The first game of the Champions Classic doubleheader between No. 1 Kentucky and No. 2 Michigan State was the second-most viewed non-conference college basketball game ever aired on ESPN.
The game averaged just over four million viewers and scored a 2.6 rating. The current record came when No. 1 Memphis played No. 2 Tennessee in February of 2008, a game that averaged 5,281,000 viewers and had a 3.2 rating.
The nightcap scored impressive numbers despite being so late, as No. 4 Duke taking on No. 5 Kansas averaged 2,977,000 viewers and a 2.1 rating.
Michigan State beat Kentucky 78-74 while Kansas knocked off Duke 94-83.
Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.
The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.
It wasn’t pretty.
And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.
Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.
The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.
But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.
Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: