Northwestern Wins: A College Hoops Blog

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

Archive for November 10th, 2008

November 11: The Day After

Posted by Patrick on November 10, 2008

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PATRICK: The first two college basketball games were played this evening as part of the 2k Sports Classic. Here is what we should take from these two games as we move on into the rest of the season.

1. Are Georgia Southern and Houston trendsetters?- That was a great basketball game, and while I sat at my computer in Milwaukee, I listened to the game via live radio feed (we told you we were diehards) and was really into it. Georgia Southern pulled off the first upset of the year, and better yet it was just a great basketball game. The final score was 65-63, and Houston had a final shot with 4.7 seconds left. What a way to kick off the 2008-09 season.

2. Kyle Singler is a beast- Remember when he looked like the picture above? Singler hit the gym and put on about 20 lbs of muscle. Now he just looks dominant (I know it was against Presbyterian) and he is definitely a favorite to be All-ACC First Team. He could be the missing link that the Blue Devils are looking for- a strong frontcourt player that can contend in the post.

3. Brian Zoubek still sucks- If I was a Duke fan I’d be pissed he has one of my team’s scholarships.

4. Better games on the first night please?- I know, I just ranted about how great the Georgia Southern vs. Houston game was, but seriously I would love to see two juggernauts battle it out on the first night. I think it would be a great way to start the season.

I hope you all had fun tonight, whether you watched the games or not, and here is the TV schedule for tomorrow:

7 ET: Michigan Tech at Michigan (ESPNU)

9 ET: Georgia Southern at Duke (ESPNU)

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ZACH: I wanted to expand a bit off of Patrick’s proposal for opening the season with a more intriguing matchup. College basketball is starting to get the right idea with their 24 hours of coverage next Tuesday, and in no way do I think they should move that up to the first day of the season, but I have to agree with Pat’s suggestion. I fully understand that teams want to begin their season with a cupcake opponent to feel out rotations, playing time, and have their players log some minutes before the meaningful action begins. I find it hard to believe, though, that two high-major coaches in America wouldn’t agree to a contest on a neutral court the first day of the season. The hype and exposure would be tremendous. How about Texas and Michigan State pushing up their battle in Houston this year? I’d even take a matchup like Missouri vs. Illinois on ESPN2.

MLB has the Sunday night opener usually pitting the defending World Series champion against a division rival. The NFL has their Thursday night game, once again featuring the defending champ. Even college football manages to find two teams to play a conference game in August. I’m not asking for a conference game, I’m not even asking for a huge rivalry or a game with enormous implications. Just give me something besides the first round of Coaches vs. Cancer on ESPNU. It makes what should be a grand opener for the greatest sport in the world look foolish and irrelevant. It really is a shame.

I’ve got five thoughts from the first night of college basketball, as well:

1. If someone was living under a rock for the past three years and were shown that Duke game last night, they’d clearly choose Nolan Smith as their point guard over Greg Paulus. Expect that to be a switch that lasts the entire season. Paulus coming off the bench for Duke is hugely beneficial. It’s nice to have that long range shooter off the pine and limited minutes means limited turnovers.

2. Not sure I’m sold on Singler in the post yet. He attacked the rim very well starting from the outside, but I didn’t see any exceptional post moves that blew me away. Lance Thomas continues to look lost during short stretches on the floor and Brian Zoubek is a complete disaster. He fouled out against Presbyterian. Think about that for a second.

3. See how much we’re talking about Duke-Presbyterian? THINK OF THE FIRST GAME WAS ILLINOIS VS. MISSOURI IN SAINT LOUIS!! Why wouldn’t coaches jump at this golden opportunity?

4. This is a huge overreaction, but I foolishly penciled in Houston to play Duke in my Top Ten Games of the Week on Sunday and it came back to haunt me right away. So it’s probably time to start looking for a team like UAB, UTEP or Tulsa to challenge Memphis in Conference USA instead of Tom Penders’ Cougars. Kentucky rebounded quite well from their Gardner-Webb shocker, though.

5. Massachusetts and Southern Illinois also kick off their season tonight in Carbondale against D2 opponents. That should be an excellent second round matchup that I wish was televised.

Also, some important news out of Knoxville: freshman point guard Daniel West was ruled academically ineligible and will not play this season. Bruce Pearl expressed disappointment and was surprised at the ruling after West did well in summer school sessions. The Vols lose some important depth at point guard, with more responsibility now on the shoulders of Bobby Maze and J.P. Prince to run the offense.

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Ten Bold Predictions For 2008-09

Posted by Zach on November 10, 2008

We have arrived.

My equally obsessive passion- baseball- kept me occupied long enough over the summer to avoid thinking about how much I miss college basketball. As my team’s season ended with a sharp groundball to Aki Iwamura in mid-October, my mind immediately transforms into one completely transfixes with counting the hours, minutes, seconds until the squeak of the sneakers against the college basketball hardwood. Tonight, the Cameron Indoor Stadium doors open, the Crazies will paint their faces and Coach K will patrol the sidelines. I know it’s only Presbyterian, it doesn’t matter one iota to me. A real college hoops game will be played tonight and that’s more than enough to keep me going through the bitter cold of the winter.

We’ve done our best to get our readers prepared for the journey ahead. With bracketology, major conference previews, Top 25’s, breakout players, predictions, summer roundups and instant reactions to breaking news, we hope our little experiment called Northwestern Wins has been a decent read for you, the fans that have longed for the opening jump ball as much as we have. Hopefully you’ll make your way back here during the regular season. We have plenty in store. So tie up those Adidas, Gerald Henderson, and let the season begin.

Here are ten bold predictions that we could see in 2008-09:

1. Virginia Tech will be the firmest ACC challenge for North Carolina- The Heels were pushed to the brink in last year’s ACC Tournament by the Hokies, who return everyone of note besides Deron Washington. Seth Greenberg’s team plays the best defense in the ACC and feature talented players like Jeff Allen and A.D. Vassallo. Blacksburg isn’t an easy place to win for any opponent, and these two teams face off late in the seaosn (March 4). Virginia Tech, not Duke or Wake or Miami, will give the Tar Heels their toughest fight during ACC play.

2. Memphis will lose in the first round of the NCAA Tournament- John Calipari’s team certainly has the talent assembled, but I see a combination of mostly role players with limited upside. Robert Dozier, Antonio Anderson, Shawn Taggart, Angel Garcia and Willie Kemp are perfect role players around stars like Chris Douglas-Roberts and Derrick Rose, but can they be the centerpieces? Tyreke Evans could mold into something special very soon, but he’s no Derrick Rose. They also turn the ball over enough to make John Calipari’s head explode and nobody can shoot free throws.

3. Siena will defeat Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse– Led by Edwin Ubiles, Kenny Hansbrouck and Alex Franklin, three players who scored 15+ PPG last season, Siena will be the top mid-major in college basketball this season. They return nearly everyone from their 4-13 win over Vanderbilt last March, and the Saints will finally receive national recognition when they take down Kansas on the road January 6. Look for them to go undefeated in the MAAC, as well.

4. The Big East will get 10 teams in the tourney– I’ve made this prediction before, but the Big East is strong enough where a 8-10 Providence team could be the last team in. Barring some major disappointments, the nine teams ahead of Providence in the preseason should push their way into the field. The Friars added the National Coach of the Year and have plenty of scoring. Ten teams from one conference will happen.

5. Gonzaga will reach the Final Four- If Austin Daye finally plays up to his potential, Gonzaga will be playing into April. They have the explosiveness of Jeremy Pargo, the scoring of Micah Downs and Matt Bouldin, the three-point shooting of Stephen Gray, and the inside game of Daye and Josh Heytvelt. They’ll be tested in a brutal non-conference schedule along with San Diego and Saint Mary’s in the WCC.

6. Someone will emerge in the Duke frontcourt- Whether it’s Mason Plumlee, Lance Thomas, Brian Zoubek or Kyle Singler becoming more of an inside force, the Blue Devils will finally have someone to lean on in the paint when March rolls around. My money’s on Singler- he gained 20 pounds of bulk over the summer in preparation for lasting through ACC play. Thomas may finally break out of his shell.

7. Iman Shumpert will win ACC Rookie of the Year– Shumpert will be the centerpiece of the Jackets offense (especially now with Clinch suspended due to academics) from the opening tip. He has the skills to outlast Aminu, Davis, Zeller, Williams, Jones, Singleton and the rest for the honor.

8. Indiana will not win a Big Ten game this season- Not one. Not even over Iowa, Northwestern or Michigan. Look at that roster. It would barely survive in the Horizon League.

9. Connecticut will defeat North Carolina in the title game– I love the way UConn, at full strength, matches up with the Heels. Thabeet can frustrate Hansbrough down low, Price matches up well with Lawson containing his speed, Austrie/Dyson can hold Ellington from getting too many open looks, and the Huskies are nearly as deep as North Carolina. It’s not like Jim Calhoun will be outcoached, either.

10. Duke will lose to Presbyterian tonight– On second thought, I’m not that bold.

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Tommy’s Preseason Predictions

Posted by Tommy on November 10, 2008

Ahh yes, the season is finally upon us. College basketball fans can finally plop themselves in front of their TV in silent rejoice because Duke-Presbyterian is on tonight!! Like Pat and Zach before me, I’m giving you my preseason predictions.

ACC- 1) North Carolina, 2) Duke, 3) Wake Forest, 4) Miami, 5) Virginia Tech, Player of the Year: Tyler Hansbrough

Big Ten- 1) Michigan State, 2) Purdue, 3) Ohio State, 4) Wisconsin, 5) Minnesota, Player of the Year: Raymar Morgan

Big East- 1) Connecticut, 2) Louisville, 3) Notre Dame, 4) Pittsburgh, 5) Marquette, Player of the Year: Sam Young

Big 12- 1) Oklahoma, 2) Texas, 3) Baylor, 4) Kansas, 5) Texas A&M, Player of the Year: Blake Griffin

SEC- East Champion: Tennessee, West Champion: Alabama, Player of the Year: Ronald Steele

Pac 10- 1) UCLA, 2) Southern Cal, 3) Arizona State, 4) Washington, Player of the Year: Darren Collison

First Team All-America– Tyler Hansbrough, Luke Harangody, Blake Griffin, Stephen Curry, A.J. Price

Player of the Year- Tyler Hansbrough

Coach of the Year- Scott Drew

Defensive Player of the Year- Hasheem Thabeet

Breakout Player- Jeff Teague

Sleeper NCAA Tournament Team- South Carolina

Top Non-BCS Team- Gonzaga

Top Mid-Major (not Gonzaga or Memphis or UNLV)– San Diego

Top Freshman- BJ Mullens

Final Four- North Carolina, Connecticut, Michigan State, Notre Dame

National Champion- North Carolina

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ACC Preview Roundup

Posted by Tommy on November 10, 2008

Here are my preseason rankings and the links to the preview articles for each team. 1. North Carolina 2. Duke 3. Wake Forest 4. Miami 5. Virginia Tech 6. Clemson 7. Maryland 8. Boston College 9. Georgia Tech 10. North Carolina State 11. Florida State 12. Virginia

First Team
G- Tyrese Rice, Boston College
G- Jack McClinton, Miami
G/F- K.C Rivers, Clemson
F- Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina
F- Kyle Singler, Duke

Second Team
G- Ty Lawson, North Carolina
G- Greivis Vasquez, Maryland
G- Wayne Ellington, North Carolina
F- James Johnson, Wake Forest
F- Jeff Allen, Virginia Tech

Third Team
G- Toney Douglas, Florida State
G- Jeff Teague, Wake Forest
G/F- A.D Vassallo, Virginia Tech
F- Gani Lawal, Georgia Tech
F- Brandon Costner, North Caolina State

Honorable Mention
G- Nolan Smith, Duke
G/F- Jon Scheyer, Duke
F- Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest
F- Trevor Booker, Clemson

All-Freshman Team
G- Iman Shumpert, Georgia Tech
G- DeQuan Jones, Miami
F- Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest
F- Miles Plumlee, Duke
C- Ty Walker, Wake Forest

Player of the Year: 1) Tyler Hansbrough 2) Tyrese Rice 3) Jack McClinton
Defensive Player of the Year: Toney Douglas
Breakthrough Player: Gani Lawal
Freshman of the Year: Al-Farouq Aminu
Coach of the Year: Dino Gaudio, Wake Forest
NCAA Teams: 6
NIT Teams: 4
CBI Teams: 1

Top Five Games:
1) North Carolina @ Duke: 2/11
2) North Carolina @ Wake: 1/11
3) Duke @ North Carolina: 3/8
4) Miami @ Duke: 2/7
5) Duke @ Wake: 1/28

That’s all folks. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Should be a exciting year in the ACC! Stay tuned for up-to-date ACC Reports all season long.

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ACC Preview: #1 North Carolina

Posted by Tommy on November 10, 2008

Coach- Roy Williams (6th season)

PG- Ty Lawson (JR): Lawson, commonly known as the Roadrunner, is the motor that makes this North Carolina team go. Roy Williams loves to have his guards break out after a defensive rebound in order to get a quick numbers advantage on the other end, and the speedy Lawson is the perfect guard to execute this strategy. He’s a great decision maker in the open floor, he can shoot from beyond the arc and is really good at finding the slightest holes in opposing defenses. As an underclassman for the Tar Heels, Lawson shot above 50% and had an assist to turnover ratio around 2.5. Not only does he excel with the ball in his hand, but he generates tons of steals with his constant pressure on the defensive end. North Carolina is a completely different team with Lawson at 100% and if he stays healthy all season it’ll be hard to pick against UNC as the national champion.

SG- Wayne Ellington (JR): Smooth. The first word that comes to my head when I watch Ellington. I know ACC basketball fans are probably tired of hearing Dick Vitale rave about how “smooth” Ellington’s game is, but there’s no denying it. He isn’t as quick as Lawson or as athletic as Danny Green, but he has great technique and is deceptive. Ellington is a cold-blooded shooter from beyond the arc and has a fine mid-range game as well. He makes it tough from opponents to double down on Hansbrough because of his shooting ability. He has good size for a guard at 6-4, allowing him to get a nice look at the rim over his defenders. While Hansbrough is out, the Heels are going to look to Ellington to be the primary option on offense. If Williams needs a clutch 3-pointer, Ellington has shown that he’s capable of knocking down big shots.

SF- Marcus Ginyard (SR): What David McClure is to Duke, Marcus Ginyard is to North Carolina, although Ginyard is a bit better. He played the third most minutes for the Tar Heels last season despite contributing only 6.9 PPG. He’s a great defender who does all the little things that don’t show up in the stat sheet and can play four positions. He’s not the most outspoken senior leader, but leads by example with his hustle and hard-working mentality. The Heels have no shortage of scoring options, so Williams just needs Ginyard to do what he does best: defend. Unfortunately, Ginyard is out for eight weeks after undergoing foot surgery meaning the Heels won’t have one of their senior leaders for most – if not all – of their non-conference schedule. Losing a player like Ginyard would be a pretty big hit for most teams, but Danny Green will suit the Tar Heels just fine until December.

PF- Tyler Hansbrough (SR): Nothing comes easy in college basketball, something the Heels are learning as they prepare for the season. In addition to the loss of Ginyard, Hansbrough is out indefinitely is a stress reaction in his leg. Hansbrough should miss only a couple weeks of the season but we’ll see if the possible nagging effects of the injury affect his play. I can’t really say anything else that even the most casual college basketball fans don’t already know about Hansbrough. I’m sure you’re sick and tired of hearing Jay Bilas ball wash Hansbrough, but it’s impossible not to admire somebody who’s undersized and not as athletic as his opponents, but is the best player in the country purely because of his work ethic.

PF- Deon Thompson (JR): The lanky 6-8 junior from California really came along for the Heels last season. He’s got plenty of raw talent but has some work to do technique-wise. Thompson gives North Carolina a shot-blocking presence down low, the only thing that Hansbrough doesn’t provide in the paint. Thompson is an average scorer and rebounder but is very athletic and runs the floor well. I think Thompson will be the most improved player on this North Carolina team when it’s all said and done.

Bench: Last year’s ACC Sixth Man of the Year Danny Green is a starter on any other team in the country. He’s a much better scoring option than Ginyard and is actually a solid shot blocker for a G/F. The Heels really could have used point guard Bobby Frasor last season when Lawson went down. Frasor can come in for Lawson at the point and run the offense with little drop-off. UNC brings in three McDonald’s All-Americans in Tyler Zeller, Ed Davis and Larry Drew Jr. Zeller and Davis will be the first two guys off the bench for the frontcourt while Drew Jr. is the 3rd guard behind Frasor and Green. These five players off the bench would probably be a competitive team in the ACC, which goes to show just how stacked UNC is this season.

Backcourt: A+
Frontcourt: A+
Bench: A+
Coaching: A

Bottom Line: I’ve been a firm believer that no team is capable of going undefeated in college basketball, but looking at this roster gives me second thoughts. They have the best big man in the country, one of the top backcourts in the country and go ten deep. One thing that UNC really needs to improve on from last season if they want to go undefeated is their defense. If they let a team like Michigan State, Duke or even Wake catch fire, they’ll could find themselves in some trouble. This team will get tested early with a very strong Spartan team and will face Notre Dame in the final of the Maui barring a pretty big upset. It’ll be a very tough road especially playing away from home where every crowd fired up to see their team beat the best team in the land.

Key Non-Conference Games: 11/18 vs. Kentucky, 11/24-26 Maui Invitational, 12/3 @ Michigan State,
Key Conference Games: 1/11 @ Wake Forest, 1/17 vs. Miami, 2/11 @ Duke, 3/8 vs. Duke.
Most Valuable Player: Tyler Hansbrough
Projected Postseason: NCAA (National Champion)

Posted in ACC Report, Conference Previews | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »