The excitement of the college basketball season reached a crescendo last week.
It started with Tuesday’s classic between Ohio State and Michigan, which Michigan won in overtime only hours after Arkansas walloped then-No. 2 Florida. That happened to fall on the same night that Michael Snaer hit his third buzzer-beater of the season and Wichita State lost on a blown goaltending call in the final seconds.
On Wednesday, Kansas lost to TCU, Creighton was blown out by Indiana State, Markel Brown raced the length of the court to beat Baylor in over time, Wisconsin was taken to double-overtime by Iowa and San Diego State used a last-second three to survive a visit from Boise State.
Believe it or not, Thursday ramped things up another notch, as Illinois shocked the country by beating No. 1 Indiana on a buzzer-beating layup from Tyler Griffey that capped a 13-2 run. Missouri lost at Texas A&M on a three from Fabyon Harris a matter of minutes before Larry Drew II beat Washington with a buzzer-beater of his own. Colorado came from behind to beat Oregon in the final minute while Nate Wolters was busy scoring 53 points for South Dakota State. Oh, and who can forget the three-quarter court buzzer-beater to force overtime?
That brought us to Saturday, where Ben Brust’s heroics and Russ Smith’s five-overtime struggles bookended a typically inexplicable Saturday. The weekend was capped with a Sunday that saw Minnesota lose to Illinois, Arizona lose to Cal, Duke barely survive BC and Scott Wood save the day for NC State in Lorenzo Brown’s return.
I’m exhausted just typing that out.
But here’s the best part: it’s only going to get better.
Because this week is Rivalry Week. That a look at some of the games on the schedule over the course of the next seven days:
- No. 10 Kansas State at No. 14 Kansas
- No. 4 Michigan at No. 8 Michigan State
- No. 25 Kentucky at No. 7 Florida
- North Carolina at No. 2 Duke
- No. 6 Syracuse at UConn
- No. 5 Gonzaga at St. Mary’s
- No. 20 Wisconsin at Minnesota
- No. 2 Duke at Maryland
- Purdue at No. 1 Indiana
- Oklahoma at No. 17 Oklahoma State
- Xavier at Dayton
Regardless of when or where these games are played, they are the kind of matchups that are must-see TV. As the saying goes, in a rivalry game, you can throw the records out the window. Fan bases will be fired up. Players will be fired up. Dick Vitale may spontaneously combust. It’s everything that we love about college basketball.
Except these games are packed with so much meaning. Kansas State has a chance to go into Lawrence and drop the Jayhawks two games out of the Big 12 title race. Michigan State can do the same to Michigan. Kentucky will get another shot at proving their legitimacy at Florida. Syracuse will be making their final visit to UConn as a member of the Big East. UNC will be looking to solidify a tournament spot — seriously — by winning in Cameron. Gonzaga and St. Mary’s is one of the nation’s most underrated rivalries.
This week is going to be incredible.
But based on the week and the month — and, frankly, the season — we’ve had, you should have known that already.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.