This is a weekly digest documenting the biggest upsets, craziest comebacks, and Alan Williams news of the past
seven 14 days.
3. South Carolina State over Coastal Carolina (8%), Monday. The Bulldogs had one prior Division-I win, but it was against…Coastal Carolina. That was in Orangeburg (which is where South Carolina State is located) and a pretty sizeable upset (20% chance) but the Bulldogs validated their domination over their in-state foe with a 68-58 win at the HTC Center in a game they never trailed.
2. Maine over Middle Tennessee (8%), Sunday. We’re a couple months away from my annual lament over Maine basketball. The executive summary is that it’s the most difficult program to root for in all the land. Their 89-85 overtime win over the Blue Raiders was their first win over a D-I team this season. I would like to think it had something to do with the debut of 6-7 Kilian Cato. The Espoo, Finland native had 12 points in 26 minutes and maybe he is the savior for Black Bears basketball.
1. UNC Greensboro over Virginia Tech. (7%), Saturday. The Spartans were in the middle of a three-game tour of the ACC. They came back from 11 down in the second half to beat the Hokies, 55-52, and were competitive against Wake Forest and N.C. State. Then UNCG promptly lost its Big South opener by 21 to Western Carolina. No worries here for Tech. Today is the 27th consecutive day it sits atop the ACC standings.
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:
3. Manhattan (1.4%) over Buffalo, December 21. This foul-fest (56 in all) at the Barclays Center included a two first-half player ejections after a melee broke out. Following a free throw by Buffalo’s Shannon Evans, the Jaspers trailed by seven with 45 seconds to go. They would get three consecutive three-point possessions to force overtime where they would win 84-81. (box)
2. Florida A&M (1.0%) over FIU, Thursday. Rattlers’ head coach Clemon Johnson threw 13 players at a thin FIU team (not at the same time) and eventually it paid off. A&M trailed 75-66 with 1:28 left. The details of the comeback are kind of shaky as at one point the play-by-play lists consecutive buckets by the Rattlers without an intervening possession from FIU. The make-it-take-it strategy proved brilliant when Jamari Bradshaw hit a game-tying three with three seconds left. “I was thinking we needed a good basket to tie the game up and go into overtime and give us another shot to try to win the game,” Bradshaw said after the game. That was great thinking! The Rattlers went on to win 93-88 in the extra period. (box)
1. Ohio State (1.0%) over Notre Dame, Saturday. If you’re a devotee of Week In Review then you’re aware that crazy last-minute comebacks aren’t quite as rare as the average human might think. There are a lot of games being played across the land every week and so there are a lot of chances for end-game heroics. The Buckeyes and Irish were on the national stage, though, so this one got a little extra attention. Ohio State trailed 58-50 with 58 seconds left before storming back. The Irish actually made three out of four free throws, but committed four turnovers in the closing minute. Meanwhile, the Buckeyes produced seven consecutive scoring possessions, with only one of them producing three points, and won 64-61 in regulation. (box)
Slowest game of the week: UC Irvine vs. Denver, Dec. 21. (53 possessions) When Joe Scott wants to play slow, nobody can stop him. UC Irvine actually likes to get up and down a bit and this was their slowest game of the season by a full ten possessions. I hope nobody said the key to the game would be controlling tempo! Denver lost by 13 on its home floor in a game they were favored to win.
Fastest game of the week: New Orleans vs. Nicholls State, Thursday. (84) “The gateway to Division-I.” That should be the Southland Conference’s motto. In the conference opener for both of these teams, they produced a whole bunch of possessions. The SLC is the early leader in tempo during conference games. That only includes six games, but I expect it might hold up the rest of the season. There are a lot of fast teams in the conference and this won’t be the last of the 80-possession games. Oh yeah, Nicholls won this game, 88-83.
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.
Santa Barbara played three games since the last appearance of this feature. The Gauchos suffered a heartbreaking overtime loss at Utah State in which Williams tallied 23 points, nine boards, three assists, two blocks, a steal, and contributed to fouling out two Aggies. The following night in a 61-55 win over Western Illinois, he went for 22, 16, and four blocks, which included the first-ever forward flip slam dunk of a flaming basketball in the history of the game. (Surprised that didn’t get more play nationally…) After a few days off, Williams blasted Seattle U with 27, 8, two blocks and three steals in an 86-70 win.
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.
Michigan State at Indiana (Saturday, 2:00, CBS.) Noah Vonleh vs. Adreian Payne will be fun if Vonleh can stay on the floor.
Duke at Notre Dame (Saturday, 4:00, CBS.) Yeah, Jerian Grant is gone, but it’s not like Mike Brey has always played his point guard 37 minutes per game. Oh wait.
Oregon at Colorado (Sunday, 6:00, Fox Sports 1.) The Ducks try to pull off the improbable sweep of the Pac-12’s altitude teams.
Ohio State at Michigan State (Tuesday, 9:00, ESPN.) Kind of a tough start to the Big Ten season for the Spartans, but they’re not the only one.
Arizona at UCLA (Thursday, 10:00, ESPN.) Arizona’s average possession length on defense is the longest in the country, so don’t expect UCLA to be able to continue its running ways.