by Ken Pomeroy on Friday, February 1, 2013
The 3 most appealing games (according to FanMatchTM):
1) Louisville 64, Pitt 61  (Monday) A deceptive three-point win as the Cards held a comfortable lead most of the way. Who knows how this kind of stuff will work in the future Big East, but this was played as a traditional Big East contest in that there were an equal number of offensive and defensive rebounds. Louisville needs some help from Pitt in beating Syracuse this week to move into frontrunner status for the Big East regular-season race.
2) Kentucky 87, Mississippi 74  (Tuesday) I’m gonna nominate the Marshall Henderson saga as a low point in this season’s college basketball coverage. His line in the Auburn game last Saturday: 15 points on 4-15 shooting, 3-4 from the line, and no turnovers. That registered a 115 ORtg on 30% usage. After some postgame theatrics, he gained internet fame. Every blogger/reporter worth his or her salt reported on how awesome he was. Some even suggested (ridiculously) that he could win player of the year. His line in the Kentucky game: 21 points on 5-19 shooting, 9-12 from the line, and no turnovers. That’s good for a 112 ORtg on 28% usage. Basically identical to the Auburn game but against a much better defense. For this he got widely trashed (by the media, but also possibly in an Oxford bar later that night). What were people expecting? If there was ever a case of setting a guy up for failure, this was it.
3) Stanford 76, Oregon 52  (Wednesday) No shame in losing at Stanford – as noted here on Monday, the Ducks were unlikely to survive the Bay Area trip without their first conference loss. But the nature of this loss wasn’t a good look. Stanford has spent the last week playing like Florida. Here’s guessing it doesn’t last.
The 3 biggest upsets:
1) #326 Tennessee Martin (10%) 72, #128 Eastern Kentucky 65  (Thursday) Hey, it’s the second huge upset by the Skyhawks in less than a week. Somehow, they’ve won three of their first ten OVC games.
2) #130 UMass (15%) 61, #55 La Salle 60  (Wednesday) This is a run-of-the-mill upset in college hoops terms, but when Chaz Williams hit the game-winning layup with eight seconds left, we were all left to wonder what happened to Dr. John Giannini’s magic beans. Revoke the man’s Ph.D.
3) #64 Indiana State (15%) 68, #24 Wichita State 55  (Tuesday) The Shockers made seven two-point attempts in 31 tries. That’s often a losing formula, although they did manage to compensate well in every other offensive category to give themselves a chance had the defense played well. Indiana State posted its fifth-best PPP mark of the season and is owed a thank-you card from Creighton as the Blue Jays are once again the favorite to win the Valley.
The 3 craziest comebacks:
1) VMI (0.9%) over Radford. (Wednesday) Duggar Baucom has taken the crazy out of VMI’s run-and-gun style of years past, but the experience still comes in handy when you need to cram in a bunch of possessions because you’re behind 65-57 with 1:18 to go. The Keydets scored 13 points after that point (all of them by Stan Okoye) to win 70-69 .
2) Niagara (1.1%) over Iona. (Thursday) Niagara trailed 81-74 with 54 seconds left before scoring the final seven to force an etra period. Of note was their final possession in regulation in which they got four chances at a three-pointer. The final was 93-90  and it allowed Niagara to take a two-game lead in the MAAC with seven to go.
3) UAB (3.8%) over UTEP. (Wednesday) UAB got their first conference win after trailing 43-28 with 13:56 to go. Jordan Swing tied it up with five seconds left and the Blazers would win in overtime, 78-72 .
Winless teams remaining: Grambling. (Unchanged since Monday.)
Conference unbeatens remaining: 16. (4 fewer since Monday.)
Conference winless teams remaining: 11. (2 fewer since Monday.)
This week’s 3 most appealing games (according to FanMatchTM):
1) #3 Michigan at #2 Indiana (Saturday, 9 ET, ESPN). It’s the game of the year, and that statement may well stand through the NCAA tournament. Lots of single-digit ratings in significant categories for both teams. Most of them are on the offensive side of the ball, but Michigan brings the top FTA defense in the land to Bloomington to face the second-best FTA offense.
2) #8 Syracuse at #6 Pittsburgh (Saturday, Noon ET, ESPN). The Panthers get one last crack in the national limelight. They have more difficult games on the upcoming schedule (at Cincinnati and possibly at Marquette) but getting a home win against the Orange would carry more glitz. Expect another game with a lot of missed shots and a bunch of offensive boards.
3) #13 Miami FL at #38 N.C. State (Saturday, 4 ET, CBS). My fear is that if the Wolfpack win, it will be offered as another example of their inconsistency. How can you lose to Virginia and beat Miami? (Disregarding the absence of Lorenzo Brown for most of the UVa game for a second.) It’s not inconsistency, it’s home-court advantage. You’re eight points better at home than you are on the road. Eight points! That’s huge. N.C. State will probably play much better against the ‘Canes than they did against the Cavaliers. If that happens, I wouldn’t recommend interpreting it as N.C. State being a top-five team. It doesn’t take a top-five team to beat Miami at home.