While upsets have been common occurrences for ranked teams throughout the college basketball season, there had been stability at the top.
No. 1 Baylor, No. 2 Gonzaga and No. 4 San Diego State, who had combined to win 69 straight games, all lost.
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The Bears had won 23 in a row since an early-November loss to Washington on a neutral court. The Bulldogs had a 19-game streak going since a loss to Michigan in the Bahamas. And San Diego State started the season a perfect 26-0.
Baylor’s and Gonzaga’s losses, to new No. 1 Kansas and No. 17 BYU, respectively, probably won’t dent their No. 1 seed hopes when the NCAA Tournament selection committee gets together on March 15. The Aztecs loss to UNLV, however, could be more damaging.
The Rebels on Monday were No. 104 at KenPom.com and 112th in the NCAA’s NET rankings, which means San Diego State’s loss qualifies as Quadrant 3 since it occurred at Viejas Arena in San Diego.
The Aztecs dropped from first to fifth in the NET ratings after the loss, as Dayton moved up to No. 4.
When the selection committee released its Feb. 8 preview of the top-16 seeds, Baylor, Kansas, Gonzaga and San Diego State were strong choices as No. 1 seeds.
“It was unanimous,” committee chairman Kevin White said during the broadcast on CBS. “There was a bit of a separation between 4 and 5, quite frankly. (The committee) clearly delineated those four as the top four.”
Those four teams had accounted for just one loss — and that was when Baylor beat Kansas last month — since Dec. 21.
After five different teams were No. 1 in the first seven weeks of the season, Baylor and Gonzaga brought some stability to the top of the AP Poll.
The Zags were No. 1 for four straight weeks before Baylor assumed to the top spot for the next five.
And while there has been plenty of chaos in the Top 25, Baylor, Gonzaga, Kansas and San Diego State had held the top four spots for five straight weeks.
The Aztecs played Colorado State on Tuesday and finish the regular season on Saturday with little room for error. They have four Quad 1 wins and are 9-0 against the top two quadrants but have not been helped by a relatively weak Mountain West Conference.
Still, if San Diego State was to lose the No. 1 seed to, say, Dayton or Duke, it could be a blessing in disguise.
In its reveal earlier this month, the committee placed the Aztecs in the East Region, which has its final in New York.
If San Diego State winds up No. 2 in the West, it would potentially play a regional final in Los Angeles.
Gonzaga finishes its regular season with home games this week against San Diego and Saint Mary’s and would likely face Saint Mary’s or BYU in the West Coast Conference tournament title game. The Zags have already beaten the Gaels by 30 and the Cougars by 23, and the Orleans Arena is basically the Kennel South during the conference tournament.
Baylor has four games remaining prior to the Big 12 Conference tournament.
It’s likely that the Bears’ loss to Kansas cost them only the No. 1 overall seed. The two teams have a combined 21 Quad 1 wins, and it’s difficult to envision either falling from the top line.
If Gonzaga and San Diego State avoid any ugly losses — which for the Aztecs means any losses — the rest of the way, this tournament will be the first with all four No. 1 seeds coming from west of the Mississippi.
Here are this week’s picks. The numbers for the spreads are based on game predictions at KenPom.com.
Boise State at UNLV -2: The Rebels’ up-and-down season is trending up after winning four of five, including the upset of San Diego State.
But the Broncos are arguably hotter: They’ve lost to only Utah State and the Aztecs in their past 10 games. BOISE STATE
East Tennessee State -3 at Wofford: The Buccaneers are 25-4 after winning seven straight games following an upset loss to Mercer and still in the conversation for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The Terriers lost by just one at East Tennessee State on Jan. 1, but their season has nosedived during a five-game skid that included three home losses. EAST TENNESSEE STATE
Wisconsin at Michigan -7: The Badgers have won four straight to bolster their NCAA Tournament hopes, but they’re just 1-4 ATS in their past five Big Ten road games.
After losing eight times in a 12-game stretch, the Wolverines are 7-1 in their past eight.
Michigan has won five in a row, all by at least eight points. MICHIGAN
BYU -9 at Pepperdine: Head coach Mark Pope has a full week to make sure his players avoid a letdown following the Cougars’ upset of Gonzaga.
BYU presents a bad matchup for the Waves: The Cougars are the best 3-point-shooting team in the country; Pepperdine is the eight-worst in defending beyond the arc.
BYU was 17-for-28 from deep in a 107-80 win over the Waves last month. BYU
Last week: 2-2