UNC’s Ginyard Out for the Year. No surprise here, but UNC made it official today – Marcus Ginyard’s stress fracture will keep him out of the lineup for the rest of this season. A lot has been written about UNC missing Ginyard’s sticky defense, especially on the perimeter, but at least statistically, the Heels are playing better defense this year than last (even though it’s a marginal difference). Where Ginyard is missed is at the three-point line, where teams are shooting a better-than-expected 32.4% against them. As anyone who has watched this game before knows, hot three-point shooting in March has sunk many a good team, so this would be the one area where a Heel fan should worry the rest of the way – it’s unlikely to improve.
Game of the Night. Ohio St. 80, Purdue 72 (OT). We just can’t figure out the Big 10 this season. As soon as we thought Michigan St. was ready to run away with the league, they lost home games to Northwestern and Penn St. Then we thought Illinois might be poised to move into the top position before they laid a gigantic 36-pt omelet at Minnesota last week. Ok, so what about Purdue? It appeared they were well on their way to taking over the league when Robbie Hummel’s back went out again. So what about Ohio St.? The Buckeyes are still a couple of games behind MSU, but Evan Turner is really coming on (averaging 26.3 ppg in his last three), and BJ Mullens (17/8 tonight) is finally showing some of the promise that being a Burger Boy bestowed. Right now OSU looks like an NCAA Tournament team, and with Thad Matta’s March history, we wouldn’t want to face this team as they continue to grow.
Deconstructing Marquette. Marquette 76, Depaul 61. MU improved to 9-0 in the Big East, which we still contend is the best top-half of a conference we’ve ever seen. So how are they doing it? Well, for one, fortuitous scheduling within the league. Thus far the Golden Eagles have managed to avoid UConn, Pitt, Louisville and Syracuse, while catching Georgetown and Notre Dame in slumps. Still, you don’t win nine consecutive in this league without doing something right, and Marquette is getting tremendous in-conference production from its quartet of Jerel McNeal (24/5/5 assts), Wesley Matthews (19/5), Lazar Hayward (15/7) and Dominic James (13/4/5 assts). In fact, McNeal, Matthews and Hayward each rank in the top 60 players in the nation in efficiency during conference games, so you know that these guys are absolutely ripping it up. What else? Well, their offense is very efficient (#6 nationally) and they don’t turn the ball over much, but other than that, nothing jumps out statistically about this team (which might be a sign). All we know from watching them is that their guards seem to have a sense of the moment, and often make big shots in the clutch. Remember last year’s R32 game against Stanford? Big shot after big shot went down – it took a Brook Lopez fadeaway roller to knock Marquette from a trip to the Sweet 16. This is truly a team that plays better than its individual parts, and although we keep waiting for a team with size to give them trouble, we’re still waiting.
Other Scores As We’re Less than Six Weeks From Selection Sunday.
- San Diego St. 68, UNLV 66. HUGE win for SDSU at UNLV tonight to take the lead in the Mtn West. The Aztecs are in good position to win this league now, with only one really tough road game remaining (at Utah).
- Georgetown 57, Rutgers 47. Yeah, Georgetown won a game for the first time in three weeks, but it’s still troubling that the Hoyas were outrebounded by 3 against a 1-9 Big East team.
- Mississippi St. 66, Kentucky 57. It appears that the SEC has figured out that Kentucky is a two-man team offensively (15 each for Meeks and Patterson). That’s three losses in a row for the Cats, two of which were at home. MSU hit fourteen threes in this one.
- UNC 108, Maryland 91. UNC torched the Maryland defense for 60 first-half points and sixteen threes (Ellington had seven alone) in this one – maybe Bob Knight is holding out for Gary Williams’ job, because this Maryland team is just… bad.
- Kansas St. 65, Iowa St. 50. Don’t look now, but K-State is actually starting to come on a little bit lately with four straight wins in the Big 12.
- Northern Iowa 61, Bradley 58. Another impressive road win for this year’s Drake in the MVC. UNI owns a three-game lead and only has one tough road game remaining (@ Illinois St.).
- Florida 97, South Carolina 93. SC’s Devan Downey nearly pulled off the win by himself (33 pts on 7-9 threes), but Florida managed to put all five starters in double figures in a game that featured little to no defense (but was entertaining).