s game was especially great because the Gaels kicked them hard for most of the game and at the end, basically had to reach down and find the energy to hold on.

It was one of the most passionate displays we’ve seen in years. It reminded us of some of the great events we’ve seen in sports history: John Daly stunning the world at the PGA. Miami taking out Oklahoma when Howard Schellenberger got the ‘Canes going. Duke-UNLV in 1991. Appalachian State beating Michigan in the Big House. UMBC just destroying #1 seed Virginia. You sense that something incredible could happen and then it does.

It had that level of passion and unbelievability. It was just brilliant. We’re praising St. Mary’s not knocking them when we say this but their uniforms made it even better because they look cheap. It just added to the sense that they should not be in the game with the Zags but they made it clear: they deserved the win.

We don’t track all the ins and outs of Bracketology but when you have a day like this, what happens? Especially for Duke?

According to Joe Lunardi: not much: “Not only did the Blue Devils win, they did so on the road, a feat to be celebrated under the circumstances. They also looked the part of a No. 1 seed. The problem for Duke is that, no matter how impressive it plays down the stretch, it cannot match the résumé wins of the non-ACC powers this year.

“There could be considerable momentum behind the Blue Devils, especially given the Coach K angle, but it should tell us something that Duke — despite being the only winner on the top two lines — leapfrogged just a single team in the seed list. The Blue Devils and Purdue swapped the seventh and eighth positions. It was a day to cherish, not build a new bracket. At least not yet.”

The Coach K angle is irrelevant. But beating Gonzaga and Kentucky ought to count for something.

And if the ACC works against Duke this year, is it worse than the West Coast? Gonzaga has wins over Texas, since devalued, UCLA, also devalued and losses to Duke (roughly the same) and Alabama, which has been highly erratic. Only Texas Tech has gone up. But the conference schedule can’t help them much.

Anyway, none of it is really important. Gonzaga can keep the #1 spot and #1 seed for what it’s worth.

And all of that stuff is just speculative too, just like the way the field is seeded. Who cares? Look at the current Top Ten:

  1. Gonzaga
  2. Arizona
  3. Auburn
  4. Purdue
  5. Kansas
  6. Kentucky
  7. Duke
  8. Villanova
  9. Texas Tech
  10. Baylor
  11. Providence
  12. UCLA
  13. Wisconsin
  14. Houston
  15. Illinois

You surely don’t think all 15 are going to make it through the first weekend, do you? So the seedings are going to be useless in a big hurry, just like always.

The real question is how the path breaks out for various teams.

For instance, in Lunardi’s current Midwestern bracket, # 8 St. Mary’s plays Murray State and the winner will get either Kansas or Cleveland State which, realistically, means KU. Do you feel great about Kansas getting out of that? It wouldn’t be easy.

If you’re Gonzaga, who would you want in the Sweet Sixteen? UConn? Ohio State? Iona? No one wants to see Iona.

South Dakota State is 27-4. They’re probably going to be in. Want to see them early? We don’t.

None of it matters except for Jim Valvano’s timeless advice: survive and advance and worry about tomorrow tomorrow.