For the third week in a row, the No. 1 men’s basketball team in the nation suffered its first loss of the season. The latest loss was much different than the first two.
Purdue fell to unranked Rutgers 70-68 on a Ron Harper Jr. buzzer-beater Thursday in Piscataway, N.J. The defeat came three days after Boilermakers (8-1, 1-1 Big Ten) earned the first No. 1 ranking in program history. They will likely fall out of the top spot in next week’s Associated Press Top 25. Undefeated Baylor (8-0) is No. 2 this week, but it plays No. 6 Villanova on Sunday.
Thursday’s game was Purdue’s first since the AP poll was released Monday. The Boilermakers became just the fifth team in NCAA history to lose to an unranked opponent in its first game as No. 1. The last time it happened was in 2007 when Wisconsin lost to Michigan State.
Two weeks ago, then-No. 1 Duke lost 71-66 to unranked Ohio State and eventually gave up the top spot to Purdue. A week prior to the Blue Devils’ loss, Gonzaga lost to Duke 84-81 in a matchup of No. 1 vs. No. 5.
While Duke was in the top five and Ohio State was ranked in the top 25 earlier in the season, Rutgers (5-4, 1-1 Big Ten) has been unranked all season. It entered Thursday’s play 217th in the NET rankings. The Boilermakers were 13.5-point favorites over the Scarlet Knights on the road.
This isn’t the first buzzer-beater loss for a top school this year. On Nov. 26, unranked Dayton beat then-No. 4 Kansas (the Jayhawks are now ranked eighth) at the horn. The shot went viral because of Dick Vitale’s reaction on the ESPN game broadcast.
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