by Ken Pomeroy on Monday, January 14, 2013
The 3 most appealing games (according to FanMatchTM):
1) Ohio State 56, Michigan 53  (Sunday) During Michigan’s unbeaten streak, they were never really threatened. They trailed at halftime only once and never trailed by more than eight at any point in any game. The Buckeyes owned the first 14 minutes, jumping out to a 29-8 lead, but the Wolverines responded, eventually drawing even in the second half. In the end, Ohio State emerged on the good side of a close decision, and this game didn’t change much about my opinion of either team. Michigan won’t be invincible on the road and Ohio State relies too much on Deshaun Thomas offensively.
2) Indiana 88, Minnesota 81  (Saturday) Like Ohio State, Inidiana opened up a huge cushion in their conference showdown with Minnesota. The Hoosiers were up by 23 at the half and still by 15 with 4:37 to go. But an Indiana turnover-spree led to an offensive-rebound fueled run by the Gophers. They were down three when Indiana’s Jordan Hulls missed the second of two free throws, but Minnesota couldn’t control the rebound and the Hoosiers held on for the win. (Win probability never wavered.)
3) Ole Miss 64, Missouri 49  (Saturday) The Rebels round up the rare trifecta of FanMatch-approved games that all featured 20-point deficits. Ole Miss built its lead more gradually than Ohio State and Indiana, but got there nonetheless with under four minutes to go. Murphy Holloway led the team by scoring 22, rebounding eight, and stealing four. Disappointingly, Marshall Henderson only took eight three-pointers and Phil Pressey dished out just five assists. The game didn’t feature as many points or possessions as might have been expected, either. And we need to remember that Pressey and his band of transfers were playing without Laurence Bowers, which is no small loss. In a nutshell, the game was lacking on many levels. But I think we can say that given the uncertainty swirling abournd Kentucky and Missouri, it’s time to get serious about considering Ole Miss getting the two-seed for the SEC tournament. (I’ve already conceded the conference title to Florida and you should, too.)
The 3 biggest upsets:
1) #107 Texas A&M (6%) 83, #11 Kentucky 71 (Saturday) Hey, playing on the road in the SEC isn’t so difficult after all, is it Aggies? I’m generally not one to hang a team for an ugly road win such as the one Kentucky got over Vanderbilt last Thursday, but this outcome is a little more alarming. I have the Wildcats projected for 12-6 in the SEC which I think sounds about right, but it would be helpful to see a dominant win over Tennessee Tuesday night to confirm that hunch.
2) #56 Marquette (9%) 74, #7 Pittsburgh 67 (OT) (Saturday) I know there is discussion of how overrated Pitt is in my computer, but I’m not inclined to produce a Wisconsin-style FAQ on the situation. Pitt was favored by 11 in Vegas in this one, so there are still plenty of people that believe in them. Their three Big East losses have been close down the stretch and they punk’d Georgetown in DC. The same Georgetown, though extremely scoring-challenged, that Indiana struggled to put away. Pitt played all but four minutes of this game without the services of starting point guard Tray Woodall after he suffered a concussion early in the first half.
3) #263 Stetson (11%) 66, #120 USC Upstate 64 (Saturday) Stetson has outscored Atlantic Sun opponents by a total of one point over six games, but has somehow won four of them which gives them a share of the conference lead. The Hatters survived two missed free throws from Ricardo Glenn (54%) with a second left to win at the sold-out G.B. Hodge Center. (It’s also the smallest gym in D-I with a capacity of 818.)
The 3 craziest comebacks:
1) East Tennessee State (0.8%) over Florida Gulf Coast. (Saturday) I have no idea what’s going on at ETSU. Last Thursday they posted their first game over 1 PPP against a D-I opponent in upsetting our buddies from Stetson. They validated that performance on Saturday by going for 1.29 PPP against Florida Gulf Coast. It was the most FGCU has allowed this season and no small feat when you consider the Eagles have played the likes of Duke, VCU, Miami, and Iowa State. Whatever you’re doing Murry Bartow, keep doing it. More specifically, keep doing what you did in the last 16 minutes of this one. Trailing 55-36, the Bucs scored 49 points in the final 29 possessions to win 85-75 .
2) East Carolina (1.9%) over Central Florida . (Saturday) UCF is on probation and stuff, but that doesn’t mean you quit after 29 minutes. ECU trailed 59-42 with 11:04 remaining, but fought back for a 76-74 lead before UCF’s Keith Clanton forced overtime. But Corvonn Gaines, he of the sub-10% shot percentage, mustered the courage to hit a three in the closing seconds of OT for an 88-85  win.
3) Siena (2.5%) over Canisius. (Friday) Remember that stuff about how teams that deviate from preseason expectations early in the season are probably overachieving? Well, Canisius is another example to add to the pile. After a stunning 9-3 start, the Griffins have lost four out of five. Losing at Detroit or Iona isn’t a disgrace at all, but blowing a 13-point to Siena with 12:18 to go is a warning sign. Canisius only scored nine points the rest of the way to lose 57-54 .
Unbeatens remaining: None. (Two fewer since Friday.)
Winless teams remaining: Maryland-Eastern Shore and Grambling. (Unchanged since Friday.)
This week’s 3 most appealing games (according to FanMatchTM):
1) #5 Michigan at #6 Minnesota (Thursday, 7 ET, ESPN). Henceforth, this section is going to contain a lot of Big Ten action. Deal with it, America. For this week’s edition, we go to The Barn, where Tubby Smith’s offensive-rebounding (1st nationally), foul-drawing (22nd) machine will run up against John Beilein’s defensive-rebounding (2nd), not-foul-giving (1st) Wolverines.
2) #28 N.C. State at #57 Maryland (Wednesday, 7 ET, ESPN2). On the Maryland/Miami broadcast last night I think, I really think, I heard Jay Williams say he thought N.C. State was now the favorite to win the ACC. I understand that Duke will be without Ryan Kelly and that Seth Curry isn’t 100%, and even that Duke has one more ACC loss than State. But it’s still premature to suddenly toss aside one of the best teams in the country to date based on one result. If the Wolfpack are serious about winning the conference, they’re going to have to win more than their share of road coin-flips, and this game against Maryland is the first of several of those.
3) #34 New Mexico at #39 Boise State (Wednesday, 9 ET, ROOT). Parity is an overused word in sports, but it’s appropriate for the Mountain West. You at home can simulate the conference race by drawing the names of top six teams out of a hat. My projections currently have San Diego State going 11-5 and the other five teams going 10-6 in the best remaining conference to offer a double round-robin format. At Taco Bell Arena, Boise State will be in action for the first time since winning at Wyoming last Wednesday despite missing four rotation players due to suspension. Three of the four, including leading scorer Derrick Marks, will be back for this one.