Say what you will about college basketball before March, but it doesn’t all suck. Especially not this season, where for the fifth straight week now, the highest-ranked team in the country has lost. The victim: Indiana. The culprit: Illinois. The weapon: a buzzer-beater layup by Illini forward Tyler Griffey.
Illinois defeated No. 1 Indiana in Champaign, 74-72, coming back from a halftime deficit of 41-29, and led for only .1 second of the entire second half. They picked the final tenth of a second of the half, which isn’t a bad one to choose. You can add Indiana to the victim list that includes Michigan, Duke and Louisville. Entering the game, Illinois was only 2-7 in the Big Ten, though one of those wins came at home against Ohio State. They also have quality wins against Gonzaga and Butler.
The game was all but won for Indiana when Victor Oladipo, who had just turned the ball over, recovered to block a D.J. Richardson shot out of bounds with less than a second remaining. But Brandon Paul found Griffey open on the ensuing inbounds pass, who proceeded to lay it in uncontested.
These are dark times for No. 1-ranked teams. Not so dark for the rest of us mind you, as this wide open field bodes very well for March, where the madness is sure to be in full swing. But with top-ranked teams falling in five consecutive weeks, is being No. 1 even coveted anymore? I mean, is that a thing teams still want to be? Someone has to hold on, right?