In basketball, rankings are always important. If a team ranks 1st, it tells people that they’re good and will most likely win a game or even a championship. Rankings also provide insight if someone wants to predict how a tournament goes. But things are different for bottom-ranked teams. Aside from the negativity, teams down in the rankings don’t have home-court advantage, which can be a significant factor in winning games.
Logic would say that you should always go with the top-ranked team to win. There are times that the underdogs manage to squeak out or even dominate higher-ranked teams. It’s an accepted fact that underdogs can win on any given day; however, things were different last February 27, 2022.
On that fateful day, seven higher-ranked teams lost to the underdogs. In high-level basketball, this uncertainty is what makes games exciting. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how lower-ranked teams managed to beat out the top teams.
No. 23 Saint Mary’s defeated No.1 Gonzaga
A team ranked no.23 overall defeated the country’s top team. Gonzaga, led by a future NBA no.1 pick in Chet Holmgren, got convincingly bested by St. Mary’s. The underdog St. Mary’s victory wasn’t a stroke of luck either, as they beat Gonzaga by 10 points.
Tommy Kuhse had 14 points for the St. Mary’s Gaels in a performance for the ages. However, the ones that really hurt were from Kyle Bowen. After shooting 0 out of 7 from the field, he scored two late three-pointers that prevented any Gonzaga comeback. Saint Mary’s snapped Gonzaga’s 17-game winning streak in dominating fashion.
The biggest reason the Zags lost was that they shot 36.7% from the field. Their two stars, Timme and Holmgren, were close to being non-factors as they each had a measly 6 points each. This match won’t be the last meeting between the two. If everything goes smoothly, the Zags might have a chance to avenge their loss to the Gaels on March 8 in Las Vegas.
No. 72 Colorado defeated No. 2 Arizona
The unthinkable has happened with the no. 72 ranked Colorado Buffaloes as they beat the no. 2 ranked Arizona Wildcats, 79-63. This victory matches the highest-ranked opponent beaten by the Buffaloes. Thanks to a surge by KJ Simpson and Tristan da Silva, Colorado never looked back and completed the victory to upset the no. 2 ranked team in the country.
KJ Simpson had 13 points, and da Silva scored 19 points for the Buffaloes. The leading scorer and future NBA draft pick, Bennedict Mathurin, was scoreless in the 2nd half, after a 12-point outing in the first. Tubelis had 13 points for the Wildcats, which was the only bright spot for the team. Bet on March Madness and see the unpredictable and exciting nature of college basketball for yourself.
No. 28 Michigan State defeated No. 4 Purdue
With a hard-earned 68-65 victory over Purdue, the Michigan State Spartans broke their losing streak. Although Purdue is one of the best teams in the country, they literally gave away the game by committing a whopping 17 turnovers. Despite a career-high 25 points from Zach Edey, the turnovers were just too much.
Aside from having turnovers, the Boilermaker’s woes also came from their shooting. Although they dominated the paint by scoring 48 points against the Spartans, the Boilermakers shot a horrible 11% from the arc.
In comparison, Michigan State shot 45% from the three-point line. What finally drove the nail in the coffin for the Boilermakers were the heroics of Spartan guard Tyson Walker. With the game tied at 65, Walker made a difficult step-back three with just three seconds remaining. With this loss, Purdue’s record stands at 24-5.
No. 46 TCU defeated No.9 Texas Tech
The Texas Christian University Horned Frogs jumped over the Texas Tech Red Raiders with a score of 69-66. Mike Miles from the Horned Frogs led the team in scoring with 26 points. Although having only 11 points and 4 rebounds, Emmanuel Miller came up big defensively against Texas Tech.
Bryson Williams had 21 points and missed only one shot in a losing effort for the Red Raiders. He also helped push a possible comeback as Texas Tech had been trailing by 8 points. The defense mounted by TCU proved to be enough as they held back Texas Tech.
No. 18 Arkansas defeated No. 6 Kentucky
In a tight contest, Arkansas defeated the 6th best team in the country, Kentucky. JD Notae had 30 points with 8 assists to help the Arkansas Razorbacks 75-73 versus the Kentucky Wildcats. Jaylin Williams also poured in 16 points and 12 boards for the Razorbacks.
Oscar Tshiebwe had a season-high 30 points but wasn’t enough to get the W for the Wildcats. Kellan Grady’s shooting could have made an impact, but his presence barely made a dent against a determined Razorbacks team.
Other Underdog Wins:
- 3 Auburn lost 67-62 to No. 17 Tennessee
- 5 Kansas lost 80-70 to No. 10 Baylor
Basketball is a game full of uncertainties. Even if you’re a top-ranked team, you can easily get taken down by unranked teams. February 27 was indeed a day for the underdogs as 7 top-ranked teams fell to the lower-ranked teams.