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Caltech ends 26-year, 310-game league losing streak

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Caltech’s no longer a loser.

The Division-III Beavers snapped a 310-game conference losing streak by beating Occidental in their season finale, 46-45. It was easily the longest such streak in college hoops.

Their last Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference victory before Tuesday was Jan. 23, 1985. That’s right, 26 years.

Ryan Elmquist scored the winning point, hitting one of two free throws with three seconds left. Occidental (12-12 overall, 6-7 in conference) missed a shot at the buzzer. As you’d expect, players and fans celebrated by rushing the court.

In 2007, Caltech ended a 207-game NCAA losing streak by beating Bard College of New York. The famed private research university has just 950 undergraduates and doesn’t give out athletic scholarships. But 31 alumni and faculty have won the Nobel Prize.

(For more on Caltech’s sporting woes, check out this December profile from the New York Times.)

“Tonight’s win is a testament to the hard work each member of this team, the alumni and the supporters have put into this program. I hope that everyone who has participated in Caltech men’s basketball is able to celebrate a little bit tonight,” coach Oliver Eslinger said on the school’s web site. “We still have goals and aspirations that we want to accomplish as a program and this win is another step toward meeting these objectives.”

Caltech ended its season 5-20 overall, which was its best record in 15 years. It went 0-15 last season. The last time it had a winning season? 1954.

The hero, Elmquist, finished with 23 points, including 12 of 15 from the free-throw line. According to ESPN, he’ll work at Google as a computer software engineer after the season. And he may have just helped reverse a losing trend at the school.

“We know what it’s like to lose,” Eslinger told ESPN. “There’s the philosophy, ‘Oh, you can learn a lot from losing.’ I don’t want to learn anything more from losing. I want to start winning.”

(Hat tip to College Basketball Nation Blog)

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

COACHES POLL: Villanova is the new No. 1 team in the country

Josh Hart, Jordan Pric
(AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)
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Just as we expected, there is absolutely no consensus when it comes to the No. 1 team in college basketball.

In the new Coaches Poll released today, Villanova slots in as No. 1 overall, but Maryland received the same number of first place votes as the Wildcats and seven teams — seven! — received at least one first place vote, including No. 8 North Carolina and No. 9 Michigan State.

[NEW PODCAST | LATEST BRACKETOLOGY]

The biggest shock to me?

The No. 1 team in the NBC Sports Top 25, Iowa, received just three first place votes and is ranked fifth by the coaches.

I think the coaches need to pay better attention.

Or they hate Fran McCaffery.

One or the other.

Anyway, here’s the full poll:

1. Villanova (20-3, 11 first-place votes)
2. Maryland (21-3, 11)
3. Oklahoma (19-3, 3)
4. Xavier (21-2)
5. Iowa (19-4, 3)
6. Kansas (19-4, 2)
7. Virginia (19-4)
8. North Carolina (19-4, 1)
9. Michigan State (20-4, 1)
10. West Virginia (19-4)
11. Miami (FL) (18-4)
12. Oregon (20-4)
13. Texas A&M (18-5)
14. Arizona (19-5)
15. Iowa State (17-6)
16. Purdue (19-5)
17. Dayton (19-3)
17. Providence (18-6)
19. Baylor (17-6)
20. South Carolina (20-3)
21. Kentucky (17-6)
22. Indiana (19-5)
23. USC (18-5)
24. Wichita State (17-6)
25. Texas (16-7)

DROPPED OUT: No. 18 Louisville, No. 25 Saint Mary’s
NEW ADDITIONS: No. 23 USC, No. 25 Texas

NEW PODCAST: Louisville’s ban and who should be No. 1 in college basketball?

Rick Pitino
(AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
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It may be the day after the Super Bowl, but we still had plenty of stuff to talk about in the college basketball world on Monday.

There’s the question of who in the world should be the No. 1 team in the country. There’s the issue of the top two teams in the country losing to unranked opponents. There’s Oregon, who suddenly looks like they might be the hottest team in all of college basketball.

And that’s before we get into the issue of Louisville’s ridiculous and despicable postseason.

We spent 15 minutes on that before even starting on the games that were played this weekend.

As always, you can listen to the podcast by clicking “play” on the Soundcloud player embedded below. Or you can do so through either iTunes or Stitcher if you so choose. Thanks for listening!