There were 1,062 games between Division-I teams in November. Here are the wildest things that happened during the month:
3. November 21: #110 Winthrop 84, #71 Illinois 80. (0.5%)
Illinois jumped out a 14-2 lead and tried to keep a solid Winthrop team at arm’s length the rest of the way. Winthrop scored the next nine points and then the game entered a prolonged equilibrium state. The Eagles led just once in regulation, at 27-25, and Illinois never led by more than ten. The Illini were up 70-60 with 2:53 left on their home court before the system became unstable. Illinois couldn’t get to the free throw line over their final six possessions which were terminated by a missed shot, turnover, offensive foul, turnover, missed shot, and missed shot. Winthrop outscored Illinois 14-10 in overtime to pull of the upset.
2. November 23: #314 Utah Valley 88, #205 Denver 85. (0.3%)
The Wolverines trailed 54-27 with just under a minute left in the first half at Magness Arena. It certainly helped that UVU plays at the third-fastest pace in the land. It also helped that Denver’s first-year head coach, Rodney Billups, prefers to play at a much faster pace than his predecessor, Joe Scott. In fact, this game didn’t even come down to a last-second shot. Utah Valley wiped out the entire 27-point deficit with 3:58 to spare and made enough free throws down the stretch to get the victory.
1. November 28: #261 High Point 62, #333 Morgan State 61. (0.2%)
High Point’s score by ten-minute segments in this one went 8, 11, 12, and 31. The Panthers didn’t score for the first six minutes and never led until the very final basket, a three-pointer by Anthony Lindauer that went through the net as the buzzer sounded. High Point trailed by 20 with nine minutes left and was down 58-45 with 1:35 left and Morgan State headed to the free throw line. Obviously, the comeback was incredible, but I’m also impressed that according to the play-by-play, High Point made 45 substitutions in the final 90 seconds.
3. November 29: #341 Delaware State 79, #99 St. John’s 72. (3.3%)
This was a weird one! Delaware State made 60% of its two’s which is the best its done in that department in 44 games. That stretch includes 21 games against MEAC teams and three games against sub D-I teams. St. John’s actually has been impressive defending the two against an otherwise decent schedule.
2. November 17: #274 Arkansas State 78, #30 Georgetown 72. (2.0%)
In the case of these November upsets, there are cases where the improbability of the outcome was mostly a function of our limited information early in the season. This is an example of that. Arkansas State has not lost since this win at McDonough Arena, running its winning streak to seven which also includes a neutral site win against Chattanooga and a home win over Lehigh. This is still a bad loss for a team with tournament aspirations, but it’s not completely embarrassing in light of what we now know about the Red Wolves.
1. November 26: #306 Utah Valley 114, #45 BYU 101. (1.2%)
For about 48 hours, Utah Valley simultaneously held the titles of biggest upset and biggest comeback this season – in separate games. This contest was a scorekeepers nightmare, what with 96 possessions, 146 field goal attempts, and 64 free throws to record.
November 11: #26 Iowa State 113, #341 Savannah State 71. [97 possessions]
When the result from this opening-night game hit the wires, it looked like Iowa State might really be increasing its pace this season. But upon reflection, this was mostly the crazy Horace Broadnax rolling out his wacky up-tempo, three-happy system to the world. The Cyclones might have their slowest-paced team since the Greg McDermott era. Current adjusted tempo ranks: Savannah State 2, Iowa State 157.
November 26: #2 Virginia 63, #58 Providence 52. 
With Joe Scott out of the head coaching game for the moment, there is nothing stopping Virginia from winning honors for slowest-paced team this season. The floor is yours, Tony Bennett.
Highest scoring game
November 23: #77 Arizona State 127, #325 The Citadel 110. 
This game was reasonably close before the Sun Devils pulled away midway through the second half. That’s saying something for The Citadel considering The Bulldogs lost their previous game by 67 to Iowa State.
Lowest scoring game
November 26: #268 Milwaukee 54, #124 UC Irvine 37. 
There’s a lot of red on Irvine’s offensive ledger this season, but the Anteaters took things to an extreme in this one by making 35% of their two’s and going one-of-14 on three’s. Throw in 22 turnovers in a 66-possession game and you have a recipe for offensive dysfunction. UCI’s leading scorers had 8.
UCF. Johnny Dawkins is having a marvelous time in his first season in Orlando. Taking over a team that went 12-18 (6-12) last season, the
Golden Knights have risen from preseason 185th to 76th despite losing their top four usage guys from last season. Tacko Fall, a 7-6 sophomore, has emerged as the team’s most valuable player, and that’s saying something for a guy that has gone 8-of-29 from the free throw line. Opponents have made just 34 percent of their two-point attempts and Fall has even flashed some offensive game as well. UCF went 5-1 in November and each of their wins was by at least 20 points. Their lone loss was a 67-57 decision to Villanova. (Others: 2. Arkansas State, 3. East Tennessee State, 4. North Carolina Central, 5. Utah Valley.)
James Madison. One of the more bizarre coaching changes of the offseason was JMU’s firing of Matt Brady. The Dukes were coming off a 21-11 (11-7) season in a CAA that was as difficult as its been in years. Furthermore, nearly everyone was coming back from a team ranked 91st in my system, the highest ever. According College Basketball Reference, it was JMU’s best team since 1993. Presumably, Brady was fired for non-basketball reasons, and those must have been really good reasons. Because on a basketball level this was a horrible decision.
I had them 109th in the preseason and Dan Hanner had them 113th.1 But as of this morning, JMU is still looking for its first win under first-year head coach Louis Rowe. To be fair, Rowe didn’t schedule any wins – the Dukes have yet to play a team ranked worse than #210 – but he didn’t schedule any losses, either – the best team on the slate has been #99 Old Dominion. The Dukes have fallen to #207 which makes them eighth-best in a 10-team CAA. Their offense and defense have deteriorated in equal measure despite ranking fourth in experience and 40th in continuity. (Others: 2. Connecticut, 3. Oregon State, 4. Texas, 5. Sacramento State.)
|^1||And at least in my system, that includes a new-coach penalty. Had Brady stayed, JMU would have been in the top 100.|