by Ken Pomeroy on Friday, January 4, 2013
The 3 most appealing games (according to FanMatchTM):
1) Gonzaga 69, Oklahoma State 68 . (Monday) Gonzaga rebounded 57% of its misses to conclude a 5-0 swing through the Big 12. Kelly Olynyk continued to be stunningly awesome. He fouled out in 23 minutes but still scored 21, which is especially huge in a game as slow-paced as this one.
2) Creighton 79, Illinois State 72 . (Wednesday) These two combined for 53 three-point attempts, making 26 of them. The Blue Jays got a subdued 15 points from kPOY #5 Doug McDermott, but made 54% of their twos and 52% of their threes to maintain their national lead in effective field goal percentage.
3) Minnesota 76, Michigan State 63 . (Saturday) The Spartans led by five with nine minutes left, but the Gophers would close the game on a 22-4 run. Trevor Mbakwe scored 11 and rebounded 12 in a season-high 28 minutes and is still most similar to himself.
The 3 biggest upsets:
1) #344 UC Riverside (4%) 65, #172 Cal St. Northridge 64  (Thursday) You may remember UC Riverside from such performances as “30 points in 56 possessions” against Fresno State, or “26 points in 59 possessions” against USC. The Highlanders sported the worst offense in the country this side of Grambling. They didn’t make a three in this one, but somehow made 28-of-43 (65.1%) twos in a road game despite making 40.3% of them this season.
2) #330 Chicago State (5%) 58, #153 Toledo 53  (Monday) Chicago State had a lone D-I win – over #335 Alabama State – before pulling off the stunner at Savage Arena. They did it while hitting just 7-of-25 two-point efforts and watching Toledo make all 20 of its free throw attempts. Toledo was up 25-17 with 19:12 left and had the ball, but could not protect the lead.
3) #277 Campbell (11%) 86, #132 East Carolina 81 (OT)  (Wednesday) Campbell blew a 16-point second half lead including a 13-point lead with three minutes to go. But the inspirational plaque in Campbell’s locker room reads “Momentum, Schmomentum” for a reason. In overtime and on the road, the Camels outscored ECU 16-11. Also of note: ECU took 30 more 3PA’s than Campbell.
The 3 craziest comebacks:
1) Arizona (1.7%) over Colorado. (Thursday) This game will forever be known for the replay controversy at the end of regulation, but there was so much that happened before that. The Wildcats trailed 75-65 with 1:53 left but started fouling early and it paid off as the Buffs missed 5 of 10 attempts to give Arizona a chance.
2) UC Riverside (2.0%) over Cal St. Northridge. (Thursday) The Highlanders trailed 64-60 with 42 seconds left. And remember…their offense stinks. But they got an and-one by Chris Patton with 23 seconds left and then a layup by Patton with 11 seconds left to take the lead.
3) Liberty (2.0%) over Western Carolina. (Monday) The Flames were down 62-58 with ten seconds left, and then things got really easy. John Caleb Sanders made a layup with five seconds left, and got fouled. Then there was a technical called on the inbounds when the Catamounts requested a time out they didn’t have. Presto! Five consecutive points and a 63-62 Liberty win.
Unbeatens remaining: Duke, Michigan, Arizona, and Wyoming. (Unchanged since Monday.)
Winless teams remaining: Mississippi Valley State, Maryland-Eastern Shore, and Grambling. (One fewer since Monday.)
This weekend’s 3 most appealing games (according to FanMatchTM):
1) #18 Oklahoma State at #44 Kansas State (Saturday, 1:30 PM ET, Big 12 Network). Both of these teams are defense-dominant and somewhat slow-paced, so don’t expect a lot of points. K-State sports particularly gruesome shooting numbers, ranking 248th in 3P% and 263rd in 2P%. I’d like to keep the Bruce Weber Bandwagon up and running, but I’m not sure how that’s possible if his team can’t put the ball in the hoop.
2) #7 Ohio State at #46 Illinois (Saturday, 2:15 PM ET, Big Ten Network). Welcome to the Big Ten, John Groce. After losing at Purdue in the conference-opener, it gets more difficult. (In fact, the only easier road game Illinois will play is at Northwestern.) If you want to get to 10 or 11 conference wins, you’re going to have to win some games like this one.
3) #35 North Carolina at #26 Virginia (Sunday, 8 PM ET, ESPNU)
It’s the #1 tempo vs. the #342 tempo. UNC begins it run through a gauntlet of an ACC schedule Sunday night and there wouldn’t be a lot shame in losing this one, except that like Illinois, UNC has to get tough wins somewhere, so the Tar Heels might as well start at the JPJ. UVa’s Akil Mitchell is not on too many radars but he’s gone from complete wallflower as a sophomore to potential all-ACC pick as a junior.