Back half of Top 25 has difficult week Highlights
No. 6 Michigan St. 71, Penn St. 56:
The teams leading the AP Top 25 spent the week piling up victories or surviving close calls, most notably when top-ranked Duke posted a last-second win at No. 13 Florida State.
Things didn’t go nearly so well for teams in the second half of the poll.
In the latest sign of what could be another unpredictable March, 12 of the 15 teams outside the top 10 lost at least once and combined for 17 losses. That included five teams losing twice: No. 14 Mississippi State, No. 16 Ohio State, No. 20 Iowa State, No. 24 St. John’s and No. 25 TCU.
The only ranked teams outside the top 10 to avoid losses were No. 18 Kentucky, No. 19 Buffalo and No. 21 Marquette, setting the stage for some significant changes in Monday’s new poll.
Some of the losses, at least, came in matchups against higher-ranked league opponents, headlined by the Seminoles falling on Cam Reddish’s 3-pointer with 0.8 seconds left despite Duke playing the second half without star freshman Zion Williamson (poked in the eye).
The others were No. 15 North Carolina State losing to No. 12 North Carolina, No. 23 Oklahoma falling to eighth-ranked Texas Tech and the Horned Frogs losing to both the Sooners and No. 7 Kansas in the Big 12.
No. 2 Michigan 80, Northwestern 60:
Jon Teske scored all 17 of his points in the first half, and the Wolverines (17-0, 6-0 Big Ten) are off to their best start in program history after beating the Wildcats (10-7, 1-5) in Ann Arbor, Mich. Michigan started 16-0 on two prior occasions (1985-86, 2012-13). The victory also matched the Wolverines’ longest winning streak, set in 1985 before losing in the second round of the first 64-team NCAA Tournament.
Nick Ward had 16 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Spartans (15-2, 6-0 Big Ten) to victory in State College, Pa. Matt McQuaid added 15 points and Cassius Winston chipped in 11 for Michigan State, which has won 10 straight. The Spartans also beat the Nittany Lions (7-10, 0-6) for the 10th consecutive time. UCF 76, East Carolina 65: Aubrey Dawkins scored 18 as the host Knights won their seventh in a row despite a 35-point, 20-rebound performance by Pirates freshman forward Jayden Gardner.
UCF maintained a double-figure lead most of the second half but a 3-point play by Gardner got the Pirates within six with 3:22 remaining. However, UCF’s Terrell Allen scored six points in a 10-5 game-ending run.
Michigan’s Zavier Simpson (3) and Isaiah Livers (4) celebrate with Jon Teske after Teske made consecutive 3-point baskets against Northwestern on Sunday.