ATB: Pitt Reasserts Itself and a Look Back to SaturdayPosted by rtmsf on January 19th, 2009
Big Monday. After a weekend (well, Saturday) of good games, it was probably to be expected that tonight’s games were a couple of dogs. Does anyone know what happened to the late game that used to be on Big Mondays? A long time ago it was a Big West game, but in recent years it was the WCC (mostly Gonzaga). Why did that go away?
- Pittsburgh 78, Syracuse 60. This game nearly put us and everyone in the arena to sleep – it was vaguely reminiscent of the bad Big East of the 90s. We guess this sometimes happens, especially considering both of these teams had intense games on Saturday (Pitt losing its #1 ranking to Louisville; Syracuse outshooting ND). This was a bruiser of a game, and the Syracuse players made sure to spend a good chunk of each possession complaining to the refs. DeJuan Blair had another dub-dub (20/12) with four offensive rebounds, and Sam Young dropped 19 of his 22 in the 2d half as Pitt pulled away. Want further proof that this was an ugly game? Syracuse’s Arinze Onuaku and Pitt’s Levance Fields combined to go 0-9 from the line tonight.
- Kansas 73, Texas A&M 53. This game was over early and often. Perhaps we were a little presumptuous in our talk last week about keeping an eye on Texas A&M. In their last two games, the Aggies have looked spotty and inconsistent. Granted they were playing Oklahoma and Kansas, but they’re definitely not in the top tier of the Big 12 this year – tonight, not a single Aggie player reached double figures. KU ran out to a 16-4 lead behind Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich, and never looked back. Kansas isn’t being discussed very much this year, but Bill Self’s Jayhawks are still playing their trademark defense as they wait on their many freshmen and sophomores to come along. They have a very good shot at starting the Big 12 slate at 12-0 (avoiding OU and Texas until their last four games), and they could become a trendy pick to make a sleeper run in March as the young players continue to improve. Great sign, btw….
Game of the Night. Boston U. 99, Stony Brook 97 (4OT). In a wild America East game tonight, BU and Stony Brook played an extra half of basketball before BU was finally able to get the win behind Corey Lowe’s seven points in the fourth overtime period. John Holland of BU wins the Ironman award by playing all sixty minutes of the game.
Weekend Review. Here are some of our other thoughts from the weekend games.
- No Way, Coach K. Coach K made some noise over the weekend in reference to how he believes the ACC is the toughest conference in America (over the Big East). If you’re talking about the top three teams in each conference, sure, the ACC is probably slightly better. Top four? Nope. Five? Nope. Six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve? Nope. Of course, where the Big East falters is at its much-maligned bottom (which is why the Big East’s computer rankings aren’t as high as you might think). Its bottom four teams are absolute garbage, but the bottom line for us is that there are nine teams that are Sweet 16-quality in the Big East, whereas there are four (maybe five) in the ACC. The Big East is better. Period.
- Louisville is Either Really Good or Really Lucky. For the fifth time in the last six games, Louisville was in an all-out war until the very end of a game. In all but the UNLV game, the Cards managed to hold on and get the win. Is this a sign of a gritty team that knows how to make winning plays down the stretch; or is it more indicative of a team that plays hard but isn’t good enough to run away from all but the worst teams? We’re not sure yet, but with upcoming road games at Rutgers and Syracuse this week, we think we’ll have a better idea as to if they’re truly legit or not.
- We Can’t Wait Until Jan. 28. Wake and Duke are the two teams playing the best basketball in America right now. Duke is working on all cylinders right now, with their extremely efficient defense conspiring with their multifaceted offensive attack to regularly put down opponents. Case in point: Georgetown shot 51% in CIS on Saturday, and still never really had a chance to win that game. We’re still not sure just how well a team of guards and swingmen will translate in March, but for now, it’s working. Wake’s defense is even stronger than Duke’s, and when you watch their games, there are at least 2-3 times a game where your jaw hits the floor based on their athleticism and size. The game next Wednesday will probably be #1 vs. #2, and we can’t wait for it.
- Carolina Got its Mojo Back. If Carolina goes on a run over the next few weeks (and their schedule is favorable for the Heels to do so), everyone will point to the late first half/early second half run that Carolina made (behind Wayne Ellington’s ridiculous eight threes) as the turning point. Ellington has been maddeningly inconsistent this season, but if the Heels have any plans to play in Detroit this April, he’s going to have to continue with the hot shooting to keep the middle open for Tyler Hansbrough and Deon Thompson. When he’s shooting well, Carolina is a much different team, one that few, if any, defenses in America can cover.
- Mike Montgomery Still Welcome at Stanford (so long as he loses). Cal certainly isn’t as good as its record indicated, but the fast start that the Bears had made under Monty was a nice story through the first half of the season, which is why it was compelling when he returned to Maples Pavilion at Stanford as head man at the Cardinals’ archrival. Stanford seemed to play a little harder, wanted it a little more, and was able to get the win, knocking Cal from the ranks of the Pac-10 unbeatens. It’s notable that Stanford fans gave Montgomery a nice reception upon his introduction – that wouldn’t happen in the Big 10 or SEC. No way, no how.