This is a weekly digest documenting the biggest upsets, craziest comebacks, and Alan Williams news of the past seven days.
These teams have been reading some Malcolm Gladwell lately. Yes, David can beat Goliath on occasion.
Belmont 83, North Carolina 80 (9%), Sunday. The Tar Heels are still playing without Leslie McDonald and P.J. Hairston, and Roy Williams still can’t figure out how to get the eligible Brice Johnson on the floor. So UNC is playing a bit shorthanded you might say. Still, they had an eight point lead with 2:37 remaining. That’s when the Bruins J.J. Mann personally went on an 11-2 run to give Belmont the lead, capping it with a three with 14 seconds left. (box)
Idaho State 93, San Francisco 90, OT (9%), Monday. The other sub-10% upset of the week wasn’t quite as sexy. The noteworthy aspect of this game was the Dons’ 46 three-point attempts, a season high in D-I this season. The Bengals sent the game to overtime on a late bucket by Tomas Sanchez, then got a pair of free throws by Sanchez with four seconds left in overtime to break a 90-all tie. (box)
When you think a situation is hopeless, just know that every week, there are cases of teams overcoming the impossible. These are the best examples from this week:
UMBC (0.3%) over Mount St. Mary’s, Sunday. UMBC has the most indifferent mascot in D-I (It might snarl at you but first it actually has to care about your presence). And now they have the best comeback of the season. They trailed 61-38 with 14:19 to go. But their most dire moment was at the 2:30 mark when the Mount had the ball, leading 72-61. But their last five possessions went 3-2-2-3-2-2 to force extra time at 75, where they prevailed 96-90. (box)
Loyola (0.7%) over UMBC, Wednesday. This a good time to mention that momentum isn’t real. I mean, UMBC just pulled of the best comeback in program history. They were flying high. Brimming with confidence, you might say. Nothing could stop them. The Retrievers promptly rolled out to a 58-41 lead with 8:43 left. The home crowd was going crazy, sensing an easy win over the snooty private school in this hot regional rivalry. Momentum is like hot shooting. It’s great for a narrative but it has no predictive value. It’s there until it’s not. And for the final 8:43 it wasn’t there for UMBC. Although they still led 73-63 with 1:30 left, the Greyhounds fought back to force overtime at 76 apiece on the strength of back-to-back-to-back-to-back three-pointers. UMBC missed two potential game winning free throws at the end of regulation and Loyola would prevail in overtime, 89-83. (box)
Additional news in bizarre UMBC happenings: This was the Retrievers fourth consecutive overtime game. On Saturday, UMBC plays at Navy, and if that game goes to overtime, the Retrievers will own sole possession of the NCAA record for consecutive overtime games. The teams are evenly-matched, too, so perhaps history will be made.
Belmont (0.9%) over North Carolina, Sunday. Documented above.
Slowest game of the week: St. Francis NY vs. Syracuse, Wednesday. (54 possessions) St. Francis nearly won its second true road game over an ACC team, leading by four at Syracuse with 3:10 remaining, before falling 56-50. St. Francis, a team whose offense hasn’t scored a point per possession in a game this season, almost went 2-0 in the ACC, on the road. The fact that this game had just 54 possessions had something to do with the close call. The fact that C.J. Fair went 2-for-13 had more to do with it.
Fastest game of the week: Central Arkansas vs SIU Edwardsville, Saturday. (85) There was no shortage of action at the Vadalabene Center last Saturday, where SIU-E took down Central Arkansas 100-93. Are you a college basketball superfan? If so, you can name the conferences these teams represent. The Cougars come from the Ohio Valley Conference and the Bears play ball in the Southland. You don’t know which team is the Cougars and which team is the Bears? You are not a college basketball superfan.
Alan Williams Watch:
Think you’re really good at basketball? Alan Williams disagrees and he will crush you, at least statistically. UCSB’s undersized center piles up stats like nobody else. Ignored by scouts and media alike, this place is occasionally reserved for reporting on Williams’ incredible exploits.
There’s nothing to report here since Big Sauce took the week off. Hey scorin’, reboundin’ and rejectin’ is tough work, and Alan developed back spasms before the Utah State game on Saturday. We wish him a quick recovery. In the meantime, we have a reader submission. Rod R. from Birmingham asks “Is is possible to shoot 3-of-22 and be a help to your team?”. Actually, Rod didn’t ask this, he attempted to answer it in UAB’s 97-94 double overtime loss to New Mexico on Thursday. We’re talking about Blazer wing Rod Rucker, who missed shots with alarming regularity. But let the record show he made 12 of 13 free throws, added 20 rebounds (6 offensive) and dished out seven assists in 48 minutes of action. He did have three turnovers, though that’s not that big of a deal considering how active he was. Throw it all in the statistical blender and you get an offensive rating of 89 on 28% usage. About as productive as you’ll see from someone missing 19 of their 22 field goal attempts.
Best games of the upcoming week (according to FanMatch, all times eastern):
If you can only watch five games this week, these are the ones to catch. (Excludes yet-to-be-determined later-round tournament matchups, a few of which will exceed these.)
UConn vs. Indiana (Friday, 7:30, ESPN2)
UMBC at Navy (Saturday, 7:00, No TV yet, may be flexed to CBS or ESPN).
Minnesota vs. Syracuse (Monday, 5:30, ESPN2).
Saint Louis vs. Wisconsin (Tuesday, 8:30, CBS Sports Network).
Xavier vs. Iowa (Thursday, 7:00, NBC Sports Network).
Creighton vs. Arizona St. (Thursday, 11:00, ESPN2).