Wisconsin, Duke, Valparaiso, and UCLA pick up nice wins

SONG SELECTION:

“Let’s Go Out” by Alex Lahey

From the EP titled B-Grade University, released January 30, 2017 on Caroline Australia Records

Justin Jackson scored 21 points to go along with 5 rebounds as Duke pulled away edging out their in-state rivals from North Carolina 86-78.  Elsewhere, Purdue got a nice win against their in-state rivals at Indiana 69-64, even thought the Boilers trailed 39-32 at halftime.  The new Sports Illustrated profile on Caleb “Biggie” Swanigan has shown some great effect as he notched yet another double-double, 16 points and 14 rebounds on 6 of 12 shooting and splitting his 8 attempts from the free-throw line.  Also in the Big Ten, Nigel Hayes poured in 20 points as Wisconsin escaped an upset bid at Nebraska 70-69 in overtime.

Out West, UCLA came from behind to tip Oregon 82-79 at Pauley Pavilion.

In the Horizon League, Valparaiso (RPI of 67) has a bigger cushion thanks to coasting past Cleveland State at the ARC 78-57.  The Crusaders are 20-5, 10-2 in league play and were led in scoring by Shane Hammick’s 15 points.  Alec Peters and Jaume Sorolla, a freshman hailing from Tortosa, Spain each chipped in with 12 points a piece.  The Crusaders shot a cool 32 of 62 from the floor (including 7 of 12 from long distance), good enough for 51.6 percent.  They also made 22 assists on those 32 made baskets.

The surprise came in Northern Kentucky as the Norse upset Wisconsin-Green Bay 69-67, led by Cole Murray scoring 17 points including five treys.  The Phoenix got to within two points on three occasions in the final 5:16, but could not get any closer.  Valpo’s lead is 1 1/2 games with the defending conference champions staggering to a 9-4 clip and that Valparaiso has one game in hand (six games remaining before the conference tournament as opposed to five for UWGB).

Finally, the endless parade of multiple overtime games continues:

  • UNC Asheville held off Winthrop, two perennial NCAA Tournament teams from years gone by 104-101 in two extra periods.
  • Liberty managed to squeak by at Gardner-Webb 92-87, also in two overtime periods.
  • Lamar only needed five extra minutes to get past Sam Houston State by a 80-76 count.
  • Fletcher McGee scored a career high 36 points and Eric Garcia managed to tie his own career high with 31 as Wofford outlasted Samford in a Southern Conference battle by a crazy score of 131-127 in four overtimes.

Let me say this IMHO–with all of these multiple overtime games, I would not be surprised if many players have been exhausted for their next day of classes.  I better hope the coaching staffs kept a steady supply of water and Gatorade handy during each of the breaks between periods.  I remember when Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scoscia remarked prior to Game 1 of the 2005 American League Championship Series that “Sleep is overrated”–and this was after his team had to win two elimination games, the first on a Sunday in Anaheim, then the next night had to fly cross country to eliminate New York and the following night travel once again to the west in Chicago to begin the ALCS before handing the White Sox their only postseason loss.

Only ten games on Friday, highlighted by the top four teams in the Ivy League playing at 7 p.m. Eastern time online on ESPN3:

Dartmouth at Yale, Columbia at Penn, Harvard at Brown, and Cornell at Princeton.

Princeton leads the Ivy League with a 6-0 mark, followed by Yale one game back at 5-1.  Harvard and Columbia appear to be headed for the conference’s first ever playoff tournament with each having 4-2 marks in Ivy League play.  However, the Crimson are comfortably in third place with an overall record of 12-7 entering Friday’s action, while the Columbia Lions are scuffling a bit barely over .500 at 10-9.

See you all on Saturday, as I look forward to discussing the first ever rankings being released one month before Selection Sunday.  Please have a good night and I pray that our friends up and down the Eastern Seaboard from Philadelphia to Maine survive their Nor’Easterner of a blizzard that is wreaking havoc for millions of people.

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