With losses by Butler and Purdue, that four overtime classic at USC might loom large

SONG SELECTION:

Anything by David Bowie, especially “Dancing In The Streets” with Mick Jagger, longtime frontman for The Rolling Stones

With most of Division I taking Monday night off due to ESPN’s annual tonnage aka the Megacast across all ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS, ESPNU, ESPN Classic, and ESPN Radio…

We have arrived basically at the one-third point in the season.

After Saturday’s four overtime clash in Los Angeles as USC outlasted Arizona 103-101, even though Arizona shot nearly 50 percent from the field for the entire 60 minutes–one must think there are not many stellar teams heading into the meat of the schedule.  It was the first quadruple OT game in Arizona history, and the third for USC. The last time the Trojans played in such a long game, they ended up beating  crosstown rival UCLA 80-78 in 1985. Arizona’s previous longest game was three OTs during the 2010-11 season.

Sunday offered a bigger glimpse, as I begin another installment of Stock Up, Stock Down:

STOCK UP

Villanova, for coming back in the second half from a 7 point deficit to upend Butler at the famed Hinkle Fieldhouse by a 60-55 count.  Josh Hart was the game’s high scorer with 22 points and 11 rebounds.  Villanova is 14-2 and 4-0 in the Big East looking for one of those elusive Number 1 seeds, with 61 days remaining until Selection Sunday.

Illinois, for upsetting Purdue 84-70 at the State Farm Center in Champaign.  After attending the birth of his child, Kendrick Nunn returned from a one-game absence to score 22 while fellow guard Malcolm Hill torched the Boilers for 30 points.  John Groce’s crew shot a season high 54.2 percent, including draining 9 of 17 from long distance.  They also shredded the nation’s best defense to score against by toeing the free-throw line 28 times and making 23.  More importantly, they limited Purdue to a season low 31 rebounds.

Even though Illinois is 9-8 overall and it was their first victory in 4 tries in Big Ten play, this game could loom large by the time the conference tournament rolls around.  Purdue is still in good shape, checking in at 14-3 but slipped to the middle of the pack at 2-2 in conference play.

Valparaiso, for winning a huge game at Detroit 92-74, as Alec Peters attained a career high 39 points as Bryce Drew’s Crusaders are all alone in first place in the Horizon League standings (13-3 overall, 3-0 in league play).

Texas, for surviving the non-conference portion of the season.  According to Seth Davis of SI.com, he took into account that North Carolina had a healthy squad when they beat the Tar Heels in Austin, along with the fact that 3 of their five losses came against teams ranked in the RPI’s top 50.  Adding a road win in Stanford also will help their bubble chances immensely.

Honorable Mention:  Dayton, Monmouth, Wichita State, and prior to their blowout loss on CBS at Indiana, Ohio State.

In the middle:  Northwestern, can they hold their own in the Big Ten?
South Carolina, the nation’s last true undefeated win–none of their wins have come against the RPI’s Top 50.  Again, I don’t count SMU this season because of their ban on this season’s tournaments.

STOCK DOWN

Louisville, for losing at Clemson 66-62.  Really bad loss.

LSU, Seton Hall, Pittsburgh for their poor play against really bad teams and UNLV for firing their head coach and fellow alumnus Dave Rice after struggling out of the gate in Moutain West play.

Albeit scoring is up, the NCAA still considers the overall product a work in progress.

That will be the brief subject in my semi-annual “Rant and Rave”, the other of course coming up hours after the draw is released.

 

 

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