ATB: Weekend Wrap

Posted by rtmsf on January 28th, 2008

ATB v.4

Still Unbeaten. #1 Memphis and #2 Kansas remained unbeaten through the weekend, and until both lose a game, this will be the top storyline for the last six weeks of the regular season. This is the latest point in a season that two teams have been undefeated since 2005 (Illinois and Boston College), and there are no signs that either team is slowing down soon. Kansas, the top defensive efficiency team in America, knocked the stuffing out of Nebraska 84-49, but we figure the Big 12 (#2 conf in both KenPom and Sagarin) is too tough as a conference for the Jayhawks to go 16-0 this year (est. KenPom chances of running the table = 38.5%). The real intrigue is whether Memphis (#2 defensive efficiency) will run the table until March, and given that they handled Gonzaga 81-73 in a workmanlike manner on Saturday, we’re feeling like Calipari’s team has a great shot at getting into the postseason unblemished (est. KenPom = 58.3%). He’s no stranger to this kind of pressure, either; remember, in 1996, UMass was 26-0 and #1 deep into February before finally losing a late A10 game to GW. That year also happens to represent Calipari’s sole trip to the F4, before Marcus Camby’s “homemade” bling ultimately led to its vacation by the NCAA. Both teams face somewhat tough opponents on the road Wednesday, however (Memphis @ Houston; Kansas @ Kansas St.), but if they survive those tests we might have a situation similar to 2004 when both Stanford and St. Joseph’s made it to the first week of March unbeaten. It must be noted, though, that neither of those teams made it to the F4.

The Truth About Duke. We were absolutely sure that Duke was going to lose at Maryland yesterday. After watching the first half, where James Gist and Bambale Osby seemingly scored inside at will, we were beyond absolutely convinced that the Terps were on track to beat their second top five opponent in eight days. So what happened? Duke 93, Maryland 84. We’re not going to pile on Gary Williams and his squad for their typical carelessness with the ball, etc., here – that’s what they do, and they were still able to beat UNC in Chapel Hill last weekend. No, we’re going to give all the credit to Duke for their hustle, resilience and clutch play down the stretch last night. It was funny, once Duke got the lead with 12 minutes remaining, we knew in our gut that the game was over. Sure enough, Duke methodically pulled away by getting after the loose balls, battling on the boards despite being undersized, and forcing some of those poor Maryland turnovers. We generally try to avoid the stereotypical “Duke is smarter” BS that you hear the Dick Vitale and Mike Patricks of the world prattle on about, but this year we have to give it to them. Duke plays with a very high basketball IQ, they absolutely get after you defensively, and they simply don’t beat themselves. They just don’t have enough of an inside attack to win another national championship this year, but Duke haters everywhere should prepare themselves for another depressing February and a #1 seed for the Devils in March.

Conference Muddling. The middle of the six BCS conferences are about as wide open as we can remember. In the ACC, after Duke (5-0) and Carolina (4-1), who is the third best team? There are nine other teams with either three or two wins. The Big East is even worse – after Georgetown (6-1) and Louisville (5-2), there are eleven teams with four or three wins, including an absurd six teams with identical 4-3 records. The Big 12, Pac-10 and SEC are a little better, but it’s the Big 10 that is the only league exhibiting true have/have-not behavior. Five teams have five-plus wins, five teams have two or fewer wins, and poor Iowa sits in the middle at 3-5.

Saturday Games. Here are the games that caught our attention on Saturday.

  • Notre Dame 90, #23 Villanova 80. As soon as we think we’ve got ND figured out, they do something like this.
  • Connecticut 68, #8 Indiana 63. We watched this game and still can’t figure this one out.
  • Texas-Pan American 54, NJIT 42. 0-21 now… Circle the home date v. 4-19 Longwood on 2/4 as the breakthrough win.
  • NC State 69, Florida St. 66. This was pretty much a must-win for the Pack.
  • #19 Texas A&M 59, Oklahoma St. 56. OSU continues to struggle in the Big 12 (1-4).
  • Arizona 84, Washington 69. Arizona is starting to look like the third best team in the Pac-10.
  • Louisville 67, St. John’s 57. Terrence Williams with triple 8s (8/8/8 assts).
  • UNLV 72, San Diego St. 69. A key road win in the Mtn West for Vegas.
  • Virginia Tech 81, Boston College 73 (OT). Would the real BC please stand up?
  • Oklahoma 77, Baylor 71. BU’s first B12 loss is at the hands of the surging Sooners (Blake Griffin with 17/15).
  • Purdue 60, #11 Wisconsin 56. Very nice home win for the young Boilers (6-1 in the B10).
  • Mississippi St. 88, #15 Ole Miss 68. MSU is starting to look a little like that team SEC:TGTBTD predicted back in September.
  • Rutgers 77, #17 Pittsburgh 64. Nice egg-laying by Pitt in this one.
  • Kansas St. 82, Iowa St. 57. KSU continues to surge (Beastley 33/15).
  • #18 Drake 58, Northern Iowa 54. The class of the MVC continues to roll…
  • #6 Washington St. 56, #25 Arizona St. Heartbreaking home loss for the Sun Devils.
  • #22 Stanford 82, California 77. Once again, it appears as if Cal is the odd man out in the Pac-10.
  • Richmond 80, #14 Dayton 63. Two straight blowout losses for the Flyers – what happened?
  • #10 Georgetown 58, West Virginia 57. GTown just keeps sneaking by…
  • #3 Tennessee 85, Georgia 69. Lofton came out of his shooting slump with 7 threes.
  • #12 Texas 73, Texas Tech 47. DJ Augustin with 19 as Bob Knight continues to teach mediocrity.
  • #21 Marquette 79, Depaul 71. MU’s backcourt combined for 44 pts.
  • Arkansas 68, LSU 52. The John Brady firing watch continues…
  • USC 95, Oregon 86 (OT). Forget what we said last week about Oregon always winning at home – tough weekend for the Ducks.
  • #7 UCLA 85, Oregon St. 62. What’s laughable is that OSU thought they were in this game at halftime (43-39).

Sunday Games. A few more…

  • #20 Xavier (OH) 77, Massachusetts 65. UMass has really fallen off, but Xavier continues to look fantastic.
  • Florida 86, #16 Vanderbilt 64. Let’s remove Vandy and Ole Miss in favor of Florida and Miss St. in this week’s blogpoll, shall we?
  • #9 Michigan St. 77, Michigan 62. We just can’t get a sense as to how good this MSU team really is (6-1 in the B10, but that one loss was so hideous!).
  • Miami (FL) 75, Clemson 72. Miami really needed this win to avoid a freefall in the conference race.
  • Syracuse 71, Providence 64. Both teams needed this one, Cuse got it.
  • Georgia Tech 92, Virginia 82 (OT). Tremendous ending in regulation in this one, but Virginia has now earned itself last place in the ACC.
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ATB: UCLA is #1

Posted by rtmsf on November 19th, 2007

ATB v.4


Story of the Day. The marquee games of the day were held in KC in the semis of the CBE Classic at the spanking new Sprint Center tonight. We’re still wondering why Kansas City built this thing (we hear the Sonics are available), but it looked like a nice joint for some collegiate hoops. #3 UCLA 71, Maryland 59. In this game, UCLA only had eight players dress out (Darren Collison in particular is still injured), but the Bruins under Ben Howland do what they always do – they uglified the game and ultimately imposed their will on the Terps. The first half looked like someone had greased the basketball, as both teams combined for 30 turnovers and only 46 pts. Advantage: UCLA, as they took a ten-pt lead into the half. The second half wasn’t as painful to watch, but Maryland never truly threatened to get back into the game – every Terp push seemed to be met with a UCLA player hanging off the rim on the other end. Kevin Love had a nice dub-dub (18/16), but we’re with Vitale in agreement that this kid is shy of 6’9 – maybe we’ll see him again next year after all. The only player that impressed on Maryland was Bambale Osby, who had several ridiculous blocks including one stuff of a stuff on Aboya that had us coming out of our seat. The bottom line is this – when UCLA gets Collison back running the show, they are without a doubt the most difficult matchup in the nation because of their defense, size and athleticism. They’re the only team around that can win games going away while shooting poorly (like tonight – 38%).

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Michigan St. 86, Missouri 83. This was a much better game from a viewing standpoint. MSU looked very impressive in the first half, building as much as a 16-pt lead over the quasi-home team, but Mizzou looked equally as impressive in the second half as they charged back into the game, using the 40MoH pressure defense to fluster the Spartans on numerous possessions. MSU’s Raymar Morgan had a perfect night (19 pts on 6-6 FG and 6-6 FT), but it was Drew Neitzel (21 pts) and Goran Suton (17/8) who made the big plays late to secure the win for Tom Izzo’s team. We still think Indiana is the team to beat in the Big 10, but MSU can prove us wrong tomorrow night against UCLA. As for Missouri, we really like what Mike Anderson has already accomplished there – at any moment, we expect to see those twins he had at UAB throwing over-the-head passes 90 feet. The rebuild is over – Missouri could be an NCAA team this year.

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Maui Invitational. Four games, four ho-hummers. Oklahoma St. 83, LSU 77. We thought this would be a close game, and we were wrong, as OSU ran out to an 18-pt halftime lead before nearly blowing the whole thing down the stretch (LSU got within three at the 1:46 mark). OSU was led by James Anderson (25 pts) and Terrel Harris (24 pts), but neither team really impresses us. Where has Anthony Randolph (5/5/5 turnovers) gone? Marquette 74, Chaminade 63. Visions of Virginia ’83 were dancing in the heads of local fans as Chaminade hung with Marquette for much of this game, but Jerel McNeal and his 22 pts held off the upstarts in the last five minutes for the win. Duke 83, Princeton 61. A completely outclassed Princeton team was overwhelmed from the opening tip against Duke, falling behind 24-4 in the first seven minutes of the game. Kyle Singler continued his impressive November, tallying 21/12 in the blowout. Illinois 77, Arizona St. 54. The nightcap game started much the same way, as Illinois ran out to a 20-0 lead on Arizona St. before coasting the rest of the way. Illinois might be better than we thought, but frankly, we expected a better performance in the first game from Herb’s boys tonight. Oklahoma St. will play Marquette and Duke will play Illinois tomorrow. Our picks – Duke and Marquette.

Paradise Jammy. Baylor 62, Winthrop 54. Is Baylor a team on the rise in the Big 12? It would appear to be so after defeating Wichita St., Notre Dame and Winthrop in successive nights to win the Paradise Jam. We would have picked against Baylor in all three games. Georgia Tech 70, Notre Dame 69. The consolation game featured a three with two seconds remaining from Tech’s Matt Causey that gave the schizo Yellow Jackets the win. ND’s Luke Harangody had 22/11 in the loss.

The Atlantic Sun Strikes Again. Belmont 85, Alabama 83. Is Belmont winning on the road against a BCS team an upset anymore? No, especially against an SEC team these days, as the suckeastern conference has been taking it on the chin lately. Right now, who besides Tennessee (and maybe a very young Florida) looks worth a damn? As for this game, a review of the stats shows that both teams played pretty well – it was just that Belmont converted more plays down the stretch. Specifically, Justin Hare dropped a pullup J from the foul line with 2.2 seconds remaining to put the Bruins up two points. What’s amazing about this is that Hare has achieved Jordanesque end-of-game status at Belmont, as this was the thirteenth time he had hit a shot to win or send a game into OT in his career. Bama’s Richard Hendrix went for 25/10 in the losing effort.

On Tap Today (all times EST). The Maui continues, and the Game of the Year (so far) takes place in KC at the CBE.

  • Indiana (-21.5) v. UNC-Wilmington 7pm – the only reason we wish we had the Big Ten channel is E-Giddy.
  • Marquette (-3) v. Oklahoma St. (ESPN) 7pm – we have no idea what will happen in this game, sorry.
  • Connecticut (NL) v. Gardner-Webb (ESPN FC) 7:30pm – didn’t we just do this?
  • Tennessee (-22.5) v. Middle Tennessee St. (ESPN FC) 7:30pm – will Lofton wake up this season?
  • Maryland v. Missouri (-5.5) (ESPN2) 7:45pm – this should be an exciting, uptempo game.
  • Florida (NL) v. North Florida (ESPN FC) 8pm – when does Florida play a road game again – January?
  • Vanderbilt (-14) v. Valparaiso 8pm – the way SEC teams have been falling…
  • Duke (-7) v. Illinois (ESPN) 9:30pm – Illinois has the inside play to exploit Duke, but whither their guards?
  • UCLA (-3.5) v. Michigan St. (ESPN2) 10pm – blood, guts, and glory. This will be a slugfest.
  • Oregon (-5) v. St. Mary’s (ESPNU) 10pm – upset alert! SMC is legit, but Oregon has looked fantastic thus far. How will the Ducks fare in their first road test?
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