by Ken Pomeroy on Monday, December 10, 2012
The 3 most appealing games (according to FanMatchTM):
1) UNLV 76, Cal 75 . (Sunday) I never thought I’d be able to talk about a game where Quintrell Thomas played a key role in the outcome. After being a highly touted prep prospect, he spent his first three college seasons coming off the bench. Things are no different in his senior year, but with Mike Moser leaving this game early with an elbow injury, there was Thomas on the court for the Rebels’ final possession. He did what he does best – grabbed an offensive rebound (OK, of an air ball) and converted it into points. The decisive points in this case.
2) Middle Tennessee 65, Ole Miss 62 . (Saturday) The current Sun Belt projections have Middle Tennessee winning the conference by five whole games. Four days after beating UAB by 20, they downed one of the better teams in the SEC. (Note: I’m close to instituting the Marshall Henderson: Chasing History feature. The Rebel shooting guard has taken 80 3PA’s in seven games. The D-I record for three-point attempts is an amazing 380, set by Santa Clara’s Kevin Foster two seasons ago. But you have to dream big.)
3) Marquette 60, Wisconsin 50 . (Saturday) According to my records, the last time Wisconsin had a game where their TO% was over 30 was on December 12, 2007. That streak continues, but it looked shaky the way Wisconsin’s guards struggled against Marquette’s pressure in the first half. Alas, the turnover percentage turned out alright by game’s end. The problem was the ball didn’t go in the basket: the Badgers made 37% of their 2’s, 28% of their 3’s, and…39% of their FT’s?? Yuck.
The 3 biggest upsets:
1) #301 Delaware State (8%) 73, #114 Delaware 76  (OT). (Saturday) Delaware only has three wins on the season, but two of them allowed them to get to the NIT Tip-off semi-finals. Their 3-6 record was deceptive before this game because it included close losses to Kansas State, Temple, and La Salle. It’s still deceptive at 3-7, because Delaware State needed a late three from Amere May to send the game to overtime, but it’s clear the Blue Hens’ chances of contending in the CAA should be tempered a bit.
2) #275 Eastern Michigan (11%) 47, #36 Purdue 44 . (Saturday) This game was at Ypsilanti, so that makes this outcome somewhat less stunning than the rankings might lead one to believe. You have to give EMU a little credit because their defense is respectable, in part due to the presence of Syracuse transfer Da’Shonte Riley. But Riley only played 22 minutes, and even if he played more, that doesn’t completely explain Purdue’s 18 (30.5%) turnovers or missing 23-of-33 two-point attempts. Purdue actually jumped out to an 11-2 lead making this outcome even more improbable.
3) #311 Central Arkansas (14%) 88, #204 Southeast Missouri State 85 . (Saturday) It’s worth noting here that UCA’s Robert Crawford produced a game-of-the-year nominee in this one. He made 5-of-6 two’s, 7-of-9 three’s, and all eight of his free throws to go with just one turnover. In human terms, that’s 39 points. In science terms, that’s a 199 offensive rating while using 30% of his team’s possessions. This from a guy that, even including the game’s stats in his season total, has a usage rate south of 20.
The 3 craziest comebacks:
1) UCLA (2.3%) over Texas. (Saturday) Hey, if you were one of the dozens in attendance, you got to see a reasonably entertaining finish. The Bruins trailed by eight with three minutes to go in an otherwise fairly evenly-matched contest. An 11-0 run later, UCLA led by three and held on for the 65-63  win.
2) Delaware State (3.7%) over Delaware. (Saturday) See biggest upsets.
3) Eastern Michigan (3.9%) over Purdue. (Saturday) See biggest upsets.
Unbeatens remaining: 14. (4 fewer since Friday.)
Winless teams remaining: 8. (unchanged since Friday.)
This week’s 3 most appealing games (according to FanMatchTM):
1) #23 Wichita State at #56 Tennessee. (Thursday, 7 ET, Fox Sports South) It’s finals week most places, so college hoops almost doesn’t exist this week. However, this game is pretty compelling as Cuonzo Martin gets back to his Valley roots in hosting the surprising Shockers.
2) #39 Middle Tennessee at #28 Belmont. (Thursday, 7 ET, CSS/ESPN3) One could troll a lot of people by declaring this the Tennessee state championship. But it’s not that far from the truth. As noted above, the Blue Raiders are coming off two nice home wins, while Belmont is prepping for a trip to Allen Fieldhouse next Saturday.
3) #44 Saint Joseph’s at #99 Villanova. (Tuesday, 7 ET, ESPNU) We have Big Five action here although Phil Martelli’s team could be called the Big Six since that’s the number of players he gives meaningful minutes to these days. What to watch for? The early calculations have Villanova as the top team in the land at getting to the free throw line while the Hawks are #2 in keeping opponents off the line. Also – Saint Joe’s is going to take a lot threes. Enjoy!