The madness arrived early this year.
An unpredictable college basketball season took an unprecedented turn Saturday, when the top six and seven of the top 10 teams lost.
Gonzaga, Arizona, Auburn, Purdue, Kansas and Kentucky all went down, marking the first time in AP poll era (1948–49) that the top six teams lost on the same day. No. 9 Texas Tech also lost, setting another record for most top-10 teams losing in one day.
Only No. 7 Duke and No. 10 Baylor won, the Bears over the fifth-ranked Jayhawks. No. 8 Villanova avoided the carnage by default — the Wildcats don’t play again until Tuesday.
And while the upper echelon was being taken down, the other 10 teams in the AP Top 25 that played Saturday won.
“In all my years I have never ever seen a day in hoops like today,” tweeted ESPN analyst Dick Vitale, who is off the airwaves while undergoing cancer treatment.
The pandemonium shouldn’t have been much of a surprise the way this college basketball season has gone so far.
Gonzaga has had three stints at No. 1 totaling six weeks, including the past two. Baylor spent five weeks at No. 1, Auburn had a three-week run and Duke made a brief top-ranked appearance.
And that’s just the top line. The AP Top 25 has been a jumble all season, with teams trading places like short track NASCAR racing.
Poll voters will have to make some tough choices to make on Monday. Same for the NCAA Tournament selection committee in two weeks.
“We didn’t get help per se in our league because we didn’t take care of business, but on the national scale, we got huge help today because of the teams that we’re fighting with for the higher seed, we all lost,” Kansas coach Bill Self said after an 80-70 loss to Baylor. “So I mean, we won’t drop much, if any, I wouldn’t think.”
The top-tier carnage began with Michigan State’s 68-65 win over No. 4 Purdue in East Lansing, Michigan. The Spartans had lost five of six to plummet out of the AP Top 25, but they outlasted the Boilermakers to give coach Tom Izzo his 662nd win, matching Indiana’s Bob Knight for most at a Big Ten school.
Arkansas coach Eric Musselman has the Muss Bus headed into the right direction at the right time and the 18th-ranked Razorbacks picked up one of their biggest wins of the season, knocking off No. 6 Kentucky 75-73. Arkansas, which reached the Elite Eight last season, has won 13 of 14 and likely will jump in Monday’s poll.
No. 17 Tennessee was next, proving Thompson-Boling Arena is a house of horrors for visiting teams, going on a 17-2 run to beat No. 3 Auburn 67-62. The Vols are 15-0 at home this season.
Down in Texas, TCU rallied from an 11-point deficit to take down No. 9 Texas Tech 69-66 to boost its NCAA Tournament hopes.
After Baylor’s win over Kansas, Colorado pushed around No. 2 Arizona for a 79-63 win. It was the Wildcats’ most lopsided loss of the season — of three — and matched the highest-ranked opponent the Buffaloes have ever beaten.
No. 23 Saint Mary’s provided the capper to the carnage, putting a stick in the spokes of top-ranked Gonzaga’s bid for a perfect West Coast Conference season. The Gaels went on the type of run the Zags normally make, scoring 16 straight points on the way to a 67-57 victory that sent the fans in Moraga, California, streaming onto the floor.
“It’s kind of life in late February and early March, especially on the road,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said.
The madness has already started. March could be maniacal.
AP Sports Writer Stephen Hawkins in Dallas contributed to this report.