Here are the most extreme things to happen in college basketball between Friday, January 8th and Thursday, January 14th…
1) #343 Bradley 54, #229 Loyola Chicago 53  (10%), Wednesday. There was only one major upset this week and that’s fine with me because the Bradley Braves deserve some attention. Specifically, the Braves offense, which ranks 351st in the country. They may not finish that way since they are among three teams that have separated themselves from the rest of the country. But the other two are Florida A&M and Prairie View, teams that play in the two worst conferences in the land. Bradley plays in the Valley, a conference that could send multiple teams to the NCAA tournament.
Bradley is a program that has been to two national title games and has two of the NBA’s top 150 scorers. The Braves play in beautiful Carver Arena which should attract some local hoopsters with scoring competence. Yet this season’s squad ranks 351st in turnover percentage, 350th in three-point percentage, 319th in two-point percentage, and 280th in offensive rebounding percentage. They haven’t sniffed a point per possession yet, and that includes a game against D-II Maryville.
It’s Brian Wardle’s first season at Bradley, and no doubt that has its own set of challenges. Anyway, this isn’t about ridiculing Bradley, so much as admiring an outlier. The Braves have now won two games against D-I teams and both were by a score of 54-53. I’m not into if you score X you’ll win, but X=60 against Bradley it’s hard to lose. The Ramblers didn’t and they paid the price.
Least likely comebacks
3) #307 LIU Brooklyn 71, #199 Wagner 70  (1.3%), Saturday. The Blackbirds were on the road and a heavy underdog, and they trailed 43-26 with 18:56 left. But after a steal and dunk by Jerome “The Professor” Frink with 13:43 left, the game was tied at 43. Another steal and dunk by Professor Frink with 37 seconds left gave LIU Brooklyn the lead for good. Shoes made of flubber will catch on soon, people.
2) #305 Bryant 82, #259 Mount St. Mary’s 79 (2OT)  (1.0%), Saturday. The Mount was featured last week for playing in one of the lowest scoring overtime games the world has seen. The Mountaineers are back this week, but not by choice. In this one, they led 40-20 with 17:25 left. Against St. Francis Brooklyn last week, they wouldn’t have had to score another point to be victorious. But in an awesome bit of symmetry, Bryant outscored the Mount 40-20 the rest of the way to force overtime. Then the Bulldogs overcame a four-point deficit with under a minute left in the first overtime to sent the game to double overtime tied at 69.
1) #224 Rider 102, #293 Marist 100 (2OT)  (0.9%), Thursday. Rider was once famous for leading Maryland by 14 in the second half earlier this season. However, it’s been a while since that happened and the Broncs were 0-5 in the MAAC coming into this one. They were headed for 0-6 being down seven with 58 seconds left and Marist headed to the free throw line. Marist even scored seven points the rest of the way, but Rider was nearly perfect, going 3-2-2-3-2-2 to force overtime.
The most unusual thing about this game was Rider’s Teddy Okereafor going 25-of-30 from the free throw line. Pete Maravich and Ben Woodside hold the record for made free throws in a game with 30. Woodside needed triple overtime and Maravich…didn’t. In fact, LSU scored a mere 76 points in the game where Pistol Pete set the record. (It was a road game, too, so it’s hard to imagine an officiating conspiracy here.)
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 shooters continue to slump, making 18-of-63 (28.6%) of their 3’s this week. That brings the season total down to 37.7% (203-of-539). The guys did get a lot of wins this week, but this exercise is not about winning. Just make some shots, guys.
Fastest game: #244 Youngstown St. 103, #113 Green Bay 93 [91 possessions], Saturday.
I haven’t talked enough about Green Bay’s rookie head coach Linc Darner. I don’t think I’ve talked about him at all, actually, but he caught my attention very early in the season. While it seems inevitable that Duggar Baucom’s The Citadel team will claim the national adjusted tempo title this season, the race is not over because as this 91-possession showed, Darner doesn’t mess around. In fact, his offense is faster paced than any team in the country right now. It’s just that unlike The Citadel, Darner’s defense actually provides resistance for the opposition, which slows things down a bit.
I was wondering if Darner had a name for his system, and indeed he does. He calls it “RP 40”, which, for a person with a cool name like Linc Darner, is completely disappointing. I was hoping the RP would stand for something interesting. Rapid Points? Rabid Pronghorns? No, it means “relentless pressure for 40 minutes”. Kind of a watered down version of 40 minutes of hell, I guess, but it totally doesn’t do his system justice.
The hiring of Darner by Green Bay was a breath of fresh air. He won a D-II national title at Florida Southern last season, so it’s not like his system is some sort of gimmick. It’s an easy sell to get fans to take a break from staring longingly at the Ha Ha Clinton-Dix poster in their bedroom and out to the Resch Center for the fast-paced hoops action that can produce a result like 103-93 when the competing teams aren’t even shooting that well. And the Phoenix have been reasonably successful in Darner’s first season, going 11-6 (4-1) so far.
But if Darner was shrewd he would have held a campus-wide contest to rename his system. Surely, someone would have come up with something more marketable than RP 40. I would have submitted Rabid Pronghorns and HyperLinc if I was allowed two entries. If limited to one, I would have submitted Screaming Pronghorns. Actually, I am going to submit all three and make myself the judge of the contest because I make the rules around here.
And the winner is… HyperLinc! Sorry, pronghorn fans. Go support the University of Lethbridge if you have a problem.
Slowest game: #129 Milwaukee 65, #273 Cleveland St. 62 , Saturday. In two separate games in the Horizon League on Saturday, one had 91 possessions and one had 52 possessions. Some critics of the shot clock decrease were concerned the change would limit diversity in playing style, and wah, wah, wah. (Those are sounds a crybaby makes.) Well, for one day in the Horizon League that was soooo not true. Somewhere this was called a defensive battle, but the teams were more efficient here than in the game at the Beeghly Center in Youngstown.
Highest-scoring game: #24 USC 103, #17 Arizona 101  (4OT), Saturday. I am showing that this the 26th game with at least four overtimes over the past 15 seasons. This was the first since High Point beat Cal State Bakersfield in Hawaii on November 14th, 2014. The Pac-12 projections paint a clear three-team race between USC, Oregon, and Arizona. Those three teams are projected to finish with 12 or 13 wins, then there are eight (!) teams projected to finish with 8 or 9 wins. And then there’s Washington State.
Lowest-scoring game: #38 Providence 50, #40 Creighton 48 , Tuesday. There was a time when it was unimaginable that a game involving Creighton would have fewer than 100 points scored. In fact, I think we are still in that time. Providence had just 23 points on the scoreboard with 14 minutes left, but they came back and won on a Kris Dunn bucket at the buzzer. It was the type of game where Dunn could go 6-for-17 from the field with five turnovers and still be the game’s MVP.
Coach’s 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’s Anthony Swan played a total of 13 minutes in victories of Duquesne and UMass to maintain his grip on the inaugural Coach’s Pet Award. That means he’s played 71 minutes in 17 games to this point, or 4.2 minutes per game. He also scored a hoop against UMass bringing his season total to 11 points. That should help Coach Lonergan remember to get him in future games and keep his name in this section. Since Swan might be here for a while, let’s get to know him a little bit better.