Here are the most extreme things to happen in college basketball between Friday, January 16th and Thursday, January 22nd…
3) #272 Rice 73, #118 Charlotte 68 (OT) (10%), Saturday. The last time Rice won a conference road game was February 29, 2012. They ended the 17 game losing streak by taking 34 of their 52 shots from beyond the arc. Under first-year head coach Mike Rhoades, the Owls have now taken 410 3-pointers and 410 2-pointers against D-I foes. Rice is not in a position to contend for the Conference USA title, but they are probably fun to watch. They overcame a six-point deficit with three minutes left in regulation to upset the 49ers.
2) #299 South Alabama 89, #131 Louisiana Lafayette 82 (10%), Saturday. This is purely anecdotal, but one formula for an upset is to let the favorite build some false confidence early in the game. The Jaguars spotted the Ragin’ Cajuns a 25-10 lead and one might have thought that the game was over. USA had just two wins over D-I teams to this point, but they hung around and used 54 second-half points to pull away for a comfortable win.
1) #331 South Carolina State 73, #174 Maryland Eastern Shore 72 (OT) (7%), Monday. Clearly, the Hawks let my praise of head coach Bobby Collins go to their head. That is the only way to explain blowing a late 11-point lead at home to South Carolina State. I hope it’s not the beginning of the end for the Cinderella story that is UMES. We’ll continue to monitor.
Least likely comebacks
3) #308 Delaware over #96 William & Mary (1.4%), Saturday. Speaking of Cinderella stories, the College of William & Mary is still looking for its first NCAA tournament appearance since its founding in 1693. That’s a long drought! The Tribe was off to a surprising 5-1 start in CAA play heading into this contest against Delaware. It was on its way to an easy win, up 56-40 with 15:20 to play, before the wheels came off. Colonel Ebirt would not be proud.
2) #331 South Carolina State over #174 Maryland Eastern Shore (1.0%), Monday. Covered previously. S.C. State was down 59-48 with 6:57 before pulling off the upset.
1) #312 Loyola over #213 Boston University (0.8%), Sunday. This might have been the most controversial ending since the 1972 gold medal game. BU was up 74-69 with 5.8 seconds left. After the Terriers missed the second of two free throws, the Greyhounds got a break when the clock was started early on the rebound. So Loyola got a free timeout to inbounds the ball allowing Denzel Brito hit a 3 with 1.0 seconds left. Then Loyola fouled, but there were zeroes on the clock. But hold on! A monitor review restored the clock to 0.2 seconds. You might think you cannot win when the opponent is up two and going to the line with 0.2 seconds left. But you’d be wrong, because during the review the officials also called a flagrant one against BU (which looked flimsy) that sent Loyola’s Franz Rassman to the line for a pair of free throws.
Rassman knocked down both, tying the game, but that wasn’t the end of things because BU’s Eric Fanning had to take his two free throws after being fouled on the inbounds. He’s a 74 percent career shooter, but he missed them both! Of course, BU still had the safety net of overtime to rectify things, but Loyola prevailed with a 91-86 win. The 0.8% win probability really doesn’t do this situation justice because this situation cannot be explained by any model. Go to the 2:09 mark here to relive the excitement.
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 Club had its best week of the season, going 22-of-46 (48 percent) from beyond the arc, raising its season rate to 39.7 percent (186-of-468). The magical 40 percent mark is within reach. Congrats to High Point’s Devante Wallace, who has been the Club’s weak link this season. He knocked down 6-of-11 in games against Longwood and Radford to raise his season mark to 35 percent.
Fastest game: VMI 85, East Tennessee State 79 [90 possessions], Saturday. This week’s games averaged a pathetic 64.5 possessions per 40 minutes. But thankfully, we still have VMI who may yet average 80 possessions per game for the entire season. They played twice and along with an 81-possession game against Chattanooga, posted the two-fastest games of the week. And they did this without their stud point guard QJ Peterson, who was placed on “medical furlough” last week and will unfortunately miss the rest of the season.
Slowest game: Santa Clara 65, Loyola Marymount 62 , Thursday. While it was a slow week, the college game avoided a sub-50 possession contest. This was a game between two slow-paced WCC teams that stayed just close enough in the closing minutes to avoid a free throw parade.
Highest-scoring game: Southeastern Louisiana 108, Incarnate Word 98  (2OT), Saturday. The Southland, man. It’s always good for some ridiculous scores. Yes, this needed two overtimes, but it was still 83-83 at the end of regulation, so there were plenty of points even before the extra minutes were tacked on.
Lowest-scoring game: Virginia 57, Georgia Tech 28 , Thursday. This was the third time Virginia held a team below 30 points this season. Sadly, this will encourage the use of scoring defense to define the Cavaliers when in fact their offense is practically just as good. Like Rutgers before them, the Yellow Jackets missed all of their three-point shots in coming up short of the 30 mark against the Cavs. Virginia’s holding opponents to 35.8 percent inside the arc so a bad night from three-point range is probably going to be a bad night in general. Go review that Davidson tape future UVa opponents!
Alan Williams Watch: In this space last week, there was some concern for Big Al’s well-being after a couple of human performances. And now the news out of Santa Barbara is that he has a shoulder injury that will keep him out of action for a while. (He was also bothered by the flu before that.) So the watch is on hiatus. For the record, Williams posted 17 and 9 in 27 minutes in a loss to Long Beach State last Saturday. The Gauchos managed to beat UC Riverside without Williams on Thursday, improving their Big West record to 2-2.
kPOY Watch: Frank Kaminsky is still your leader, but the kPOY is a little broken at the moment with Virginia’s Anthony Gill in second place. However he’s accumulating his numbers, Gill’s rate stats are pretty phenomenal. He’s made 57 percent of his shots while drawing a bunch of fouls and rarely committing turnovers. He has a 125 offensive rating while using a quarter of his team’s possessions. He rebounds 15% of his teammates missed shots. These are Alan Williams type numbers without the blocked shots. Gill was recently removed from the starting lineup and he’s not going to get player of the year consideration. I’m saying he should – his shooting numbers have dropped off in ACC play – but the season-long rate numbers aren’t matched by many.
Here are the five games you’ll want to watch this week (as determined by FanMatch, all times eastern):
#10 OU at #19 Baylor, Saturday, 6 PM, ESPN2
#9 Duke at #36 StJ Sunday, 2 PM, Fox*
#12 Notre Dame at #39 N.C. State Sunday, 6:30 PM, ESPNU
#14 Texas at #18 Iowa State, Monday, 9 PM, ESPN
#9 Duke at #12 Notre Dame, Wednesday, 7:30 PM, ESPN2
*One can imagine the emotional roller coaster that Fox executives went through the past two weeks, hoping that Coach K would be going for his 1000th win on their network. The Blue Devils’ surprise loss to N.C. State seemingly put the network on track to get Krzyzewski’s first crack at 1000, but the subsequent upset loss to Miami required Duke to upset Louisville last Saturday in order to make it happen.