Programming note: This is the final Week in Review for the season. Conference tournaments start next week and probabilistic coverage of those events will take precedence until Selection Sunday arrives. Thanks to all for reading this season.
Here are the most extreme things to happen in college basketball between Friday, February 20th and Thursday, February 26th…
3) #202 Northern Illinois 84, #68 Toledo 82 (12%), Wednesday. I wasn’t one that necessarily liked the idea of 96-team tournament, but I didn’t hate it, either. It’s games like this that would suddenly matter. With a 96-team field you could conceivably reward things like regular-season titles and Toledo really jeopardized its chances of having the MAC’s best record by giving away this home decision to also-ran Northern Illinois. In the real world, this loss hurts the Rockets’ chances of winning the West Division and getting a triple bye in the MAC tourney.
2) #304 Niagara 82, #152 Canisius 71 (12%), Tuesday.
1) #312 Niagara 65, #140 Rider 61 (9%), Saturday. I don’t think one team has ever earned the top two upsets of the week, but the Purple Eagles, a species indigenous to the Niagara campus, did just that. The MAAC is a weird place where home court has meant less than nothing this season. Home teams are 49-52 in conference play heading into the league’s final weekend. And with these two road wins, Niagara is now 6-13 in the MAAC while getting four of those victories away from the Gallagher Center.
Least likely comebacks
3) #252 Pacific over #119 Portland (2.0%), Saturday. Pacific came into this one losers of its last eight WCC games and they faced a 64-56 deficit with 2:16 left after the Pilots’ Kevin Bailey made a 3-pointer. But Pacific responded with a four-point possession to get back into it and David Taylor hit a 3 with 12 seconds left to tie the game. Pacific would win the game 79-77 in overtime. It was an odd extra period where all 12 of Portland’s points were scored on Bailey 3-pointers. Hot hand supporters unite!
2) #60 Minnesota over #17 Michigan State (1.0%), Thursday. One of the selling points of not fouling up 3 is that the worst-case scenario is going to overtime, while fouling brings into play the insta-loss. But that’s not exactly true, and when I looked at the issue two years ago, there were in fact two cases out of 676 attempts at honest defense where the defending team lost in regulation. This game very nearly added to the total when Minnesota’s Carlos Morris hit a game-tying 3-pointer with 2.2 seconds left while being fouled by the Spartans’ Gavin Schilling, capping a closing stretch in which the Gophers scored nine points in three possessions. But Morris, a 67 percent free throw shooter, missed the potential game-winning shot, and the game went to overtime where Goldy pulled off the stunning 96-90 road win.
1) #191 Miami OH over #110 Kent State (0.6%), Tuesday. The RedHawks trailed 64-45 with 7:35 left but a ridiculous 16 consecutive scoring possessions later, they forced overtime at 77-77 when Geovonie McKnight hit a lay-up with a second left. Miami outscored Kent 9-4 in overtime to seriously cripple the Golden Flashes chances at an auto-bid into the 96-team field.
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 knocked down 19-of-48 attempts this week, good for 39.6 percent. Congrats to Brett Olson’s 9-for-16 performance this week, which offset Devante Wallace’s 0-for-8 mini-slump. The Club’s season total is 280-for-685, or 40.9 percent. Even though the Week in Review is gone for another season, we’ll have a season-ending party for the Club and their outstanding work at some point.
Fastest game: Prairie View A&M 84, Mississippi Valley State 74 [84 possessions], Saturday. Say what you want about first-year Delta Devils’ head coach Andre Payne, but don’t say he plays favorites. The starting lineup he rolled out for the Prairie View game was the 21st different lineup of the season. And he followed that up with #22 against Texas Southern on Monday. With three remaining regular-season games, can Payne find three more unique five-man combinations?
Slowest game: Cal State Bakersfield 64, UMKC 62 , Saturday. When you think about the rich history of the WAC, the Roadrunners/Kangaroos rivalry is probably not at the top of the list. And even a 96-team field could not make this game relevant to anyone but the participants and their families.
Highest-scoring game: VMI 113, Western Carolina 111 (2OT) , Saturday. Whether by design or the will of the opponent, VMI has slowed its pace late in the season. The Keydets are still bringing the fun to college hoops, though. They’ve adjusted to life without their stud wing, QJ Peterson, and this wild game was their third consecutive win. Just for fun, relive their 90+ possession season in 2007.
Lowest-scoring game: Seattle 57, Chicago State 31 , Saturday. Cameron Dollar might be the foremost authority on the slowdown in college hoops. He’s in his sixth season as Seattle’s head coach and here are the Redhawks national rankings in adjusted tempo over those six seasons: 2, 6, 1, 44, 132, 309. And it’s hard to complain after a game like this. While I’m sure it was brutal for the non-partisan fan to observe, Chicago State had 11 points on the board with 10 minutes left in the game.
Alan Williams Watch: Williams turned back the clock to yesteryear with a vintage performance on Thursday night, scoring 15 and rebounding 16 to go with four blocks and two steals in an easy over Big West leader UC Davis. The Gauchos have won five of six, and we shouldn’t bury them yet. They’re in a position to get a three-seed in the conference tournament.
kPOY Watch: There’s no real news on the kPOY front. Frank Kaminsky is virtually assured of entering the NCAA tournament as the leader, but kPOY #2 Delon Wright and kPOY #4 Stanley Johnson will face off on Saturday night at Utah. A dominating performance by either would make them Kaminsky’s clear challenger.
Here are the five games you’ll want to watch this week (as determined by FanMatch, all times eastern):
#5 Villanova at #25 Xavier, Saturday, 2 PM, Fox
#12 Northern Iowa at #13 Wichita State, Saturday, 2PM, ESPN
#3 Arizona at #6 Utah, Saturday, 9 PM, ESPN*
#9 Oklahoma at #15 Iowa State, Monday, 9 PM, ESPN
#10 Baylor at #22 Texas, Monday, 7 PM, ESPN
Arizona at Utah is the second-highest rated game by FanMatch this season. Top honors remain with Kentucky at Louisville.