Here are the most extreme things to happen in college basketball between Friday, November 27th and Thursday, December 3rd…
3) Vacant. It was a light week for upsets as only two outcomes had a 10% or less chance of occurring. Part of this was the lighter schedule following the Thanksgiving tournament action. Part of it was a more conventional week than normal.
2) #294 Longwood 70, #104 Columbia 69 (10%), Saturday. To date, Longwood has one win over a D-I foe and this is it. The Lancers trailed by as many as 12 in the first half and didn’t lead until there were under three minutes to play. There were a few heroes for Longwood, but none more important than sophomore guard Kanayo Obi-Rapu who made four of his six 3-point attempts, including the one that gave Longwood its first lead. Columbia followed this up with a double-digit win at Bucknell. Longwood proceeded to lose its Big South opener by 24 to High Point.
1) #111 Northeastern 78, #10 Miami FL 77 (8%), Friday. Somehow, Northeastern has managed to lose to Miami of Ohio but beat Miami of Florida. Quincy Ford’s game-winner at the buzzer moved the Huskies into the top 100 and established the Huskies as a contender for the CAA regular-season. As for Jim Larrañaga’s Hurricanes, it was a stunning way to get knocked out of the unbeaten club. By the way, what’s going on with the tilde in Larrañaga’s name? Nobody seems to pronounce it and his son eschews it. Puzzling.
Least likely comebacks
3) #249 Tulane 60, #75 Stephen F. Austin 59 (0.8%), Friday. What the week lacked in upsets, it made up for in crazy comebacks. We start with Tulane’s effort last Friday against Stephen F. Austin in a neutral-site game at Nashville. The Green Wave trailed 36-10 with 6:15 to go until halftime against a team whose coach had a career record of 63-10 coming into this one. An 18-5 run got the deficit to a manageable 13 at halftime, but the Jacks were still a 96% favorite after a Demetrious Floyd 3-pointer gave them a 59-52 lead with just under four minutes to go. However, those would be the last points for SFA. A bucket by Dylan Ostrowksi gave with 16 seconds left gave Tulane its only lead of the game. The 26-point deficit should hold up as the largest comeback this season.
2) #125 Stanford 69, #109 Arkansas 66 (0.6%), Friday. Arkansas has struggled to replace Bobby Portis and Michael Qualls, but for the first 11 minutes against Stanford, there was finally reason to be optimistic about the season. The Hogs jumped out to a 31-11 lead over the Cardinal and maintained a comfortable margin well into the second half. Arkansas led 65-48 with 6:29 left, preparing to enjoy a big old dose of garbage time. But instead, the Razorbacks played like garbage, missing all 12 of their field goal attempts and committing three turnovers the rest of the way. For good measure, Mike Anderson earned a technical foul for the final Stanford points of the game.
1) #223 Elon 103, #338 Kennesaw State (0.3%), Monday. This has the potential to be the comeback of the year in all the land after Elon overcame an eight-point deficit with 19 seconds left to force overtime where they outscored the Owls 14-4 for the victory. But I’d like to nominate the call that sent the game to overtime as the worst of the season.
— Elon Men's Hoops (@ElonMensHoops) December 1, 2015
The pump fake to draw the foul is a three-point shooter’s best friend, but in this case the shooter had to jump about five feet sideways to try and draw the contact, and upon further review, it didn’t appear the defender actually made contact with the shooter anyway. But the foul was called, and Luke Eddy made all three freebies to send the game to an extra five minutes.
My five-man #ShootersClub of Micah Mason, Isaiah Williams, Jared Brownridge, John Simons, and J.C. Hampton is barnstorming the country this season, spreading goodwill and providing inspiration that you, too, can make three-point shots with enough practice. It was one of the most forgettable weeks in Club history as the guys combined for 15-for-48 for a 31.3% clip. Our season number is at 35.6%, which isn’t a complete disaster, but it’s a long way to our 40% goal. The Club needs a little more help from Jared Brownridge, who is currently 16-for-61 (26.2%) on the season. He’s taking a crazy amount of shots on a Santa Clara team that gives him little help, and he’s missing an awful lot. If this keeps up, even having four Micah Mason’s around him wouldn’t get us to 40%.
Fastest game: #115 Arkansas 117, #231 Northwestern State 78 [89 possessions], Tuesday. After the Razorbacks’ collapse against Stanford, they figured to be battling their own demons, but they also had to play the Demons of Northwestern State in their very next game. (Weirdly, Arkansas plays the Demon Deacons tonight.) Northwestern State was coming off a 119-81 loss to Auburn, so they have given up 236 points in two games against SEC teams this season. Keep in mind, Mack McConathy’s team finished with the 37th-best offense and 350th-ranked defense last season. Thanks to an acceptable game against Arizona, the defense is up to 335th this season, but the Demons are probably not done seeing the opponent put triple-figures on the scoreboard this season.
Slowest game: #212 Wyoming 68, #148 Denver 53 , Wednesday. More proof that the shot clock is improving the pace of the college game: Last season these two teams battled through a 52-possession contest, meaning there were four more possessions in this season’s game.
Highest-scoring game: #88 LSU 119, #105 North Florida 108 ,Wednesday. LSU’s Ben Simmons is the best player in college basketball, but will he win player of the year? The Tigers are probably going make the NCAA tournament, but right now that’s far from certain which makes the notion of Ben Simmons being player of the year a peculiar one. (The kPOY is out of the question.)
I will cut LSU some slack for this game, in which Simmons scored 43 and did a bunch of other awesome things but the Tigers couldn’t pull away until late. North Florida went 19-33 of the 3-point line, which is pretty incredible and probably not something that would happen if the two teams played again. Although “probably” must be emphasized in the previous sentence, since UNF has made 48.4% of its 3’s against Division-I foes this season, and that’s with the 30th-highest 3-point rate.
Lowest-scoring game: #271 Holy Cross 50, #180 Harvard 49 , Sunday. This gives us a chance to check in on Harvard, the quadruple defending Ivy champ. They are struggling! The Crimson are currently 2-6 with wins over Bryant and MIT. This is really going to mess with my preseason rating of them next season.
Coaches Pet Award: I introduced the CPA last week for the player that averages the fewest minutes while playing in every one of his team’s games. Last week’s leader was Dartmouth’s junior center Cole Harrison and he maintained his grip on the top spot while getting minimal action in the Big Green’s two contests this week. First, Harrison got a whopping four minutes of playing time in a 79-56 win over LIU Brooklyn, and then he got a whole 36 seconds of first-half action in a loss to Vermont, where he produced two fouls in his cameo. So officially, that’s seven box score minutes in four games to date. That’s how the game is played.
Here are the five games you’ll want to watch this week (as determined by FanMatch, all times eastern): Note: FanMatch now includes semi-accurate TV information to aid in your enjoyment of college basketball.
#38 VCU vs. #37 Florida State, Sunday, 2:00 ESPNU
#12 Vanderbilt at #13 Baylor, Sunday, 8:00, ESPNU
#9 Oklahoma vs #1 Villanova, Monday, 7:00, Fox Sports 1
#17 West Virginia vs. #4 Virginia, Tuesday, 7:00, ESPN
#21 Maryland vs. #20 UConn, Tuesday, 9:30, ESPN