College basketball isn’t supposed to heat up to this degree until March. But here we are in early February, celebrating unbelievable games, buzzer-beaters, and running one-handed half-court shots a month early.
The past few days have been especially crazy, with four of the top five ranked teams losing. Indiana, ranked No. 1 going into last week, was actually able to retain its No. 1 ranking in the AP Poll this week despite losing to Illinois Thursday night – that’s how much parity there’s been.
We took a crack at ranking the five craziest occurrences of the past five days – feel free to agree/disagree in the comments!
5. Indiana loses to Illinois at the buzzer on a wide-open layup.
If you’d told me on Thursday night that this would be just the fifth craziest thing that would happen this week, I’d have laughed. The Hoosiers took a 12-point lead into the break and led almost the entire game. The lead was still eight with under three minutes to play, but D.J. Richardson got hot for the Illini, scoring eight points himself to tie the game at 70-70.
After Indiana squandered its final possession, Richardson had a chance to win it for the Illini, but his shot was blocked out of bounds by Victor Oladipo with just .9 seconds on the clock. As they say, the rest is history, and Tyler Griffey became a hero in Champaign.
4. Jerian Grant scores 12 points in 44 seconds to force overtime for Notre Dame vs. Louisville.
This game was over. Notre Dame had scored one basket in the previous 10 minutes.
But somehow, Jerian Grant got hot at the right time and hit three ridiculous 3-pointers to give the Irish a chance. And when Gorgui Dieng missed both of his free throws on the other end, there was no doubt which player was getting the ball for Notre Dame. Despite three Cardinals trying to stop him, Grant made a running layup and got fouled to put the Irish down just one. His free throw tied the game, sending South Bend into euphoria. Jerian 12:44.
3. The Notre Dame vs. Louisville game goes to five overtimes.
There were two huge story lines from this game. The first was Grant’s explosion at the end of regulation to send the game to an extra session. The other is how many overtimes it took to declare a winner.
As a Syracuse alum, my Twitter feed was blowing up with Orange fans (and UConn fans, for that matter) who just wanted to see either team win before the 6-OT mark. But at the end of each overtime, the stars would align and keep the game going.
Russ Smith had multiple chances to win it but failed each time. Louisville held a four point lead in the fourth overtime, but somehow gave it up on an ill-advised drive by Smith and a miraculous tip-in by Notre Dame’s overtime hero Garrick Sherman. Finally, in the fifth overtime, it was the Cardinals who needed the miracle, and Smith’s 3-point attempt fell just short.
2. Casey Murdock hits a half-court shot on ESPN’s College GameDay for $18,000.
Irish fans (especially one) got a treat even before the crazy five-overtime game. On ESPN’s College GameDay, Notre Dame student (and College Spun writer) Casey Murdock sank a half-court shot to win $18,000, courtesy of State Farm.
Only three students had ever made the shot before. Rece Davis went nuts. Murdock was swarmed by the basketball team. Fans rushed the court. Can you imagine the overall day this kid had? His write-up on the incident is amazing too, if you haven’t read it.
1. Ben Brust nails a running one-handed half-court buzzer-beater to send Wisconsin to overtime vs. Michigan.
As much as it pains me to rank Casey’s shot No. 2, the fact that Brust’s was also from half-court is hard to ignore. Plus, he had a defender is his face. And his team was down three points against No. 3 Michigan. Oh, and the Badgers won in OT, on another 3-ball from Brust.
Of course, Brust’s shot didn’t land him $18,000, but we’re going to assume to overall level of difficulty was higher.
Which do you think was the best of the past week?