The 3 most appealing games (according to FanMatchTM):
1) Miami FL 90, Duke 63  (Wednesday) It was so bad Dick Vitale returned his honorary Duke degree. The ‘Canes are now the favorite to take the ACC regular-season (I got them at 66%), thanks to a two-game lead over the field and a relatively easy remaining schedule. The damage was done with a 29-5 run to close the first half. Reggie Johnson was ineffective in his return (15 minutes, missed his only two field goal attempts) which makes this result all the more bizarre.
2) New Mexico 66, Colorado State 61  (Wednesday) The final score here is about as misleading as it can get. This is where I pitch the win-probability graph which was nearly flat-lined after the Lobos built a 22-point lead with 12 minutes remaining. The Rams’ two-way rebounding didn’t disappoint (42% on offense, 80% on defense) and at some point I’ll have to research their place among the all-time great teams in this area. New Mexico (4-0) is now the favorite in the MW, but don’t think they’re a lock! I have their chances at just 43% because three of their first four games have been at home.
3) Baylor 64, Oklahoma State 54  (Monday) FanMatch apologizes for its performance last week. This game wasn’t all that compelling, either. Once Baylor built an 11-point lead with just under 11 minutes left, the Cowboys chances never rose above 10%. Baylor has the best defensive efficiency in Big 12 play at 0.82 PPP. But that’s somewhat misleading since they’ve played the other three Texas schools, each of whom have inept offenses.
The 3 biggest upsets:
1) #260 Texas Tech (9%) 56, #32 Iowa State 51  (Wednesday) The Cyclones went into Allen Fieldhouse and took Kansas to the brink, but the rowdy environment of United Spirit Arena was too much. Only Grambling and Florida A&M did worse against the Red Raiders than the 0.76 PPP posted by Iowa State.
2) #319 Northern Illinois (10%) 74, #188 Central Michigan 61  (Wednesday) The Huskies had somehow managed to lose their previous game 71-34, so one might think their confidence was at an all-time low. But they picked themselves up, took their 3rd-worst 2P% offense into McGuirk Arena, and got their second MAC win of the season by holding the Chippewas to 7-of-23 inside the arc.
3) #276 Texas State 78, #128 Idaho 73  (Thursday) Texas State overcame an early 32-15 deficit to pull off this WAC stunner. Joel Wright, second-nationally in usage, took a whopping 20 shots and 15 free throws in his 34 minutes to produce a season-high 37 points. He also rebounded six, assisted five and stole five.
The 3 craziest comebacks:
1) Richmond (0.4%) over VCU. (Thursday) Richmond trailed 65-58 after Juvonte Reddic hit two free throws with 37 seconds left. The closing stretch was pretty incredible. Cedrick Lindsay (48%) made a two with 27 seconds left. After getting fouled on a three, Kendall Anthony (84%) made all three free throws with 21 seconds left. The Spiders then got consecutive threes from Anthony (42%) and Darien Brothers (51%) with 15 and three seconds left, respectively. It’s not like VCU gave the game away, either. They made four of six free throws during this time. The game went to OT tied at 69 and Richmond won 86-74 .
2) Boston U. (0.7%) over Albany. (Wednesday) The Terriers trailed by six with 15 seconds to go, but D.J. Irving hit consecutive three-pointers sandwiched around an Albany turnover, and BU would win in overtime 85-80 . An overtime, by the way, that featured the teams combining to score 39 points on 12-of-15 shooting and 11-of-13 from the line.
3) Colgate (0.8%) over Army. (Wednesday) Colgate trailed 81-75 and it was Army’s ball with 39 seconds left. It helped that Army was in the single bonus. They’d miss the front ends twice while Colgate got a pair of three-pointers from Mitch Rolls (36%) to send the game to OT, where Colgate prevailed 93-90 .
Winless teams remaining: Grambling. (Unchanged since Monday.)
Conference unbeatens remaining: 28. (7 fewer since Monday.)
Conference winless teams remaining: 18. (6 fewer since Monday.)
This weekend’s 3 most appealing games (according to FanMatchTM):
1) #9 Minnesota at #13 Wisconsin (Saturday, 2 ET, Big Ten Network). This is when I start to feel sorry for the Big Ten. Minnesota is trying to avoid a four-game losing streak and Wisconsin is trying to avoid three losses in a row. One of these very fine teams is going to lose and people will wonder what’s wrong with them. Yeah, Minnesota shouldn’t have lost at Northwestern and Wisconsin shouldn’t have lost at Iowa, but good teams can lose those games. Assuming this isn’t a lopsided contest, I wouldn’t fret too much about the loser.
2) #30 New Mexico at #28 San Diego State (Saturday, 4 ET, NBC Sports Network). The requisite Mountain West game in this spot has the Aztecs looking to get within a game of conference-leader New Mexico. Both teams are defense-dominant – the Lobos rank 18th and the Aztecs rank 22nd – so while the pace shouldn’t be all that slow, don’t expect a high-scoring affair. This is a must-win for San Diego State if they want to win the regular-season title.
3) #49 North Carolina at #40 N.C. State (Saturday, 7 ET, ESPN). N.C. State is coming off the stunning loss to Wake Forest in which they blew an 18-point lead late in the first half and allowed the Deacons to get their second-best PPP value of the season. The Tar Heels figure to get some shots off since this is a matchup where their strengths – ball control and offensive rebounding – are the Wolfpack’s defensive weaknesses.