This college basketball season has gone batty -- and we’re talking about more than the debate over who is No. 1. Marquette’s 81-71 victory over Providence on Saturday was delayed several times by a dive-bombing bat. This was at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, the same arena where the Golden Eagles and Connecticut began an overtime earlier this season facing the wrong directions on the court. And with all the insanity in the Big East, Marquette suddenly is in second place in the conference standings at 5-1, right behind Syracuse at 6-1.
Here are some observations from the past weekend.
Why not Oladipo?
The question has to be asked: How can a player on a top-10 team put together a stat line of 21 points, seven rebounds, six steals and three blocks -- against the then-No. 13 team in the nation -- and not be on the list of candidates for national player of the year? We are talking about Indiana guard Victor Oladipo, who led then-No. 7 Indiana to a 75-70 victory over Michigan State in Bloomington on Sunday.
“There are still things I need to improve on, even today,” Oladipo told The Associated Press.
Other than an improved publicity campaign, what can Oladipo do better? Opposing coaches are making bold statements about his defensive ability and Indiana coach Tom Crean can’t stop talking about his daily improvement. Oladipo is averaging 13.9 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.5 steals, 2.4 assists, 0.8 blocks, shooting 66 percent from the field and 54.8 percent from 3-point range.
His teammate, Cody Zeller, was fourth in the POY straw poll conducted by Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com last week. Nothing against Zeller’s game, because he is a major force for the Hoosiers, but that ranking is largely a result of magazine covers. When Rothstein breaks the voting down by regions, Zeller gets just one third-place vote in the Midwest, which includes Indiana. Next straw poll, it will be interesting to see how voters deal with Oladipo.
Hurricane warnings intensify
Miami got the nation’s attention with those high winds and the blowout of No. 1 Duke last week. But if you thought this basketball storm was going to lower in its intensity and drift out to sea, think again.
The best way to follow up a rout is with another rout. Florida State might be one of the most disappointing teams in the country this season, but the Seminoles remain an in-state rival for Miami. There was no letdown Sunday when the Hurricanes welcomed FSU to Coral Gables. Miami won its seventh straight game and improved to 6-0 in the ACC with a 71-47 victory over the Seminoles.
“They could do great things this year,” Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton told reporters after the win that improved Miami’s record to 15-3.
Miami is physical and strong with big bodies and good guards. The Hurricanes held FSU to 31 percent shooting and coach Jim Larranaga was happy with his team’s 19 assists. Larranaga will likely smile when he sees the Hurricanes move up in these week’s polls.
Streets of Philadelphia
What a week for the City of Brotherly Love, where college basketball is so important. With most of the Big Five off to a sluggish start this season, the rest of the country may have forgotten. But Villanova and LaSalle changed all that last week with not two, not three, but four victories over ranked teams.
It started with Villanova upsetting then-No. 5 Louisville and LaSalle knocking off then-No. 9 Butler during the week. They both followed up on Saturday, with Villanova defeating then-No. 3 Syracuse and LaSalle winning at then-No. 19 VCU. In the name of Tom Gola, what was that all about?
Ramon Galloway scored 31 points as the Explorers beat VCU 69-61. Coming off that dramatic one-point victory over Butler on Wednesday, it meant LaSalle had defeated back-to-back ranked teams for the first time since the 1952 NIT tournament. And suddenly the Explorers have 14 wins and are 4-2 in the Atlantic 10.
Check out Ken Davis' latest college basketball power rankings at FOXSports.com.
“You know nothing about our program and our players if you think we’re surprised about winning against a good team,” LaSalle coach John Giannini said after the VCU game. “We don’t care what anyone says or writes. We don’t read articles.”
Back on Nov. 25, LaSalle defeated Villanova 77-74 in overtime, snapping a 10-game losing streak to the Wildcats. That loss dropped Villanova to 3-3 and prior to last week, the Wildcats had lost three in row to Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Providence. But Wildcat fans have stormed the floor the past two games and Jay Wright’s young team has improved to 13-7 and 4-3 in the Big East.
“It takes time to build a team,” Wright said. “That’s what we’re doing here. We’re building a team.”
The other Arizona team
Arizona State beat UCLA 78-60 on Saturday. Did that result cross your radar screen? The Sun Devils are 16-4 overall and 5-2 in the Pac-12 after their domination of the Bruins in the paint in Tempe.
UCLA was coming off that upset of then-No. 6 Arizona but, more important, the Sun Devils completed a sweep of the Los Angeles schools to join the contenders in the Pac-12 race. Oregon sits at the top at 7-0. UCLA fell to 6-2 and now Arizona State is tied with Arizona at 5-2.
Jahii Carson has been a big-time spark for Arizona State this season.
The Sun Devils lost at Oregon 68-65 on Jan. 13 and don’t have another game with the Ducks. Jordan Bachynski and Carrick Felix combined for 45 points and 26 rebounds against UCLA. Freshman guard Jahii Carson is averaging 17.3 points and 5.5 assists for the Sun Devils.
A lot of people thought coach Herb Sendek was on the hot seat this season, but maybe not. Mark March 9 on the calendar. That’s when the regular season ends with Arizona State at Arizona.
This may be more historic than important, but Northern Illinois scored just four points in the first half of a 42-25 loss to Eastern Michigan on Saturday. That’s a NCAA Division-I record for fewest points in a first half.
Sadly, the Huskies broke their own record of five points scored in the first half against Dayton on Dec. 1 of this season.
The record-breaking effort didn’t end there. The Huskies set the record for lowest field goal percentage in a half during the shot clock era (3.2 percent) and lowest field goal percentage in a game (13.1 percent). Northern Illinois was 8-for-61 from the field and 1-for-33 on 3-pointers. After taking a 2-0 lead, the Huskies missed their next 29 shots.
“Our guys played hard,” NIU coach Mark Montgomery told AP. “Unfortunately, we just couldn’t make a shot.”
The Huskies (4-14, 2-4 MAC) were coming off a 74-61 victory over Central Michigan, a game in which they shot 48.8 percent (21 of 43) and made 10 of 19 3-pointers (52.6 percent). But they do rank 347th in the nation in field goal percentage (35.6).