Prosperity is not easy to handle or sustain at every level of sports. Even in professional leagues, one regularly sees teams that win a big game or several games in a row then come crashing down to earth at the times many don’t expect it.
The college basketball season-and conference schedule in particular-is a grind, and it’s not a given that teams will always defeat opponents that they have already proven they can consistently beat. It’s not just the big games a team wins; it’s how they play in the games immediately after, as well as in games throughout the season that they aren’t expected to lose. In that regard, Saturday was not a good day for a few teams who have had some big moments this year:
Providence played its way into the top 10 this year with a win over Arizona, a competitive loss to Michigan State plus a win at Butler early in the season. The Friars have leaked a little oil of late, though, with a pair of disappointing home losses, the most recent coming Saturday against Seton Hall, 81-72. The Pirates pounded the boards for a 50-36 advantage and Kris Dunn fouled out with over three minutes left. The Friars are showing again that, even with two players as good as Dunn and Ben Bentil, it takes more than two players to maintain a top 10 ranking.
BYU won at Gonzaga on Thursday for a true signature road win and also making an all-but-formal announcement that the West Coast Conference this year is open for the taking. The Cougars still had to finish the second leg of their Northwest trip on Saturday, though, and lost to 9-11 Portland 87-82. Brigham Young shot just 38%
St. Bonaventure has generated buzz in the Atlantic 10 and even a few murmurs on a national basis with a 12-3 start that included a 4-0 mark in conference play. The Bonnies have a showdown in Olean, N.Y., against Dayton on Tuesday, but first had to take care of business on the road at Duquesne. St. Bona already had league wins at Massachusetts and George Mason but couldn’t add another, losing to the Dukes 95-88 as Duquesne owned the glass (49-34) and scored 59 second half points.
Northwestern has rolled up a gaudy record mostly against a light non-conference and middling Big Ten schedule. Nevertheless, even on the road the Wildcats have regularly beaten teams like Penn State this year, but couldn’t do so Saturday in a 71-62 loss at home. Northwestern shot just 3 of 26 from three-point range, and the loss is not a good lead-in for a four-game stretch now that includes games at Maryland, Indiana and Iowa plus a home date with Michigan State.
Texas-Arlington was one of the darlings of the early season with wins at Ohio State and Memphis and a near-miss in overtime at Texas. The Mavericks have continued to roll, winning eight straight since losing to the Longhorns, but road play in the Sun Belt Conference came to bite them in an 88-85 overtime loss at South Alabama. At first glance, chalk it up to every road game being dangerous, but this one will hurt; the Mavericks led by nine with just over three minutes left in regulation.
Florida International scored one of its bigger wins in recent years on Thursday, defeating Conference USA power Louisiana Tech by 14. The Panthers are a team we’ve been high on as one capable of making some noise in C-USA, but they did not respond well after beating La Tech, falling at home to Southern Mississippi 66-60 after going cold in the second half, shooting 27.3%.
- Phil Kasiecki will have his recap of the day with his Saturday Notes here.
- Among the great individual showings of the day: Davidson’s Jack Gibbs did it again, pouring in 43 points and adding eight rebounds and eight assists in the Wildcats’ 86-74 win over Massachusetts. Gibbs now has three games over 40 this year and a total of six over 30. Also: Wyoming guard Josh Adams has been on fire all year, and he did his best to win a game by himself with 38 of the Cowboys’ 70 points in in their 70-68 win over New Mexico. Max Landis of Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne scored a career-best 37 in the Mastodons’ 106-101 overtime win over Nebraska-Omaha. Utah State’s Chris Smith had 35 points and 13 rebounds in the Aggies’ 96-92 win over Colorado State. Joshua Braun racked up 34 points for Grand Canyon as the Antelopes improved to 16-2 with a 99-88 win over Utah Valley.
- Tough news for the College of Charleston, as junior guard Canyon Barry will miss the rest of the season after having surgery on a shoulder injury on his non-shooting arm. Barry was having a terrific season, averaging 19.7 points and 3.4 rebounds per game for the Cougars, who have had a nice bounceback year. Without Barry, Charleston (10-7 overall) lost a 12-point second half lead to Elon, falling 65-64 at home.
- Penn State guard Josh Reaves missed his team’s win at Northwestern as he was out for his second straight game with mononucleosis. The 6-4 freshman is averaging 6.4 points and 3.9 rebounds and ranks second for the Nittany Lions in assists, steals and blocks.
- The fallout came soon from the skirmish between Monmouth and Iona after their game Friday night. Iona forward Jordan Washington has been suspended for two games for his role in the altercation when he slapped the Hawks’ Chris Brady in the face. Washington will miss the Gaels’ game Sunday at Rider as well as a game Friday against St. Peter’s, and his loss is not insignificant as he is second on the team averaging 15.8 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.
- Iowa has earned a spot as a team to watch. The Hawkeyes are back home after drilling Michigan State and host Michigan (4:30 p.m. EST, BTN). Also in the Big Ten, Michigan State is at Wisconsin (1:30 p.m., CBS), which has had many close shaves but has struggled to finish those games of late.
- Virginia has another tricky road game as it travels to Florida State (6:30 p.m., ESPNU).
- SMU aims to keep its record spotless when it travels to Tulane. Also in the AAC, Connecticut already lost at Tulsa in its trip to the Southwest; now it tries to avoid a second straight loss when it takes on Houston on the road. (2 p.m., CBSSN)
- A rare chance to see vastly improved Southern Illinois on national TV as the Salukis hit the road to face Drake (4 p.m., ESPNU).
- Finally, the latest Pac-12 wars have the Oregon schools making the Rocky Mountains trip, with Oregon at Colorado and Oregon State at Utah (8:30 p.m., ESPNU).
Have a good Sunday.