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Matt Vautour: College basketball weekend one of the best ever

There’s no way to quantify it, but this past weekend has to go down as one of, if not the best, regular-season weekends in college basketball history.

In a week where 14 of The Associated Press’ Top 25 teams all lost, Saturday and Sunday produced some classic games both in their length and their drama.

Consider some of the highlights:

e_STnSNotre Dame and Louisville played five overtimes in South Bend, Ind. The leading scorer in overtime, Notre Dame’s Garrick Sherman, not only hadn’t played in the game before OT, but hadn’t appeared in either of the Irish’s previous two games. But he scored 17 points to push ND past the Cardinals 104-101.

e_STnSWith Indiana and Florida losing earlier in the week, all No. 3 Michigan needed to return to No. 1 was to prevent Wisconsin from hitting a half-court buzzer-beater. But Ben Brust’s shot when he crossed half court wasn’t some lucky heave. The junior had great form, got a great look and swished it, opening the door for the Badgers to win in overtime.

“It was awesome, something I’ll remember forever, and I’m sure a lot of people will,” Brust told the AP.

e_STnSScott Wood hit a 3-pointer with one second left to give N.C. State a 58-57 win over Clemson. If he missed that shot, the Wolfpack continue to reel. But he made it and all of a sudden they have momentum again.

e_STnSTemple wiped out a 10-point deficit in the last five minutes and survived three missed free throws by Dayton with two seconds left to pull out a huge 72-71 win at home that gives the Owls’ NCAA tournament chances a huge boost.

e_STnSBoston College led visiting Duke 61-56 with 47 seconds left, but the Blue Devils scored the last six points and Olivier Hanlan missed a jumper with seven seconds left allowing Duke to escape with a 62-61 win at Conte Forum.

e_STnSBo Barnes’ 3-pointer with five seconds left allowed Stanford to escape Arizona State 62-59.

e_STnSLSU missed three 3-pointers in the final minute to lose 60-57 to Alabama.

e_STnSIndiana State, which is now in at-large consideration, trailed most of the game and survived a last second jump shot to beat Southern Illinois 66-65.

e_STnSTulane’s Ricky Tarrant had a three-point play with two seconds left to beat Houston 88-85

e_STnSBucknell, a fringe bubble team (RPI 59) if it doesn’t win the Patriot League, survived three missed jumpers by Army in the final minute to survive 60-58.

MY TOP 10 — 1. Miami, 2. Duke, 3. Gonzaga, 4 . Indiana, 5. Michigan, 6. Syracuse, 7. Florida, 8. Michigan State, 9. Kansas State, 10. Arizona.

I’m one of the 17 voters to rank Miami No. 1. The third-ranked Hurricanes have yet to lose with their full roster intact and they are running away with the ACC.

For the rest of my Top 25 visit the College Hoop Week Guide at GazetteNET.com/Blogs/UMassSports/.

GAME OF THE WEEK: Syracuse at Connecticut, Wednesday, 7 p.m. ESPN — Saturday’s five overtime game between Notre Dame and Louisville brought back memories of the six overtime Big East tournament game between the Huskies and Orange in 2009. That was the best game between these two Big East rivals. Sadly this is the last one.

ATLANTIC 10 GAME OF THE WEEK: Temple at UMass, Saturday, 6 p.m. CBS Sports Network — This rivalry helped raise the Atlantic 10’s profile in the 1990s. With the Owls headed to the Big East next year, Saturday is the last regular season conference game between the two teams.

TOUGHEST WEEK: Wisconsin — The Badgers (17-7) are the best seven-loss team in the country. With games Thursday at Minnesota and Sunday vs. Ohio State, they could be the best nine-loss team in the country pretty easily.

NEW NICKNAME PLEASE: New Hampshire — Yet another school that couldn’t come up with something better than Wildcats, which was chosen in a 1926 student vote edging out Bulls (for Durham Bulls) and Unicorns.

I was trying to come up with something election related, but nothing good came to mind.

An animal or mascot does make sense for UNH given the state’s considerable woodland wildlife. There’s an abundance of good choices from the Lynx to Porcupine to Gray Wolves to the hairy-tailed mole (which would never happen).

I’m recommending Night Herons, which is a strong bird of prey, indigenous and shares N.H. initials with New Hampshire.

ON THE ROAD TO — Students rushing the court after any decent win. It’s getting pretty close to that now.

Information from personal interviews, newspaper articles and sports information releases was used in this report.

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Follow UMass coverage on Twitter at twitter.com/GazetteUMass. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage.

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