BGTD: Late Afternoon/Evening Games AnalysisPosted by rtmsf on February 26th, 2011
It’s been a great late February Saturday of college basketball, with some high-quality action that you’d hope and expect to see this time of year. Let’s take a look at a few of the key storylines from the second half of today’s coverage.
- Colorado Second Half Bombards Texas Defense. It was one of those games where we were barely keeping an eye on the gametracker because it appeared quite early on that this would become another UT blowout led by their defensive mastery. As it turned out, a 48-33 halftime lead in Boulder didn’t mean much, because the Buffs shredded the vaunted Longhorn D in a way that nobody else in the Big 12 (or America) has been able to this season. Consider this: in fourteen conference games, the Longhorns had not given up more than 58 points in eight of them — today, Colorado put up that number in the second half in coming from as many as 22 down to win, 91-89. CU’s Alec Burks had a monstrous 33/10 game, and it appears that the Colorado team that many suspected was in Boulder before the season began is finally hitting its stride. Having now won three of four, with two more winnable games (@ Iowa State; vs. Nebraska), the Buffs could be in position to finish at 9-7 in the conference and even make a run at a first round bye in the Big 12 Championship.
- So, About Texas? It’s cliched to point out that Rick Barnes’ teams at Texas have by and large not finished up strong, but with road wins in consecutive weekends at places not named Lawrence, Columbia or even College Station, there need to be some alarm bells going off in Austin. With the loss today, the Longhorns’ fifth of the season, it’s difficult to imagine a scenario where UT has a reasonable shot at a #1 seed — and they certainly would need some help regardless. The question is whether this is just a blip or if teams have started to figure them out — two of the Horns worst four defensive showings this season (as measured by points per possession) occurred today and against NU. In order to prove to us (and the nation) that this UT team is in fact different than some of the others in recent vintage, they really need to clobber surging K-State and Baylor in their last two regular season games.
- Kentucky’s Home vs. Away Quandary. After today’s 76-68 win over Florida, one of the nation’s most schizophrenic teams has moved to 7-0 in the SEC at home and 1-6 on the road. How and why is this happenening? It’s pretty simple, actually. The two legitimate NBA talents that John Calipari has at his disposal — guard Brandon Knight and forward Terrence Jones — are almost equally effective no matter where they play. The problem is that their less-talented teammates such as DeAndre Liggins, Darius Miller and Doron Lamb, drop off considerably away from Rupp Arena. Lamb, for example, averages 15.8 PPG on 57% shooting in Lexington (today: 14 pts on 6-9 FG); away from home he’s at 12.4 PPG and 47%. DeAndre Liggins is even more volatile: 11.0 PPG on 47% shooting at home, and 6.0 PPG on 32% away. A general tenet of March basketball is to never trust teams who can’t win away from home — something to remember when filling out brackets in just two short weeks.
- Miserable SoCal Trip For Arizona. After last weekend’s big win over Washington in Tucson, the last thing Sean Miller wanted to see was a two-loss trip to Southern California. That’s what he got, though, as his team dropped a close one to USC on Thursday night before getting run out of the closing-for-renovations Pauley Pavilion today. A 22-2 run blew the thing open, rendering the second half a showcase for the ever-improving Reeves Nelson (27/16) and ending in a fitting way, with John Wooden’s great-grandson, Tyler Trapani, scoring the final points in the old barn before it becomes closes to become modernized. We’re still not sure if Ben Howland’s team is any kind of postseason threat, but we thought Arizona was; it’ll be interesting to watch how the Wildcats recover from a lost opportunity this weekend next week at home in addition to seeing if UCLA can steal one or two on the road at the Washingtons.
- Did Virginia Tech Finally Get Over the NCAA Hump? Of course, it’s hard to say for certain with these guys. After vanquishing #1 Duke for its most important win in years, the Hokies will probably turn around and lose to Boston College at home on Tuesday. Let’s hope not. When he’s not whining about being left out of the Tournament in March, Seth Greenberg strikes us as a nice fellow, and for a school that has had a number of ups and downs in its basketball program this year, we’re hoping that the Hokies don’t blow the good will and RPI boost that this win engenders. As for Duke, this loss may have cost the Devils a #1 seed. They still have to travel to Chapel Hill (a team that gave them all kinds of hell in Durham) and win the ACC Tournament. One more slip-up and we’re not sure they’ll have the overall profile needed to earn it outright. Their profile honestly doesn’t look significantly different than BYU’s, for example.
- Bubbling Up: Colorado, Baylor and Kansas State in the Big 12; Butler in the Horizon; Clemson and Virginia Tech in the ACC; Michigan in the Big Ten; UAB in CUSA.
- Bubbling Down: Wichita State in the Valley; Alabama in the SEC; Memphis and Southern Miss in CUSA; Minnesota in the Big Ten; Colorado State in the Mountain West.