Evaluating the ESPN Tip-Off Marathon: 29 Takeaways From 29 Hours of Action

Posted by Andy Gripshover on November 18th, 2015

My name is Andy Gripshover (@apgripsh) and I watched the entire ESPN Tip-Off Marathon. All 29 hours of it, from start to finish. Here are 29 takeaways from the proceedings.

Denzel Valentine Was the Star of Stars to Finish Off the Marathon (USAT Sports)

Denzel Valentine Was the Star of Stars to Finish Off the Marathon (USAT Sports)

  1. I actually like the Oregon court. I really do. It’s unique; it’s fitting for the area; and everyone wastes too much time hating on the brightness in the middle when it’s actually a perfect contrast to the shade of brown used inside a three-point arc that doesn’t get NEARLY enough love. But that court plus the Ducks’ all-neon yellows PLUS Baylor’s forest greens with the neon green lettering? Yeah, that was a little much. Or perhaps a secretly evil way of starting off the Marathon.
  2. As for the game itself, Baylor was flat most of the way, trailing by double figures for the first 10 minutes of the second half before making a push late. Oregon put four starters in double figures plus Dwayne Benjamin doing his thing off the bench, and Chris Boucher and Elgin Cook thoroughly outplayed Rico Gathers and Taurean Prince.
  3. Now the Walter Pyramid at Long Beach State is a court that I think we can ALL agree is beautiful. Very light and easy on the eyes, and those palm trees….
  4. The offenses in that game between the Beach and BYU were anything but beautiful, though. The Cougars were 26-of-62 from the field, including 5-of-21 from three and an utterly ghastly 8-of-21 from the free throw line. Was that bad? Because Long Beach was worse: 22-of-71 (!!!) from the floor, including 7-of-24 from three. The 49ers had a 22-2 run midway through the first half and held on for dear life in the second to knock off an NCAA Tournament team before heading to Charleston this weekend.
  5. As for the Cougars, Kyle Collinsworth looked at less than 100 percent in going 4-of-9 from the field…. and also 4-of-9 from the foul line. Chase Fischer took five threes and made none of them. It was a nightmarish offensive performance for BYU, and yet, the Cougars almost stole a win at the end anyway.
  6. There’s a certain feeling you get when you see the Stan Sheriff Center court at Hawaii for the first time and realize you’ve made it that far in the Marathon.
  7. Nevada made its first 17 free throws before missing and losing on a Roderick Bobbitt layup with 1.4 to go on the island despite an inspired 34 (!) for Marqueze Coleman. Quality Hawaii game.
  8. Things happened Monday night even before the Marathon really got rolling! Virginia lost! Utah might be better on offense without Delon Wright! Ben Howland (and Malik Newman) lost to Southern!
  9. The most surprising thing about the Virginia loss was how George Washington utterly bullied them inside for practically the entire second half and the pack line could do absolutely nothing about it. The Colonials got to 50 points at the 11:24 mark of the second half, quicker than every Virginia opponent a year ago except for Davidson (which came at the exact same 11:24 mark). The Colonials also went 23-of-28 from the line. Will the rule changes that are purportedly to help increase offense affect Bennett’s defense, or was this a one game blip? Charleston will reveal some answers.
  10. That’s a big win for GW, though. In fact you could even call it the school’s biggest win in 20 years. Marcus Camby’s unbeaten # 1 UMass team (they were 26-0) on February 24, 1996, was the last top 10 team the Colonials had knocked off before Monday night.
  11. We’ll talk more about Utah when we preview Puerto Rico but Jordan Loveridge (21 points; four threes) and Jakob Poeltl looked *good.*
  12. Derrick Jones for UNLV.

  13. Green Bay and East Tennessee State got up and down and the Pirates hit 100 points in emphatic fashion.
  14. Stephen F. Austin is pretty bad other than Thomas Walkup right now.
  15. Valparaiso and Rhode Island played an absolutely terrible first half with only the Rams getting to 20 points on a three at the buzzer. Valpo didn’t score for almost  eight minutes but took control in the second half before hanging on at the end.
  16. It’s a real shame that E.C. Matthews is done for the year. Rhode Island misses him dearly – and might end up missing the NCAA Tournament (again) because of it.
  17. Jeff Van Gundy praised the Dayton students for skipping class for a 1:00 PM game and said he would’ve done the exact same thing. Yeah, me too.
  18. Dayton is Dayton and Archie Miller can really coach.
  19. Avery Johnson at Alabama has a LOT of work to do.
  20. Mike Ditka selling the College Football Playoff Top 25 as coming out in Chicago is incredible even by ESPN self-promotion standards.
  21. Oklahoma got a real battle from Memphis last night but found a way to win on the road. Memphis is always tricky at home in the Marathon and the Sooners had to take some punches to hang on. Buddy Hield dropped 30 because Buddy Hield is good at scoring the basketball.
  22. Kentucky‘s probably the best team in the country again and Jamal Murray is dirty — although you already knew this if you were paying attention.
  23. Not every game is going to be the national championship for Grayson Allen. Last night was about the polar opposite with an 0-of-9 from the floor performance to start and almost as many turnovers (four) as points (six).
  24. I could probably do a larger column on its own about Georgetown/Maryland and just everything before, during and after the game (that SVP SportsCenter was basically a Maryland basketball infomercial). The bottom line is that: (a) the Hoyas came out and played well coming off a Radford loss; (b) they’re still going to really struggle to score at times; (c) Maryland played about badly as it could play (particularly on offense) and still found a way to win; and (d) Melo Trimble was his warrior self, but Jake Layman and Rasheed Sulaimon — yes, the Duke one — hit some big threes late. The battle of the DC metro was the best game of the Marathon.
  25. Still, it was Michigan State that made the biggest statement in Chicago by running past Kansas late in the game. Denzel Valentine had a triple-double (29 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists) and in all honesty, Sparty rather than Maryland looked like the Big Ten favorite.  Matt McQuaid, a wiry freshman, hit three big threes to help boost Valentine’s effort.
  26. Wichita State lost at Tulsa by 10 points although Fred Van Vleet remains somewhere short of 100 percent. This win could be a big bubble boost for the Golden Hurricane down the line though.
  27. The game between Seattle and Eastern Washington got postponed for a wind storm. Seriously.
  28. If I never have to see that Mike and Mike jeans commercial again, I’m good.
  29. Time for some sleep.
Andrew Gripshover (15 Posts)

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