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Last season’s most unlikely comebacks includes Duke-UNC

Sep 27, 2012, 5:54 PM EDT

Duke v North Carolina Getty Images

Ken Pomeroy is the best there is when it comes to college hoops stat-nerdiness.

He proved that fact again this week when he put out a list of the most unlikely comebacks during the 2011-2012 season.

You see, Kenpom keeps track of an in-game stat called win probability, which calculates precisely that: the chances that one team will win a game given the score and the time remaining.

It is by no means an exact science, but it’s terrific fodder to break up the monotony of late-September college basketball news.

The post that Kenpom put up on Tuesday takes a look at the 17 games this past season where a team with a less-than 1% chance of winning actually came back and won. One of the games is obvious, and arguably the most famous comeback from last season: when Duke came back from 10 down in the final 2:38 to beat UNC on an Austin Rivers three at the buzzer.

But there is so much more in there to chew on. For example, both matchups between Gardner-Webb and High Point during Big South play resulted in an epic comeback. In January, High Point blew a seven point lead in the final 38 seconds to lose to Gardner-Webb on the road in OT. But just a month later, HPU came back from 10 down in the final 2:48 to tie the game at home and force overtime.

The most improbable win, statistically speaking, last season was Idaho State’s 22 point comeback against Sacramento State. But I’d have to disagree with Kenpom’s formula there simply because a) Sacramento State was on the road and b) Sacramento State isn’t any good.

I’d say that No. 2 on the list, Presbyterian erasing a 15 point deficit at Cincinnati, is the most impressive. Cincinnati was an NCAA tournament team from the Big East. The Blue Hose? They’re just another run of the mill mid-major program. That was one of the biggest upsets of the season regardless of the fact that the Bearcats blew a 15 point lead.

Anyway, go and check out the numbers that Kenpom crunched. You won’t be disappointed.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

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