GameChangers (02/17/14)

By John Ewing
GameChangers, a look at plays that impacted the outcomes of NCAA college basketball games. If you have a suggestion for a GameChanger please direct all ideas via twitter to @johnewing.


 
To highlight the Live ScoreCaster, we will take our in-game technology, Live ScoreCaster, to the next level to review the game-changing plays from college basketball and what the game would have looked like if the plays had turned out differently. 
 
Click the links for each game to see the Live ScoreCaster charts as well as more analysis in the new Game Breakdown section.

Note: Rankings are per the AP Poll when the game was played. We do not condone the approach the AP Polls take to rank teams as either an appropriate way to evaluate the best or most deserving teams in the country (we use them here to represent a familiar take on the public's expectations for each team), therefore we have our own Power Rankings that more accurately reflect the landscape of college basketball. 
 
No. 2 Arizona vs. Arizona State
 
Arizona State knocked off No. 2 Arizona in double overtime Friday night; it was the Sun Devils first win against a top 5 team since 1998. The tightly contested game wasn’t decided until the final moments of the second overtime when Arizona State’s Jordan Bachynski blocked T.J. McConnell’s drive and it lead to a run-out dunk for the Sun Devils. That sequence of events made Arizona State 73.5% likely to win leading 69-66.
 
Had McConnell’s shot not been blocked, instead the floater finds the basketball and Arizona takes a 68-67 lead, the Wildcats become 50.1% likely to escape with the win.
 
No. 1 Syracuse vs. NC State
 
The Orange needed a key steal and a fast break layup to survive NC State and keep their perfect season alive. The turnover and the quick score by Syracuse gave the Orange a 56-55 lead with 0:07 left in the 2nd, making Syracuse 67% likely to win.
 
Had the Wolfpack not committed the turnover, Syracuse most likely would have fouled giving NC State a chance to extend the lead with free throws. Two successful free throws would have given the Wolfpack a 57-54 lead and made NC State 64% likely to win.
 
With the win, Syracuse has a 5.6% chance of finishing the season undefeated. The Orange’s two wins this week (Pitt and NC State) only increased their undefeated odds from 2.6% to 5.6%.
 
No. 9 Michigan State vs. Nebraska
 
Nebraska snapped a 25-game road losing streak vs. top-10 teams Sunday with their surprising (they were 14 point underdogs) 60-51 win over Michigan State. The Cornhuskers survived a late second half charge by the Spartans. Leading 51-49 with 2:31 left to play, Nebraska hit a heart breaking three pointer as the shot clock was expiring. The three point jumper extended the Cornhuskers’ lead to 54-49 and made Nebraska 77% likely to win.
 
Had Nebraska missed the three pointer and Michigan State tied the game at 51-51 on the ensuing possession, the Spartans would have become 54% likely to win and avoid the upset.