Big East/SEC Invitational. This is so ridiculous. Tonight was the opening night of yet another conference challenge series invitational that theoretically is a great idea, but is executed all wrong by the powers-that-be. Why don’t the Pac-10, Big 12, SEC and Big East realize that interest will be much greater in these things if they’re made into week-long EVENTS, similar to the way the ACC and Big 10 do it, and they let ESPN carry all the games throughout the week. The Pac-10/Big 12 Hardwood Series is bad enough, considering nobody even knows about it; but this Big East/SEC thing is an abomination. It only involves four teams from each conference, and somehow a team like South Florida gets invited. South Florida… most people don’t even realize that USF is IN the Big East or even carries a basketball program! Furthermore, they’ve decided to have doubleheaders in semi-neutral venues, which only serves to confuse people and create situations where half the stands are empty, even though two top 25 teams are playing (see: UT-Marquette tonight in Nashville). How cool would it be to have three legitimate made-for-tv challenges between all the power conferences in the first three weeks of December, leading into Bowl Week? Make this happen. FYI – the much-maligned SEC went 2-0 tonight, but who wouldn’t beat South Florida?
- Tennessee 80, Marquette 62. The score was Marquette by 2 with just over ten minutes remaining. Then Tennessee and, more precisely, Mr. Headband as Yarmulke Wayne Chism, took over the game. The Vols scored on eleven of their next twelve possessions, and Chism was involved in seven of them. Game pretty much over. Chism, incidentally, set a new career-high with 26 pts and 11 rebounds, and it was clear that in the second half he was feeling it. The Vols didn’t get a huge amount of production from anyone else, though, (Tyler Smith had 14/3; Bobby Maze 10/6 assts) but their long arms and athletic defense did force Marquette into its worst shooting performance of the season (38%). Wesley Matthews continued to show his value, as he dropped 30 (15 from the line) on a myriad of drives and scoop shots in the lane. Matthews is #2 in the nation in FT attempts (97), behind only Blake Griffin, which shows just how frequently he gets into the paint and absorbs contact.
- Vanderbilt 71, South Florida 52. We’re not going to spend too much time on this turd of game, but one interesting aspect of it was that the much-ballyhooed Mike Mercer (transfer from Georgia) and Gus Gilchrist (transfer from Maryland, sorta) made their tv debuts. Mercer had 10/3 assts, while Gilchrist added 12/8 off the bench. Anyone expecting these two players to turn USF into a Big East contender should have their heads examined. AJ Ogilvy and Jermaine Beal had twenty each for the Commodores.
It’s Hard Out Here For a Pimp.
- LMU’s Bill Bayno is taking a leave of absence due to a “serious medical condition” related to coaching-related stress. Maybe the 0-10 record with a trip scheduled to Pauley on Wednesday had something to do with it.
- Mississippi State’s Rick Stansbury was hospitalized yesterday with migraines and flu-like symptoms, although further tests were being done.
- Mike Davis lost half of his team today, as former Hoosier Armon Bassett decided to transfer (whereabouts unknown), and three other players were found academically ineligible for the spring semester. UAB is now down to six scholarship players.
- RIP, Pete Newell.
Scores that Have Us Wishing For Saturday.
- Clemson 76, North Florida 36. In the past seven years, Clemson has had starts of 10-0, 17-0, 11-0, 9-0, and now in 2008-09, 11-0 again. In those other four unbeaten starts, the final result was two NITs, one NCAA first round loss, and one losing record. Woo. Hoo.
- Texas 88, Texas Southern 72. We’ve said it before, but if Dexter Pittman (19/5) gets going, Texas is a whole different animal. One troubling aspect of tonight’s game is they allowed 0-9 TSU to shoot 58% against them – Rick Barnes cannot be happy about that.
On Tap Wednesday (all times EST). Nothing like a Duke v. UNC-Asheville game (w/o Kenny George) to keep us warm at night. We’re actually very intrigued with how Syracuse responds 48 hrs after losing at home, whether Pitt will dominate a good Siena team, and if St. Mary’s can go into Mac Court and beat a young Oregon team.
- NC State (-9.5) v. East Carolina – 7pm
- Syracuse (-25) v. Canisius (ESPNU) – 7pm
- Duke v. UNC-Asheville (ESPN2) – 7:30pm
- LSU v. Nicholls St. (ESPN FC & 360) – 8pm
- Memphis (-22) v. Arkansas-Little Rock – 8pm
- Arkansas (-6.5) v. Austin Peay (ESPN FC & 360) – 8pm
- Ohio St. v. Jacksonville (ESPNU) – 9pm
- Pittsburgh (-18.5) v. Siena (ESPN2) – 9:30pm
- St. Mary’s (-2.5) @ Oregon – 10pm
- UNLV (-10) v. Santa Clara – 10:30pm
- UCLA (-30.5) v. Loyola Marymount – 11pm