Good afternoon, Big Blue Nation! I’m experimenting with a few different kinds of articles, because ever since college football ended I’ve had trouble transitioning my weekly columns. This one might be the best way to go about a sport as vast as college basketball, recapping the biggest winner of the previous week, looking at a present question, and flashing back to memorable March Madness moments.
Let’s round ‘em up.
Biggest Winner: Indiana
Boy did the Hoosiers need this one. With an 8-6 record and a brutal Big Ten schedule showing no signs of letting up, this single win completely flipped their outlook for March when no one saw it coming. With a monster 2nd half run, Indiana shocked #4 Iowa on the road by 12 despite the usual 25+ points from POTY candidate Luka Garza. The Hoosiers have a marquee win on their resume, but can they stay above .500 for the rest of Big Ten play? If they play like this, then I’d say yes.
Biggest Question: Can Kentucky make the NCAA Tournament
Oof, it looks bleak. It’s the question all UK fans have been asking for the past month. The team is 5-9 now and it doesn’t look like they can vault back above .500. Here’s the short answer: YES. There is still hope!!! You read it straight from here: the Kentucky Wildcats can make the 2021 NCAA Tournament. How? Welllllll...there’s only two ways, kinda like when Iron Man asks Dr. Strange how many futures they beat Thanos out of 14 million and he says 1. Welp, Kentucky pretty much only has two that are in their control. Here they are:
(1) Beat 3 ranked opponents and lose NO MORE THAN two more games before the SEC Tournament. This would make them finish at around 14-11 with some quality wins. Even then, however, the margin for error would be small in Nashville.
(2) Win the SEC Tournament. This one is pretty straightforward, and doable, but there’s a catch. What if they don’t have the SEC Tournament and just hand the auto-bid to the SEC champion (which will not be Kentucky because Alabama’s already 8-0 in the SEC and they won’t catch them)?
Soooo...yeah. It doesn’t look good, but if the ‘Cats just quit losing or win the SEC Tournament (if they have it), then they can do it. Otherwise, this season’s going in the garbage can.
Flashback: 11-seed Northern Iowa beats 6-seed Texas on half-court heave (2016)
In one of the last games of the 2016 NCAA Tournament 1st round, Northern Iowa pulled off an upset for the ages—not simply because they won but because of how they won. Just after Texas tied the game with just under 3 seconds left, the Panthers inbounded it and heaved the ball from half-court as the buzzer sounded. It banked in and sent them to the second round, where they had one of the all-time collapses in blowing a double-digit lead against Texas A&M with 45 seconds left.
But hey! They still had this!
Regardless of whether you picked them or Texas in your bracket, you got treated with a true rarity: a March half-court heave to win the game.
That’s all for this week! Until then, go ‘Cats!