Another weekend brought another series of upsets, but this time they were more shocking than any other weekend thus far.
Louisville fell on a late layup by Marcus Paige in the final seconds. Duke suffered its first loss to an N.C. State team that finally looks to be reaching its potential. The surprises didn’t stay in the ACC though as Wisconsin lost to Rutgers and Arizona couldn’t handle Oregon State to close out a chaotic Sunday.
All the top-10 losses were unexpected, but what do they mean now and what their significance be in March as the NCAA tournament nears? Here’s where each team stands as it looks to bounce back.
The Cardinals actually played much better in the loss to North Carolina than it did in close wins over Wake Forest and Clemson last week. They shot nearly 50 percent from the floor and got stellar performances again from Terry Rozier and Chris Jones, who combined for 44 points on the perimeter.
Ultimately, the biggest concern moving forward is the production inside, both in the scoring column and on the glass. The Cardinals lost the rebound battle for the third straight game, and Montrezl Harrell seems to have lost his scoring punch from early in the year. Unless he starts imposing his will once again, Louisville could fall out of the no. 1 seed conversation quickly.
The difference between Duke and the now two remaining undefeated teams is that when its offense sputters, it doesn’t have an elite defense to fall back on. The Blue Devils were cold from outside as soon as the game started, and the freshmen reacted by trying to force feed Jahlil Okafor down low and lost any semblance of balance on the offensive end.
The defense couldn’t save them at the other basket as N.C. State shot 55 percent and found open space and layups far too easily. Duke is one of the most entertaining teams to watch when its offense is clicking, but if the defense can’t make strides it will be one of the most vulnerable favorites in the early rounds of the Big Dance.
The Badgers will be OK if they can manage to stay healthy. All-American Frank Kaminsky sat out the loss to Rutgers, confirming how heavily Wisconsin relies on his presence. More concerning, though, is Traevon Jackson’s injury that he suffered in the first half against the Scarlet Knights.
Jackson hurt his foot contesting a three point shot and will need surgery, likely missing 6 weeks of action. The offense works through Kaminsky, but Jackson is in charge of getting him the ball. The rest of the Wisconsin backcourt will have to step up, but it appears Jackson will return in time for the Big 10 and NCAA tournaments.
Who saw this one coming? Well, our Upset Alert did. The Wildcats fell to Oregon State 58-56 to close out their state of Oregon trip.
The greatest issue for Arizona is that the team appears to have scoring options all over the court but consistently struggles to push past the 70-points mark. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Stanley Johnson must become more consistent producers as opposed to wavering between scoring leaders and non-factors on a game-by-game basis. Otherwise, Utah has its sights set on dethroning the Wildcats in the Pac 12.