Here are the most extreme things to happen in college basketball between Friday, January 29th and Thursday, February 4th…
3) #351 Central Connecticut 65, #300 Robert Morris 60 [65 possessions] (8%), Thursday. When people say the Blue Devils are having a rough season, somewhere there is a Central Connecticut fan who is muttering under his or her breath. These Blue Devils know what a rough season is and are just trying to avoid being #351 in the land. (And anyway, the other Blue Devils have a much better chance of making the Final Four than missing the tournament, so let’s not shed too many tears for them.)
Central Connecticut took a step in that direction by winning at Robert Morris thanks to 18 points from Khalen Cumberlander. That means CCSU has won two of their last three. And don’t think stunning turnarounds aren’t possible this time of year. American started 2-13 and has won five straight. Liberty started 3-13 and has gone 7-2 since. I don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up because the Blue Devils are probably going to end up in last place in the NEC. But it’s not inevitable.
2) #301 Stetson 86, #105 North Florida 82  (7%), Monday. People often ask me if it’s worth it to recap upsets that aren’t exactly of national importance. But it does allow me to check on random teams that are doing interesting things. Take North Florida, coached by Matthew Driscoll of the Scott Drew coaching tree. (Not the mayor of Syracuse. More like the mayor of Jacksonville the way things are going.) The Ospreys get 44.6 percent of their points from the three-point shot. They have taken the fifth-most 3’s and are making them at a 42.2 percent clip, fifth-best in the land.
They are best known for building a double-digit lead over LSU before losing 119-108. UNF was 7-0 in the Atlantic Sun heading into this one, but shot 10-for-35 from long range. And when the Ospreys do that, they will lose, because their defense is atrocious, ranking 308th. But if you are going to maniacally focus on one thing, then make it 3-point shooting. The Ospreys rank 23rd on offense thanks to all of those 3’s and if they get in the tourney as a 16-seed for the second straight year, they will be fun to watch.
1) #304 Seattle 59, #89 Grand Canyon 57  (5%), Saturday. Grand Canyon was 19-2 heading into this one. Their losses were to Nebraska-Omaha in which they blew a late 11-point lead and by 48 to Louisville (who is still eligible for the kenpom.com national title). But a tip-in by Emmanuel Chibuogwu with six seconds left gave Seattle the win and ended Grand Canyon’s 12-game winning streak.
Least likely comebacks
3) #202 Cornell 77, #250 Dartmouth 73  (2.3%), Saturday.Cornell’s Bill Courtney nearly made the list of coaches that have changed their pace this season. After consecutive seasons ranking outside the nation’s top 150, Cornell is tenth in the land in adjusted pace. The last time an Ivy team was even in the top 20 was in 2004. Dartmouth was up 70-63 with the ball with three minutes left, but Cornell scored the next 13 points to get the win.
2) #221 Missouri St. 84, 173 Illinois St. #81 (OT)  (1.6%), Saturday. The Redbirds were up by six with 46 seconds left in regulation, but somehow they sent Missouri State to the line six times over the next three possessions. And then Dequon Miller hit a three-pointer with 2.2 seconds left to force overtime. Then Illinois State scored the first seven points of overtime but they couldn’t keep that lead, either, as the Bears closed the game on a 12-2 run to get the victory.
1) #304 Seattle 59, #89 Grand Canyon 57  (1.5%), Saturday.The Lopes led by ten with 6:51 left in the first half before dropping their first conference game. There are now eight teams with unbeaten records in conference play.
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.
The guys went 29-of-62 this week for a blistering 46.8% clip. That’s a great week but now the club’s best week this season. The group once made 52% of its 3’s. Anyway, the season mark is up to 38.7% on 285-for-737 shooting. I’m still hoping these guys will get to 40%, but the reality is it would be kind of crazy considering they are going to combine for nearly 1,000 attempts and one of my players shots 23% last season and is playing for a 7-18 team.
Fastest game: #79 Chattanooga 125, #291 The Citadel 85 , Monday. Back when I did that piece on Villanova, The Citadel was a team that figured to improve on its 3-point shooting a lot. The Wildcats’ shooting has bounced back as expected, but despite good two-point and free-throw shooting, and a lot of 3-point attempts, The Citadel has continued to struggle from beyond the arc. Still, its offense is competent. The defense is a different matter. Bulldogs’ opponents have made 60.8% of their two-point attempts, which would be a modern-era record, beating out the 2007 VMI team that allowed opponents to hit 60.0% of their two’s. There’s a common thread here.
Slowest game: #37 Dayton 59, #286 La Salle 44 , Saturday. La Salle has not had a good season, and Dr. John Giannini is playing shorthanded because his roster has been afflicted by a variety of injuries and undisclosed illnesses this season. In this game, three of his guys went the full 40 minutes and those three guys rank third, ninth, and 12th in the country in percent of minutes played. In a game against Temple a few weeks back I really think Giannini was prepared to play all five guys without a rest, but Amar Stukes got into foul trouble and had to sit for six minutes.
Highest-scoring game: #253 UTEP 112, #142 Marshall 108 , Thursday. I’ve seen few head coaching hires get panned the way that Marshall’s hiring of Dan D’Antoni got treated two seasons ago. But against all odds, the D’Antoni era has gone quite well thus far. Even with this loss, the Thundering Herd is 7-3 in Conference USA. There’s plenty of season left and Marshall may yet finish ninth as the Conference USA preseason poll predicted. But Miami transfer James Kelly is flourishing in D’Antoni’s uptempo system, and the saga of point guard Jon Elmore has taken a turn for the positive.
Lowest-scoring game: #279 San Diego 54, #236 Pacific 43 , Thursday. This game was notable for a lack of offense, but also for international representation. There were players in this game from eight different countries: the United States, Croatia, Denmark, The Netherlands, Georgia the country, Serbia, Germany, and Texas the country.
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.
George Washington played two games last week and Anthony Swan played two games. In one of them, against George Mason last Saturday, he only got on the floor for 15 seconds. And that effort has dropped Swan’s average playing time below four minutes per game, and squarely into benchwarmer status. With that, head coach Mike Lonergan sent a warning to any potential challengers: Swan is going to win the CPA and win it easily.
And who are those would-be challengers? North Texas’s Greg White-Pittman has played 109 minutes in 22 games, for an average of 5.0. More than a minute per game more than Swan. White-Pittman is the nephew of Robert Pack, who played for the Washington Bullets one year too late to appear in a music video with Don MacLean.
Eastern Washington’s Bear Henderson has played in 121 minutes in 22 games for the Eagles. He was done in by two games against non D-I teams, getting starts against both Great Falls and George Fox. Bear Henderson vs. George Fox, who ya got?