BGTD: Selected Thoughts From an Upset SaturdayPosted by rtmsf on January 21st, 2012
What a Saturday of college basketball. Three of the AP top four teams lost, and a number of other games have gone down to the wire today. Here are a few thoughts on the action from this afternoon…
- #1 Syracuse’s Unbeaten Season Ends at Notre Dame. This is why projecting unbeaten seasons from power conference teams is an exercise in folly — in the modern game, there are always going to be at least a couple of off nights, and a motivated jacked-up home team will eventually take advantage. Notre Dame, no stranger to beating top-ranked foes in South Bend (seven times now), was ready from tonight’s tip and capitalized on a lethargic offensive night from the Orange to earn its biggest win in years. Some might point to the loss of Orange center Fab Melo to academics as the reason for Syracuse’s loss, but the truth is that the one factor that has worried us about SU all season — who will step up? — came back to bite them tonight. Dion Waiters is their best offensive talent, but he was 4-14 from the field; the next best talent is Kris Joseph (4-12), followed by the guards of Brandon Triche (2-6) and Scoop Jardine (0-5) — with around seven minutes remaining, Syracuse was still down 10 points but Notre Dame was teetering a bit. The game was there for the Orange to take if someone, anyone, had been able to put a series of offensive moves together. Nobody in orange could do so, and thus, the bedlam below. Jim Boeheim’s best teams in the NCAA Tournament always had a go-to guy, from Sherman Douglas to Derrick Coleman to John Wallace to Carmelo Anthony… who is it on this team?
- Duke’s Home Court Winning Streak Ends at 45 Games. We have no idea what fountain of offense Florida State discovered down there in the wilds of the Sunshine State, but the last three games for the Seminoles have been extraordinary. It wasn’t as much the 76 points that FSU scored in Cameron Indoor Stadium to end the Blue Devils’ 45-game home court winning streak, but it was the efficiency in which they did so. When was the last time a team shot nearly 15% better from the floor than Duke did in its own building? FSU hit 54% from the field on its way to another highly impressive 1.126 points per possession, its third straight game well over the Seminoles’ season average of 0.995 PPP, and the final play to hit Michael Snaer with a wide-open three on the right wing was outstanding in its execution. With a dominant home win over UNC last weekend and a road win at Duke to get to 4-1 in the ACC, could Florida State with its newfound offensive capability be the best team in the league? Hard to believe, but an authentic case can be made for Leonard Hamilton’s team right now.
- Mizzou Makes a Statement Against Soft Baylor Team. This matchup between two top five teams was supposed to be a situation where the size and athleticism of Baylor would give all kinds of trouble to the much smaller (but equally athletic) Tigers. Um, no. In fact, Missouri came into Waco and completely out-toughed the Bears on their home court, outrebounding Baylor by three and forcing them to react to their quickness by reaching in time and time again. Baylor has top five talent, but right now they do not play with the requisite fire and emotion to become a top five team. They could stand to take some lessons from Missouri, featuring a single big man, Ricardo Ratliffe, who went for 27/8/2 blks on 11-14 shooting against the Baylor bigs, and a corps of tougher-than-you guards led by Marcus Denmon who refuse to back down to the challenge. As of today, only Baylor’s Pierre Jackson appears to have the moxie that the team needs infused into its system, and maybe his warrior mentality (20/4/15 assts) will eventually rub off — but it’s not there yet, and we have serious questions about whether Scott Drew can get it there.
- A Few Other Quick Thoughts. Both Michigan and Connecticut walked into tough road environments in the SEC this afternoon, with Arkansas and Tennessee taking advantage of raucous environments to get big home wins… UT’s Jarnell Stokes is one of the great midseason stories this year, as he went for 16/12 just weeks after he come on board to the program from high school… Vandy didn’t take long to let everyone down after getting hyped up for the better part of a week — both Festus Ezeli (in regulation) and John Jenkins (in overtime) had great looks at the basket to win the game at home, but in each case, the player rushed the shot and the Commodores moved to 0-3 in OT games this season… If anyone can figure out the Pac-12, let us know — Cal lost at Wazzu; Utah destroyed Arizona State; Oregon came from way behind to beat UCLA; Stanford got ripped by Washington; and, Arizona was nipped by Colorado… Kentucky will be the new #1 on Monday in pretty much everyone’s poll, but the Wildcats have done just enough to win the last few outings — will they get caught on the road at Georgia or LSU this coming week?