Oregon's FT Shooting Leads To Road Upset Of Ole Miss This was probably the most interesting game of the day yesterday, with #13 ranked Oregon actually a 2.5 point underdog at Ole Miss. Marshall Henderson was doing Marshall Henderson things, basically just chucking up the ball every time he touched it. He ended up with a career-high 39 points, including 10-for-23 behind the arc. Yes, he attempted 23 three-pointers. Still, it was actually Jarvis Summers who hit the three-pointer in the final seconds to send this game to overtime. In the end, the difference was Oregon's free throw shooting. They've been good all season (75%), but they finished the game hitting a staggering 22-for-24 at the line in the final 40 seconds of regulation and overtime.
Oregon moves to 8-0, but this is their first win over a quality opponent in the United States (they beat Georgetown, if you recall, in South Korea). There are still worries about this Oregon team, such as if their defense will be able to hold up if they ever have a cold game shooting the ball, but for now they certainly look like an NCAA Tournament team.
Ole Miss, on the other hand, is still trying to earn their first quality victory of the season. A home game against Dayton in a few weeks will be their final chance prior to tipping off SEC play. At some point this season, Marshall Henderson is going to go nuts behind the arc and lead the team to a big upset, but without a lot of offensive depth (and without a good defense) it's hard to see them playing well consistently enough to earn an at-large bid.
Maurice Creek's Jumper Beats Maryland Unless you happen to root for George Washington's rival, it's hard to have a player in the country that you want to root for more than Maurice Creek. Once a hot shot freshman carrying Indiana, injuries derailed his career. And after barely playing last season, Tom Crean cut him, forcing him to scramble to George Washington to play his fifth and final season of college basketball. And out of those ashes, he's looking as good as he did as a freshman, and has led George Washington to a really strong season thus far. And it was his step-back jumper that won this game with 0.6 seconds to go. And by the way, with the way Indiana's offense has struggled to hit jumpers (28.8% behind the arc as a team, with only Yogi Ferrell over 35%), they could probably use a guy like Maurice Creek (46.2% behind the arc). Just sayin'...
George Washington is now 8-1 overall, with wins over Maryland and Creighton, and only a loss to Marquette. I don't think they're a Tournament quality team, but right now that's probably a Tournament quality resume. Their toughest remaining non-conference game will be on the road at Kansas State. I don't think they'll win that game, but if they somehow pull it out and avoid any more bad losses, they'll enter Atlantic Ten play in really good shape to make a run at an at-large bid. Who predicted that preseason?
In terms of team quality, Maryland is a bubble quality team. They're 49th in Pomeroy and 53rd in the Sagarin PREDICTOR. But they're only 5-4 with a win over Providence more than outweighed by losses to Oregon State and George Washington. And with no quality opponents but a bunch of feisty these-games-won't-help-you-even-if-you-win games ahead in North Carolina Central, Boston University and Tulsa, Maryland is basically certain to enter ACC play looking up at the Field of 68. They're going to need to get to 10-8 in ACC play to have a realistic shot at an at-large bid. It's possible, but at this point I'd bet against it.
San Diego State Takes Care Of Business Normally, a game like this wouldn't make the Morning News post. But hey, slow day of college basketball. San Diego State was supposed to win this game and they did. Honestly, the story here is Washington having their best performance of the season. The Huskies have disappointed all season, and came into this game having covered the Vegas spread only once, and in the lamest possible fashion (they beat Eastern Washington by 12 when they were favored by 11). But here, as 11.5 point dogs, they nearly stole a big upset. They shot well (8-for-14 behind the arc), and also had their best defensive performance of the season (1.02 PPP allowed).
As for San Diego State, these are the types of games that Tournament teams take care of business in. It wasn't pretty, but they move to 7-1. Even if they fall to Kansas in a few weeks, wins in their cupcake games means that they'll enter Mountain West play in the Field of 68. A 12-6 or better conference record should be enough to keep them there.