Northwestern Wins: A College Hoops Blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘Maui Invitational’

November 25: The Day After

Posted by Zach on November 25, 2008

Kansas Washington Basketball

Recap of Monday night action in the world of college hoops…

Syracuse 89, #18 Florida 83: Early in the season, the Big East is doing nothing to dispell notions of their conference possibly being considered the strongest in the history of college basketball. The first of two in Kansas City certainly wasn’t a tape you’d send to a clinic instructing defense. Both Syracuse and Florida split the opposing zone defense with relative ease for 40 minutes, and other than a few first half Andy Rautins or Nick Calathes threes, most of the baskets were layups and dunks. This was especially the case for Gators big man Alex Tyus, a sophomore with a frame most big men can only dream about. I watched this game intensively primarily because I wanted to become more familiar with Florida and some of their young talent. Suffice to say Tyus athleticism, explosivness near the basket, and ability to find seams in the Cuse defense stood out dramatically. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how impressive Nick Calathes is as a complete basketball player. 19 points, 7 assists and 4/8 from deep doesn’t tell half the story of how much this super sophomore provides as a floor leader, instinctive and sneaky passer and smooth jump shooter. I also came away impressed with Erving Walker as a speed demon driving to the basket with surprising range on his jumper. If Florida shapes up their defense, they could be a force in a weak SEC.

On the other side, this is a tremendous win for Syracuse to tout on Selection Sunday in case they slide in conference play because Florida will likely pad their record and ranking in the SEC. I took a couple things away from their high-scoring effort tonight: 1) Jonny Flynn doesn’t force anything. He lets the game come to him, finds open teammates, yet can seemingly score at any time when Syracuse desperately needs a hoop. 2) Andy Rautins really carried the Orange in the first half shooting threes. Rautins and Devendorf can give this team a whole new dimension if they develop consistency from outside. 3) Onuaku is a ferocious rebounder (12 in the game, seemed like 22). He snatches anything in his vicinity and grabbed numerous key boards down the stretch. 4) Keep an eye out for Cuse freshman Kris Joseph, a developing forward with a nice mid-range game that has served coach Boeheim well off the bench in their wins over Oakland and now Florida. If Syracuse can shore up the defense, they’ll be a force.

#23 Kansas 73, Washington 54: If anyone had lingering doubts, watching Washington throw up brick after brick tonight in the Sprint Center should have confirmed what a loss to Portland seemed to show: Lorenzo Romar’s squad is not very good. At all. Admittedly, Kansas displayed spirited and aggressive defense all night long with their 2-3 zone completely disrupting impressive freshman Isaiah Thomas and slashing forward Quincy Pondexter, but the jump shooting (29.2%) is hideous for the Huskies. Losing their primary outside shooter in Ryan Appelby certainly looks like a devestating subtraction at this point. When Cole Aldrich shut down Jon Brockman offensively, this team was completely lost. Dentmon, Overton and Gant look more and more like disappointments for Romar, and with expected contender Southern Cal also exposed over the weekend, you might find Tony Bennett’s Washington State Cougars finishing third in the Pac-10 this season behind UCLA and Arizona State.

Kansas played a decent game. Nothing spectacular that leads me to believe they’re a top-15 team, but they certainly showed enormous potential and reason for Jayhawk fans to be extremely excited. Cole Aldrich played a phenomenal game both offensively showing a variety of post moves and a mid-range jumper that somehow finds the bottom of the net even with a funky release, and defensively confusing the usually steady Jon Brockman and providing constant help defense, blocking shots and starting the Kansas break. Aldrich and Marcus Morris forms a great front line for Self to work with. It also appears Sherron Collins has his attitude/work ethic straightened out and he’s ready to lead a young Kansas squad. Tyshawn Taylor is an athletic guard who will compliment Collins nicely in the backcourt. The only concerns should be offensive rebounding (Washington dominated here) and three-point shooting (just 2 of 8).

#2 Connecticut 76, #19 Wisconsin 57: The Badgers love to slow the game down, limit possessions and force their opposition to change their gameplan to fit their ideal tempo. Usually Bo Ryan has no trouble doing so, but this year’s Connecticut Huskies are a totally different animal. Their roster is an endless assembly line of playmakers that forced the Badgers into more of a high-energy contest and even managed to drop 76 points on one of the most stout defenses in the nation. Who would have thought Jerome Dyson, not Price, Thabeet or Adrien, would be the Huskies leading scorer thus far in the 08-09 season? Dyson, along with Adrien down low and the emergence of the soaring freshman Kemba Walker, have been phenomenal thus far. I’d feel confident about my Connecticut pick to win the national title if Hasheem Thabeet wasn’t such an enigma. The only competition for the 7’3 center tonight came from the 6’8 Keaton Nankivil and 6’7 Joe Krabbenhoft, yet Thabeet never demanded the rock on offense and finished with nine points on 2/6 from the field. There’s absolutely no reason for Thabeet to not score 20 points in this matchup, and it shows a lack of aggressiveness that’s concerning if I’m a Connecticut fan. We’ve seen this the last two years with Hasheem, and the developing excuse seems to be wearing off.

Other Top 25 Action

  • #1 North Carolina made mince meat of poor Chaminade 115-70, scoring 67 in the second half behind 26 points from Danny Green
  • #7 Texas pulled away late in Maui and defeated St. Joe’s 68-50 with A.J. Abrams scoring 17 and playing a great point guard
  • #8 Notre Dame earned a second round date with Texas after trouncing Indiana 88-50; Tory Jackson with 21/6/5 on 10/17 FG
  • #21 Miami demolished San Diego in a good win 80-45 even though Jack McClinton only scored nine points and went 1/6 from three
  • #24 Wake Forest’s last two scores: 120-88, 62-31. Think Coach Gaudio worked on defense? Jeff Teague led the way with 14 points
  • #25 Davidson beat Florida Atlantic 76-60. Curry: 39/4/4, 13/21, 5/9, 8/9. Another day at the office.

Other Notes- Cleveland State beats St. Leo by 10 points, Loyola (IL) is demolished by Cornell, Wright State manages 37 points at home and Butler losing everyone leads me to believe this could be a down year in the Horizon League; Massachusetts with the most despicable loss of the night, going down at home to Jacksonville State 75-74. That’ll get the fans riled up for some Minutemen hoops, coach Kellogg! Patrick Patterson scored 28 points and snatched 12 rebounds in a Kentucky rout of Longwood; bad loss for Bradley at home by 12 to UMKC; Georgia has been awful so far this year, winning tonight 54-48 over Santa Clara and trying to cement themselves as the Oregon State of the SEC this season; Ohio State escapes 61-57 over Bowling Green with B.J. Mullens held to two points, lending credence to my earlier article about freshmen struggles early in this campaign; UNLV with a tremendous road win at Conference USA contender UTEP 80-67 with Wink Adams going for 20 points; we thought Oregon State might be on the upswing after contending with Nevada on the road, but they lost by one to Yale tonight at home.

NW Wins Horse Trailer Player of the Day- Stephen Curry, Davidson (again): 39 points, 13/21 FG, 5/9 3pt, 4 assists, 2 turnovers

On The Tube Today

  • Saint Joseph’s vs. Indiana, 130pm (ESPNU)
  • Chaminade vs. Alabama, 4pm (ESPN2)
  • Texas vs. Notre Dame, 7pm (ESPN)
  • Gardner Webb @ South Carolina, 7pm (ESPN FC)
  • Florida vs. Washington, 745pm (ESPNUHD)
  • Oakland at Kansas State, 8pm (ESPN FC)
  • Saint Louis at Nebraska, 8pm (ESPN FC)
  • Texas Southern at Marquette, 8pm (ESPN FC)
  • SE Louisiana at Texas Tech, 8pm (ESPN FC)
  • North Carolina vs. Oregon, 930pm (ESPN)
  • Syracuse vs. Kansas, 10pm (ESPN2HD)

Posted in The Day After | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Top Games Of The Week (November 24-30) Tournament Edition

Posted by Zach on November 23, 2008

Ah, the best week of the non-conference schedule is finally upon us. This slate of Thanksgiving week games is quite possibly the most intriguing and competitive we’ve ever had. The tournaments in Orlando, Maui, Anaheim, Kansas City, Virgin Islands, New Jersey, Vegas and New York are all highlighted by top-25 matchups and historic programs. This week, settle down with some turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie, and enjoy some outstanding holiday hoops.

Maui Invitational– Normally this tournament provides the top November games, and even though the honor goes to the Old Spice this time around, Maui certainly does not disappoint. North Carolina should cruise to their final past the likes of Chaminade, Oregon and Alabama. On the other side of the bracket, Texas will likely face Notre Dame in a captivating semifinal between two top-10 caliber teams. And it only gets more difficult in the final with the Tar Heels on the way. Some players to look out for: Alabama freshman JaMychal Green, Texas forward Damion James, and whether Tyler Hansbrough is close to 100%. He’ll need to be healthy in case a battle with Notre Dame’s Luke Harangody waits. Predicted winner: North Carolina over Notre Dame

Old Spice Classic– Even the first round matchups in this tournament are phenomenal: Tennessee taking on experienced and upset-minded Siena, Wichita State battling Georgetown, Maryland facing Michigan State, and explosive Oklahoma State taking on Gonzaga. This sets up a possible final four of Tennessee, Georgetown, Michigan State and Gonzaga. If you can find a better preseason tournament, please let me know. Keep an eye on whether Bobby Maze can control tempo for Tennessee at the point, if Gonzaga shows why they’re a Final Four contender or if Raymar Morgan has a huge tournament for the Spartans. Predicted winner: Gonzaga over Tennessee

NIT Season Tip-Off– The semifinal matchups at the Garden are BC-Purdue and UAB-Oklahoma, which most likely sets up a very fun final between the Boilermakers and Sooners if they can contain Tyrese Rice (who struggled badly against Saint Louis in a loss) and Robert Vaden (who led the Blazers to an underrated win at Old Dominion), respectively. It’ll be interesting to see how Purdue and coach Matt Painter’s always reliable defense attempts to contain the likes of Griffin inside and Crocker and Warren behind the arc. BC and UAB are both possible bubble teams looking to build their resume while Purdue and Oklahoma can snatch up some quality wins. Predicted winner: Oklahoma over Purdue

Legends Classic- This four-team tournament doesn’t have quite the November matchup that Tennessee vs. Texas provided last year, but there’s still reason to tune in. The first semifinal pits two defensive-minded teams in Washington State vs. Mississippi State, giving us a look at freshman Klay Thompson and shot-blocker extraordinaire Jarvis Varnado. High-scoring Texas Tech and Pat Knight take on Pittsburgh, who happens to be playing great basketball led by a healthy Levance Fields, in the other semi. Once again, you have a team like Pitt trying to build their March resume with the other three squads looking to sneak into the NCAA Tournament and pick up some quality wins early. Predicted winner: Pittsburgh over Washington State

CBE Classic– It seems like we can’t fully gauge how good the four teams in the CBE Classic will be this season, and this tournament should provide an early barometer on whether Florida, Syracuse, Kansas and Washington are contenders or pretenders. Florida has been playing outstanding basketball this season led by all-around guard Nick Calathes. The determining factor in their game against Syracuse could be if anyone on Florida can contain Arinze Onuaku in the paint. The revamped Kansas Jayhawks will be playing on a national stage for the first time, facing a Washington team looking to shake off some early season disappointment. Predicted winner: Syracuse over Kansas

Paradise Jam- Two excellent games Monday night in the Virgin Islands with the consolation game pitting Miami vs. San Diego and the championship spelling Wisconsin vs. Connecticut. Jack McClinton exploded in a one-man offense vs. Connecticut and will look to carry it over against scoring guard Brandon Johnson and a solid mid-major Torero squad. In the championship, Wisconsin’s solid defense will look to confuse the athletic and explosive Connecticut offense. Who performs better in the Trevon Hughes vs. A.J. Price matchup could determine the winner. Also, who will contain Hasheem Thabeet down low? Prediction: Connecticut 66, Wisconsin 58

Anaheim Classic– I absolutely love this tournament. Every single team brings something different to the table to set up quality games in both the winners and losers bracket. On Thursday, Saint Mary’s and Patrick Mills look to squash a dangerous UTEP team. Al-Farouq Aminu, James Johnson and Jeff Teague need to contain outstanding scorer Josh Akognon in the Wake-Cal State Fullerton clash. A-10 contender Charlotte, who nearly took down Clemson on Saturday, faces a tough matchup in Arizona State. To conclude Thanksgiving Day, explosive Baylor and Curtis Jerrells takes on high-scoring Providence. And that’s just the first day, folks. Games like Saint Mary’s-Wake Forest and Arizona State-Baylor in the semis give me no reason to leave the couch. Predicted winner: Baylor over Wake Forest

Cancun Challenge- Four teams will travel to Cancun for some decent games: Drake vs. Vanderbilt and VCU vs. New Mexico. Keep an eye on some standout players like Josh Young of Drake, A.J. Ogilvy of Vanderbilt and Eric Maynor of Virginia Commonwealth. The VCU-New Mexico game is one to watch as both could be battling for one of the last spots on Selection Sunday in two conferences that may receive multiple bids. Predicted winner: VCU over Vanderbilt

Las Vegas Invitational– The four-team tourney in Vegas fails to live up to the standard of many others on this list, but a field of Kentucky, West Virginia, Iowa and Kansas State is still worth watching. Predicted winner: West Virginia over Kentucky

Posted in Non-Conference Tournaments, Top Ten Games of the Week | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Non-Conference Tournament Predictions/Preview

Posted by Patrick on November 18, 2008

Thursday night brings the Semi-Finals of the 2K sports classic in which all of the regional hosts moved on to Madison Square Garden.

Semifinals: UCLA will have trouble with Michigan but should end up winning because of their overall depth and poise in pressure situations. This will also be Manny Harris’ chance to show the nation what he’s all about on a huge stage, so expect a big night from him.

Duke should blow out Southern Illinois, but then again many people thought they should have blown out Rhode Island. SIU is a good team at home, but on the road against one of the better Duke teams in the past couple of years it’ll be no easy task. I expect Duke by 15+.

Finals: UCLA vs. Duke: Wow, what a match-up in the first tournament final. I want to say that Kyle Singler and Duke will win this game because they are a better team technically, but UCLA just has more talent. Darren Collison has been unstoppable and UCLA’s big men should dominate Duke inside.

Champion: UCLA

Regional Games: Certainly nothing is set in stone in terms of which teams will make the semifinals and play in New York. Arizona must beat UAB, Oklahoma plays Davidson, Boston College has to beat St. John’s, and Purdue needs to hold off Loyola. I predict that all regional hosts will advance except for Oklahoma who will lose tonight against Davidson.

Semifinals: Stephen Curry will prove to be too much for Arizona, although I expect Chase Budinger to have a big night.  Arizona needs to make sure they don’t become too hung up on stopping Curry and forget about players like Lovedale and Paulhaus-Gosselin. That could lead to their demise.

Purdue will suffer their first loss of the season against Boston College in this semifinal match-up. I love what Matt Painter has done with this program and think that they are still the favorites in the Big Ten, but Tyrese Rice will dominate in this game. Much like Curry will do against Arizona, Tyrese Rice can divert attention away from his teammates and confuse the Boilermakers all night.

Finals: Boston College vs. Davidson: This will be a match-up between two of the most dynamic guards in college basketball, and while Rice is going to be a force in this game he will be no match for Curry. As we all saw last season, Curry performs on the big stage. I don’t expect anything different from him in the final.

Champion: Davidson

Semifinals: I am not a fan of the fact that even in the unlikely event that there is an upset in the regional rounds, the hosts automatically move on to Kansas City. I think that for the true purity of a tournament format, winners should always advance.

Regardless, the first game will be between Florida and Syracuse. Florida has been surprising in their early games winning by very large margins, and most notably Nick Calathes is playing out of his mind. Although Syracuse is the more athletic team, they don’t play defense and Florida will take advantage of that. Florida will move on to the championship game.

The next semifinal is against Kansas and Washington. I would pick Washington in this game had they not just lost at Portland, a team that won just nine games the previous season. Kansas has the more well-rounded team and should move on with little trouble.

Finals: Florida vs. Kansas: Two programs that have won national championships in the past two seasons will go head to head in the CBE Classic final. While I like Kansas, Florida is the better team and Calathes will dominate once again. Kansas should hang close and make this a close game, but I expect the Gators to pull out a victory in the end.

Champion: Florida

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Quarterfinals: In the past these quarterfinal Maui games have provided much better match-ups, but this season the top seeds look like they should get out of the first round pretty easily. Don’t expect Chaminade to upset #1 UNC like they did to Ralph Sampson’s Virginia team way back when, and Indiana won’t stand much of a chance against Notre Dame. Saint Joseph’s can give Texas trouble, but the Longhorns are without a doubt the much better team. Oregon will defeat Alabama in a mild upset.

Semifinals: The Texas and Notre Dame game should go back and forth all night with great match-ups at the guard (A.J. Abrams vs. Kyle McAlarney) and forward (Luke Harangody vs. Damion James) positions. Harangody should dominate like usual, and carry the Fighting Irish to a resume building victory.

North Carolina will dominate Oregon, and it shouldn’t even be close.

Finals: North Carolina vs. Notre Dame: This game will depend on whether on not Tyler Hansbrough is ready to play at a high level, because if he is sitting out Harangody will have free reign down low. However, I expect that Hansbrough won’t miss such an important game and North Carolina will show why they are the best team in the nation beating Notre Dame by more than ten points.

Champion: North Carolina

Quarterfinals: By far the most complete tournament from top to bottom is the Old Spice Classic being played over Thanksgiving weekend in Orlando. In the first game, Siena will play Tennessee. I think that Siena will win this game much like they did against Vanderbilt in the first round of last year’s NCAA tournament. The second match-up won’t be nearly as compelling as the first, and Georgetown should roll over Wichita State. Michigan State will have a lot of trouble with an underrated Maryland team, but should get by to the next round. Finally, Gonzaga shouldn’t have any trouble at all with inconsistent Oklahoma State.

Semifinals: Siena will continue to play Cinderella and upset Georgetown the day after beating Tennessee. Georgetown isn’t nearly as good as their ranking and Siena is a very experienced and poised basketball team that will take advantage of the younger Hoyas.

Gonzaga will prove to have too much depth for Michigan State, and the inside-outside combination of Austin Daye and Jeremy Pargo can put up tremendous numbers. These two teams match up very well against each other, but I expect the Zags to continue their trend of performing well in non-conference tournaments.

Finals: Gonzaga vs. Siena: Two teams from mid-major conferences that are both looking to get back to the NCAA tournament and make plenty of noise in their brackets. I think that after two big upsets, trying to get three in a row will too big of a task for the Saints and Gonzaga will roll to victory.

Champion: Gonzaga

Quarterfinals: St. Mary’s should have no trouble with UTEP and move on to the second round. Cal State Fullerton will be very scrappy and keep their game close, but Wake Forest will prove to be too much for the Titans. Arizona State will walk over Charlotte, and Baylor will sneak by Providence.

Semifinals: St. Mary’s is a tremendous team that will make noise in their conference this season and probably get back to the NCAA tournament, but Wake is more athletic and should run up and down the court with ease. Al Farouq-Aminu will have one of the better games in his college career scoring more than 25 points.

Arizona State may have some trouble with Baylor, but James Harden and Jeff Pendergraph are going to lead the Sun Devils to victory and on to the finals.

Finals: Arizona State vs. Wake Forest: Harden will show why he is the best player in the Pac-10 and take over in a very important game for ASU. Supporting players such as Pendergraph, Ty Abbott, and Derek Glasser will also have great games to crush the Demon Deacons hopes of winning this tournament.

Champion: Arizona State

Other Tournaments to Check Out:

Paradise Jam: Possible match-up between UConn and Wisconsin/San Diego

Legends Classic: Pittsburgh, Washington State, Texas Tech, and Mississippi State highlight this field.

Posted in Non-Conference Tournaments, Predictions | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Holiday Tournament Fields Announced

Posted by Zach on August 5, 2008

I know I’ve posted about this before, but I love me some early season Thanksgiving non-conference tournaments. Especially when they kick ass. This year’s fields in Maui, Anaheim and Orlando are outstanding, loaded with top-25 teams and NCAA caliber squads. Here are the official fields and matchups:

Maui: It’s really all about the Notre Dame-North Carolina final set up by the committee. This could be the best shot for UNC to fall other than their trip to Cameron Indoor. Notre Dame is stacked with the inside-outside combo of Harangody-McAlarney along with excellent role players like Tory Jackson and Luke Zeller. We’ve beaten North Carolina to a pulp already on here; they’re loaded more so than any team in recent memory, at least in my eyes. Notre Dame first has to deal with a sneaky St. Joe’s squad and a well-equipped Texas team to make the final, but the possibility of a November 26 ND-UNC battle is one to circle.

Anaheim: Not too many big name programs on the slate for Anaheim, but the quality of the teams is vastly underrated by most. UTEP is a definite candidate to finish second behind Memphis in Conference USA and challenge for a NCAA berth, and they have to face another possible NCAA team, Saint Mary’s, who will fight with Gonzaga and San Diego in a strong WCC. Charlotte has a shot to win the Atlantic Ten this season, so it wouldn’t shock me if they scared Herb Sendek’s team a bit. The best first round game is Providence vs. Baylor as the nightcap, and the winner gets Arizona State. Look for a must-watch ASU-Wake final here.

Orlando: This is a tremendous tournament. When you have a matchup between Maryland and Michigan State in the first round, it’s a special tourney. Tennessee better prepare for Siena, one of the top mid-majors in the nation, and it doesn’t get much easier in the second round with Georgetown. One possible semifinal pits two top-10/15 teams in Michigan State-Gonzaga, with the winner likely playing Tennessee in the final, the SEC favorite.

Chow on some turkey and, rather than football, enjoy some real quality college hoops this Thanksgiving.

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