- Eamonn Brennan, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Bottom 10 inspirational thought of the week:
Beats on repeat beating on me
From every car in the street
It's constant repeat on repeat
Of your paranoid heartbreaking beats
It's a fine song on repeat beating on me
With your favorite bed that helps you sleep
And hear comes the news, stylish creep
From every car in the street
-- LCD Soundsystem, "Beat Connection"
Last week's Bottom 10 was a bit of a departure: It focused on coaches instead. (In case the Bottom 10 is your only source of college hoops info -- and let's hope that's not the case -- then you should know that, yes, Bruce Weber is still likley to get fired. Newsflash over.) The week before, the Bottom focused on rivalries, or the lack thereof (and probably spent too many words writing entirely unoriginal things about the Beatles, as if anyone really cares).
But the feature as you know it is back this week, ready to gleefully (and apologetically!) chronicle the bad teams and worst stats from the world of college hoops. If there's a theme here, it's bad offense, but that's nothing you haven't seen before. The Bottom 10 loves it some bad offensive statistics. Oh, does it ever.
One item of note before we begin: Let's have a hearty Bottom 10 cheer for the Binghamton Bearcats, shall we? All right Binghamton! Last week, Mark Macon's 0-26 team looked as if it had doomed itself to the ignominious fate of an oh-fer season when it lost what appeared to be its best remaining chance at five-win Radford. But basketball works in mysterious ways. On Tuesday night -- just as yours truly was working on the Bottom 10, which can't be a coincidence, no sir -- Binghamton took down the America's East best team, Vermont. Much rejoicing and nausea-inducing YouTube celebrations ensued.
In their honor, the now 1-26 Binghamton Bearcats are exempt from this week's Bottom 10. Enjoy it, fellas. It's been a long season, but, by golly, you made it.
And with that, there's no time for music-related soliloquies. LCD Soundsystem is (was) awesome. The end. Let's just jump right in:
Anyway, without further ado, and with apologies to Steve Harvey and LCD Soundsystem, here's this week's Bottom 10.
Offense: Excessive, counterproductive hacking
Bottom 10 judgment: "Pow Pow." How does Texas, a bubble team in desperate need of wins, end up losing 90-78 to the 13-14 Oklahoma State Cowboys? The Bottom 10 will tell you how: fouls. Texas committed 30 of them at Oklahoma State, leading to 56 -- yes, 56 -- free throw attempts for the Pokes, the most in any one game this season. OSU made 43 of those 56 attempts, nearly half its total points on the evening. For comparison's sake, the Cowboys attempted just 41 field goals. Pull out the trusty calculator, or, if you prefer, StatSheet.com, and yep, that's a free throw rate of 136.6 percent. Even worse? The player to attempt the most free throws on the evening -- 20 in total -- was 5-foot-9 guard Keiton Page, who sank all 20 attempts en route to a 40-point performance. Page's teammate, freshman guard LeBryan Nash, was just as baffled by this as the rest of us: "I'm like: 'Why do guys jump? You're 5-9, I'll just put my hands straight up and make you try to shoot over me. But guys who play my position, they make defensive mistakes." Especially, apparently, if they were playing for Texas on Saturday. Yikes.
"And it goes pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow."
Offense: Historically bad offense
Bottom 10 judgment: "Movement." Last Wednesday, UAB traveled to SMU, shot 34 percent from the field and scored a whopping 47 points. The kicker, of course, is that it won by 19. Yes, Matt Doherty's team posted a mere 28 points in 40 minutes, shooting 8-of-46 from the field and 3-of-29 -- 3-of-29! -- from beyond the arc. Fellas, fellas -- maybe after, say, the 20th missed 3, we decide to get the ball inside? No?
Words cannot describe the depths of offensive disaster at work here, so I'll pass the mike to our ESPN Stats & Information crew: "It was the school's lowest scoring total of the shot-clock era, and the fewest points since a 26-point effort in 1956. The Mustangs are the first team since Samford in 2008 to score fewer than 30 points and shoot under 20 percent. [SMU's] was the lowest field goal percentage by a team this season, and only two teams have scored fewer points in a game (27 apiece by Arkansas State on Nov. 22 and Towson on Jan. 4)." Protip: Any time the Stats & Info folks include the word "Towson" in your statistic, you know you did something bad.
"Oh but I'm tapped/You're pillaging and I'm tapped/You're yesterday/And I'm tapped."
3. Arizona State
Offense: The worst 20 minutes ever?
Bottom 10 judgment: "I Can Change." The good news? Arizona State scored 42 points in the second half of Saturday's loss at Washington State. The bad news? In the first half, it scored eight. Go ahead: Check the box score. I'll wait. See? The Bottom 10 wasn't lying: Arizona State scored eight points in 20 minutes of basketball, all while its opponent was tidily dropping in 36, making the second half little more than a glorified pickup run. How bad was this half? The Sun Devils went 3-of-18 from the field (or 16.7 percent), attempting just one free throw in the process. That's bad enough, but it gets worse: ASU's performance came against a Wazzu team allowing a little more than 1.10 points per trip in Pac-12 play, the worst per-possession defense in the league. If that's too many numbers for you, there's only one you need to know: eight. Eight whole points, man. Unreal.
"And what you're asking me now, disastrous now/Hoping and hoping and hoping/The feeling goes away."
4. Texas Tech
Offense: Yet more historically bad offense
Bottom 10 judgment: "Home." Last week, Texas A&M beat Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas, by the score of 47-38. To the Red Raiders' credit, they scored 10 more points than SMU. To their discredit, they led by nine at halftime but scored just 12 points in the second half. (Shades of Arizona State! See, the Bottom 10 always brings it full circle.) Per ESPN Stats & Info, Texas Tech's scoring output was the school's lowest in the shot-clock era; you have to go back to 1981 to find another game in which Tech scored fewer than 40 points. Another fun fact: This was just the third time since the formation of the Big 12 conference that any team has completed a game having failed to sink at least one free throw. Texas Tech was 0-for-2.
"So grab your things and stumble into the night/So we can shut the door/Oh, shut the door on terrible times."
Offense: The great meltdown of 2012
Bottom 10 judgment: "New York, I Love You, but You're Bringing Me Down." Somewhere, the kid that used to dress up as Chief Illiniwek (before the whole Illiniwek minstrel thing was finally, mercifully put to rest) sheds a single, solitary tear. Coach-on-the-chopping-block Bruce Weber's travails were recounted in extended form in this space last week, so we won't recount the whole unfortunate timeline; besides, you know the deal. Still, it's worth noting that, just when Illinois needed its most inspired performance of the season, it instead got its least. That came Saturday at Nebraska, when Illinois fell 80-57 to an offensively challenged Huskers team, one with just three Big Ten wins to date. Sophomore forward Meyers Leonard was openly weeping on the bench near the end of the game. The Illini followed it up with an expected blowout loss at Ohio State on Tuesday night, dropping to 5-10 in league play and falling almost entirely off the bubble. In doing so, they've come close to officially incinerating whatever slim hope Weber has of keeping his job at the end of the season. The dream is all but over.
"There's a ton of the twist/But we're fresh out of shout/Like a death in the hall/That you hear through your wall."
6. Mississippi State
Offense: Mississippi State
Bottom 10 judgment: "Watch the Tapes." Unlike Illinois, Mississippi State still has a good chance to make the NCAA tournament. Unlike Illinois, which was blown out by Ohio State on Tuesday, the Bulldogs showed tons of fight, heart, grit, you name it in a close loss to a dazzlingly good Kentucky team. Unlike Illinois, Mississippi State's coach probably isn't going to get fired after the season. But the Bulldogs have embarked on their own mini-meltdown of late: Before Tuesday's admittedly encouraging performance against UK, MSU was 0-3 in its previous three, with losses to Georgia (at home), LSU (road) and Auburn (road). The LSU loss is forgivable. The other two are not. Together, they've severely damaged this team's once-rock-solid shot at an NCAA tournament bid. This is now a bubble team. Four weeks ago, few would have seen that coming.
"It's not getting better, no it's not getting better, man/It's just getting old/Ah ooh! we do what we're programmed to do/Hey we do what we're told."
Offense: A Texas Tech-esque second half
Bottom 10 judgment: "Dance Yrself Clean" Back to the "Bad Offense." portion of the proceedings, allow the Bottom 10 to present the Maryland Terrapins. Why is Maryland here? Its game against Virginia on Saturday was going just fine in the first half, a hard-fought affair that ended tied at 31-31. That UVa team is pretty tough. That's a good effort, right? Right. The problem, of course, was the second half, in which the Terps scored just 13 points on 5-of-24 shooting (plus 12 turnovers) en route to a 71-44 loss. This particular affliction -- one awful half in an otherwise OK game -- appears to be becoming more widespread.
"Present company accept it present company/Except the worst it happens every night."
8. Georgia Tech
Offense: You guessed it
Bottom 10 judgment: "Tribulations." Georgia Tech isn't of the "one really awful half" variety this week; it's more of the "two pretty bad halves combined into one really bad game" type. On Tuesday night, the Yellow Jackets went 3-of-17 from 3 and 15-of-48 from the field, scoring 37 points in a loss. That's bad, right? Right. What makes it even worse is that it came at home (strike two) against -- wait for it -- the 14-13 Clemson Tigers. Strike three, you're on the Bottom 10! I don't make the rules, folks. I just enforce them.
"Everybody makes mistakes/But I feel alright when I come undone."
Offense: A slightly more specific form of horrendous offense
Bottom 10 judgment: "Great Release" If you subtract all of Bradley's missed 3-pointers from its shooting performance in last week's 62-55 home loss to Drake, the Braves would have gone (not really, but go with it for the sake of the math) 21-of-42 on the evening. That's really good! Unfortunately, Bradley did shoot 20 3s. Most unfortunately, it made zero of them. In doing so, the Braves -- according to ESPN Stats & Info -- became the No. 2-ranked team in the all-important statistic of "most 3-point field goals attempted without a make." Fortunately for Bradley, South Alabama went 0-for-24 at Florida State back on Nov. 20, well before the Bottom 10 was unleashed on an unsuspecting hoops populace. We'll let you off with a warning this time, South Alabama. But don't let it happen again.
"Still in time is the great release/Something dying will be a great release."
10. South Carolina State
Offense: Winless in the MEAC? Winless in the MEAC
Bottom 10 judgment: "Sound of Silver" As you can probably tell from the Bottom 10's thrilled Binghamton intro, we're no fan of picking on the smallest and most helpless of the nation's 345 Division I college hoops teams, a lion's share of which might as well be playing a different game from the Kentuckys and North Carolinas and, heck, even the Georgia Techs of the world. But now and then, we do take the time to highlight a particularly bad low-low-mid-major. This week's selection? South Carolina State. The poor Bulldogs are having an awfully tough time this season: They're 0-13 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, a league that ranks, per KenPom.com, above only the Great West, various combined independents and the SWAC (ah, the SWAC) in all of college hoops. I'm not sure exactly how a team goes 0-13 in that league to date, but it unfortunately has happened for SCSU. The good news? This team has tasted the sweet fruit of recent victory, beating Longwood on Feb. 6. Longwood is not in the MEAC, but hey, a win's a win.
Oh, and, in keeping with occasional Bottom 10 tradition, this entry's song selection and lyrics were chosen not because they have anything to do with South Carolina State or Longwood. Instead, they were chosen because they are awesome:
"Sound of silver talk to me/Makes you want to feel like a teenager/Until you remember the feelings of/A real life emotional teenager/Then you think again."
Eamonn Brennan covers college basketball for ESPN.com.
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