This is a weekly digest documenting the biggest upsets, craziest comebacks, and Alan Williams news of the past seven days.
Programming note: The past week was finals week for most schools. Thus, action of the noteworthy variety was limited. So work with me on what follows.
There was not a single upset of less than 15% likelihood this week.
In lieu of upset talk, let’s discuss some fouling-up-three news. When there’s another high profile case of a team hitting a three to force overtime, I’ll update the work done last season in this space. In the meantime, there was a case this week that didn’t make SportsCenter. Wyoming was leading South Dakota 60-57 with five seconds left when they elected to foul.
Some 36 years and four months ago, almost to the day, Elvis Presley performed in the same building where this game was played. Among his selections was a slurred and shortened version of Jailhouse Rock. I’m not suggesting one should be thrown in jail for fouling up three. That would be harsh. Maybe some community service would be appropriate, though. Anyway, the Coyotes’ Brandon Bos made the first free throw, missed the second, but was fouled in the scrum for the loose ball. He made his next two free throws to force overtime.
Oddly, South Dakota found itself in an identical situation in its very next game on Tuesday at Kansas State. (Two games during finals week? Is USD on the trimester system?) Bruce Weber elected to foul and with three seconds left, Bos again found himself on the free throw line with his team down three. For some reason, Bos made both even though his team had no timeouts left, and the Coyotes lost 64-62. Almost exactly 22 years and nine months ago to the day, Motley Crue performed in Bramlage Coliseum. Their closing song? Jailhouse Rock. Spooky.
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:
1. San Jose State (2.1%) over Houston, Saturday. Not much attention has been given to the Mountain West’s struggles, but they’ve been struggling. Newcomer San Jose State was not expected to add much to the basketball side of things, and they haven’t. The problem is, they’re not even the worst team in the conference. But on Saturday, the Spartans did the conference a solid by overcoming a 60-47 deficit with 8:38 left to win at Houston, 72-68. They also did so without their second-leading scorer Jaleel Williams, who left the game early with a knee injury.
There were no other notable comebacks, so it’s time for an impromptu look back on a classic near-comeback. Thanks to @coachwiebe for pointing out one of the best non-comebacks in recent years. On November 30, Cal State-Bakersfield was down 11 to Fresno State with 34 seconds left in a battle for supremacy of the Cal State university system. At that point, the win probability line was practically off the graph. But the Roadrunners came back to force overtime (aided by a five-point possession due to a Fresno technical). The Bulldogs would salvage a 96-86 win in overtime, anyway, so don’t call it a Bakersfield comeback. Momentum exists until it doesn’t.
Slowest game of the week: Towson vs. Sam Houston State, Saturday. (57) Well, 57 possessions isn’t crazy slow, but it will have to suffice this week. Sam Houston won 67-55 in Nacogdoches. What’s amazing is my spell checker accepts Nacogdoches.
Fastest game of the week: BYU vs. UMass, Saturday. (86) Not surprisingly, UMass and BYU put up a lot of possessions and even more points in the Minutemen’s 105-96 win in Springfield.
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.
UCSB hosted Cal last Friday and Williams was clearly distracted by upcoming exams, scoring but 24 and rebounding just 12 in the Gauchos’ 72-65 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.
Iowa at Iowa State (tonight, 9:30, ESPNU) A marquee game that figures to have lots of possessions and points. It’s like 1993 all over again.
Arizona at Michigan (Saturday, Noon CBS) Is it possible a team could lose by one on the road to a very good team in a game that tips at 10 AM their time and still get votes for number one? No, but I’d love to stir the twitter pot on that one.
Kentucky at North Carolina (Saturday, 5:15, ESPN) Rumor has it Roy Williams will start Brice Johnson someday.
Florida vs. Memphis (Tuesday, 9:00, ESPN) Chris Walker might be on the bench!
Duke vs. UCLA (Thursday, 7:30, ESPN) Two teams that like to run and play offense.