Thursday, January 24, 2013
So, Wednesday night was wild
By Eamonn Brennan
Here at the ESPN.com college hoops headquarters, we -- and by "we," I mostly mean our tireless editor, Brett Edgerton -- spend a lot of time trying to plan for a sport that is inherently unpredictable. It's just part of the gig, same as anything else: You want to allocate your resources in the best and most efficient manner possible. You highlight some games and pay only passing attention to others. You dive deep on big nights, those weeknights and Saturdays with loads of top-25 matchups, and you recognize that others probably aren't going to be as exciting.
Throughout my three-plus years here, if there's one thing I've learned about covering this sport on a daily basis -- if there's one motto Edge and the rest of us have had repeatedly drilled into our heads -- it's that the best hoops nights are the ones you never expect.
Wednesday was one of those nights.
Don't get me wrong: There were good games on the docket. We were prepared for a solid night of basketball. But the sheer randomness that ensued last night went far beyond anything we could have imagined as recently as, say, Wednesday afternoon. To wit:
Northwestern's Jared Swopshire drives past Minnesota's Austin Hollins on his way to 16 points.
No. 1 Duke not only lost at Miami -- a foreseeable outcome -- but was absolutely thrashed, totally embarrassed, completely run off the court. Miami won 90-63. Its fans stormed the floor. Coach K rubbed his temples. Jim Larranaga winked.
Butler, fresh off its miracle buzzer-beating Saturday win over Gonzaga, turned around and lost a one-point game at La Salle, 54-53. Of course, this is not a totally crazy upset; La Salle has been playing some good basketball this season, and in fact the Las Vegas books had the Explorers as a one-point favorite before the game. Plus, Butler was going on the road after Saturday's euphoric finish; this was the very definition of a trap game. And even with all of that said … Butler? Lose a one-possession game? Does. Not. Compute.
Iowa State, the same team that pushed Kansas to overtime at Allen Fieldhouse, who entered Wednesday ranked 14th in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency per KenPom, scored a lowly 51 points in a loss at Texas Tech, which entered Wednesday ranked No. 277 nationally in adjusted efficiency defense.
The 8-10 Drake Bulldogsupset No. 17 Creighton 74-69 in Des Moines, Iowa. This despite the facts that a) Creighton's offense is among the five best in the country and b) Drake's defense is one of the worst in the Missouri Valley. This loss was even more mysterious before we learned forward Doug McDermott was playing through the flu, and had vomited at halftime (he scored just four points in the second half). But still.
Southern Miss beat Marshall 102-46. That would be all you needed to know about that, except for this: Early in the game, Marshall led 3-0. Then, Southern Miss went on 47-4 run. 47. To four. There are no words.
So, yeah. We assumed Wednesday night would give us a couple of obviously good games (Duke-Miami, Colorado State-New Mexico) and a bunch of your standard regular-season college hoops games. So much for that.