Duke's Survival at UNC on Saturday Accentuates College Basketball's Unpredictability Going Into the Madness

The 2019-20 men's college basketball season has not been easy to figure out, and Saturday's slew of conference games seemed to mirror that. Top-ranked Baylor survived a scare at home, Duke needed magic at Carolina in overtime and Auburn beat LSU on a buzzer-beater.

Then there was San Diego State, which entered Saturday with a sparkling 23-0 record, and eventually pulled away from an interestingly-close game at Air Force.

San Diego State, which is ranked No. 4 and a favorite to become a No. 1 seed in next month's NCAA tournament, beat the Falcons, 89-74. This was not before a wild Saturday of college basketball that's sure to set the stage for the upcoming madness.

Here's a look at close games on Saturday:

No. 1 Baylor at home survived a late comeback by Oklahoma State and defeated the Cowboys, 78-70
No. 5 Louisville at home held off defending national champion Virginia, 80-73
No. 6 Dayton at home defeated St. Louis, 71-65
No. 7 Duke needed comebacks in regulation and overtime to beat North Carolina, 98-96
No. 10 Villanova lost at home to No. 12 Seton Hall, 70-64
No. 11 Auburn hit a shot at the buzzer to beat No. 18 LSU in overtime, 91-90
No. 13 West Virginia lost at unranked Oklahoma, 69-59
No. 15 Kentucky won at a hostile Tennessee venue, 77-64
No. 16 Michigan State lost at Michigan, 77-68
No. 22 Penn State at home defeated Minnesota, 83-77
No. 24 Colorado beat Stanford, 81-74

Here's what happened in the Duke-North Carolina game. UNC led most of the game, and the Tar Heels held a 75-62 lead late in the second half before a Duke comeback.

Duke's Tre Jones faced two free-throw shots in the waning moments of regulation while his team trailed by three points. He sank the first shot, and then clinked the second shot off the rim, and the rebound and subsequent assist went Duke's way for a shot at the buzzer that tied the game and sent it to overtime.

With the teams tied at 96, Jones heaved a desperation shot in overtime, but his airball was caught by Duke freshman Wendell Moore, who caught it and layed it in for the winning basket as time expired to give the No. 7 Blue Devils the win.

A win by North Carolina may have vindicated the season by the Tar Heels, who have fallen to 10-13 on the season, but it could have also perhaps given them confidence fuel for a late tournament run. For Duke, it gives them a team-building opportunity to face a run that could propel them to maybe a No. 1 seed by tournament time. As of now, the Blue Devils are projected as a No. 2 seed. A loss to UNC most likely would have dropped them to a 3 or 4 seed.

Duke and North Carolina
Tre Jones #3 of the Duke Blue Devils tries to stop Cole Anthony #2 of the North Carolina Tar Heels during their game at Dean Smith Center on February 08, 2020 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images