ATB: Can Anyone Stop Carolina?Posted by rtmsf on December 4th, 2008
ACC Wins Again. Well, it was closer this year than it has been since 2005, but the ACC won the event for the tenth year in a row, 6-5. The league of atlantic coast schools are now 62-35 (.639) against its midwestern counterparts in this challenge – can we go back to the ACC/Big East version now? Oh, and we really couldn’t have made worse picks today if we had tried – we went 1-4, and Wake was our only winner – picking that game correctly was akin to picking the sun to come up tomorrow. Maybe we’ll stay out of this prediction business for a while. What we found really interesting was that home court in the two leagues with the most advantageous home environments didn’t seem to matter much – home teams were 5-6 in the Challenge (see below).
Carolina Looks Unstoppable. UNC 98, Michigan St. 63. We hesitate to move into the realm of hyperbole in early December, preferring to leave that to the likes of Vitale with his offerings of UNC “competing with” the Clippers, T-Wolves and Grizzlies (which is patently absurd, btw). But at least at this point in the 2007-08 season, UNC is well ahead of everyone else in college basketball. What the Heels did to Michigan St. tonight in its home state could appropriately be described as an absolute dismantling. Frankly, we’re not sure how the Spartans show their faces in E. Lansing tomorrow, considering the Heels only defeated UCSB by 15 in Santa Barbara and Kentucky by 19 in Chapel Hill. As good as Carolina was, MSU was utterly moribund. UNC held the Spartans to 35% shooting from the field, 24% from three, and forced 21 turnovers, many of which directly led to Carolina layups or threes. Speaking of which, if Ty Lawson is going to play as well as he did tonight – ripping balls out of passing lanes (7 steals) and dropping 25-footers with consistency (twice), then we really can go ahead and pass the championship trophy over to Roy Williams. And the question of whether Tyler Hansbrough is healthy was put to rest with another workmanlike 25/11 where he was pretty much able to do whatever he wanted inside the lane. Danny Green was his typical stat-stuffer self (6/5/5 assts), and Ed Davis continues to impress off the bench (10/7 in 17 mins). As for MSU, the only player that seemed ready to play was Chris Allen, who singlehandedly kept MSU in the game with his long-range shooting in the first half. The others – Kalin Lucas, Delvon Roe, Marquise Gray – all horrible. Looking at the schedule, the next even remote possibility of a team staying within 15 pts of Carolina will be at Wake on January 11th. As for MSU, this supposed top ten team hasn’t looked anywhere near it thus far this season – can Izzo get it together?
Other ACC/Big 10 Games.
- Wake Forest 83, Indiana 58. We’re not going to pile on the Hoosiers here, as we’ve done plenty of that before. It’s clear they just don’t have the personnel to compete with teams like Wake. But we’d like to point out one thing echoed by Jimmy Dykes during the broadcast of this game. Wake has the talent to compete at the top of the ACC (and by proxy, the country), but do they have the maturity, focus and resolve to play hard on every possession of every game? As of now, a +3 rebounding margin against a vastly inferior team on the frontline, and 22 turnovers (many unforced) indicates no. The question is whether that will change over the course of the next three months? Well, dunks are always fun, right?
- Penn St. 85, Georgia Tech 83. We were admittedly surprised with the result of this one, but we weren’t at all shocked that Penn St. missed three front ends of 1-and-1s in the last two minutes and two more FTs with 5 seconds left that would have salted this game away. Instead, Georgia Tech came back behind Gani Lawal’s 35/10 and had a halfcourt shot in the air to win the game. Two other Tech players had double-doubles in the loss (Alade Aminu 12/10; Iman Shumpert 14/12 assts), while PSU was led by Stanley Pringle’s 22 pts. This will be a huge resume builder for Penn St. later in the season if they can simply figure a way to go .500 in the Big 10.
- Maryland 75, Michigan 70. Michigan really has to be kicking itself over this loss. For quite a bit of this game, the Wolverines appeared to be the better team. But Maryland’s Greivis Vasquez put up 23/12/6 assts/3 stls in a timely fashion, and Michigan’s Manny Harris was cold (5-15), so the Terps were able to ride its home crowd to a necessary victory. We have a feeling this will be another one of those important bubble-busting games next March for one of these teams.
- Northwestern 73, Florida St. 59. Northwestern used a 20-2 run – yes, you read that right – NORTHWESTERN used a 20-2 run to break open a close game and capitalize on FSU’s sloppiness (21 turnovers). We’re shocked to hear that FSU was sloppy with the ball, shocked we tell you. We expect this will look very bad for FSU come February when NW is sitting at 2-10 in the Big 10 and FSU is arguing for its annual placement on the NCAA bubble.
Upset of the Night. Illinois-Chicago 74, Vanderbilt 55. We should just start calling this the SEC Upset of the Night, because it seems like one of their teams is always the victim. Is this a three-bid conference this year? Two bids? Vandy didn’t just get beat at home; they got assaulted. Shan Foster must have been a lot better than everyone thought. For UIC, Josh Mayo dropped eight threes on the Dores, setting a new Memorial Gym record for an opponent; and Robo Kreps contributed 23/7. Whew.
Other Games of Minute Interest.
- Kentucky 103, Lamar 61. DeAndre Liggins – two games ago he was refusing to play; now he’s coming off the bench for 16/7/4 assts on 6-6 from the field. PP also had 31.
- Syracuse 88, Cornell 78. Cornell outplayed the Cuse for 3/4 of this game. Unfortunately for them, there were ten minutes remaining. Ryan Wittman had 33 in a losing effort, and Flynn/Harris combined for 45.
- Kansas 100, New Mexico St. 79. KU rode a 46-20 rebounding advantage to this blowout win, its 29th in a row at Allen Field House.
- Texas Tech 72, Wichita St. 69. The nation’s #2 scoring team was held 20 below its average tonight but still managed to hold on for a solid win against a mid-major.
- Pittsburgh 78, Duquesne 51. Dejuan Blair with 14/17 and Sam Young with 23/5 in a Panther crushing of crosstown Duquesne.
- Tennessee 87, UNC-Asheville 69. Tyler Smith with the school’s first every trip-dub (12/10/10). How much more fun would these games have been if Kenny George was still playing?
- Miami (OH) 68, Temple 52. Strong road win for the Redhawks at Temple.
- Xavier 81, Auburn 74. Well, at least it wasn’t another upset loss, SEC fans. BJ Raymond had 32/6 for XU.
- West Virginia 80, Ole Miss 78. This sounded like a great game, but WVU’s Alex Ruoff hit two FTs (of their five total) in the last few seconds to secure this road win for WVU.
- California 77, Depaul 67. Patrick Christopher scored 23 and Jerome Randle 24 in a game that Cal would have lost last season.
On Tap Thursday (all times EST):
- Oklahoma (-9) v. USC (ESPN2 & 360) – 7pm
- Connecticut (-14.5) @ Buffalo (ESPN FC & 360) – 7pm
- St. Mary’s (-2) @ Kent St. – 7pm
- Cleveland St. (-3.5) v. Butler (ESPNU) – 8pm
- Texas (-6) v. UCLA (ESPN2 & 360) – 9pm
- Washington (-4.5) v. Oklahoma St. – 11pm