College basketball’s a volatile market, but it’s time to buy the five teams, players or coaches highlighted here after what they did this weekend.
A vote of confidence here doesn’t mean they can’t struggle later or won’t be replaced even quicker. But before you hit the rest of the week, watch out for these players and teams on the hardwood after how they worked the weekend.
Skylar Diggins, Notre Dame
The junior guard was largely responsible for cleaning house with UConn’s streaks on Saturday. The Irish’s 74-67 win in South Bend was their first over the Huskies at home since 2004, and also ended the Huskies’ 57-game Big East win streak.
Key to it all was Diggins, whose relentless offseason workouts Dime brought you a sneak peek of in the fall. She dropped 22 points, including 16 in the second half and overtime when she scored five straight, then added a three to cut UConn’s lead to one late in regulation. She topped it by grabbing a steal at midcourt that led to the game-tying bucket at the end of regulation for Notre Dame. And don’t forget the hundreds of new Twitter followers her 134,000-plus account gained on Saturday.
Mike Brey, Notre Dame
It was a good day to be a Golden Domer. It’s still uneasy to bet on the Irish after their only star, Tim Abromaitis, was lost for the season with a torn ACL in November, but Saturday showed their coach is working wonders again. We’re not saying the Irish can win it all, but knocking off Rick Pitino’s Cardinals has us buying in the ND futures market. The Irish men knocked off Louisville, 67-64 in two overtimes on the road, adding another nice win after beating Pitt.
They’re an average plus-6.1 in scoring margin, 10th in the Big East, and are 12th with a .437 shooting percentage. They shot worse and were outrebounded by Louisville, but still managed a way to win. It’s not pretty in South Bend, but it’s turning heads because of its effect.
Isaiah Canaan, Murray State
We told you in December the Racers’ point guard was in elite eight company among collegians this season. Saturday’s win over Austin Peay helped solidify it — and hey, it’s not just us. Tweeted Sports Illustrated’s Seth Davis: “Canaan drills a long two at the halftime buzzer. Has 27 points. That may be the best half of basketball I’ve ever seen a college kid play.”
That first half included making seven of his first eight three-point attempts, en route to finishing with 35 points, two rebounds, five dimes and a steal to keep Murray State 16-0.
The Cardinal kept their cool, outlasted an emerging Oregon State team on the road and improved their NCAA Tournament stock all in one on Saturday. Stanford beat the Beavers 103-101 in four overtimes, no small victory for a league projected to receive only two bids to the NCAA Tournament as of last week. Most impressive was that Stanford didn’t give up after a controversial finish when Josh Owens stole a pass underneath Oregon State’s basket and scored as time expired. Or did it? Video review determined the clock ran out just as the ball left his hand.
Before losing at Oregon on Thursday, Stanford’s only losses had been to Syracuse at Madison Square Garden and Butler at home. They had also not allowed more than 70 points. A sweep in Oregon would have pushed down the Cardinal’s NCAA RPI of 81 and halted any tournament talk, but the answer (even if it came very late) leaves hope for the Pac-12’s fragile reputation.
Baylor’s men and women
The stare-off between the Bears’ programs continues in Waco, where the teams are both 15-0 overall and 2-0 in the Big 12 this season. The No. 1 women’s team is still undefeated after beating Iowa State, 57-45, while the men stayed perfect by beating Texas Tech, 73-60. Long past superlative status, the women are continuing their best season ever with Brittney Griner (26 points, six rebounds, two assists, four blocks) and coach Kim Mulkey. Scott Drew’s No. 4 men’s team is the fifth Big 12 team to start 15-0 with thanks to Pierre Jackson’s team-high 19 points, seven assists and three steals. Just win, Baylor.
Honorable mention: Indiana snapping its 16-game Big Ten road losing streak by beating Penn State on Sunday, and Creighton’s Doug McDermott, who came in the nation’s second-leading scorer before dropping a daily high of 44 points in beating Bradley.
Who did we leave out?
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