The regular season concluded just as the games have all season: down to the wire with upsets galore. As we dive into a loaded Champ Week, we take one last look at the regular season. I can’t think of a crazier regular season off the top of my head. It has felt like March since November.
No. 2 Alabama comes back to beat Auburn in overtime, 90-85
Alabama cut down the nets in Tuscaloosa to claim their outright SEC regular season championship with some help from Jahvon Quinerly, who scored 24 points as the Crimson Tide came back after being down 17 to take down their arch-rival. Despite Quinerly having the hot hand, it was Brandon Miller who sealed the game on a pair of free throws with six seconds left in overtime. Alabama will head to Nashville for the SEC Tournament on Friday, where they await the winner of Mississippi State and Florida. Auburn will be matched up against Arkansas on Thursday.
Jordan Wright seals upset for Vanderbilt at No. 23 Kentucky, 68-66
Are the Commodores a dark horse pick to win the SEC Tournament? They could be, as they head to the Music City winning seven of their last eight games. With the game tied at 66, Jordan Wright made a fade-away shot from the free-throw line with 2.6 seconds remaining to give Vandy the upset victory. Vanderbilt will play late Thursday night against the winner of LSU and Georgia, while Kentucky will take on the winner of Vanderbilt’s second-round game.
No. 1 Houston spoils Memphis’s Senior Day at the buzzer, 67-65
What a game it was in Memphis, as Jamal Shead scored his 16th point on a game-winning buzzer-beater, keeping the Cougars at the top of the AP Poll. Kendric Davis played phenomenal basketball, with 26 points and the game-tying basket for Memphis. Houston was up by nine at the half, but the Tigers had a second-half surge to bring the game down to the wire. Both teams will travel to Fort Worth for the American Athletic Conference Championship. Houston, the top seed, will take on the winner of East Carolina and South Florida. For Memphis, they will wait for the winner of SMU and UCF.
Penn State upsets No. 21 Maryland at the buzzer, 65-64
As Maryland got back into the AP Top 25, Penn State wanted to finish the regular season on a good note, as they continue to improve their bubble resumé for the NCAA Tournament. The Nittany Lions trailed by as many as 16 points in the first half, but Jalen Pickett proved that he is still one of the best guards in the Big Ten, scoring a team-high 16 points. However, the real hero was Camren Wynter, who grabbed the offensive rebound and put up a layup as time expired. Both teams will be in Chicago for the Big Ten Tournament. Penn State already knows their opponent: Illinois on Thursday night. 25 minutes after that, Maryland will face the winner of Minnesota and Nebraska.
No. 15 Indiana rallies to defeat Michigan in overtime, 75-73
Sunday concluded with a thriller in Bloomington, where both teams blew leads. First, it was Indiana, who blew a 14-point lead in the first half and found themselves in a 12-point hole in the final 12:30 of regulation. Michigan was led by a huge game by star center Hunter Dickinson, who had 24 points and 14 rebounds. Along with that, Kobe Bufkin had 19 points. The Wolverines played a game that needed two overtimes just three days before. However, they lost both of those games. Michigan and Rutgers will battle to keep their season alive in Chicago, while Indiana doesn’t have to play until Friday, where they will take on the winner of Maryland’s matchup.
Trayce Jackson-Davis, F, Indiana (vs. Iowa: 26 pts, 13 reb, 5 ast, 4 stl)
Despite the loss, Trayce Jackson-Davis continued to impress as he is one of the best players in the country. He exceeded his high averages of 20 points and 11 rebounds per game, which is hard to accomplish. His four steals were just a taste of why he was named a semifinalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award.
Damion Baugh, G, TCU (vs. Texas: 24 pts, 9 ast, 5 reb, 3 stl)
This was the toughest decision out of the five performances on this list. It was between Damion Baugh and Zach Edey, but I went with Baugh based on how much more impactful the game was for TCU than for Purdue. He was responsible for at least 42 points, with 24 points and nine assists, and stepped up when Mike Miles Jr. was held to just a single point. TCU ended any Big 12 title hopes for Texas with the win and they have Baugh to thank.
Oscar Tshiebwe, F, Kentucky (vs. Vanderbilt: 21 pts, 20 reb, 3 blk)
Last year’s Wooden Award recipient had his first 20-point, 20-rebound game since January 17, recording three blocks as he carried Kentucky all game. However, the Wildcats weren’t able to get the win over Vanderbilt. If Tshiebwe can keep up those types of performances, then Kentucky should not be trifled with.
Markquis Nowell, G, Kansas State (at West Virginia: 24 pts, 8 ast, 6 stl, 6 3pt)
Nowell gets back on this list and continues to prove why he’s an All-American guard. Even though Kansas State was upset in Morgantown, he was responsible for at least 40 of the Wildcats’ 81 points and shot 6-for-12 from downtown. He’s a player to watch in Kansas City this week and when the NCAA Tournament begins a week from Thursday.
Antonio Reeves, G, Kentucky (at Arkansas: 37 pts, 12-17 fg)
Reeves played all 40 minutes against the Razorbacks, recording a career-high 37 points in his final regular season game. You could say this made up for Vanderbilt spoiling his Senior Night. The Chicago native averages 14 points per game and is the leading guard for Kentucky after three seasons with Illinois State.
West Coast Conference Championship (9 p.m., ESPN)
The WCC Championship in Las Vegas is tonight and it could be round three between Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s, a tiebreaker after both teams split the regular season matchups. Both teams will make the NCAA Tournament, but only one will be crowned the conference tournament champion.
Big 12 Championship (March 8-11, ESPN/2/U)
The Big 12 is without a doubt the best conference in college basketball, and the tournament in Kansas City is bound to have fireworks and upsets galore. Will defending national champion Kansas hoist the trophy on Saturday night again, or will the likes of Texas, Baylor or Kansas State be crowned champions? There’s already a huge matchup on Thursday night between No. 22 TCU and No. 12 Kansas State.
Big East Tournament (March 8-11, FOX/FS1)
The Big East Tournament in Madison Square Garden: a tradition like no other. Defending champion Villanova has four games to go back-to-back, but this is a loaded conference. UConn is the betting favorite, with Xavier, Marquette, Providence, and Creighton also contenders to hoist the trophy on Saturday night. If you can, stay tuned for Providence against No. 11 UConn on Thursday afternoon.
SEC Tournament (March 8-12, ESPN/SEC Network)
The SEC is one of the best conferences in college basketball, with the top-five seeds in the AP Poll. There could be a top-25 matchup on Friday between No. 25 Missouri and No. 17 Tennessee if the Vols win on Thursday. Alabama is the favorite, but you could also see Texas A&M, Kentucky or even Arkansas and Auburn being the champion on Sunday.
Big Ten Tournament (March 8-12, CBS/Big Ten Network)
The Big Ten only has two ranked teams: Purdue and Indiana, but the Big Ten champion might not come from one of those teams. The Big Ten is still a heavily competitive conference despite the conference being in a down year. If Purdue and Indiana meet on Sunday, everyone should tune in to that rivalry game in Chicago.