Starting 5: Wisconsin the giant slayer, Auburn goes down and Clemson is a basketball school
Welcome back to the Starting 5. The Starting 5 is written multiple times per week by Adam Spencer to keep you up-to-date on all the news and events in the world of college hoops. You can follow Adam on Twitter at @AdamSpencer4.
1. The Opening Tip
Wisconsin is usually a top team in the Big Ten, but that doesn’t appear to be the case this year. The Badgers are 11-6 overall and had a brutal 3-game stretch in nonconference play in which they lost to Richmond, New Mexico and NC State.
The Badgers also have a loss at Rutgers on their resume in Big Ten play and also dropped a tight game at Illinois. However, the Badgers up their game several levels when they play top teams.
Yes, they’ve lost to Illinois and Rutgers, but they’re still 4-2 in Big Ten play, with their 4 wins coming against Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State and Maryland. The latter 3 teams were all ranked when the Badgers took them down.
Tuesday night’s finish was a wild one, as Brad Davison played hero on both defense and offense. With Maryland holding a 54-53 lead with less than 15 seconds left, all the Terrapins needed to do was successfully inbound the ball to shoot free throws. Instead, Davison did this:
What a heads up play by Brad Davison to get the ball back pic.twitter.com/b0ASHFkVKG
— CBB Talk (@CBBSuperFan) January 15, 2020
Then, he followed up that play by draining a corner three that gave the Badgers a 56-54 victory:
What a game! 😯
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) January 15, 2020
The Badgers play at No. 15 Michigan State on Saturday. The Spartans better watch out, because Wisconsin will be hungry to add another giant slaying to its resume.
2. Home-Court Advantage
Weird things happen when Kentucky visits South Carolina, and that was certainly the case on Wednesday night. After holding a 33-25 halftime lead over the Gamecocks, the Wildcats gave up an almost-unbelievable 56 points in the second half, losing 81-78.
With the game tied in the closing seconds, Jermaine Couisnard banked home this three, one of the more improbable game-winners of the year:
I’m not sure if he called “bank” or not, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. Couisnard had the best game of his young career, finishing with 26 points.
And, it adds to the roller-coaster ride the 2019-20 season has been for the Gamecocks:
South Carolina victories:
– at No. 9 Virginia
– at Clemson (which beat UNC and Duke this week)
– vs. No. 10 Kentucky
– vs. Boston
– vs. Stetson (???)
– vs. Houston (by 20 points) pic.twitter.com/4dZllaPZwr
— Adam Spencer (@AdamSpencer4) January 16, 2020
What does the future hold for the Gamecocks? Literally no one knows at this point.
Now, let’s take a look around the SEC:
- Auburn entered Wednesday night’s game at Alabama with a perfect 15-0 record. The Tigers left Tuscaloosa with a 15-1 record after the Crimson Tide schooled them in an 83-64 win. The rivalry between these 2 schools is always fierce, but this one was particularly heated, as Auburn F Anfernee McLemore had some trash talk for the Tide this preseason. That prompted Alabama to tweet this out after the game:
- Anthony Edwards continues to be a treat to watch. He scored 26 points in 31 minutes in a rout of Tennessee on Wednesday, and his scoring continues to be effortless. He can shoot off the dribble, get to the rim, catch-and-shoot and has limitless range:
Georgia's Anthony Edwards showed off his shotmaking ability during a convincing win over Tennessee: 26 PTS in 31 MIN including 5-of-10 from behind the arc. Can get to his pull-up at will and made more of an effort to get downhill (8 FTAs). Most effortless scorer in the draft. pic.twitter.com/Wr2H0AlCef
— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) January 16, 2020
- That’s the sort of game Georgia needs from the star freshman on a consistent basis if the Bulldogs are going to make a push for the NCAA Tournament. Keep an eye on him moving forward.
Mizzou’s last 3 games have been almost as bizarre as South Carolina’s season. Look at these results:
- 69-59 loss vs. Tennessee
- 91-75 win vs. Florida
- 72-45 loss at Mississippi State
- I’m sorry, what? That Mississippi State team entered the game 0-3 in SEC play and absolutely smoked the Tigers. Reggie Perry had 23 points and 10 rebounds to lead the way. Cuonzo Martin’s seat is going to heat up in a hurry if he can’t get more consistency out of his guys.
Now, let’s check what’s going on around the rest of the country.
3. Road Game
Auburn wasn’t the only top-5 team to lose on Wednesday night. No, the No. 5 Butler Bulldogs also fell. They went down at home against No. 18 Seton Hall, thanks to a huge effort from Myles Powell.
Powell refused to let the Pirates lose, showing why he is must-see TV with a 29-point, 7-rebound performance:
The Pirates are now 5-0 in the Big East, which is an impressive feat. There may have been some struggles early in the season, but this is a squad no one will want to see come March.
Now, let’s take a look at some other stories from around the country:
- It really says a lot about the parity of college basketball this year that a team like Oregon was still in the top-10 entering this week. Losses to Gonzaga, North Carolina and Colorado weren’t particularly bad at the time, but that UNC loss looks worse every day. Then, on Thursday, the No. 8 Ducks lost by 11 in Pullman to a bad Washington State team. That’s why they don’t belong in the top 10.
- Is Clemson a basketball school now? The same week the football team lost to LSU in the title game, the basketball squad beat North Carolina in Chapel Hill for the first time ever (seriously) and also took down a ranked Duke team. Clemson fans stormed the court for the latter victory:
— ACC Network (@accnetwork) January 15, 2020
- Going to Philly to take on Temple isn’t easy in any sport. Wichita State learned that the hard way on Wednesday, falling to the Owls 65-53. The Shockers are still one of the toughest teams to beat at home, but this loss was a temporary road block in what has been a stellar season so far. Don’t worry, though — Wichita State won’t be the only team to lose to Temple in Philly this year.
- Congratulations to San Diego State. The Aztecs are the final undefeated team in the Division I ranks for the first time in school history. SDSU improved to 18-0 on Tuesday night with a 64-55 win over Fresno State. The next night, Auburn lost at Alabama to make the Aztecs the last team with a perfect record.
Now, let’s take a look at the week ahead in college basketball.
4. Outlet Pass
This weekend will once again provide plenty of intriguing matchups. Let’s take a look at the 5 best games on the schedule between now and Monday:
- Wisconsin at No. 15 Michigan State (Friday at 7 p.m. Eastern on FS1) — As mentioned in the first section, the Badgers have already taken down 3 ranked Big Ten teams this season. They’ll be hungry for another upset in East Lansing.
- No. 10 Kentucky at Arkansas (Saturday at 4 p.m. Eastern on ESPN) — This game became even more important when Kentucky fell at South Carolina earlier this week and Auburn lost at Alabama. The top spot in the SEC is up for grabs, and these 2 teams, along with Auburn, can stake a claim this weekend.
- No. 11 Louisville at No. 3 Duke (Saturday at 6 p.m. Eastern on ESPN) — This would have been higher on the list if Duke hadn’t just lost to Clemson this week. Still, the ACC is wide-open this season, and either of these 2 teams could win it. Winning this game will be important, though.
- No. 13 Dayton at Saint Louis (Friday at 7 p.m. Eastern on ESPN2) — This will be a great road test for the Flyers. SLU gave Auburn all it could handle earlier this season, so don’t sleep on the Billikens.
- No. 2 Baylor at Oklahoma State (Saturday at noon Eastern on ESPN2) — Playing in Stillwater is never easy, just ask Kansas and Bill Self. Can Baylor avoid losing this trap game against the Cowboys?
It’s still early, but it’s time for top teams to start showing they can consistently win big games. This season is still wide open, so these games will go a long way toward establishing pecking orders nationally.
5. Buzzer Beaters
What questions do we have for today’s column? Let’s take a look, starting with a question from Nate:
Will Cuonzo Martin start praying to the weather gods for snow to follow Mizzou everywhere it goes?
Well, I think we can both agree that he needs to pray to someone or something for some help for the Tigers. I detailed above how bizarre the last 3 games have been for the Tigers, with the lone win coming in a snow/ice storm against Florida.
Will more snow make the Tigers a tournament team? Unlikely, but hey, Martin should try something, right?
The ACC is a mess right now. Who will end up winning the regular-season title?
Since 2014, either Virginia or North Carolina (or both) have claimed the regular-season ACC Championship. In 2013, Miami won. Those 3 teams are a combined 6-11 in ACC play at the moment.
Duke, Florida State and Louisville are all 5-1 right now, and I’m going to take the Seminoles to get the job done. While the football team at FSU continues to struggle, Leonard Hamilton has done a wonderful job with the basketball program. The Noles are No. 9 in the country and playing some great basketball. However, with how the ACC has gone this year, check back next week and things could be completely different.
Enjoy the Starting 5? Have a question? Want to yell at me about something? Follow me on Twitter @AdamSpencer4 or email me at ASpencer@SaturdayDownSouth.com.