Here are the most extreme things to happen in college basketball between Friday, January 22nd and Thursday, January 28th…
3) #50 Providence 82, #1 Villanova 76 (OT) [76 possessions] (9%), Sunday. Home teams in Big East play are 18-22 so far this season, the second-worst mark among conferences at this moment. (CAA teams are 20-25.) But it’s part of nationwide epidemic of teams being unable to protect their houses. Home teams are winning just 58.6% of their games in conference play so far, which is lower than last season’s epoch-low 59.8%. It’s still difficult to win on the road, but it’s easier than it’s ever been. And Providence is one of the best examples of that, having won all three of its Big East road games, but struggling to a 2-3 home record.
2) #339 American 63, #166 Navy 58  (5%), Thursday. Providence is a famous team with a famous player, but you know who else doesn’t care where the game is played? Lowly American University. AU is the best in the land at playing slow and getting the ball stolen and the team is just not very good this season. That’s why the Eagles came into this game 1-6 in the Patriot League. Navy was 6-1 in pursuit of a regular-season title. But American pulled off the upset to move to to 4-15 overall, and all of those wins have been on the road.
1) #297 South Florida 71, #72 Houston 62  (4%), Saturday. Someone should do a study on the impact of non-conference scheduling. Kelvin Sampson scheduled his way to a nice record with the second-easiest schedule on the books, but Houston is headed for a .500 record in the American. I get the idea of giving your players confidence, but I think the main function of an easy schedule is giving the fans confidence (falsely) and giving the coach a nice record to keep the fans off his back. There are too many examples like Houston – who scheduled easy and then didn’t perform well in conference play – to think that player confidence is (a) influenced much by a team’s record or (b) a factor in how it performs in conference. And then there are the cases like McNeese State and Liberty, who didn’t win a non-conference game against a D-I team and are playing respectably in conference play.
Least likely comebacks
3) #274 Georgia Southern 101, #230 Appalachian St. 100  (1.5%), Monday. Officially, the low point for Georgia Southern was being down 94-86 with 2:47 to go, but the story was how the game ended. Southern needed to go the length of the floor in 5.5 seconds trailing 100-97. The Eagles didn’t quite go the length of the floor, though. Mike Hughes launched a desperation three a bit early, but he got fouled and the heave went in with 0.8 seconds left. Hughes hit the 74th free throw attempt of the game to give the Eagles the regulation victory.
2) #51 Georgetown 74, #34 Creighton 73  (0.7%), Tuesday. It certainly looked like Creighton was going to ride the wave of Big East road wins as it opened up a double-digit lead with five minutes left in the second half. The teams traded baskets for the next three possessions, so the Bluejays still led by 11 with 2:32 left. But turnovers and missed free throws gave the Hoyas a chance to string together five consecutive scoring possessions. D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera got fouled with six seconds left and made both free throws to give Georgetown the win. John Thompson, the elder, was not happy with the officials.
1) #8 Virginia 72, #125 Wake Forest 71  (0.2%), Tuesday. Wake’s Bryant Crawford stole from Malcolm Brogdon with 21 seconds left and a seven-point lead. But instead of chilling and accepting the inevitable UVa foul, he tried to throw the ball upcourt, where it was stolen back by London Perrantes. That led to a quick three by Marial Shayok, and the Cavs would get another three from Brogdon to trim the deficit to one after the Demon Deacons missed two free throws. After Wake missed one of two at the line, the exciting conclusion was Darius Thompson’s no-angle banked-in three at the buzzer to give Virginia a one-point win.
Wake had been very successful in close games this season, though a couple of those cases were in wins to UMBC and Rutgers, which might have given one a bit of pause that the early good vibes for Danny Manning wouldn’t be realized once ACC play began. Sadly, this might have been Wake Forest’s best performance of the season, but an incomprehensible finish means it’s a loss.
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’s been a while since the Club has had good news to report, but the group went 26-of-63 on its bombs last week, for a 41.3% mark. So the guys are inching closer to the 40% goal for the season, having made 256-of-675, or 37.9%.
Fastest game: #323 Maine 105, #330 Hartford 100 (OT)  Wednesday. I detailed Maine’s pace explosion last week, and there are some quotes from head coach Bob Walsh from my friends at NYC Buckets here. “We felt like it would be fun”, Walsh says. Having not seen Maine play, I can only tell you that the box scores are fun. Of course, it’s always more fun when you win, but since Maine has never played in an NCAA tournament, winning is usually a challenge. But fans from Fort Kent to Machias had to enjoy the win over Hartford, which featured 77 three-point attempts between both teams, and Maine overcoming a seven-point overtime deficit to get the victory.
Slowest game: #166 Central Michigan 68, #259 Miami OH 51 , Tuesday. On the flip side, we have this contest from the MAC, which ended up being the slowest of the season for both teams. Somehow, Miami only shot two free throws and somehow, Central Michigan took just 19 three’s, odd considering the Chips like to shoot the 3 as much as anyone and Miami is more than willing to let opponents shoot them.
Highest-scoring game: #144 Green Bay 115, #176 Detroit 108 (OT) , Monday. Whatever you want to call Green Bay’s system – RP40 or HyperLinc or Screaming Pronghorns – it lived up to its billing last week. Thanks to a 33-point overtime, this game got crowned as the highest-scoring in the land. But the runner-up with Oakland’s 111-95 win over Green Bay that occurred in regulation. The Phoenix is now 5-3 in the Horizon so they’re not just some joke, people. In fact, in conference play, their defense is ranked better than their offense on a per-possession basis.
Lowest-scoring game: #341 Arkansas Pine Bluff 45, #343 Prairie View A&M 44 , Saturday. Prairie View is down there with Bradley in terms of broken offenses. The Panthers are actually slightly better, but still bad enough that they can’t win against an opponent that scored 45 points. In fact, Prairie View has just one victory this season, a six-point win over one of the best teams in the SWAC, Southern, who in addition to being 6-2 in the league has non-conference wins over Mississippi State, Tulane, and Wyoming. This game had 16 fewer points than the next lowest scoring game last week.
Coaches Pet Award: The CPA goes to the player that averages the fewest minutes per game while appearing in all of his team’s games. I’m tracking the leader for this exciting new award all season.
You know, when I started this award, I thought there would be all sorts of different people jockeying for this award, but instead, it’s just Anthony Swan, playing four minutes every game. I’m starting to think there’s a glitch in the system. In GW’s double-overtime loss to Richmond, he is listed as playing four minutes, but only listed as subbing in with 41 seconds left in the second overtime. It’s probably not a conspiracy, but just another example of the jacked up state of substitution data in college basketball play-by-play.