The Week in Review. Here are the most extreme things to happen in college basketball between Friday, November 13th and Thursday, November 19th…
3) #186 Monmouth 84, #38 UCLA 81 (OT) (9%), Friday. It was an unusually strong weekend for major upsets and the Pac-12 was involved in a big way with Arizona State (not pictured) falling to Sacramento State at home and UCLA losing to Monmouth in late-night action. The Hawks did add Oklahoma transfer Je’lon Hornbeak to the starting lineup, so maybe the preseason ratings were a little off. Then again, Hornbeak wasn’t a huge factor in this one, scoring seven points in 23 minutes of a 45-minute game. Monmouth went to USC on Monday and led with ten minutes before falling 101-90, so maybe the Hawks have a good thing going.
2) #251 Radford 82, #29 Georgetown 80 (2OT) (5%), Saturday. We didn’t just get upsets on opening weekend, we got upsets with bonus time. Georgetown has two extra chances to right the wrong of a team picked to finish fourth in the 25th-best conference beating a team picked to finish second in the fifth-best conference. The Hoyas had to overcome late deficits just to force each overtime period, but it was Radford’s Rashun Davis – a career 27% three-point shooter – who nailed the game-winner to beat the buzzer in double overtime.
1) #258 Western Illinois 69, #9 Wisconsin 67 (3%), Friday. With all of the early-season stunners, you wonder if these results will look as shocking in a few weeks. Western Illinois is surely better than the 8-20 squad of last season, but how much better is to be determined. Through two games, the Leathernecks lead the nation in two high-profile categories. They have made 70.6% of their 3’s and their opponents have only made 29.3% of their 2’s. Of course, they’ve only taken 17 3-pointers through two games against D-I teams, so the outside shooting isn’t quite as big of a weapon as the accuracy makes it seem. But opponents have taken 92 two-pointers and made just 27. And one of those opponents was the Badgers. The team that has had the most interior success on WIU so far was NAIA Hannibal-LaGrange who made 13-of-32 twos. Anyway, through one week of the season, head coach Billy Wright is my coach of the year.
Least likely comebacks
3) Savannah State over Campbell (1.4%), Tuesday. The Tigers are involved in a streak of global importance, and the spotlight is having a positive impact on the team. They’re off to a 3-0 start including a win over Campbell despite trailing 57-46 with 4:32 left. But the Camels scored exactly zero points the rest of the way, and the Savannah State pulled out a 59-57 win.
2) Monmouth over UCLA (1.1%), Friday. Detailed above, UCLA actually blew a 53-40 lead with 12:08 left.
1) North Dakota St. over UC Davis (0.6%), Friday. UC Davis was up 69-63 and at the free throw line with 0:31 on the clock. But Lawrence White would miss both attempts. That was followed by a turnover and then two more missed free throws. The Bison responded to each with successful two-pointers to force overtime, where they would recover for a 69-61 opening-night win.
My five-man #ShootersClub of Micah Mason, Isaiah Williams, Jared Brownridge, John Simons, and Jalan West is barnstorming the country this season, spreading goodwill and providing inspiration that you, too, can make three-point shots with enough practice.
It was a decent-enough opening week for the Club, with the crew knocking down 19-of-49 long-range attempts for a 38.8% clip. Given that shooters tend to start out slow, these guys are well on their way to making our 40% goal for the season.
However, we had some bad, bad, very bad news in #ShooterClub land. After torching the nets for a 6-for-10 performance against Mississippi, Northwestern State’s Jalan West tore an ACL in the final minute of the game. His season and probably career are over, his 152 offensive rating on 27 percent usage remaining as his legacy for this season. There is no precedent for this. It seems reasonable to find a replacement, but I feel like selecting the next-best shooter is a little weird. It is time for an oddball choice. Someone who doesn’t feel like he has to live up to the lofty standards set by West.
The man for that job is Lipscomb’s JC Hampton. Why Hampton? I like the cut of his jib. He went 23-for-101 from three-point range last season, which is pretty awful. Undeterred by what others might think, he attempted seven three-pointers in Lipscomb’s season opener against Santa Clara this season. He missed them all.
But still, I think there is a marksman lurking inside the soul of Hampton and the responsibility of being a Club member might just bring it out of him. As a freshman, he made 39% of his three’s and he’s made 77% of his free throws over his career including 14-of-15 this season. And since the opening night quagmire, he’s made 10-of-18 3’s (although that includes a 4-of-5 against a non D-I). Anyway, JC Hampton may not be the best choice to make 40% of his 3’s this season, but I believe in extraordinary times, people can do extraordinary things.
The Club’s board has decided it will not accept Hampton’s previous work as he was not a member of the Club yet – only his future three pointers will count. Likewise, West’s 6-for-10 will remain in the tabulations.
Fastest game: Butler 144, The Citadel 71 [96 possessions], Saturday. My system had forecast Butler to score 90 in this one, which I thought was a pretty fair effort. Even though one could have rightly expected The Citadel to be the fastest-paced team in the land this season under new head coach Duggar Baucom, Chris Holtmann’s teams have never ranked in the top 200 in pace. Butler only cracked 90 twice last season and 80 just four other other times. But running is fun again, especially when the opposing defense is pretty horrible.
Slowest game: Denver 55, Santa Clara 33 , Saturday. I was half expecting the shot-clock naysayers to point to this game as an example that the reducing the shot clock isn’t good for the game. But alas, there is some level of cherry-picking that is off limits to everyone.
Highest-scoring game: Butler 144, The Citadel 71 , Saturday. Our fastest-paced game holds up as our highest-scoring. There were six games last season that had more points so don’t expect this one to remain the standard this season for very long.
Lowest-scoring game: Denver 55, Santa Clara 33 , Saturday. There were 136 games last season where the combined final score was less than 100 points. This was the only case in week one.
Here are the five games you’ll want to watch this week (as determined by FanMatch, all times eastern):
Note: There will be later-round tournament games that exceed these.
#29 Valparaiso at #39 Oregon State, Tuesday, 9:00, Pac-12 Network
#33 Texas A&M vs. #43 Texas, Wednesday, 7:00, AXS.tv
#19 Michigan vs #31 UConn, Wednesday, 9:30, AXS.tv
#42 Cal vs. #40 San Diego State, Thursday, Midnight, Fox Sports 1
#21 Iowa vs. #45 Dayton, Thursday, ESPN2, 9:00