There were 1,421 games between Division-I teams in January. Here are the wildest things that happened during the month:

Biggest Upsets

3. January 18: #74 Oklahoma 89, #2 West Virginia 87  (OT) (6.8%) The Mountaineers have lost three Big 12 games, two in overtime and the other by four points. Losing to the Sooners at home, though, is how you forfeit your chance to win a conference regular season title. Obviously, West Virginia still has a chance, but they can probably only afford one more loss, and with road games against Baylor and Kansas among its nine remaining contests, I hope you can see how that will be unlikely.

2. January 13: #312 Detroit 93, #74 Oakland 88 (3.4%) A week before this game, Oakland went to Valparaiso and won convincingly, improving to 4-0 in league play and positioning themselves as the favorite to win the Horizon League in a major early-season surprise. But things have changed a lot since then. It started with this debacle in which starting point guard Stevie Clark ended up in the doghouse in the first half, played just seven minutes, and Oakland blew a double-digit lead at home to a team that was previously 2-14. The Grizzlies enter February at 6-4 in the Horizon and their chances at a regular-season title are remote.

1. January 25: #334 VMI 80, #68 Chattanooga 64 (1.2%) Who likes a 16-point win for the upset of the month? *Raises hand* VMI started the second half on an 18-4 run, giving them a cushion that would stand up for the second half thanks to QJ Peterson’s 40-point effort. This was one of those games where if it was all you knew about these two teams, you’d have to swear the VMI was the better team. The Keydets are currently 5-15 (2-7) and the Mocs are 15-6 (6-3) so it’s safe to say that this result be damned, Chattanooga will be a significant favorite when the teams meet up in Lexington on February 15.

Best Comebacks

3. January 18: #74 Oklahoma 89, #2 West Virginia 87  (OT) (0.4%) It’s not so bad to lose to Oklahoma. These things happen and one doesn’t have to go far down the list conferences to find one that the Sooners’ would be competing for a title in. But WVU had a 15-point lead with just under nine minutes left on its home floor.

2. January 8: #240 Stony Brook 72, #171 Albany 70 (0.3%) Ken’s Keys to Basketball #142: Don’t stop scoring with 5:55 left. Either Albany forgot about this against Stony Brook or just wanted to smite the basketball gods and prove that Ken’s Keys to Basketball are a sham. Mike Rowley’s bucket with 5:55 left game Albany a 70-51 lead, but that was enough time for the Seawolves to score 21 points, including the final hoop by Tyrell Sturdivant with 0.6 seconds left.

Stony Brook has been the surprise of America East, recovering from a brutal non-conference performance to go 7-2 in conference games to this point, two games behind undefeated conference-leader Vermont.

1. January 7: #81 Nevada 105, #119 New Mexico 104 (OT) (0.03%) Nevada trailed by 24 with 13 minutes left and still trailed by 14 with a little over a minute left. The Wolf Pack would make their next six three-pointers, the last two of which were banked in by Marcus Marshall to force overtime.

Even overtime required an unlikely comeback as New Mexico built a five-point lead and squandered three possessions to add to it. Jordan Caroline’s three-pointer – part of his 45-point effort – with 2.9 seconds left would be the decisive shot.

Fastest-paced game

January 19: #199 Lipscomb 112, #240 Jacksonville 95 [90 possessions] If you like fouls then you’ll love Lipscomb basketball. The Bisons have the fifth-highest free throw rate on offense and the 16th-highest on defense. This game had 65 fouls and that wasn’t even the most in a Lipscomb game this season. Its December 1st game against Tennessee Tech had 67. Also of note in this game was the Bisons’ Garrison Mathews’ 39 points in a reserve role. It’s the most points scored by a bench player in a game between two D-I’s this season.

Slowest-paced game

January 19: #19 Saint Mary’s 62, #243 Pacific 50 [51] The Gaels have taken over the 351st spot in adjusted tempo from Virginia as both teams do what they can to galvanize public opinion on a 24-second shot clock. That Saint Mary’s center Jock Landale is averaging 16.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game on a top-25 team averaging around 60 possessions and not being mentioned as a serious player-of-the-year candidate is all you need to know about pacism and East Coast bias being alive and well in 2017.

Highest-scoring game

January 14: #314 Sacred Heart 112, #276 Bryant 110 (3OT) [99] We’re about two-thirds of the way through the season and we haven’t had a four-overtime game yet. We’ve had one in every season since 2011. In fact, triple-overtime games have been scarce, too. At least relative to recent seasons. There have been just five to this point while the last four seasons have each had at least 14. There’s still plenty of time to beat out 2012 for fewest triple OT games in the past decade, though.

         >3OT
Season   Games
 2007      3
 2008      9
 2009     10
 2010     10
 2011     12
 2012      6
 2013     14
 2014     16
 2015     14
 2016     14
 2017      5

Lowest-scoring game

January 3: #71 UCF 48, #197 East Carolina 45 [71] Usually low-scoring games are a function of pace and offensive inefficiency, but this one was all about the offenses’ inability to score. The game was actually played at a pace that was slightly faster than the D-I average. Both teams feature seven-footers and rank in the top five in two-point percentage defense. They also both have pretty bad offenses. ECU’s is currently ranked 335th and UCF is 200th. So it wasn’t surprising that both teams struggled to score, though the magnitude of their struggles was greater than one might have expected. The two teams combined to make 18-of-67 two point shots (27%). ECU was stuck on 22 points with 6:00 left, so only a late flurry by the Pirates kept this from being a more grotesque score. The combined efficiency of .655 points per possession was the lowest of any D-I game this season.

Most-surprising team

#174 Navy. (January change in AdjEM: +8.33) The tenure of Ed DeChellis at Navy has been characterized by steady improvement. After going 0-14 in Patriot League play in his first season in Annapolis, the Midshipmen improved their conference record (and overall rank) in each of DeChellis’s next four seasons. That streak has to end sometime and entering January, it looked bleak for Navy to be able to do better than last season’s 9-9 mark and overall rank of 204.

Navy was 5-8 after losing its conference opener to Bucknell at home on December 30. And Navy would then lose its next two conference games to drop to 5-10 (0-3) with a ranking of 280. As I write this, Navy is 12-10 (7-3). Not only has it won its last seven games, but six of those were by double-digits.1 Tonight’s showdown with Boston University will break a second-place tie in the PL.  Others: 2. Gonzaga (+8.29), 3. San Francisco (+7.52), 4. Illinois State (+6.52), 5. Alcorn State (+6.47).

Most-disappointing team

#270 Portland. (January change in AdjEM: -9.85) Initial returns on the Terry Porter era at UP were positive. The Pilots were preseason #173 and entered 2017 at #156 after starting the season 9-5 including wins in their first two WCC games. But January was a wake-up call. Portland went from potential fourth-place team to fighting to stay out of the cellar after an 0-8 month.

In fairness, three of those games were against either Gonzaga or Saint Mary’s and they lost those games by a combined 81 points. But the other five losses were by a combined 88 points, with only a 79-78 defeat to Loyola Marymount being remotely winnable. The 33 points the Pilots scored against Saint Mary’s was the lowest by any D-I home team this season with seven points to spare. Portland has had to deal with more than its fair share of injuries and eligibility issues. Most notably, ultra high-usage point guard Alec Winterling had his career end with a torn ACL in a January 19th game against San Francisco. Others: 2. UC Santa Barbara (-8.32), 3. Howard (-6.92), 4. Longwood (-6.24), 5. North Carolina A&T (-6.13).

 

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1. Including a bizarre 16-point overtime win at West Point.