There’s no denying it was another fun-filled weekend in college basketball. Notre Dame won a five-overtime game against Louisville. Wisconsin and Michigan had fans and broadcasters begging someone to foul. The conference races are tighter and more jumbled than before. Good teams have fallen into slumps. And nobody can score -- with the exception of South Dakota State’s Nate Wolters.
Here are some observations from the weekend:
What’s up with Louisville?
The game that got the most attention over the weekend was Notre Dame’s 104-101 victory over Louisville in five overtimes. It was high drama and another one of those reminders never to leave a game before it is over.
[MORE: Check out video highlights of the five-overtime game.]
But as much fun as this game was for the neutral observer, it was a very bad loss for Louisville, which had an eight-point lead in the final minute of regulation. Now the Cardinals are in a position no one would have imagined back on Jan. 14 when they rose to the No. 1 spot in The Associated Press poll.
Louisville is 19-5 overall, but that 7-4 record in the Big East leaves the Cardinals looking up at too many teams. Louisville is tied with Notre Dame for fifth place in the Big East, behind Syracuse and Marquette (both 8-2), Georgetown (7-3) and Pittsburgh (8-4). Coach Rick Pitino didn’t take questions from the media after losing the longest regular-season game in Big East history.
“They just made incredible shots,” Pitino said. “I can’t fault our defense. We were on them. ... I’ve never seen shots like that and I’ve been coaching a long, long time.”
Louisville has all the pieces to make a Final Four run, but that No. 1 curse that is going around has been tough on the Cardinals. They are 4-4 since they climbed to the top and have games against St. John’s, USF, Seton Hall and DePaul before that March 2 rematch with Syracuse in the Carrier Dome.
Jared Berggren (left) and Mike Bruesewitz had plenty to celebrate after Wisconsin's thrilling win over Michigan.
Take a look at the Big Ten standings.
Wisconsin is back in the hunt. The Badgers are the exact opposite of Louisville in the Big East. Bo Ryan’s team went on the road Feb. 3 and beat Illinois. Then the Badgers followed that up with back-to-back overtime victories last week. They beat Iowa 74-70 in double overtime and then knocked off No. 3 Michigan in that 65-62 overtime thriller at the Kohl Center.
[MORE: Check out video highlights of Wisconsin's thrilling win.]
The usually stoic Ryan even celebrated when Ben Brust tied the score at the end of regulation with his shot from just inside the midcourt line. Some are calling it a heave, but it looked like an honest-to-goodness shot after watching the replay once, twice -- or a dozen times.
“You know when (Ryan) shows some emotion, you’ve done something pretty special,” Wisconsin’s Mike Bruesewitz said.
The shot by Brust took Ryan off the hook for not fouling Michigan’s Tim Hardaway Jr. before his go-ahead 3-pointer with less than three seconds left in regulation. Both coaches were up for criticism for not fouling, but that’s a debate for another time.
Wisconsin is 8-3, tied for third on the conference with Michigan behind Indiana and Michigan State (both 9-2). Incredible.
New leader in Big 12
Things have changed quickly in the Big 12. In the span of a week, Kansas lost three games -- and that’s a true rarity in the Bill Self era. So, by Saturday night, Kansas State was in first place in the Big 12 standings.
Check out Ken Davis' latest college basketball power rankings at FOXSports.com.
Hold off engraving that Big 12 trophy in KU's favor. The Jayhawks have some work to do and it starts Monday night when you-know-who visits Allen Fieldhouse. That’s right -- Big Monday means Kansas State at Kansas.
The Jayhawks were sitting pretty when they beat the Wildcats 59-55 in Manhattan on Jan. 22. But now KU has lost at home to Oklahoma State and on the road against TCU and Oklahoma. The Sooners shot almost 45 percent against Kansas on Saturday, and Self’s program is built on defense first.
Kansas State has won four straight. Senior guard Rodney McGruder is coming off an extraordinary week with 22 points, five assists and four steals against Iowa State and 18 points and nine rebounds at Texas Tech. The Sunflower Rivalry is back.
Missouri Valley has a crowd
Creighton seemed like a safe pick to win the Missouri Valley. Wichita State established itself as a worthy challenger, but any team with a prolific scorer such as Doug McDermott has certain advantages, right? Well, again, we ask you to steal a glance at the standings.
Creighton, Wichita State and Indiana State are now in a three-way tie for first in the MVC -- each with a 9-4 record in conference play. And Indiana State looks like a pretty solid NCAA team now after beating Creighton and Southern Illinois at home last week. The Sycamores also have a road win over Wichita State, in addition to nonconference wins over Ole Miss and red-hot Miami.
Nate Wolters is lighting up the scoreboard for South Dakota State.
McDermott had 24 points and 13 rebounds Saturday, but Creighton lost at home to Illinois State, 75-72. The Bluejays will try to snap their two-game losing streak Wednesday at Northern Iowa.
Across the country, there is a concern about low scoring totals in college basketball. Too many games ending in the 50s and so many games that see teams struggling to score 20 in the first half. Kansas -- yes, Kansas -- had just three field goals in the first half in that loss to TCU.
But this power outage doesn’t apply to Nate Wolters of South Dakota State. Wolters had 36 points against Oakland on Saturday, following up on his 53-point performance Thursday at IPFW. His Jackrabbits lost to Oakland 88-83, but South Dakota State (19-7, 10-3) still has a chance to get back to the NCAA tournament.
You’ve got to tip your hat to Wolters, who played the full 80 minutes in those past two games. He was 29-of-48 from the field and 12-of-23 from 3-point range in that stretch. He also had 10 assists and just five turnovers. He is averaging 22.8 points per game, good for fourth in the nation.