The reports of college basketball's death have been greatly exaggerated. Actually, they've just been completely f---ing wrong.
Overtime games everywhere you look, a buzzer-beater every time you glance at the television, the No. 1 team in the country going down again, a kid from South Dakota dropping 53; if can't find a five-hour period like that enjoyable, then your opinions on pretty much anything shouldn't be taken seriously.
This is what we're talking about.
Top 25 Scores
Illinois 74, Indiana 72
Once again it all starts at the top, as a late collapse resulted in the No. 1 team going down for a fifth-consecutive week. The Hoosiers have become a better defensive team than I think a lot of people thought was possible, but that glaring weakness so many folks wrote about before the season reared its ugly head once again in the this game's final 0.9 seconds.
I came into the night thinking that an upset was very possible (the Illini were basically playing for their season), and then felt foolish about having that notion from about the five-minute mark of the first half on. Indiana dominated this game for an hour and 45 minutes, so much so that more than a few media folks on Twitter were bandying about the idea that the Hoosiers were becoming the only "great" team in college basketball.
Let this be a lesson: No team in college basketball is great, no team in college basketball is awful. Every team in college basketball just is.
No squad better embodies the 2012-13 season than Illinois, which now owns wins over No. 1 Indiana, No. 6 Gonzaga (on the road) and No. 10 Ohio State...and is just 3-7 in the Big Ten. I don't know how you even begin to approach that if you're a member of the NCAA Tournament selection committee. My initial inclination would be to just chuck them in an 8/9 death game and hope that no one notices.
Also, I think these two tweets perfectly sum up the last two nights:
ADLFJADL;FKAJD;LGKAHDG;LKAFJL;ADKFJAKL;DFJ— TheChampaignRoom.com (@Champaign_Room) February 8, 2013
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA— Frogs O' War (@FrogsOWar) February 7, 2013
Sometimes words fail.
Mason Plumlee reminded folks why he's spent a significant chunk of this season as the national player of the year favorite by dominating the Pack in the paint to the tune of 30 points and nine boards.
North Carolina State hit 19-of-24 shots over the first 19 minutes of the second half for an incredible 79.2 percent from the field, and still couldn't get any closer than eight points. That's because Duke had given a similar performance over the first 20 minutes, a half in which the Blue Devils scored 58 points on 9-of-14 shooting from inside the arc and 10-of-17 from beyond it.
Though this game should have been defined by the tremendous offensive performances by both teams (Lord knows college basketball could use the pub), it was a second half cheer from the Cameron Crazies that wound up being all anyone could talk about.
Thanks to the magic of Twitter, word quickly spread Thursday night that the Duke student section had chanted "how's your grandma" at NC State guard Tyler Lewis while he shot free-throws during the second half. Lewis' grandmother died last week. Blue Devil fans quickly responded by saying that chant in question was actually "past your bedtime."
Decide for yourself:
Related end note: It's crazy that Duke fans are begging for folks to believe that the chant was "past your bedtime," since that's one of the lamest and least creative cheers I can think of. Free your minds, Crazies. Let the inspiration flow.
No. 6 Gonzaga 82, Pepperdine 56
Pepperdine finished with more turnovers (20) than made field goals (17).
We're done here.
Colorado 48, No. 19 Oregon 47
Oregon wilted down the stretch and saw both its losing streak extended to three games and its 20-game home winning streak snapped. Anthony Roberson - who would be a serious contender for the Most Consistently Solid Player of the Year award if it existed - scored the game-winner on a put-back with 29 seconds left and finished with 10 points and 13 rebounds. The Buffs, who improved to 5-5 in Pac-12 play, scored the final eight points of the game after falling behind 47-40 with 4:26 to play.
Texas A&M 70, No. 21 Missouri 68
It's now February 8, and Missouri still hasn't won a true road game.
The most disappointing part about this loss for Missouri is that its best player was the main culprit. Phil Pressey committed seven turnovers, including an unforced chuck into the stands during the final minute, and also forced an ill-advised bomb on the Tigers' final possession.
Mizzou still has five chances left to win on the road: Mississippi State, Arkansas, Kentucky, South Carolina and Tennessee. Surely to God they can't spit the bit in all five of those games. If they do pull the oh-fer, then this won't be a tournament team.
Other Scores Of Note
Appalachian State 91, Georgia Southern 86 (OT)
Overtime game No. 1.
Virginia 78, Clemson 41
Virginia played without freshman center Mike Tobey and still recorded its most lopsided ACC win since 1983. The victory also extended the Cavaliers' home winning streak to 13 games, the longest in the history of John Paul Jones Arena. Clemson scored 10 points in the first half.
Old Dominion 78, Drexel 66
Playing in its first game since firing head coach Blaine Taylor, ODU (3-20, 1-10) notched its first CAA victory by knocking off preseason conference favorite Drexel by 12 points. Because of course they did. A tip of the cap to interim head coach Jim Corrigan on the big win.
Mercer 67, Jacksonville 64 (OT)
Overtime game No. 2.
Hampton 71, Savannah State 68 (OT)
Overtime game No. 3.
Oakland 66, North Dakota State 63
Oakland coach Greg Kampe "officially" notched his 500th career victory as the Golden Grizzlies outlasted North Dakota State. According to Oakland's records, Kampe hit 500 wins on back on Jan. 26, but the NCAA did not recognize two forfeit victories in their official count. Kampe has led the Grizz to a top three finish in the Summit League in each of the past six seasons.
South Dakota State 80, IPFW 74
Media darling Nate Wolters became the first Division-I player to breach the 50-point mark this season by dropping a school-record 53 points on IPFW. Wolters scored 38 points in the second half, drilled nine treys (another school record) and finished 17-of-28 from the field.
"What happened tonight is the result of a lot of time in the gym for Nate, and sometimes kids get in a zone, they feel it, and it doesn't matter what they do, you can't stop them," South Dakota State coach Scott Nagy said. "That was the case tonight, and Nate knew it, the players knew it, I knew it."
Nater's gonna Nate.
Murray State 79, Belmont 74
The OVC game that everyone had circled since the beginning of the season lived up to the hype. Belmont mounted a furious comeback to erase a 16-point deficit and tie the game at 74 in the final minute, but a cold-blooded triple from preseason All-American Isaiah Canaan handed the Bruins their first conference loss. Canaan finished with a game-high 26 points.
While the game was good in terms of making the second showdown between these two in March must-see (or at least must-occasionally check score) TV, it really hurt the OVC's shot of being a two-bid league.
Tennessee State 88, Austin Peay 82 (OT)
Overtime game No. 4.
Marist 105, Iona 104 (2OT)
And then there's this:
The craziness didn't end there, as a MoMo Jones three with five seconds to go in double overtime appeared to tie the score at 105 before the officials met and determined the shot was actually a two. Despite Jones' 37 points, the Red Foxes hung on to pull the big upset in the MAAC.
Arizona State 66, California 62
The Sun Devils (18-5, 7-3) are looking more and more like a tournament team. Although there's no way I'm taking any team that lost at home to DePaul by 17 past the round of 64.
Wright State 70, Green Bay 68 (2OT)
Overtime game No. 6.
UCLA 59, Washington 57
Until the final minute, this game was notable only for Bill Walton's two-hour PSA on why Ben Howland should not be the head basketball coach at UCLA. Then Washington's C.J. Wilcox tied the game on a lay-up with 10 seconds left, setting the stage for Larry Drew II (my basketball name is Mike Rutherford I) to do this:
This would have been a disastrous third straight loss for the Bruins. The 700 UCLA diehards in attendance would have been moderately disappointed.
Southern Utah 81, Idaho State 79 (OT)
Overtime game No. 7.
Maryland 60, Virginia Tech 55
More important than getting back to .500 in ACC play was the fact that the Terps finally closed out a game that was in doubt in the final minutes.
San Diego 74, BYU 68
There's no longer any doubt about it: BYU will have to win the WCC tournament in order to go dancing.
McNeese State 59, Sam Houston State 58 (OT)
Overtime game No. 8.
There is nothing wrong with this sport.