This is a weekly digest documenting the biggest upsets, craziest comebacks, and Alan Williams news of the past seven days.
3. Arkansas Pine Bluff 64, Southern 58, Saturday. (7%) Southern was 21-2 in home SWAC games under Roman Banks coming into this one. But UAPB was rolling into Baton Rouge on a four-game winning streak, all at home, and the Lions led the entire second half in pulling the shocker over the Jaguars.
2. Cal State Northridge 80, UC Santa Barbara 78 (OT), Saturday. (7%) It wasn’t Alan Williams fault! He went for 22 and 17 and threw in four blocks as well. The Matadors were a deceptive 4-6 in Big West play, with two of those wins coming in OT and another by a single point. It hasn’t been easy for Reggie Theus in his first season in Northridge. This is qualifies as a signature win, especially since CSUN overcame a seven-point deficit with 1:39 left in regulation.
1. Boston College 62, Syracuse 59 (OT), Wednesday. (4%) The falsely-maligned Syracuse offense gave some ammo to its many critics on Wednesday night. It’s one thing to not shoot well against quality defenses as Syracuse has done most of the season. It’s another to shoot 18-of-50 inside the arc against Boston College. Even after that effort, the Eagles remain last in the ACC in two-point defense at 49.7%. The Orange posted a 33.9% eFG mark, their worst of the season. and it was against one of the worst defenses they’ve seen. And this came after an ugly effort against N.C. State. Even after consecutive stinkers, Syracuse still ranks second in the ACC in offensive efficiency, but this is a situation worth monitoring.
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. Central Michigan 101, Ball State 95 (3OT), Wednesday. (0.9%) In the battle for the MAC basement, the Cardinals were up 69-62 with 36 seconds left in regulation. Perhaps it wasn’t the most comfortable position for nation’s worst turnover team to be in, but it wasn’t turnovers that did the Cardinals in, it was the Chips’ Blake Hibbitts who hit three triples down the stretch after going one-for-seven from long range to that point. That forced overtime and CMU prevailed after 15 additional minutes.
2. Cal State Northridge 80, UC Santa Barbara 78 (OT), Saturday. (0.7%) It wasn’t Alan Williams’ fault.
1. Boston College 62, Syracuse 59 (OT), Wednesday. (0.7%) The Eagles trailed 30-17 with 18:14 left in the second half, then went on a 26-11 run to take the lead and grab the nation’s eyeballs for a conclusion that included five bonus minutes. BC had two ACC wins to this point, both over Virginia Tech, who in turn has two ACC wins, both over Miami. Miami plays BC on Saturday. Should be an easy Boston College win, right?
Slowest game of the week: Weber State vs. Montana, Saturday. (50 possessions) It’s been a disappointing season for Montana, who even after this 68-57 win over the Wildcats, stand at 8-7 in Big Sky play. The Griz had lost just six regular-season conference games over the previous three seasons combined.
Fastest game of the week: Central Arkansas vs. Houston Baptist, Saturday. (89) The Southland’s always good for some run-and-gun and this game was eight possessions faster than anything else last week. Houston Baptist got its second conference win of the season by a score of 99-83, in a game that featured 213 attempts at the basket in either field goal or free throw form.
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.
The Gauchos were facing their easiest homestand of the season and almost went 0-2. The aforementioned loss to Cal State Northridge was stunning, then UCSB played with fire against lowly UC Riverside on Thursday, pulling out a 55-54 win. (It wasn’t quite that tense – Riverside hit a three at the buzzer for the final margin.) Williams went for 19 and 15 in that game, but also needed 21 shots to get those points, so Highlanders’ head coach Dennis Cutts had to feel pretty good about his defensive game plan.
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.
Louisville at Cincinnati (Saturday, Noon, CBS). The Cards have won five straight by at least 15 points, but all of them have been against the JV division of the American. Four of their last five are against the Varsity division, starting with this one against the Bearcats. Rick Pitino has been able to give Montrezl Harrell ample rest over this easy stretch, but the days of the big man playing 35+ minutes will return. Harrell played 39 in Louisville’s loss to Cincinnati on January 30.
Wisconsin at Iowa (Saturday, Noon, ESPN2). This is a battle of two top-ten offenses, where one has the 13th-slowest offense in the land and the other has the third-fastest. No need to name names here. Devyn Marble leads the race for Big Ten kPOY, but Frank Kaminsky is a close second.
UCLA at Stanford (Saturday, 6:00, ESPN2). Speaking of winning streaks, UCLA has run off four in a row by double-digits, most recently winning by 20 at Cal. A win at Maples and the Bruins will officially be closing fast on the nation’s best teams. Jordan Adams is coming off the best game of his life, which included 28 points, six rebounds, five assists, and five steals against the Bears.
Syracuse at Duke (Saturday, 7:00, ESPN). With both teams coming off losses, this game doesn’t have the shine it did three weeks ago. The Orange scored 1.35 points per possession against the Blue Devils in the first game, which is the second-most that Duke has allowed all season. It’s hard to believe that after struggling against Boston College, playing Duke might be a confidence booster for the Syracuse’s scoring unit. Anything over 1.05 would be an encouraging sign.
Michigan State at Michigan (Sunday, 12:00, CBS). As UMHoops notes, this is Tom Izzo’s most perimeter-oriented team at Michigan State. It also happens to be his worst offensive rebounding team since 2004 and his worst at getting to the line in longer than that. Mind you, Branden Dawson’s absence has hurt that number somewhat, but there’s more to it than that. Adreian Payne is easily having his worst offensive rebounding season of his four years in East Lansing. This is not something one gets concerned over when the team is making 17-of-32 threes as the Spartans did in a 15-point win over Purdue on Thursday. Just be advised this is not your typical Izzo team. It is full-on perimeter-oriented.