The 2017 Western Kentucky Hilltoppers Men's Basketball Team was a school with unexpected success in the 2017-18 NCAA College Basketball Season. They are regardless as one of the biggest cinderella stories of college basketball. They made noise Early in the season and kept winning throughout the season. The team finished the season with a 29-2 Record and a Conference USA championship, along with an appearance as a 6 seed in March Madness, the highest seed for a non-power conference champion since Murray State in 2012.
First Three Games
The Hilltoppers started with three easy games, against Missouri State, Kentucky Wesleyan, and Nicholls State. Only one of these games (against Missouri State) was close, with the Hilltoppers winning 76-69. In the other two games, the Hilltoppers won with a margin anywhere from 15 to 30 points.
Battle 4 Atlantis
The Battle 4 Atlantis in Nassau, the Bahamas was where the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers took off. In the opening round, against 7th Ranked Villanova, Western Kentucky kept the game close despite being favored to lose by more than 20 points. With Villanova up 66-68 and 5 seconds left, the Hilltoppers threw the ball down the court to Freshman Point Guard Jake Ohmer, who hit the game winning buzzer beater. Western Kentucky won, 69-68.
Western Kentucky then advanced to the next round against 24th ranked Purdue. On a performance led by 24 points from Jake Ohmer , Western Kentucky won 62-57. Western Kentucky then faced Northern Iowa, another team in the tournament with a cinderella run and eventually ending up ranked. Western Kentucky won the Battle 4 Atlantis Championship over Northern Iowa, 65-53.
Rest of November
in the final game of November, the 23rd ranked Hilltoppers played the University of Eastern Kentucky, winning by a wide margin and improving to 7-0 on the season.
Western Kentucky remained unbeaten throughout the entire month of December. They started the month with a win over Wright State, 82-49. Two games later, on December 13th, Western Kentucky had the most notable win of the month- a 71-67 victory over the 17th ranked Wisconsin Badgers that catapulted the Hilltoppers to 19th in the country. Only two other games played by the Hilltoppers were decided by 10 or less points in the month of December- a 60-51 win over Indiana State on December 16th, and a 63-53 win over Louisiana Tech on December 28th.
Western Kentucky played in many close games in this month, but escaped mostly unharmed. The first game of the month was a 59-53 win over Marshall on January 6th. 5 days later, the Hilltoppers suffered one of only two losses on the season, a 55-61 loss to Old Dominion, and dropped in the Basketball rankings from 18th to 24th in the country.
February and March
The Month of February started with 23rd ranked Western Kentucky's second and final loss of the regular season- a 59-60 loss to UTEP. This loss dropped Western Kentucky out of the top 25, however, they re-emerged as number 24 three weeks later after blowout road wins against North Texas (73-55) and Rice (77-62). The Hilltoppers closed out the season 29-2 after a 69-56 win against UAB on March 3rd.
|November 10th||NR||Missouri State||W 76-69||1-0|
|November 15th||NR||Kentucky Wesleyan||W 85-53||2-0|
|November 19th||NR||Nicholls State||W 80-65||3-0|
|BATTLE 4 ATLANTIS|
|November 22nd||NR||#7 Villanova||W 69-68||4-0|
|November 23rd||NR||#24 Purdue||W 62-57||5-0|
|November 24th||NR||Northern Iowa||W 65-53||6-0|
|November 29th||#23||Eastern Kentucky||W 71-57||7-0|
|December 2nd||#23||Wright State||W 82-49||8-0|
|December 10th||#23||@ Ohio||W 67-55||9-0|
|December 13th||#23||@ #17 Wisconsin||W 71-67||10-0|
|December 16th||#23||Indiana State||W 60-51||11-0|
|December 19th||#19||Belmont||W 77-54||12-0|
|December 22nd||#19||@ Austin Peay||W 72-51||13-0|
|December 28th||#18||Louisiana Tech||W 65-53||14-0 (1-0)|
|December 30th||#18||Southern Mississippi||W 72-56||15-0 (2-0)|
|January 6th||#18||@ Marshall||W 59-53||16-0 (3-0)|
|January 11th||#18||@ Old Dominion||L 55-61||16-1 (3-1)|
|January 13th||#18||@ Charlotte||W 68-64||17-1 (4-1)|
|January 18th||#24||UAB||W 71-53||18-1 (5-1)|
|January 20th||#24||Middle Tennessee||W 66-57||19-1 (6-1)|
|January 27th||#23||Marshall||W 64-51||20-1 (7-1)|
|February 1st||#23||@ UTEP||L 59-60||20-2 (7-2)|
|February 3rd||#23||@ UTSA||W 61-55||21-2 (7-2)|
|February 7th||NR||Florida Atlantic||W 65-47||22-2 (8-2)|
|February 10th||NR||Florida International||W 71-61||23-2 (9-2)|
|February 15th||NR||@ North Texas||W 73-55||24-2 (10-2)|
|February 17th||NR||@ Rice||W 77-62||25-2 (11-2)|
|February 22nd||#24||Charlotte||W 70-53||26-2 (12-2)|
|February 24th||#24||Old Dominion||W 65-57||27-2 (13-2)|
|March 1st||#22||@ Middle Tennessee||W 72-60||28-2 (14-2)|
|March 3rd||#22||@ UAB||W 69-56||29-2 (15-2)|
|Round of 64||West 6||(W11) Northern Iowa||W 73-59||30-2 (15-2)|
|Round of 32||West 6||(W3) Cincinnati||W 65-61||31-2 (15-2)|
|Sweet 16||West 6||(W10) Oakland||W 72-63||32-2 (15-2)|
|Elite 8||West 6||(W1) Arizona||W 71-70||33-2 (15-2)|
|Final Four||West 6||(E1) Kansas||L 64-68||33-3 (15-2)|