Dean's List-Academic Probation is a weekly column that analyzes all of the highlights and lowlights from the previous week's games. The teams, players, conferences, etc. that deserve praise for what they accomplished over the past week make our Dean's List; those deserving ridicule are put on Academic Probation.
Here are this week's honorees:
It’s been four years since the Atlantic-10 sent more than two teams to the NCAA Tournament. That streak may have been erased in a span of five days this past week. Thanks to Brian Roberts’ 28 points, Dayton won at Louisville to pad a resume that already includes road wins over Miami (OH) and Holy Cross. Rhode Island took out two Big East teams – Providence and Syracuse – to improve to 10-1 on the year, and Charlotte beat Davidson and Southern Illinois to move to 6-2. In a down year for some big conferences and some other mid-major leagues, it’s going to be tough to ignore some of the A-10’s resumes come March.
The score may not have been pretty, but Washington State’s 51-47 win at Gonzaga sure looks beautiful on an OOC resume. Before Wednesday, the Zags had never lost at home as a ranked team and hadn’t lost to the Cougars at home since 1985. As is usually the case with Washington State, they won the game with their defense, holing Gonzaga to 26 percent shooting from the floor. Matt Bouldin and Austin Daye were a combined 1-for-20 from the field.
Not only did Wright State remind everyone that they own Butler at home by beating them again on Saturday, they made the idea of two Horizon teams dancing come March that much more of a reality. If the Raiders can duplicate the kind of defense they played against the Bulldogs (Butler scored two points over the last nine minutes in a 43-42 loss), they could no doubt beat them again in the conference tournament and steal a second bid. Wright State’s win also gave some credibility to another solid Horizon team, Valparaiso, who already beat the Raiders on the road this season.
It may not have been A-10 caliber, but the Southland’s week was pretty impressive by their standards. The underrated league picked up three nice wins over bigger conference opponents as Stephen F. Austin won at Oklahoma, unbeaten Sam Houston State won at Saint Louis and unbeaten Texas-Arlington won at Wichita State. With these wins, and others so far, the Southland is looking at a possible 14 seed on Selection Sunday.
Grinnell College 151, North Central University 112
Junior guard David N. Arseneault has made headlines all week for his NCAA-record 34 assist performance in Division III Grinnell’s win Saturday (and deservedly so…congrats, David), but lost all the assist talk was the rest of the ridiculous numbers put up in this game. Here’s the full box score, and here are some of the highlights: Grinnell shot 83 threes in the game (83!!!) and junior John Grotberg shot 38 of them (38!!) and scored 49 points…in 27 minutes!! Unreal…
Also receiving votes: Arizona (huge come-from-behind OT win over Illinois), Bill Walker (the often-overshadowed freshman’s 30-point explosion led Kansas State to a much-needed OOC victory over previously-unbeaten Cal), Drew Lavender (28 points and 10 assists in Xavier’s convincing win over Creighton), Michigan State (two impressive road wins over Bradley and BYU), players named D.J. (Indiana’s White had 29 points and 13 boards in Eric Gordon’s absence Monday, Texas’ Augustin had 29 points and 10 assists in a win over North Texas Tuesday)
North Carolina State
The enigmatic Wolfpack added another head-scratcher to their early-season resume on Saturday by losing (and getting rushed on) at East Carolina 75-69. Before the season started, N.C. State was widely regarded as the third best team in the ACC; now they have the eighth best resume in the conference and are on the brink of falling out of our Field of 65.
Give the feisty Wildcats credit – they were the better team for the first half against UCLA in the wooden Classic on Saturday. Unfortunately, rules require that teams play a second half, and that’s when Davidson let a golden opportunity for a ginormous upset slip away. Led by Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Kevin Love, the Bruins erased an 18-point first half deficit and pulled away late for a 75-63 victory.
Davidson’s collapse, bad as it was, paled in comparison to LSU’s meltdown. After building a 21-point lead with eight minutes to play against Villanova on the road Thursday, the Tigers – somehow – couldn’t put the game away and lost on a Donte Cunningham bucket with five seconds left. LSU had no answer for ‘Nova’s Malcolm Grant down the stretch, as he scored 13 points in the final three minutes to fuel the Wildcats’ improbable comeback.
Brandon Rush’s memory
If anyone’s looking for last-minute gift ideas for Rush, a 2008 daily planner would be a nice addition to his gym bag. The junior forward was arrested this week after (oops!) forgetting to show up for a court appearance on traffic charges (he was later released on $500 bail). Rush was originally supposed to be in court November 28 on charges of speeding and driving with a suspended license; he also faces charges from a December 2006 case for driving on the wrong side of the road and having no proof of insurance.
The Mountain West had plenty of chances to establish itself as a two-bid league last week, but none of its teams were able to step up to the challenge and join MWC favorite BYU in the bracket. San Diego State, which had been playing very well coming into the week, lost at home to St. Mary’s, Utah lost at Oregon, and New Mexico lost to struggling New Mexico State.
Also receiving votes: The referee crew for the Pittsburgh-Washington game (it took waaaay too long to make a ruling on Justin Dentmon’s apparent game-winning bucket), Jim Calhoun (he got tossed after getting two technicals in UConn’s 69-60 sluggish W over Northeastern), Southern Illinois (three straight Ls after falling to Charlotte on Saturday), Providence (a two loss week, including a home defeat to South Carolina, knocked them out of our Field of 65 after a one-week cameo)