Thursday’s in College Basketball have traditionally been the day of the West Coast and did the West Coast ever deliver for us with a great Thursday of College Basketball, with some pretty sizable upsets. Oregon beat, then lost the lead, then beat UCLA again to notch an impressive victory. Gonzaga made its case for being the best team in the country by blowing out BYU, while we had a couple other meaningful matchups to dive into with the daily roundup.
Oregon knocks off UCLA for first big win of season
Coming into Thursday’s matchup against UCLA, the Oregon Ducks were 9-6, with no real resume wins and a bad loss to Arizona State still on their resume. For all intents and purposes, this win felt like a must-win for the Ducks to get on some sort of track towards making the NCAA Tournament. That they did, although it took five more minutes than they would’ve liked for them to get that signature victory.
Thursday’s matchup certainly had a weird feel to it, the teams played in an empty arena, there was no crowd and in the same breath Bill Walton was sitting courtside doing the game. That lack of crowd gave flashbacks from a season ago, which meant UCLA had no home crowd that they could rely upon. The Bruins still got out to a nice start, but Oregon gained momentum on a 75-foot shot attempt by Eric Williams that bounced off the backboard and allowed Quincy Guerrier to put it back to cut the lead to 35-30 at the half. The second half saw a great start by the Ducks, as they started on a 16-2 run to take what was a 46-37 lead, while they were able to hold off most of the UCLA runs and lead 73-67 with 45 seconds left. That next 45 seconds saw an incredible collapse, as the Ducks’ turned it over twice, including one pass that went right to Jaylen Clark, who made the game-tying layup.
Despite letting the game get away in regulation, they responded by making tough shot after tough shot in overtime, as they were able to get the 84-81 win. Jacob Young showed why he was such a valuable commodity in the transfer portal, scoring 23 points, 6 of which came in overtime, while six Ducks scored in double-figures. This Ducks team still has a long way to go if they want to make the NCAA Tournament, but this certainly is the win they needed to start that run. As for UCLA, they were overrated by the AP Poll, entering the game they were 10-1 with the only win coming against Villanova, and a blowout loss to Gonzaga. I’m saying this team can’t get back to the Final Four or anything like that, but they did not deserve their ranking.
Gonzaga makes its case for #1, blowing out BYU
With the #1 ranking up in the air with Baylor losing, Gonzaga made its case for taking that top spot by blowing out BYU. BYU had made its name this year by playing a low-scoring grind-it-out type of games, but Gonzaga made sure that this became a track meet, and that’s where this game got out of hand. The Bulldogs just scored at an explosive rate, scoring 61 first-half points as they lead 61-49 at the half, which all things considered could’ve been worse for BYU. Gonzaga didn’t let up, as they extended the lead at one point to 30, while they ended with the 110-84 victory. This Bulldogs team seems to have found their rhythm offensively, it remains to be seen whether they will be the #1 team when the polls come out, but this was certainly a good case for it. I remain steadfast, Baylor and Auburn still have better resumes than Gonzaga and will be my Top-2 teams, but if you want to argue Gonzaga would beat both teams if they played tomorrow, you wouldn’t have an argument from me.
Badgers role players lift Wisconsin past Ohio State
Thursday saw another matchup of potential Player of the year candidates, as Ohio State went on the road to take on Wisconsin. This game wasn’t so much about that matchup in the end, as instead it was about the Wisconsin role players stepping up to help lift Wisconsin to the win. 37-year-old (sarcasm included) Brad Davison showed that he still has it, as he scored 25 points, while Tyler Wahl stepped up and had 20 points himself, and this is to say that Johnny Davis wasn’t good and didn’t need to be good for Wisconsin to win. He had 14 points, but went 4-18 from the field in order to do so. Davis is going to come down to earth, but this game shows that Wisconsin is fully capable of winning without him being incredible. Ohio State still seems like a bit of a work in progress, they have an All-American in EJ Liddell but aren’t consistent enough around him.
Pirates drop make-up game to DePaul
Seton Hall and DePaul needed to make up a previous postponement, and as a result, Thursday gave us one of the weirder results as Seton Hall lost to DePaul. The Blue Demons got out to a great start, leading by 17 at the half, and seemingly were in control until late. Seton Hall made their run and even got the lead down to two, with 20 seconds left, but Jalen Terry made clutch free throws and DePaul was able to win. The Blue Demons are now 10-6 with a couple of good wins, they still are outside the Tournament picture but if they could get a little win streak going, that could change. For Seton Hall, this loss isn’t a good one to take and probably is about the end of the line when it comes to winning the Big East regular-season title, but they still would be wearing white in the first round of the NCAA Tournament if it started tomorrow.
Oakland knocks off Cleveland State in battle of Horizon’s best
The Horizon League title race has been one of the more intriguing races throughout the early part of the season to talk about. Detroit and Milwaukee have outstanding players that have been carrying them, while Oakland has been fantastic, but Cleveland State is the reigning Champion for a reason, so the Golden Grizzlies needed to get through them first before taking that claim. That they did though as they beat Cleveland State 70-65 on the road to take the top spot in the league standings. Trey Townsend had a huge game to lead the Golden Grizzlies, he had 20 points, while Jalen Moore had 14. The most impressive part of the win is that Jamal Cain, who might be the favorite to win the Horizon League Player of the year award, struggled as he only scored 6 points. Oakland is certainly proving to be one of the top mid-majors in the sport and could be a potential team that pulls a 13 over 4 upset this season.