April 17, 2024

Monday Madness: ‘Down goes Frazier!’

Staff writer Dalton King previews the week to come in college basketball in his new column, Monday Madness.

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After George Foreman sent the undisputed heavyweight champion, Joe Frazier, to the ground in their legendary fight, well-known sports broadcaster Howard Cosell famously yelled out: “Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier!” Cosell’s words are now commonly thrown around when things fall.

I couldn’t think of any better words to describe this year’s college basketball season.

This weekend in college basketball was once again — madness.

The top two teams, Oklahoma and North Carolina, both fell to unranked opponents on Saturday. The events of the weekend have once again opened the door to a new top team in college basketball.

So without further ado, we welcome the sixth No. 1 team of the year… the Villanova Wildcats.

This is the first time in school history that Villanova has been ranked No. 1 in the AP college basketball poll. The Wildcats sit at the top of the poll with a 20-3 overall record and a 10-1 record in Big East conference play.

While Villanova is the No. 1 team in both the AP and coaches poll, the decision to crown the Wildcats was not unanimous by any means.

This week is the first time since the Feb. 21, 2011 poll that SIX different teams received 1st-place votes in the AP poll. This week’s results provide even more evidence that there is no clear top team in college basketball this season. In 2011, Connecticut emerged as the national champion as a three-seed.

By the time March rolls around this year, who knows who will come out on top?

But for now, let’s break down this coming week in college basketball:

Competition of the “week”: No. 6 Kansas vs. No. 3 Oklahoma 

The last time these two met, they set the sports world on fire. The heavyweight bout between the top two teams lasted for three overtime periods, with Kansas edging the Sooners 109-106.

Sooners star Buddy Hield let everyone know he was the best player in college basketball, putting up 46 points of his own immediately following UNC’s Brice Johnson’s 39 point, 23 rebound performance.

Do we really get to see this matchup TWICE in the same season? What a year.

When the two teams meet this Saturday, they will be much more battle-tested than they were at the beginning of the new year.

Since that loss, the Sooners have gone 7-2, sitting atop the college basketball rankings for three weeks up until this afternoon. The Jayhakws find themselves not far behind. After losing to Iowa State, Oklahoma State and West Virginia since the meeting with Oklahoma, they sit at No. 6 in this week’s AP poll.

The Sooners and the Jayhawks are both 7-3 in Big 12 conference play, one game behind conference-leading West Virginia (8-2 Big 12 record).

Before the big sequel, the Jayhawks have a meeting with 10th-ranked West Virginia on Tuesday night. The Sooners take on the surging, 24th-ranked Texas Longhorns tonight.

This week for Kansas and Oklahoma has huge implications for their respective seasons, the Big 12 conference and the national landscape.

When the Jayhawks and the Sooners finally meet again on Saturday for Round 2, there will be much at stake.

If I were you, I would make sure I was planted in front of a TV on Saturday at 2:30 p.m.

“Game of the week” might be an understatement.

Biggest Story: No. 13 Louisville at Duke

Even if you don’t closely follow college basketball, you have probably heard about Louisville in the news lately.

Three days ago, Louisville announced that it had self-imposed a one-year postseason ban for its men’s college basketball season.

This decision comes as the aftermath of a scandal surrounding the program that claims Andre McGee, a former men’s basketball staffer at Louisville, hired strippers for players and recruits from 2010-2014.

Head coach Rick Pitino shared his thoughts on the ban, saying, “This is a punishment I thought would never happen this season. This is a decision that’s as harsh as anything I’ve seen.”

The decision to self-impose this postseason ban came from the university president and has devastated the Cardinals basketball program.

Most of the times that universities self-impose bans, it comes at a time when postseason runs are not realistic; like Syracuse recently.

But the Cardinals are very much alive for a postseason run. The Cardinals are ranked 13th in the nation and are tied with North Carolina at the top of the ACC. ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi has projected Louisville as a 5-seed for the NCAA Tournament.

The ban has been hardest on senior transfers Damion Lee and Trey Lewis. This season would have been their one and only shot at the NCAA Tournament.

“We don’t deserve this. This team doesn’t deserve this,” says Lewis. Lee added, “None of us really expected this happening today. Trey and I were truly devastated.”

Tonight, the Cardinals find themselves at Cameron Indoor Stadium to face the Duke Blue Devils.

The Blue Devils have been another big story in college basketball this year.

The reigning champions have somewhat fell off this season, recently dropping out of the Top 25 for the first time since 2007. But after losing four out of their last five and dropping out of the poll, the Blue Devils bounced back with back-to-back victories against Georgia Tech and NC State.

Sophomore guard Grayson Allen has led the charge for Duke, having scored a combined 56 points and hitting 11 3-pointers in the past two games. Tonight, the Blue Devils look to continue their comeback run.

While the stories for these two teams are completely different, they share the same tone: desperate.

The Cardinals are devastated and looking for something to play for. With a win tonight, they would have sole possession of the top spot in the ACC. Despite the postseason ban, Louisville could still rejoice over a regular season ACC title.

The Blue Devils are out to save their season and make sure they don’t miss the NCAA Tournament. Coach K and the Blue Devils have appeared in 20 consecutive tournaments. That streak is only second to Kansas’ 26 consecutive appearances.

Duke doesn’t miss the NCAA Tournament.

Tonight, they look to make some noise in the ACC despite a very quiet season thus far.

Tonight we will see two very desperate teams. Desperation makes for good competition though, so tonight should be a good one.

That’s all for this week’s Monday Madness. I’m sure this week will be even crazier than expected. After all, there’s a reason why this sport is mainly associated with one word:

Madness.

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Dalton, a firm believer that sporting events are best spent on Twitter, is an Assistant Sports Editor for TNJN and a sophomore studying Journalism at the University of Tennessee. Two of his favorite pastimes include beating his roommates at 2k and remaining in awe of the amount of stories fellow editor David Bradford writes. Twitter: @dk_writes