Four o’clock thoughts on Saturday’s action:
Bradley 68, Northern Iowa 59. You had been warned. Northern Iowa hadn’t been playing great basketball lately, muddling through four unimpressive victories before this. Shocking stat from this game was the fact that the Panthers gave up 45 second-half points two a team that made just two 3-pointers all game. That’s the most points UNI has surrendered in a half this season. More shocking stat: This is the first time Bradley beat a ranked team in Carver Arena, which opened in 1982.
Butler did what Butler does, extending a two-point halftime lead to an 11-point victory at Cleveland State. Past three games combined, the Bulldogs have been a plus-one point in the first half and a plus-36 in the second. That’s the sign of a veteran team that knows how to execute when the going gets serious.
With 8:07 left in the game and the Friars down four, Curry was called for a foul off the ball defending ‘Nova star Scotty Reynolds. That was Curry’s fourth personal -- and when official Doug Shows banged him with a technical for reacting to the call, Providence’s second-leading scorer was gone after putting 19 points on the board.
From that point, ‘Nova outscored the Friars 28-21 to the final gun, and cruised with a double-digit lead for most of the final four minutes. The loss cannot be blamed completely on that T -- but for a team with virtually no margin for error on the road against a top-five opponent, losing Curry for the final eight minutes was a huge factor in Providence’s sixth straight defeat.
While admittedly having no idea what Curry might have said or done up to that point during the game, his reaction to that particular call didn’t look like an obvious technical response. It probably explains why Providence coach Keno Davis was so exorcised. Big East officiating has been under scrutiny a few times this season, and this is one more talking point.
Wisconsin’s 28-point mauling of Indiana extends the Hoosiers’ misery. That makes three straight losses by 17 points or more. Tom Crean’s team overachieved for a while after losing Maurice Creek for the season, but the bottom seems to have fallen out since a gutty home loss to Purdue.