By Arnie Leshin
Well, what do we know, we know that men’s college basketball Saturday brought the first downfall of the nation’s top-ranked, 2nd ranked and 4th ranked schools. Yup, down went No. 1 Baylor, down went No. 2 Gonzaga, and down went No. 4 San Diego Stare for the first time in 50 years or to be more precise, since 1970.
No. 3 Kansas, though, staged one of the surprises by playing at Big 12 rival Baylor and coming away with a 64-61 win that put the two all even a-top the standings at 13-1 each.
The Bears, the seventh team to be ranked No.1 this season, had a five-week stay as number one.
This should move the Jayhawks up in the rankings, even as high as No. 1 as they advanced to 24-3 by ending Baylor’s win streak at 23 and avenging the January 12-point defeat at home to the Bears that put an abrupt end to their 28-game home winning skein.
This time it was a sellout crowd of 10,622 at the Farrell Center that saw its Baylor team lose for only the second time in 28 starts. There are four games remaining in the regular season and the Bears are looking for their first conference title. They hadn’t been behind by more than two points in any of their previous Big 12 games.
It also spoiled the pre-game unveiling of the regular-season banner that Baylor had already clinched.
That’s No. 1.
Second-ranked Gonzaga hit the road for No. 18 BYU and left with a 91-78 setback as the Cougars won their sixth in a row and dropped stunned Gonzaga to only its second defeat in 27 starts.
That’s No. 2
Skip 4th-ranked Kansas because it took care of business on the road and turned it into a new No. 2 or No. 3.
But No. 4, San Diego State, the only remaining undefeated team in Division I, got a visit from fired-up UNLV in the Mountain West Conference and it cost the Aztecs their first setback. 66-63. The Aztecs had won all of their previous had won all of their previous 26 games, and were hoping for a March Madness No.1 seed, which is still possible, but this loss doesn’t help because they will probably not stay at No. 4.
Not only was this a blow to SDSU, but it came at home before another packed house, but despite this, the Running Rebels kept their composure and shut out the crowd noise.
As for No. 4, they could stay there, they could not. they could. San Diego State had been projected as the top seed in the East for the NCAA tournament, and could remain there if it doesn’t stumble again. The worse would be dropping to the No. 2 seed in the West. Not only was this a blow to SDSU, but it came at home before another packed house, and despite this, the Running Rebels kept their composure and the crowd noise didn’t throw them off course.
As for the West, Gonzaga has been the projected top seed there, but will have to start another win streak to maintain that spot. But who knows, it could still be the Zags versus the Aztecs in the West.
The bottom line is that whatever you see or hear now could change when the NCAA puts together its 70-team field. In other words, there are still games, key conference games, that still remain.
What a night, down went one, two and three, and up went No. 4.
And can’t overlook Bob Hurley’s surging Arizona State team winning their seventh in a row and streaking to second place in the PAC 12 via Saturday’s 74-73 nail bitter at Oregon. Hurley, of Duke fame as an elite point guard, saw his team get away to a disappointing start before finding the path to upgrading its game, and is now 20-8.