by Ken Pomeroy on Friday, January 18, 2013
The 3 most appealing games (according to FanMatchTM):
1) Michigan 83, Minnesota 75  (Thursday) Minnesota satisfied its appetite on the offensive glass, grabbing 14 boards in 30 chances (though many appeared to be in garbage time). But they didn’t have an answer for Tim Hardaway, Jr. and only had a few answers for Trey Burke (#3 in your program, but #12 in reality after the structural integrity of his jersey was compromised in the first half). The Wolverines led by as many as 15 with 5:53 left and were not threatened after that, posting 1.26 PPP, the most Minnesota has allowed this season.
2) Maryland 51, N.C. State 50  (Wednesday) The last time Mark Gottfried gave fewer than ten minutes to players outside of his six-man rotation was December 22, and in this game, Wolfpack starters each played at least 35 minutes. Just thought you should know. The contest was decided by an Alex Len bucket with 0.9 seconds to go, and until that moment, Maryland didn’t have a single double-digit scorer.
3) New Mexico 79, Boise State 74 (OT)  (Wednesday) Opportunity missed for the Broncos, who swapped leads with the Lobos four times in the last three minutes before being outscored 6-1 to start overtime. The way things shook out elsewhere in the Mountain West Wednesday night, Boise could have significantly improved their regular-season title chances had they pulled out the win. Both teams made a higher percentage of 3’s than 2’s. New Mexico got to the line 31 times and made 24 to compensate for poor two-point shooting.
The 3 biggest upsets:
1) #311 Nicholls State (7%) 93, #128 Northwestern State 78  (Thursday) Northwestern State and Oral Roberts are the only reasonable choices to challenge Stephen F. Austin for the Southland title. But losing at home to one of the weaker teams in the league cripples the Demons’ chances.
2) #314 Lipscomb (8%) 87, #152 Florida Gulf Coast 78 (OT)  (Thursday) The Bison won in a building that the Miami Hurricanes could not win (or even come within ten points of winning) in on the strength of Deonte Alexander’s 32. Furthermore, Lipscomb trailed 51-41 with 11:51 left before surging to force overtime.
3) #312 Monmouth (11%) 71, #187 St. Francis NY 67  (Thursday) St. Francis has never appeared in the NCAA tournament. But they’ve actually had a fairly decent season to date and the stunner to Monmouth doesn’t change their NCAA math too much. Higher seeds get home court advantage in the NEC and with nine of the 12 teams currently 3-2 or 2-3, the 3-2 Terriers’ have plenty of time to improve their situation. Just don’t let this happen again.
The 3 craziest comebacks:
1) Valparaiso (0.5%) over Detroit. (Thursday) Valpo trailed 60-38 with 17:08 to go and later, 88-77 with 3:01 left. From there it was five scoring possessions for the Crusaders and five empty ones for the Titans (with nary a free throw shot). Valpo’s only lead of the game was after Ryan Broekhoff’s game winning free throws with 17 seconds left. Final: 89-88 .
2) Chattanooga (0.5%) over Appalachian State. (Thursday) Chattanooga had its own miracle last night, trailing App State 64-45 with 6:36 left. But the Mocs came all the way back to force overtime on a Dontay Hampton three-pointer with 18 seconds left that tied the game at 78. Chattanooga won in OT, 91-88 .
3) Lipscomb (1.0%) over Florida Gulf Coast. (Thursday) Detailed above.
Winless teams remaining: Maryland-Eastern Shore and Grambling. (Unchanged since Friday.)
Conference unbeatens remaining: 53.
Conference winless teams remaining: 49.
This weekend’s 3 most appealing games (according to FanMatchTM):
1) #10 Ohio State at #18 Michigan State (Saturday, 6 ET, ESPN). I know John Beilein said six losses might win the conference, but no, don’t listen to him. The loser of this game will have two losses which would be worse for the Spartans since it’s a home game and they have a Wisconsin/Indiana immediately after this.
2) #13 Creighton at #26 Wichita State (Saturday, 4 ET, ESPN2). Look at that, Creighton leads the nation in both two-point percentage (56.9) and three-point percentage (45.4?!?). (That does their offense more justice than merely noting they lead the nation in field goal percentage.) Who needs defense or even offensive rebounds when you can do that? The Shockers are the second-best team in the conference and this the toughest game left on Creighton’s schedule.
3) #12 Gonzaga at #35 Butler (Saturday, 9 ET, ESPN). Hey remember when there were non-conference games between elite teams in the middle of conference season? No Rotnei Clarke for Butler here which obviously hurts, but it also means more three-point shots for freshman Kellen Dunham, who is more than willing to take them, if not make them as regularly as people expected before the season.