The word “upset” has been integrated into many of our minds through its association with March Madness. However, last week we felt like we were in that time of year in one of the craziest stretch of days that NCAA basketball has seen. Put it this way: When’s the last time you heard of seven of the top 10 teams going down in the same week? There were so many shocking and exciting moments, but these teams and games are the ones that stood out.
The landscape of the rankings was drastically reshuffled from top to bottom, and as we approach March, teams that are on the verge of being left out know that this is the time to come out with everything. For all of these winning underdog teams from last week, it comes down to the quality of wins against ranked opponents to further their case to get in.
The biggest thing that Sunday concluded was how homecourt played a huge advantage in most of these upsets. It was on the road, however, that NC State initiated this trend, as it came into Duke’s home court with a 13-7 overall, 2-5 conference record and hadn’t won there since 1995. That all changed when it was able to come out with the victory in a Cameron Indoor Stadium packed with screaming Blue Devils fans.
Even that wasn’t as impressive as the showings of Georgia Tech and Georgetown. Both had done nothing but struggle heading into the week. You could’ve looked at Georgetown’s 10 losses and 1-6 start in Big East conference play and crossed off a matchup with them if you were then-16th ranked Creighton.
By the end of the game, the Hoyas had earned their respect from the Bluejays with their 71-51 thumping. Although this was eyebrow-raising enough, when Saturday rolled along Butler, Georgetown’s next foe, did not take what had transpired lightly and knew that they were in it for a showdown. By the end of the game it proved to be true, as the Hoyas pulled out a close 85-81 victory. Georgetown had finally won back-to-back games against ranked opponents for the first time since 2014.
Georgia Tech was no different in terms of conference play, as they had also gotten off to a very bad start in the ACC. With eight losses already on their résumé and a mediocre start to conference play, they desperately needed noteworthy wins.
The Yellow Jackets were absolutely dominant on defense at home against then-No. 6 Florida State. At the 10:06 mark of the first half, the Seminoles had scored 11 points, and for the next 9:27 they went without making a field goal. Meanwhile, Georgia Tech freshman Josh Okogie would outscore Florida State 15-14 for the rest of the half, and that was enough to put the Seminoles away.
A few days later, Georgia Tech would also encounter a hard-fought thriller against then-No. 14 Notre Dame. Down the stretch Irish junior guard Matt Farrell would go for the game-winning shot in a tie game, which missed with five seconds left, leaving Georgia Tech with enough time to win it themselves. Instead of taking their last timeout, junior Tadric Jackson led the break quickly as he dished it out to Okogie, who ran it up for the buzzer-beating layup. Before stepping into this game, Georgia Tech already had two top-10 wins on their résumé, and adding this latest victory only puts them further into serious contention come March.
Marquette taking down Villanova, the then-No. 1 team in the country, was the icing on the cake. But there is still quite a road ahead for all these upset-achieving teams if they hope to make the tournament. Starting with last week’s huge victories can trigger a turnaround that could lead them right into the tournament, where they have a chance to do memorable things that we could all remember.