The nights where there aren’t any marquee games are always the nights where college basketball goes absolutely batty.
Wednesday night was no different.
Here are the three things you need to know.
1. TEXAS TECH BLEW THE ADVANTAGE THEY HAD IN THE BIG 12 RACE
It’s a talking point that never really caught on, but prior to Wednesday night’s trip to Austin, No. 8 Texas Tech had the inside lane in the race for the Big 12 regular season title.
There is a clear-cut top four in the conference: Kansas, West Virginia, Oklahoma and the Red Raiders. The way to win the league was simple: Beat the teams outside of the top four and protect your home court against the other three contenders. Entering Wednesday, Texas Tech and Kansas were sitting one game ahead of West Virginia, who had lost at home to Kansas, and Oklahoma, had lost on the road to Kansas State. Texas Tech already had a leg up on the Jayhawks as well, as they won in Phog Allen Fieldhouse earlier this year.
I would hesitate to call anyone a favorite in the Big 12 that isn’t named Kansas, but the Red Raiders had certainly put themselves in a position where they had the easiest path.
And then the Texas game happened.
Mo Bamba went for 15 points, 11 boards and five blocks and Kerwin Roach poured in 20 in a return to the lineup as Texas beat No. 8 Texas Tech, 67-58. We knew losses were likely coming for the Red Raiders – no one is going to make it through this league without taking some lumps – but it has to be frustrating that those losses came when the program had a chance to keep pace with Kansas.
Credit to Texas. Their defense played as well as it has in weeks, they showed some toughness to get the win against a physical Tech team and they landed a résumé win that should age well.
Texas Tech also did a really cool thing for Andrew Jones prior to the game.
2. SETON HALL GOT BLOWN OUT ON THE ROAD AND DESI RODRIGUEZ GOT BENCHED
Twice in the last eight days, No. 19 Seton Hall has lost by at least 17 points on the road after they fell, 80-63, at Creighton on Wednesday night.
Creighton is a good team. They were playing at home in an arena that routinely puts 17,000 butts in seats. When they get it going they are tough to beat, so there really isn’t all that much to be concerned about here in a vacuum.
But we’re not in a vacuum.
Creighton lost by 20 points at Marquette last Tuesday. Marquette is not as good as Creighton and they do not play in as tough of an atmosphere as there is in Omaha.
What’s worse, however, is that Desi Rodriguez – the guy that has probably been Seton Hall’s Player of the Year – played just six minutes. Here is Kevin Willard’s explanation:
“He had that look in his face where he just didn’t want to be out there. When he gets that way, you just got to let him regroup and refocus. And it just never happened.”
That’s probably a cover for something else, but the concern for Seton Hall fans was that Rodriguez was hurt.
Getting benched isn’t ideal. But it’s better than getting hurt.
3. ALABAMA ENDED NO. 17 AUBURN’S 14-GAME WINNING STREAK
But what is more impressive is that they did it without Collin Sexton, who was sitting out with an injury.
That is a massive win for the Crimson Tide’s NCAA tournament hopes, which our Scott Phillips detailed here.