Northwestern Wins: A College Hoops Blog

An ode to Verne Lundquist’s calls and everything college basketball

Archive for November, 2008

Top Ten Games Of The Week (12/1-12/7)

Posted by Zach on November 30, 2008

While the non-conference tournaments are complete, take a long look at this week’s slate of games and you won’t be disappointed. I doubt I’ll have a harder time picking out the best ten out of these the entire month of December.

1. #4 Duke at #9 Purdue– Tuesday (ESPNHD)- The premiere game of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge was supposed to be the battle at Ford Field between North Carolina and Michigan State. I give a slight edge to undefeated and #7 Duke heading to West Lafayette to face Purdue in front of a surely raucous crowd pumped for the biggest basketball game for the Boilermakers in years. No longer the Baby Boilers (still young though), Purdue fell to Oklahoma in OT in the Preseason NIT final for their only loss, led by the sharpshooting E’Twaun Moore, do-everything sophomore Robbie Hummel and defensive stalwart Chris Kramer. This will be the first true road test for Duke, who will certainly need a big performance from junior Gerald Henderson and point guard Nolan Smith. These two teams could be #1 and #2 for the 2009-10 season. Not a bad game for this season, either. Prediction: Purdue 70, Duke 69

2. #1 North Carolina at #13 Michigan State
– Wednesday (ESPNHD)- Rumblings suggest this game could hold the largest regular season crowd in college basketball history. And why not? Most pundits pointed to this game as the one stumbling block for the seemingly unstoppable Tar Heels. Those notions have been put to bed by three things: 1) Goran Suton may be out with a knee injury, 2) North Carolina straight up dominating Maui in epic fashion, 3) Michigan State slipping in the first round of the Old Spice to bubble-bound Maryland. But this is college basketball, and in front of tens of thousands at Ford Field, Tom Izzo and the Spartans could come out firing behind Raymar Morgan and Kalin Lucas. Prediction: North Carolina 88, Michigan State 75

3. #12 UCLA at #8 Texas
– Thursday (ESPNHD)- These two teams are likely barely separated in the rankings now that Texas lost, but if UCLA should march into Austin and take down the Longhorns, that would be considered a pretty big upset following the Bruins stinker against Michigan just two weeks ago. Texas impressed me at Maui- they lost to a very strong Notre Dame team by 1- with their size, athleticism and clear improvement on defense. A.J. Abrams and/or Damion James can have monstrous games at any time and Justin Mason has turned into the best passer on the Texas team. Darren Collison, Josh Shipp and the veterans of the UCLA squad will have to be the ones to lead the Bruins in a difficult environment. Prediction: Texas 73, UCLA 66

4. Wisconsin at #25 Marquette- Saturday (ESPNU)- How this always entertaining rivalry game isn’t on ESPN confuses the hell out of me. Both of these teams and their fans have a general disdain for each other. Don’t count out the Badgers just because the game is in Milwaukee, either. Road teams have won the last two games of this contest, with the Golden Eagles scratching out a rare victory in Kohl Center last season. It’s also a battle of contrasting styles: Dom James, Jerel McNeal and fast-paced Marquette will try to keep the tempo high against sluggish-but-always-efficient Wisconsin and Marcus Landry. I know I’m going to regret picking against Wisconsin, but Marquette should be fired up this week after losing to Dayton. Prediction: Marquette 70, Wisconsin 67

5. USC @ #6 Oklahoma
– Thursday (ESPNHD)- These were my two sleeper Final Four contenders before the season. Fair to say, at least thus far, I whiffed on USC and hit a grand slam on Oklahoma. If anyone can contain Blake Griffin individually (usually takes a team effort- ask Purdue), it could be Taj Gibson in the paint. Which means Oklahoma’s secondary pieces must contribute to the winning cause once again, players like Taylor Griffin, Cade Davis and Austin Johnson. This would be an excellent bounce back win for the Trojans following the disaster in Puerto Rico. Will this finally be DeMar DeRozan’s breakout party? Plenty of storylines in this one that I’m excited to see how it plays out. Prediction: Oklahoma 77, Southern Cal 72

6. #21 Miami (FL) @ Kentucky
– Saturday (ESPNHD)- Is Kentucky getting back on track like they did after the Gardner Webb loss last season? Remember, the SEC isn’t exactly loaded with NCAA-caliber teams at this point (Tennessee must be licking their chops). They’ll look to defend their home turf against a very underrated Miami team led by Jack McClinton, who is due for a huge performance, and solid secondary pieces like Dwayne Collins and Brian Asbury. Kentucky is receiving improved point guard outings from Michael Porter and DeAndre Liggins (when he decides to play…I would suspend him for that). Winning the Las Vegas Invitational was huge for Billy Gillispie. This win would be even bigger. Prediction: Miami 69, Kentucky 68

7. #4 Duke @ Michigan
– Saturday (ESPNHD)- This is Duke’s second game in five days going on the road to face a Big Ten opponent in their building. If they should escape Purdue with a victory, Coach K would be wise to not overlook a Michigan team that is beginning to click (look at me giving Coach K advice). They dodged the always-horrid Savannah State on Saturday in a shocker, so maybe Michigan is falling back to earth sooner than expected? Regardless, Duke pretty much dismantled the Wolverines in the final of Coaches vs. Cancer, and even though this game is in Ann Arbor, I expect more of the same. Although there’s epic upset potential here. Prediction: Duke 75, Michigan 65

8. Clemson @ Illinois
– Tuesday (ESPN2HD)- Quietly this game has become one of the top pairings in the ACC-Big Ten challenge this season. Clemson is 7-0 and have beaten teams like Charlotte, TCU and Temple behind double-double machine Trevor Booker and three-point threat Terrence Oglesby, while Illinois is 6-0 with wins at Vanderbilt, Kent State and Tulsa behind Mike Davis and Demetri McCamey. So it’s not like these teams have been beating up on total cupcakes, although they both lack a real quality win. Here marks the first opportunity. The game being played in Champagne is a big advantage for the Illini in my mind. Prediction: Illinois 68, Clemson 66

9. #23 Florida @ Florida State
– Sunday (FSN)- The debut of Sunday night FSN games (the return of Tim Brando!) is an interstate rivalry game that was settled on the football field just yesterday. These two talented teams will do battle on the hardwood in a difficult one for Billy Donovan and his Gators. We can look at the Seminoles in two ways: 1) they struggled badly with Jacksonville, La Salle and Stetson at home and their 7-0 record is deceiving or 2) they toppled two quality opponents- Cincinnati and California- in Las Vegas over the weekend and could be a sleeper in the ACC. We’ll find out a lot more about Florida State after this game, surely. Prediction: Florida 77, Florida State 70

10. #24 Baylor @ Washington State– Saturday (FSN)- I think this game is hugely underrated. In fact, I can’t wait to see how the run-and-gun Baylor Bears, who have certainly impressed followers with their performance in Anaheim over the weekend, match up with Tony Bennett and, well, let’s just say Washington State doesn’t run the same offense. This could prove a VERY difficult road game for Baylor, not only because it’s in Pullman, but the Wazzu defense is always a difficult one to figure out and could confuse the Bears. I expect the talent of Baylor to prove victorious in a nail biter. Prediction: Baylor 65, Washington State 62

Other Games To Watch

  • Wisconsin @ Virginia Tech (Monday)
  • Ohio State @ Miami (FL) (Tuesday)
  • Michigan @ Maryland (Wednesday)
  • Oklahoma State @ Washington (Thursday)
  • Arizona @ Texas A&M (Friday)
  • NC State vs. Davidson (Saturday)
  • UAB @ Cincinnati (Saturday)
  • Rhode Island @ Providence (Saturday)
  • Ohio State vs. #7 Notre Dame (Saturday)
  • San Diego @ San Diego State (Saturday)
  • California @ Missouri (Sunday)
  • #6 Oklahoma @ Tulsa (Sunday)

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Sunday’s Selections

Posted by Zach on November 29, 2008

Zach’s Picks: (Season Record: 77-71-2)

Michigan State (-13.5) over Wichita State- LOSS
Charlotte (-3) over Cal State Fullerton- LOSS
Providence (+4.5) over Saint Mary’s- LOSS
Georgetown (-5.5) over Maryland- WIN
Tennessee (-1.5) over Gonzaga- LOSS
Arizona State (-9) over UTEP- WIN
Baylor (-1.5) over Wake Forest- LOSS
Oklahoma State (-1) over Siena- WIN

Tommy’s Picks: (Season Record: 79-69-2)

Michigan State (-13.5) over Wichita State- LOSS
Charlotte (-3) over Cal State Fullerton- LOSS
Saint Mary’s (-4.5) over Providence- WIN
Maryland (+5.5) over Georgetown- LOSS
Gonzaga (+1.5) over Tennessee- WIN
UTEP (+9) over Arizona State- LOSS
Baylor (-1.5) over Wake Forest- LOSS
Siena (+1) over Oklahoma State- LOSS

Patrick’s Picks: (Season Record: 75-73-2)

Wichita State (+13.5) over Michigan State- WIN
Cal State Fullerton (+3) over Charlotte- WIN
Providence (+4.5) over Saint Mary’s- LOSS
Maryland (+5.5) over Georgetown- LOSS
Gonzaga (+1.5) over Tennessee- WIN
UTEP (+9) over Arizona State- LOSS
Wake Forest (+1.5) over Baylor- WIN
Siena (+1) over Oklahoma State- LOSS

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Saturday’s Selections

Posted by Zach on November 29, 2008

Zach’s Picks: (Season Record: 74-66-2)

Miami (OH) (+8) over XAVIER- WIN
Texas Tech (+2) over Mississippi State- WIN
Texas A&M (-2.5) over Kent State- WIN
Auburn (-2.5) over Northern Iowa- LOSS
Northeastern (+4) over SOUTH FLORIDA- LOSS
Kansas State (-3) over Iowa- LOSS
Pittsburgh (-6.5) over Washington State- WIN
Massachusetts (+1.5) over GREEN BAY- LOSS
Creighton (+4) over NEBRASKA- WIN
Illinois (-2.5) over Tulsa- WIN
Cincinnati (+6.5) over UNLV- WIN
Vanderbilt (-4) over Drake- WIN
Marquette (-9.5) over Dayton- LOSS
Rhode Island (+9) over Villanova- LOSS
STANFORD (-15) over Colorado- LOSS
California (-3.5) over Florida State- LOSS
Kentucky (+8) over West Virginia- WIN
New Mexico (-2) over VCU- LOSS

Tommy’s Picks (Season Record: 77-63-2)

XAVIER (-8) over Miami (OH)- LOSS
Texas Tech (+2) over Mississippi State- WIN
Kent State (+2.5) over Texas A&M- LOSS
Auburn (-2.5) over Northern Iowa- LOSS
Northeastern (+4) over SOUTH FLORIDA- LOSS
Kansas State (-3) over Iowa- LOSS
Pittsburgh (-6.5) over Washington State- WIN
Massachusetts (+1.5) over GREEN BAY- LOSS
Creighton (+4) over NEBRASKA- WIN
Illinois (-2.5) over Tulsa- WIN
Cincinnati (+6.5) over UNLV- WIN
Vanderbilt (-4) over Drake- WIN
Marquette (-9.5) over Dayton- LOSS
Villanova (-9) over Rhode Island- WIN
Colorado (+15) over STANFORD- WIN
California (-3.5) over Florida State- LOSS
Kentucky (+8) over West Virginia- WIN
VCU (+2) over New Mexico- WIN

Patrick’s Picks (Season Record: 71-69-2)

XAVIER (-8) over Miami (OH)- LOSS
Mississippi State (-2) over Texas Tech- LOSS
Kent State (+2.5) over Texas A&M- LOSS
Auburn (-2.5) over Northern Iowa- LOSS
Northeastern (+4) over South Florida- LOSS
Kansas State (-3) over Iowa- LOSS
Pittsburgh (-6.5) over Washington State- WIN
Massachusetts (+1.5) over GREEN BAY- LOSS
Creighton (+4) over NEBRASKA- WIN
Illinois (-2.5) over Tulsa- WIN
UNLV (-6.5) over Cincinnati- LOSS
Vanderbilt (-4) over Drake- WIN
Marquette (-9.5) over Dayton- LOSS
Villanova (-9) over Rhode Island- WIN
STANFORD (-15) over Colorado- LOSS
California (-3.5) over Florida State- LOSS
West Virginia (-8) over Kentucky- LOSS
VCU (+2) over New Mexico- WIN

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November 29: The Day After

Posted by Zach on November 29, 2008

Tennessee Georgetown Basketball

So many important games on the slate Friday. I’ll try to recap as many as possible…

Old Spice Classic: Could Siena have been a tad overrated heading into this season? Pesky Wichita State toppled them 72-70 and sent them deep into the losers bracket. The second game was undoubtedly the best of the day and possibly the tournament. Georgetown played a much better all around game than they did the previous day against Wichita State, but multiple ridiculous Cameron Tatum threes carried Tennessee to an enormous win 90-78. Yep, 90 points against that great JTIII defense. Tyler Smith was his usual solid self- 21pts, 6/12 FG, 9/10 FT- and Bobby Maze looks sensational (in some ways he could be an upgrade from Chris Lofton) with 9 assists and 0 turnovers. Maryland was playing with house money against Gonzaga after already knocking off Michigan State last night. They were simply outmanned and outtalented (word? probably not) by a Zags squad 81-59 who may have the old Josh Heytvelt back in the fold. They kept him involved in the second half and he dominated the weak Terps frontline for 22 points on 9/10 FG. In the final game, Raymar Morgan rebounded from a disastrous performance against Maryland with 29 points on 9/11 FG and 11/13 FT to pace the Spartans to a 94-79 win over Oklahoma State, who got a strong effort from Terrel Harris.

Anaheim Classic: Saint Mary’s took out their frustration after a disappointing performance against UTEP to dominate Cal State Fullerton 79-54. Patrick Mills responded with 21 points and the Gaels out-rebounded the Titans 51-28, including 10+ from Diamon Simpson and Omar Samhan. The second game- a Wake Forest defeat of a UTEP team that may win Conference USA 82-79– was all about two players: Jeff Teague and Stafon Jackson. The sophomore Teague scored 29 points, dished out 6 assists and hit multiple HUGE free throws down the stretch, while Jackson scored 31 on 9/23 FG, 13/14 FT and grabbed 9 rebounds. Jackson is ultra-talented and definitely has an NBA career ahead of him. Providence forced turnover after turnover in the final three minutes to come back and defeat a 1-5 and reeling Charlotte team 67-62, scoring the last ten points of the contest. The most impressive team the entire day ended their game around 2:30 ET- the Baylor Bears and their 87-79 dismantling of #14 Arizona State. Baylor defeated the tough Sendek zone by draining 11/24 threes and only turning the ball over eight times in the entire game. LaceDarius Dunn scored 27 points and Curtis Jerrells totaled 22, holding off 24 in the final nine minutes from James Harden. Might want to start following this quick, energetic, sharp shooting Baylor squad if you’re looking for a bandwagon.

Preseason NIT: In the third-place game, Boston College scored 54 second half points en route to a nice 83-77 win over UAB. Tyrese Rice scored all 24 of his points in that explosive second half, holding off Lawrence Kinnard’s career high 29 and improving to 4-2 on the season. In the game of the day between two top-15 teams, Oklahoma defeated Purdue 87-82 in OT for the Preseason NIT crown. The Sooners managed 87 points against the normally sturdy Purdue defense by attacking the teeth of the D and living at the free throw line, taking 46 attempts as opposed to 5 for Purdue. Blake Griffin didn’t have a great game- 5/13 FG, 18 points, 21 rebounds, missed some big FT’s- so some of Oklahoma’s secondary pieces showed they’re not just a one-man team: Taylor Griffin with 19, Willie Warren with 22 and Cade Davis with 10, along with clutch free throws in the final minute.

Las Vegas Invitational: West Virginia had six players in double digits- including 14 from John Flowers- and dodged a 15/34 free throw line performance to outpace a weak Iowa team 87-68. West Virginia will face Kentucky for the championship tonight after they survived a late Kansas State run to win 74-72. Jodie Meeks was once again out of his mind, showing why he’s one of the top scorers in the country: 37 points, 11/17 FG, 11/13 FT, 4/6 3pt, and outscored KSU in the first half by himself.

Legends Classic: Washington State played their usual phenomenal defense to down upstart Mississippi State 63-52. Freshman Klay Thompson went off for 19/10 and continues to look impressive, while the Cougars held Jarvis Varnado to just four blocks! Pittsburgh continues to look strong in the early going, holding off Trevor Cook and a fighting Texas Tech team 80-67. Sam Young filled up the stat sheet as usual with 24 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists, even though he struggled overall from the floor (9/25). Two players Pitt will need to win the Big East- Jermaine Dixon and Gilbert Brown- both played very well.

Other Games of Note

  • Dayton overcame an 0/24 (!) performance from beyond the arc to defeat Auburn 60-59 in overtime and improve to 5-0 on the season
  • Illinois (5-0) with another nice win 69-63 over Kent State and Al Fisher’s 18 points. Mike Tisdale stepped up with 20 points
  • Rhode Island will face Villanova today after a 77-72 win over Penn State. If you’re wondering, Jimmy Baron only hit four threes
  • Syracuse shockingly trailed ACC basement dweller Virginia 40-29 at halftime before rallying to a 73-70 victory at the Carrier Dome
  • California destroyed 5-0 UNLV, who just won at UTEP, 73-55, with five players in double figures and Wink Adams shooting 3/14
  • Another notch on the CUSA belt with Tulsa taking down Texas A&M 67-56 behind 16-9-7 from the talented Ben Uzoh

NW Wins Horse Trailer of the Day: Jodie Meeks, Kentucky

On The Tube Today

  • Samford @ Ohio State- 12pm (BTN)
  • Bryant Univ @ Connecticut- 1pm (ESPNFC)
  • Miss Valley State @ Iowa State- 130pm (ESPNFC)
  • North Dakota State @ Minnesota- 2pm (BTN)
  • Texas Tech vs. Mississippi State- 530pm (HDNET)
  • Denver @ Wyoming- 6pm (MTN)
  • Pittsburgh vs. Washington State- 8pm (HDNET)
  • Creighton @ Nebraska- 8pm (ESPN FC)
  • Drake vs. Vanderbilt- 830pm (CBSCS)
  • West Virginia vs. Kentucky- 1030pm (ESPN2)
  • VCU vs. New Mexico- 11pm (CBSCS)

One last note: Look at my predictions for these tournaments I made and tell me I’m not Nostradamus.

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Friday’s Selections

Posted by Zach on November 28, 2008

Zach’s Picks: (Season Record: 65-57-2)

Tennessee (-3) over Georgetown- WIN
UAB (-4) over Boston College- LOSS
Purdue (-1.5) over Oklahoma- LOSS
Saint Mary’s (-8) over Cal State Fullerton- WIN
Washington State (PK) over Mississippi State- WIN
Gonzaga (-5) over Maryland- WIN
Kent State (+4.5) over Illinois- LOSS
Auburn (+3.5) over Dayton- WIN
UTEP (+8) over Wake Forest- WIN
Rhode Island (-3) over Penn State- WIN
SYRACUSE (-14.5) over Virginia- LOSS
South Carolina (-1) over COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON- LOSS
Texas Tech (+12) over Pittsburgh- LOSS
California (+7) over UNLV- WIN
Michigan State (-5.5) over Oklahoma State- WIN
Utah (-4) over MISSOURI STATE- WIN
Tulsa (+6.5) over Texas A&M- WIN
Marquette (-13.5) over Northern Iowa- WIN
West Virginia (-6) over Iowa- WIN
Providence (-3) over Charlotte- WIN
Cincinnati (+1.5) over Florida State- LOSS
Baylor (+1) over Arizona State- WIN
Kentucky (-2) over Kansas State- PUSH

Tommy’s Picks: (Season Record: 67-55-2)

Tennessee (-3) over Georgetown- WIN
UAB (-4) over Boston College- LOSS
Oklahoma (+1.5) over Purdue- WIN
Cal State Fullerton (+8) over Saint Mary’s- LOSS
Washington State (PK) over Mississippi State- WIN
Maryland (+5) over Gonzaga- LOSS
Kent State (+4.5) over Illinois- LOSS
Dayton (-3.5) over Auburn- LOSS
UTEP (+8) over Wake Forest- WIN
Rhode Island (-3) over Penn State- WIN
SYRACUSE (-14.5) over Virginia- LOSS
South Carolina (-1) over COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON- LOSS
Pittsburgh (-12) over Texas Tech- WIN
UNLV (-7) over California- LOSS
Michigan State (-5.5) over Oklahoma State- WIN
Utah (-4) over MISSOURI STATE- WIN
Tulsa (+6.5) over Texas A&M- WIN
Marquette (-13.5) over Northern Iowa- WIN
West Virginia (-6) over Iowa- WIN
Charlotte (+3) over Providence- LOSS
Cincinnati (+1.5) over Florida State- LOSS
Arizona State (-1) over Baylor- LOSS
Kentucky (-2) over Kansas State- PUSH

Patrick’s Picks (Season Record: 65-57-2)

Georgetown (+3) over Tennesse- LOSS
UAB (-4) over Boston College- LOSS
Oklahoma (+1.5) over Purdue- WIN
Cal State Fullerton (+8) over Saint Mary’s- LOSS
Washington State (PK) over Mississippi State- WIN
Gonzaga (-5) over Maryland- WIN
Kent State (+4.5) over Illinois- LOSS
Dayton (-3.5) over Auburn- LOSS
UTEP (+8) over Wake Forest – WIN
Rhode Island (-3) over Penn State- WIN
SYRACUSE (-14.5) over Virginia- LOSS
South Carolina (-1) over COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON- LOSS
Pittsburgh (-12) over Texas Tech- WIN
California (+7) over UNLV- WIN
Michigan State (-5.5) over Oklahoma State- WIN
Utah (-4) over MISSOURI STATE- WIN
Texas A&M (-6.5) over Tulsa- LOSS
Marquette (-13.5) over Northern Iowa- WIN
Iowa (+6) over West Virginia- LOSS
Providence (-3) over Charlotte- WIN
Cincinnati (+1.5) over Florida State- LOSS
Arizona State (-1) over Baylor- LOSS
Kentucky (-2) over Kansas State- PUSH

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The Day After: Old Spice Classic Recap (Day 1)

Posted by Zach on November 28, 2008

Maryland Michigan St Basketball

LIVE from Orlando! (actually my living room, but we can pretend)

What did we learn from Day One of the Old Spice Classic? Tennessee is for real, Georgetown can’t shoot, Maryland and Oklahoma State could be in the hunt for a bid after all, Purdue may be the class of the Big Ten rather than Michigan State, Wichita State is no walkover and Gonzaga may be slightly overrated.

Here are my recaps/analysis:

#12 Tennessee 78, Siena 64
: I expected the first game of the Old Spice Classic between Tennessee and Siena to be competitive with the veteran and tournament tested Saints giving the younger Vols all they could handle. I definitely underestimated the size, strength and athleticism of a Tennessee team that used returnees like Tyler Smith, Wayne Chism and Brian Williams and additions like impressive point guard Bobby Maze, Renaldo Woolridge (who is a great addition because his shooting can extend the floor and create more room for Smith and Chism to operate) and Scotty Hopson to dominate the mid-major Siena. This was a great test for the Saints, whom I still feel will come away with two wins in this tournament and contend for an undefeated season in the MAAC. They won’t play a team as athletic and talented as Tennessee the rest of the way. The Vols forced Siena into taking mid-range jumpers instead of the dribble-drive penetration to the hoop that made Siena so successful at the end of the last season. Taking Kenny Hansbrouck out of his game (1-10 FG, 6 points) and containing both Franklin and Ubiles from starting a run was huge for Tennessee. Worth noting that Ryan Rossiter held his own with 12 and 12 down low for the Saints.

#16 Georgetown 58, Wichita State 50
: Georgetown was very unimpressive in their squeaker over Wichita State in the second game of the Old Spice Classic. They allowed Wichita State to hang around most of the first half, the Shockers actually cut the lead to one in the second, then Georgetown secured a close win by hunkering down defensively and DaJuan Summers finally coming out of his shell to hit some clutch threes. Wichita State is a very young team predicted to finish near the bottom of the MVC, but we may have to re-evaluate that standing. Gregg Marshall is a very good coach and he successfully confused Georgetown offensively mixing up the zone and man-to-man, often causing the Hoyas empty possessions by swinging the ball around the perimeter and eventually either turning it over or throwing up a poor shot. In the end though, the Shockers just didn’t have talent to match Georgetown, who may be worse in the Big East than projected. They play stout defense like you’d expect a JTIII team to do, but their offense is stagnant, they’re a poor outside shooting team, and don’t really have any dominant force to rely on. Monroe is efficient in the post, runs the floor like a gazelle and has a smooth stroke at the foul line, but he’s more of a secondary player on a second weekend tournament team. I know it’s one game, but with a loaded Big East, the Hoyas could find themselves near the bubble. They could change that tomorrow by upsetting Tennessee.

Maryland 80, #6 Michigan State 62
: Wow. What a tremendous win for the Terps and Gary Williams, the kind of win that gets you into the NCAA Tournament on Selection Sunday as opposed to barely missing the cut. Maryland completely outplayed Michigan State in the fashion you’d expect an underdog Gary Williams team to do. Thanks to Goran Suton and his injured knee, Maryland’s weak frontline actually out-rebounded Michigan State during this game, shot 47% from three and received a great performance from throwback Dave Neal, the lone senior on the squad. The real difference came at the foul line, where the Spartans shot just 44% at 12/27 while Maryland shot at 81%. Another key was Raymar Morgan entrenched in foul trouble the entire game, only managing four shots and scoring four points, with coach Tom Izzo visibly frustrated with his inconsistent play. Vasquez, Hayes, Mosley and Bowie were all great for a Maryland team that really put it together last night. Could they make a run through this tournament like they did in the ACC Tournament a few years ago?

#10 Gonzaga 83, Oklahoma State 71:
The Zags avoided the upset bug and pulled out a hard-fought victory from an Oklahoma State team that could be dangerous in the Big 12 this season. They’ve got incredible athletes in Eaton, Harris, Anderson and Muonelo, can shoot the ball very well from deep, and constantly push the tempo in Travis Ford’s offense, looking to wear the opposition down late in the second half. And that may work on a few occasions in the Big 12, but having absolutely zero post presence may mean NIT rather than NCAA. Overall, I was impressed by the Cowboys effort last night, especially super sophomore James Anderson, and they should give Michigan State a run for their money. As for Gonzaga, I thought the key play in the game was Ira Brown snagging an offensive rebound and drawing Anderson’s fourth foul about midway through the second half. Brown gave them great energy off the pine and may take all of Sacre’s minutes sooner than later. Daye showed a nice stroke from the outside, Downs contributed with 12 rebounds and Pargo provided senior leadership and clutch shots in crunch time. The only Achilles heel I can see for Gonzaga is their ability to stop people on defense and it may ultimately lead to their downfall. Matt Bouldin I also thought was very shaky; they need him as their fourth weapon behind Pargo, Heytvelt and Daye.

Anaheim Classic First Round

  • UTEP dominated St. Mary’s 75-62 behind 20 points from Randy Culpepper who completely outplayed Patty Mills
  • #24 Wake Forest edged a competitive Cal State Fullerton squad 75-69 with Jeff Teague notching 24 points
  • #14 Arizona State dominated Charlotte in the second half to win 84-56 with Jeff Pendergraph scoring 23 and grabbing 10 boards
  • Baylor took care of Providence with ease- 72-56- leading from the very tip and will play Arizona State in a great 2nd round game

NW Wins Horse Trailer of the Day: Jeff Pendergraph, Arizona State

Day Two analysis from two games- Georgetown vs. Tennessee and Gonzaga vs. Maryland (possibly Michigan State vs. Oklahoma State depending on if I’m still home)- coming tomorrow.

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Mid-Major Top 15 (Weeks 1-2)

Posted by Patrick on November 27, 2008

https://i2.wp.com/cache.daylife.com/imageserve/06KL3Miflo5U0/610x.jpg

Keeping up with good mid major teams is much harder than it looks, with top teams in action almost everyday and playing tough teams on the road so its tough to weigh which losses are better than the rest. Anyway, here is the Mid Major Top 15 for weeks one and two.

(Gonzaga, Memphis, Xavier, MWC, WAC, and C-USA are not considered)

1. Davidson (5-1)- Still at the top of the list. Stephen Curry is in my opinion the best player in college basketball. Should be interesting to see them against North Carolina State and West Virginia in their next two games.

2. Kent State (3-0)- Al Fisher continues to lead this team to great heights and they look as if they’re establishing themselves as the best team in the MAC.

3. Siena (2-1)- Tough loss against Tennessee in the first round of the Old Spice Classic, but I expect that they will bounce back and take fifth place in the tournament.

4. Butler (4-0)- Matt Howard is probably the best player in the Horizon League, and Butler’s defense is helping their chances of making it back to the NCAA tournament.

5. Saint Mary’s (3-1)- Lost to UTEP earlier today, but they still stay high on the list because of their experience and overall talent in the starting lineup.

6. Arkansas Little Rock (4-0)- It looks like this team is for real upsetting Creighton at home and they may be the new favorites in the Sun Belt.

7. Rhode Island (4-1)- Only loss is at Duke, with Jimmy Baron being one of the best three point shooters in the nation, it’s possible that the Rams could strongly contend with Xavier for the A-10 title.

8. Dayton (4-0)- Dayton hasn’t really been tested yet, but they could definitely be another force in the A-10 with the great play of Chris Wright and Marcus Johnson leading the way.

9. Illinois State (4-0)- This team could possibly be emerging as the team to beat in the MVC, especially with Creighton struggling on the road.

10. Cleveland State (4-2)- J’Nathan Bullock is still one of the most athletic big men in the nation, and with Cedric Jackson at point I wouldn’t be too concerned with those two losses. The Vikings are for real this season.

11. Creighton (3-1)- Only loss is at Arkansas Little Rock. It should be interesting to see how they fare on the road against Nebraska.

12. Portland State (4-0)- A balanced team is playing great on the road and should easily win the Big Sky conference this season to get back to the NCAA tournament.

13. American (4-1)- After getting manhandled by Oklahoma in their first game, Garrison Carr is leading American and giving them a great chance at repeating as Patriot League champs.

14. Vermont (2-2)- Only two losses are against George Mason and Maryland, both in overtime. Vermont has a strong core group of leaders and Mike Trimboli’s outside game will cause a lot of trouble for teams playing the zone against the Catamounts. Marqus Blakely may be this year’s Jason Thompson.

15. Virginia Commonwealth (2-2)- Rough start to the season, but Eric Maynor will not let his senior season end with the Rams not in the NCAA tournament field.

Also Considered: San Francisco, Northeastern, Southern Illinois, Mercer, San Diego

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Notre Dame vs. North Carolina: Recap and Thoughts

Posted by Patrick on November 27, 2008

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Last night was the final of the Maui Invitational, which always means that we’ll get to see two national powerhouses go head to head to bring the distinguished trophy home. North Carolina showed why they should be the unanimous top rated team in the nation- they absolutely picked apart Notre Dame’s defense, shooting 58% from the field. The Tar Heels grabbed the lead with 12:36 left in the first half and never looked back en route to a 102-87 victory over the eighth ranked Fighting Irish.

Kyle McAlarney broke his own school record of nine three pointers in one game with ten last night against North Carolina, accounting for 30 of his 39 points. To the credit of the Fighting Irish, their star player Luke Harangody had some kind of sickness all day leading up to the game, but still managed to score 13 points and grab seven rebounds.

Overall, North Carolina right now is too much for any team in the nation to even contend with. The talent level is way above any I’ve seen in college basketball in my lifetime, and they play hard on every possession. Even if Harangody was healthy they wouldn’t have a great chance to beat the Tar Heels. Another key to UNC’s success is their unbelievable depth. When they sub out a few players, its like replacing them with better rested versions of themselves. North Carolina’s bench would make up one of the better teams in college basketball.

Also, the last time North Carolina won the Maui? 2004. The last time North Carolina won a national championship? 2004.

ZACH: Three thoughts on North Carolina:

– Ty Lawson makes this team go. Anyone who watches college basketball on a regular basis knows this already, but watching him last night makes me think he added another gear to his electric speed baseline-to-baseline this summer. He abused Tory Jackson on multiple occasions after Jackson was foolish enough to risk a steal instead of staying in front of Lawson, using the quickest first step in college hoops and finishing every time down, often drawing a foul to boot. He knocked down free throws and hit outside jumpers too. If Lawson plays like he did last night all season, an undefeated season will happen.

– How’s that shin, Tyler? As the esteemed Red Sox announcer Don Orsillo might say, “Psycho T’s back…and he’s back BIG!” 34 points, an earth-shattering dunk, his patented turnaround hook shots, diving for rebounds, and even a three point shot? Yeah, I think he’s back. Hansbrough is really an incredible player down low- when he puts up a shot you think there’s no chance it goes in, then it hits the bottom the net.

– Carolina is so loaded, it’s not even funny/fair. They’ve turned into the Evil Empire even moreso than Duke, which puts me in an awkward position because the one game I used to root for Carolina was against the Blue Devils. As Pat pointed out, their bench of Drew-Frasor-Green-Graves-Davis would beat most high-major teams. While Notre Dame lost their legs by the end of the tournament, North Carolina was fresh because they’re so deep and talented.

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Thanksgiving Day Selections

Posted by Zach on November 27, 2008

Zach’s Picks: (Season Record: 50-50-1)

Siena (+8) over Tennessee- LOSS
Georgetown (-17) over Wichita State- LOSS
UTEP (+10.5) over Saint Mary’s- WIN
Wake Forest (-11) over Cal State Fullerton- LOSS
Michigan State (-8.5) over Maryland- LOSS
Arizona State (-7.5) over Charlotte- WIN
Gonzaga (-7.5) over Oklahoma State- WIN
Baylor (-3.5) over Providence- WIN

Patrick’s Picks (Season Record: 54-46-1)

Siena (+8) over Tennessee- LOSS
Georgetown (-17) over Wichita State- LOSS
UTEP (+10.5) over Saint Mary’s- WIN
Cal State Fullerton (+11) over Wake Forest- WIN
Maryland (+8.5) over Michigan State- WIN
Arizona State (-7.5) over Charlotte- WIN
Gonzaga (-7.5) over Oklahoma State- WIN
Baylor (-3.5) over Providence- WIN

Tommy’s Picks: (Season Record: 56-44-1)

Tennessee (-8) over Siena- WIN
Georgetown (-17) over Wichita State- LOSS
UTEP (+10.5) over Saint Mary’s- WIN
Wake Forest (-11) over Cal State Fullerton- LOSS
Maryland (+8.5) over Michigan State- WIN
Arizona State (-7.5) over Charlotte- WIN
Gonzaga (-7.5) over Oklahoma State- WIN
Baylor (-3.5) over Providence- WIN

Posted in Daily Selections | 5 Comments »

Big East Report

Posted by Zach on November 26, 2008

Connecticut Wisconsin College Basketball

I’ll be writing a Big East report hopefully every week for the rest of the season to keep you updated on the strongest conference in the land. Here’s my first edition:

Power Rankings (Record) Next Three Games and Prediction
1. Connecticut (5-0)
11/29 vs. Bryant University (W),  12/1 vs. Delaware State (W), 12/4 @ Buffalo (W)
2. Louisville (2-0)
11/30 vs. Western Kentucky (W), 12/6 vs. Indiana State (W), 12/7 vs. Ohio (W)
3. Pittsburgh (5-0)
11/28 vs. Texas Tech in NJ (W), 11/29 vs. Wash St/Miss St in NJ (W)
4. Notre Dame (4-0)
11/26 vs. North Carolina in Maui (L), 11/30 vs. Furman (W), 12/2 vs. South Dakota (W)
5. Syracuse (5-0)
11/28 vs. Virginia (W), 12/1 vs. Colgate (W), 12/3 vs. Cornell (W)
6. Marquette (4-0)
11/28 vs. Northern Iowa in Chicago (W), 11/29 vs. Dayton in Chicago (W), 12/2 vs. Central Michigan (W)
7. Georgetown (2-0)
11/27 vs. Wichita State (W), Next two games at the Old Spice Classic
8. Villanova (4-0)
11/28 vs. Towson (W), 12/2 @ Penn (W), 12/4 vs. Houston Baptist (W)
9. West Virginia (3-0)
11/28 vs. Iowa in Vegas (W), 11/29 vs. Kentucky/Kansas State, 12/3 @ Mississippi (L)
10. Seton Hall (4-1)
11/29 vs. Delaware (W), 12/2 vs. Monmouth (W), 12/9 vs. Cal Baptist (W)
11. Cincinnati (4-0)
11/28 vs. Florida State (W), 12/6 vs. UAB (W), 12/13 vs. Xavier (L)
12. Providence (3-1)
11/27 vs. Baylor (L), Next two games at the Anaheim Classic
13. DePaul (2-0)
11/26 vs. Detroit (W), 11/29 vs. Indiana State (W), 12/3 @ California (L)
14. St. John’s (5-1)
12/1 vs. St. Francis (W), 12/8 vs. NJIT (W), 12/14 vs. Bethune Cookman (W)
15. Rutgers (3-1)
11/26 vs. Lehigh (W), 11/30 vs. St. Peter’s (W), 12/3 @ Rider (W)
16. South Florida (2-1)
11/29 vs. Northeastern (L), 12/3 @ UAB (L), 12/6 @ UCF (W)

Final Four Contenders


Connecticut Huskies:
I picked the Huskies to win the national title before the season, and nothing in their play early in the season is suggesting that was a foolish selection. Connecticut won the Paradise Jam in rather easy and proficient fashion after a brief struggle with La Salle in the first round, defeating two ranked teams in Miami and Wisconsin by double digits. The offense hasn’t suffered even as A.J. Price has yet to play at 100%, led by the emergence of Jerome Dyson and overpowering ability of Hasheem Thabeet down low. Defense has been the most encouraging early-season trend for coach Jim Calhoun, though. Other than a poor performance against La Salle, Connecticut has not surrendered more than 63 points in any of their other four games, giving up less than 60 in three of the four. The Huskies don’t face another difficult opponent until December 20 when they make the trek to Seattle and battle Gonzaga.

Star Player: Jerome Dyson: 18.2 PPG, 3.4 APG,  1.8 SPG, 56% FG, 43% 3PT

Louisville Cardinals: Rick Pitino set up an early season schedule in which the Cardinals don’t play in any hyped preseason tournament and instead face more and more difficult opponents as the non-conference season rounds out in December, where they’ll play Mississippi, Minnesota, UNLV, UAB and Kentucky. So far, it’s been total domination for Louisville against both Morehead State and a respectable South Alabama squad, winning by a combined 160-95. Samardo Samuels has carried his huge start over from the preseason, quickly turning into the go-to player in the Cardinal offense. Pitino even called Samuels the second best freshman he’s ever coached behind Jamal Mashburn. Terrence Williams is still getting healthy and Pitino hopes to continue shuffling Terrence McGee and Edgar Sosa at the point guard position, creating competition and changing the lineup based on the specific matchup.

Star Player: Samardo Samuels: 21.0 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 2.0 BPG, 77% FG, 89% FT

Pittsburgh Panthers: Much like Connecticut and Louisville, the Pitt Panthers have also been overly impressive in the early going, scoring 80+ points and allowing less than 70 in four of five home games. The normally stout Miami (OH) defense that held UCLA and Wright State hostage were completely overwhelmed by the Pitt offensive attack, surrendering 82 points in the contest. Coach Jamie Dixon has to be pleased by the play of his point guard Levance Fields coming off major foot surgery. Dixon knows Field is the most indispensable member of the Panthers (just look at how they played with him sidelined last year) and has certainly played like an elite point guard thus far. DeJuan Blair produced a jaw-dropping line in their latest game against Division II Indiana (PA): 21 minutes, 13/14 FG, 27 points, 18 rebounds.

Star Player: DeJuan Blair: 17.5 PPG, 13.3 RPG, 71% FG

Notre Dame Fighting Irish: The Irish pulled off a nail biting win over Texas in the Maui semifinals last night, winning 81-80 and cementing a victory that could mean the difference between 2 and 3 seed come March. Other than Texas, Notre Dame hasn’t been too tested; they dominated USC Upstate at home and lead throughout against 0-5 Loyola Marymount as a Maui tune-up before crushing flailing Indiana. The epic test will be tonight against #1 North Carolina, who may or may not score 150 points if Notre Dame follows their defensive effort against Texas with more of the same. The ACC Player of the Year Tyler Hansbrough and Big East Player of the Year Luke Harangody will do battle in the post. You should probably watch this game.

Star Player: Luke Harangody: 25.0 PPG, 12.3 RPG, 1.3 APG

Sweet 16 Contenders

Syracuse Orange: I wrote about this at length in my Day After post, but this Syracuse team is miles ahead of where they stood last year in November. I watched both of their games in Kansas City and came away very impressed by the point guard play and floor presence of Jonny Flynn, the rebounding/defense of Arinze Onuaku, and their ability to spread the floor with Eric Devendorf and Andy Rautins. Paul Harris isn’t a bad weapon himself. We’ll see if Syracuse has the defense to finish in the top five in this loaded conference. They should cruise against the rest of their non-conference schedule (Virginia, Cornell and Cleveland State are their hardest games) before traveling to Memphis in late December.

Star Player: Jonny Flynn: 21.0 PPG, 4.8 APG, 1.8 SPG, 56% FG, 75% FT, 46% 3pt

Marquette Golden Eagles: The Golden Eagles have cruised at home against easy competition, scoring an absurd 386 points in four games against Houston Baptist, Chicago State, Milwaukee and Texas Southern. They have to be encouraged by the aggressive play of Wesley Matthews, Lazar Hayward continuing to develop his inside/outside game, and Dominic James running the offense with more efficiency. The defense could pose a problem for Marquette, though. They’ve given up 298 points in those games against barely D1 competition.

Star Player: Wesley Matthews: 22.8 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 4.0 APG, 49% FG, 88% FT

Georgetown Hoyas: The Hoyas have played just two games so far this season, saving their November legs for a loaded Old Spice Classic beginning tomorrow in Orlando. Wins over Jacksonville and Drexel don’t really provide one with a barometer of whether Georgetown can continue their success this season, but this tournament surely will. They should handle Wichita State before facing Tennessee/Siena on Friday and possibly Michigan State, Gonzaga, Maryland or Oklahoma State on Saturday. It’ll be our first opportunity to see Greg Monroe on a national stage.

Star Player: Greg Monroe: 17.0 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 68% FG, 89% FT

Villanova Wildcats:
Jay Wright is allowing his young team to ease into the season with softer non-conference opponents like Fordham, Niagara, Monmouth and Towson while some of his more experienced conference foes face tougher opposition early. The most encouraging early-season trend for Wright has to be the emergence of Dante Cunningham as a potential superstar in the post. He exploded against a weak Fordham team for 31 points and 11 rebounds on 11/17 shooting.

Star Player:
Dante Cunningham: 18.5 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 63% FG, 73% FT

Bubble Teams


West Virginia Mountaineers
: West Virginia has cruised against Elon, Delaware State and Longwood at home, surrendering just 143 points in those three games. Freshman Darryl Bryant has been a real surprise thus far, making up for the early struggles of Devin Ebanks, who has just 8.0 PPG on 33% shooting.

Seton Hall Pirates
: Two wins over USC and Virginia Tech will go a long way come March if the Pirates are sitting on the bubble. If their defense remains improved and Jeremy Hazell keeps stroking it from the outside, Puerto Rico could prove no fluke.

Cincinnati Bearcats:
Cincinnati has beaten up on inferior opponents at home in the early going to build a 4-0 record. Deonta Vaughn and Alvin Mitchell are playing well, but the real story has been balanced scoring: ten players are averaging 3+ PPG.

Providence Friars:
Keno Davis received a rude welcome in his first home game as head coach of the Friars: losing to hot shooting Matt Janning and Northeastern. They scored 100+ points in their next two against Dartmouth and Sacred Heart, but gave up 80+ in both of those contests.

Bottom Feeders

DePaul Blue Demons:
DePaul has played two games thus far: defeating Albany by 11 at home and squeaking out a road win against UIC 67-63. Will Walker and Dar Tucker, one of my breakout candidates, have been the offensive stars.

St. John’s Red Storm:
St. John’s has received solid play from Stanley Burrell and sophomore D.J. Kennedy, nearly toppling BC in Chestnut Hill. Their happiness was soured when they received the news Roger Mason Jr. will miss the rest of the season.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights:
Freshman point guard Mike Rosario appears to be the real deal. Unfortunately Rutgers slipped up badly on Sunday, losing at home by one to St. Bonaventure.

South Florida Bulls:
USF hung with Virginia on the road last week, losing by two points. That close loss doesn’t look as good now that South Florida lost to Liberty Tuesday night.

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