Crazy Awesome Wednesday Night Hoops

Steve O Speak

A Guest Blog By Fanspeak Contributing Writer Brian Murphy:

What a night it was in college basketball on this Wednesday!  With multiple top-25 and rivalry match-ups, it had all the makings of an early March game night.

#21 UNC 73 vs. #5 Duke 79: North Carolina absolutely dominated the first half of the first game this year between the best rivals in college basketball.  The Tar Heels took a 14 point lead into the half, but of course you can never count out Duke in Cameron Indoor.  The Blue Devils came out of the locker room like they actually visited Hell and were on fire, getting their first lead of the game with 9:14 remaining in the second half.  They did not look back the rest of the game.  Led by Seth Curry’s 22 points, Duke made clutch three after three and nailed their free throws to seal another great one between Tobacco Road’s finest.

#10 Villanova 76 vs. Rutgers 77: Looking at tonight’s games, no one would have thought that this game would be the most exciting finish of all.  Let’s fast-forward to the second half where ‘Nova had a 12 point lead with only 3:34 left and then 10 with 2:52 left.  Rutgers’ Jonathan Mitchell and James Beatty decided to do the uncanny and hit five 3-pointers combined in the final 1:50.  Now get this: the Wildcat’s James Bell hit a 3 to go up by 5 with 16 seconds left. Game over right?  Not so much in the RAC said the Scarlet Knights as James Beatty cut it to a 2-point game with 11 seconds left.  Villanova’s Corey Fisher made one free throw to go up by 3 with 9 ticks left.  Then the unthinkable happened: Jonathan Mitchell for Rutgers caught a deep pass and put up a 3 that swished in!!….AND 1!!  Mitchell was fouled on his made 3-pointer and went to the foul line with .8 left in a tied-up ball game.  Mitchell shoots it and…..Buckets!  The Rutgers fans stormed the court and craziness ensued in Jersey!

#15 Louisville 79 vs. #7 Notre Dame 89 (OT):  Many folks that follow these teams will tell you that when you match up the Cardinals and Fightin’ Irish, there is a good chance the game will go into overtime.  On Wednesday night, overtime was needed yet again to determine the winner of this classic Big East battle (5th OT game in last 9 meetings).  Louisville, led by Kyle Kuric and his 28 points, had the lead most of the game.  It was never a big enough lead that ND was out of the game and they tied it up and went up by a couple many, many times.  Louisville had the final shot to win it in regulation but it fell short. Once overtime started, Notre Dame, led by Ben Hansbrough’s 25 points, came out like wildmen and just blew out Louisville scoring the first 14 points of overtime.  Notre Dame is further strengthening its case as the best team in the Big East.  They are currently in second place in the Big East standings, only behind Pittsburgh who ND beat on the road.

#11 Georgetown 64 vs. #13 Syracuse 56: In arguably the most back and forth game of the night, the visiting Hoyas pulled away in the final four minutes to give Syracause another Big East lost.  The game had seven lead changes and numerous ties as Georgetown won its seventh game in a row.  Syracuse lost its third straight in the Dome, which is only the third time that has happened in coach Jim Boeheim’s 35 year tenure there.  This game definitely showcased two teams going in opposite directions.  The Hoyas are hot and making quite the Big East run, whereas the Orange have been struggling big time as of late in the Big East and are plummeting in the standings.

As if those four games weren’t enough for you, there were two top-25 teams not in the Big East or ACC who had scares on the road.  #14 Wisconsin needed overtime to beat the lowly Hawkeyes of Iowa on the road by only three points.  Similarly, #22 Texas A&M needed overtime to squeak by Colorado by three points.  Is this a glimpse of what college basketball in March this season will be like.  I bet yes, is it March yet?!

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