Story of the Night. Our preseason F4 picks are UNC, UCLA, Indiana and Gonzaga, so it’s no surprise that we really like the Zags this season. Imagine our own surprise, however, when we learned just before tipoff of today’s #16 Gonzaga-Montana game that Josh Heytvelt will miss the next 4-6 weeks with a stress fracture in his foot. Given what we know about these sorts of things, we wonder just how effective he’ll be when he gets back. Obviously, without Heytvelt, the Zags have no chance to reach their first F4. Or do they? Heytvelt’s replacement, 6’10 freshman forward Austin Daye, put on a show in his first game, going for 20/10/2 blks on 8-13 shooting and 2-2 from long range. Daye’s performance along with Jeremy Pargo’s high-wire act (he totally went B-Diddy on one of his dunks) and 17/5/5 asts were more than enough as Gonzaga put down Montana without much of a problem. If Heytvelt can come back healthy in January, this team is going to be a major player next March. (Gonzaga 77, Montana 54). One other comment from this game’s coverage on FCS Pacific – commentator Craig Ehlo needs to go back to guarding MJ or something; dude is terrrrible.
Things We Saw. We got to see pieces of five other games today, and here were our impressions. #4 Kansas once again showed just how good they can be, while never actually showing us how good they are. We never had a moment where we thought they were playing all that well, and yet they still won by 23. There were four missed dunks by the Jayhawks during the game, tons of missed foul shots (16-31), and still… UMKC was never really a threat to win in Allen Fieldhouse. Mario Chalmers was the lone bright spot, going 8-13 (6-9 from three) for 23 pts, but Bill Self said they have to get better at many phases of the game if they expect to do anything significant this year (Kansas 85, UMKC 62). Another game we watched was #11 Oregon v. Pacific. Judging by tonight, if there was any doubt as to whether Tajuan Porter can take over for Aaron Brooks, let that notion be put to rest. Porter was scintillating with 28 pts on 10-15 shooting (5-8 from three) and acted as much a leader as we had previously seen from him. Malik Hairston added 20/6 and Maarty Leunen contributed 17/10 in a well-balanced attack against a Pacific team that hung in there. We’re expecting big things from the Ducks this year (Oregon 80, Pacific 64). The Pittsburgh-St. Louis game was a little boring, but it showed us (once again) just how good of a coach Rick Majerus is, as the Panthers didn’t put the game away until a minute to go. If SLU can play like this all season, they’ll be a factor in the A10 race (Pittsburgh 69, St. Louis 58). We didn’t catch as much of the #17 Stanford-UCSB game as we would have liked, but we noted that Stanford once again handled business without much sweat, as Anthony Goods (23/6) outplayed Gaucho star Alex Harris (18/2) in the battle of the guards (Stanford 67, UCSB 48).
Upset Alert. Two minor ones. Nevada will need to win these games if it expects to make it back to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth straight time (UCF 63, Nevada 60). And Cincinnati dropped its second home game in a week tonight – the Bearcats are a long way from “Big East competitive” at this point (Bowling Green 69, Cincinnati 67).
Line of the Night. Michael Beasley (Kansas St.). Again. Only 30/14 tonight in a 29-minute, 5-foul performance against Pittsburg St., a D2 team. It should be noted that K-State was down 40-38 at halftime to this team, though.
On Tap Today (all times EST). 43 games, including Indiana’s debut and a solid test for Duke at home (i.e., not NC Central).
- Indiana (-24) v. Chattanooga 7pm – Eric Gordon makes his long-awaited debut.
- Duke (-17) v. New Mexico St. (ESPN2) 7pm - if Duke is playing with a chip this year, they’ll win this by 30.
- Syracuse (-15.5) v. Siena (ESPNU) 7pm – looking forward to seeing freshmen Flynn and Greene(oh wait, we don’t get ESPNU).
- LSU (NL) v. SE Louisiana (ESPN FC) 8pm – Anthony Randolph, anyone?
- Missouri (-14.5) v. Central Michigan (ESPN FC) 3pm – year 2 of 40MoH begins.
- Oklahoma (NL) v. Alcorn St. (ESPN FC) 8pm – more Blake Griffin.
- Texas (NL) v. Texas-San Antonio (ESPN FC) 8pm – DJ Augustin is our favorite PG.
- Ohio St. (-15.5) v. Wisconsin-Green Bay (ESPN2) 9pm – first game since the Findlay debacle.
- Oregon (NL) v. W. Michigan (ESPN FC) 10:30pm – third game in three nights – any tired legs?
- UCLA (-28.5) v. Youngstown St. (ESPN2) 11pm – first chance to watch K-Love’s superb outlet passing – haven’t you heard?