This is the Week in Review, where the previous week of unusual occurrences in college basketball is reviewed.
3. Thursday: #139 Pepperdine 67, #27 BYU 61 (10%). The WCC has long been a conference where the home-court doesn’t provide much advantage. But in the first two weeks of conference play, that idea is being taken to the extreme with home teams posting an 8-14 record so far. Coming off consecutive 30+ point road wins, BYU fell at home in a game it never led. Pepperdine got 23 and a whole lot of other things (eight boards, two assists, two blocks, and two steals) from junior wing Stacy Davis and is now 2-0 on the road in league play.
2. Saturday: #307 Navy 69, #125 Lafayette 65 (9%). Before DePaul was doing its thing in the Big East, lowly Navy was getting off to a 2-0 start in the Patriot League. They have since lost to Boston U., but at this moment in time they were on top of the league, with all 19 players on its roster dreaming of an improbable perfect season after a non-conference slate that included losses to The Citadel and Maryland-Eastern Shore.
1. Wednesday: #279 Ball State 60, #104 Eastern Michigan 59 (OT) (9%). The MAC has surged this season, with four teams currently ranked inside the top 100. Eastern Michigan, with its stingy zone defense, was on the doorstep of that club before its conference opener against the Cardinals, but the Eagles’ offense once again let them down.
Least likely comebacks
3. Saturday: #286 Appalachian State 74, #250 Arkansas State 73 (1.6%). This was App State’s first conference game as a member of the Sun Belt and it was a doozy. The Mountaineers trailed 57-43 with 9:37 left before the big turnaround in Jonesboro. Milos Kostic played just seven minutes but scored five points in the final minute to secure the win.
2. #319 Longwood 90, #208 Radford 79 (2OT) (1.4%) Not only did the Lancers dig themselves out of a 56-44 deficit with 5:10 left, they also overcame a six-point deficit in the first overtime. Leron Fisher made all 12 of his overtime free throws to preserve the victory.
1. #71 Pittsburgh 61, #127 Boston College 60 (OT) (1.0%) Pitt trailed 53-43 with 3:04 to go. Somehow the Panthers found a way to score ten points in three minutes. The fact that it forced fans at Conte Forum to watch an additional five minutes of hoops between these two teams took some of the luster off of the accomplishment.
My five-man #ShootersClub of Micah Mason, Brett Olson, Michael Frazier II, Seth Hinrichs, and Devante Wallace is barnstorming the country this season, spreading goodwill and providing inspiration that you, too, can make three-point shots with enough practice.
The #ShootersClub spend the holidays scorching some nets for little girls and boys. Since we last spoke the club has boosted its aggregate shooting percentage from 36.7 to 39.6 percent. (Special shout-out to Denver’s Brett Olson who has been flat out killing it lately.) The magical 40 percent mark is within reach. Remember the #ShootersClub guarantee: If the Club fails to make 40 percent of its 3’s this season, you get to play five minutes of D-I basketball at the school of your choice. That’s how confident I am in these guys.
Fastest game: Sunday, VCU 75, Fordham 58 [80 possessions]. You wouldn’t know it from Fordham’s score, or even necessarily from its shooting numbers (they were 20-of-57 from the field), but this game was played at a breakneck pace. But throw in 28 Fordham turnovers and you get a pathetic offensive showing. Both versions of the Rams pass for uptempo in 2015 and VCU actually forces most of that pace on offense, ranking 41st in offensive possession length and 261st in on the defensive end.
Slowest game: Thursday, Drexel 55, Towson 41 . We had our first two sub-50 possession games of the season last night. It’s that time of year! (Denver/IPFW was the other). Drexel scored a mere 55 points but could walk away from the game feeling good about its offense.
Highest-scoring game: Thursday, South Alabama 104, Appalachian State 95 . The Mountaineers are back. After their improbable comeback, they produced an improbably high-scoring game. USA made 63% of its 2’s, 59% of its 3’s and 77% of its free throws and was never seriously threatened in the second half.
Lowest-scoring game: Wednesday, Syracuse 46, Georgia Tech 45 . After seeing its average offensive possession length drop to 234th in the country last season, the Orange is looking to run again, ranking 19th in offensive APL so far. This was actually its first game slower than 60 possessions. It was a nightmare matchup with Georgia Tech ranking dead last in the country in three-point percentage and Syracuse having a points-challenged offense. Fun fact: This contest was played in a seven-point window. Syracuse led by no more three and Tech’s biggest lead was four. That’s about as tight of a game as you will see in modern college hoops.
Alan Williams Watch: UCSB played once last week, a 63-50 home win over Florida Gulf Coast. Big Al had 22 points, 13 rebounds, three assists, two blocks, and one steal in 34 minutes. The Gauchos open up Big West play tomorrow at Cal Poly.
kPOY Watch: Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky remains your leader in what continues to be a clear two-man race with Duke’s Jahlil Okafor. Utah’s Delon Wright had a real nice month and came from off the board to currently sit fourth. But after Kaminsky and Okafor, we’re just filling out the all-kenpom.com team at this point.
Here are the five games you’ll want to watch this week (as determined by FanMatch, all times eastern):
#17 Ohio State at #53 Indiana, Saturday, noon, ESPN
#9 Louisville at #11 North Carolina, Saturday, 2 PM, ESPN
#2 Virginia at #14 Notre Dame, Saturday, 6 PM, ESPN2
#7 Oklahoma at #13 West Virginia, Tuesday, 7 PM, ESPNews*
#11 North Carolina at #57 N.C. State, Wednesday, 7 PM, ESPN2
*In the 1989 movie Back to the Future II, there’s a scene which describes a Cubs-”Miami” World Series in 2015. That’s not going to happen, but merely forecasting that a major league team would exist in Miami was somewhat bold. However, I would have been really impressed if the movie had predicted that in 2015, one of the biggest games of the season would be a Big 12 showdown between West Virginia and Oklahoma airing on ESPNews.