Monday, November 30, 2009

11/30 - The BIAH Top 25's

1. Kansas: The Jayhawks have done nothing to make me question their spot atop the poll. Cole Aldrich and Sherron Collins have both been less that stellar thus far, but a big reason for that is the competition Kansas has faced. They haven't had to be yet. Xavier Henry and Markieff Morris look like they are for real.

2. Texas: The Varez Ward injury is going to hurt them, but Texas is the team that can with stand it. In fact, it might make to Longhorns more dangerous. Nothing against Ward, because he is a very good basketball player, but he is not an explosive scorer and is basically a smaller Justin Mason. The Longhorns need guys that can shoot and score on their perimeter to keep opponents from collapsing inside. With Ward out, those minutes will go to more offensive-minded players.

3. Villanova: I'm leaving the Wildcats up here because I don't think that an 18 point win is reason enough to drop a team, but I saw a lot that alarmed me against La Salle. Villanova could not get a defensive rebound, and while La Salle is big, their front court pales in comparison to that of the West Virginia's and Duke's of the world. Nova can make up for that a bit with their ability to create points off of turnovers, and they aren't going to shoot 6-25 from three too often, but it is something to keep an eye on.

4. West Virginia: I really liked this team in the preseason, and now that they are at full strength, I like this group even more. The Mountaineers aren't going to be taller than may teams, but they are physical, they are strong, and they are tough defensively, especially along their front line. You know every basket is going to be difficult against them, so if they keep getting easy baskets off of offensive rebounds and, more importantly, they can continue to shoot well from three, this is a team that can go a long way.

5. Duke: The Blue Devils remind me a lot of the good Wisconsin teams. They are getting great (not good, great) play from their back court, they are big across the front line, but most importantly this is a group of kids that understand their role on the team and just know how to play basketball. Getting back Mason Plumlee, who may end up being their most dynamic interior player, doesn't hurt either.

6. Syracuse: The "hype" surrounding the Orange has died down a little bit, but you shouldn't underestimate their 15 point win against a good Cornell team. Their Dec 10th match-up with Florida will be a dandy.

7. Purdue: The Boilermakers had an impressive win against Tennessee, and they look like they will be able to handle the the loss of Lewis Jackson.

8. Kentucky: An OT win against Stanford didn't help answer the question I have regarding this squad: team play and defensive intensity.

9. Florida: Don't underestimate how good Florida was last week in a blowout win of Old Spice champ Florida State and an win over Michigan State.

10. Michigan State: The Spartans have yet to hit their stride early in the season, but isn't that typical with Tom Izzo's teams?

11. Tennessee: The Vols did lose this week, but it was a one point loss to Purdue. Talent isn't the issue, decision making is.

12. Washington: The Huskies were saved by some timely plays down the stretch by Venoy Overton in a win over Montana. U-Dub won't be challenged until Dec. 12th against Georgetown.

13. UNC: Larry Drew looked very good against Nevada. The Heels seem like they may be embracing the fact that they are a team built around their interior.

14. Gonzaga: The Zags won the Maui Invitational, and their victory over Cincinnati is much more impressive than most will believe.

15. UConn: Came away very impressed with UConn against LSU, and unimpressed against Duke. The Huskies will struggle this season against bigger teams. Imagine that.

16. Georgetown
17. Ohio State
18. Minnesota
19. Cincinnati
20. Butler
21. Portland
22. Texas A&M
23. Ole Miss
24. Clemson
25. Miami FL


Troy's

1. Kansas - No surprise here. The more I watch Kansas the more I realize that this team has all the tools to be the best team in the country for a long time. Tyshawn Taylor is back from his melee-related injury and has already provided a spark. I was concerned with the depth of the Jayhawks front court, but the Morris family has quieted my concerns with nearly 20 points and 10 rebounds a game between the sophomore brothers. The remaining non-conference games for the Jayhawks are rather interesting. If they are indeed the best team in the country, they should have no problem with LaSalle, UCLA, Cornell, or Cal. But they also have to face Tennessee and Michigan, so a slip up between now and the beginning of Big 12 play isn't completely out of the question. I imagine they will be undefeated heading into conference play.

2. Texas - I watched Dexter Pittman play a lot last year, and I was impressed. But a slightly more slim, more muscular 2009 version have made the Longhorns extra scary. We know Texas has a lot of depth, but that's already been reduced by the injury to guard Varez Ward. Damion James continues to play at an All-American level, and freshman Avery Bradley is maturing at a very fast pace. The week before Christmas will be huge for the Longhorns. Back-to-back games against Michigan State and UNC should determine if the Longhorns are a legit title contenders.

3. Villanova - The Wildcats have five players averaging double digits through the first five games of the season. Antonio Pena is averaging 11 rebounds per game, to go along with his 12 ppg. The problem is that Pena is the only Wildcat who has asserted himself down low. This could be a major concern for 'Nova down the stretch. But with a somewhat easy non-conference schedule, they should be able to enter Big East play undefeated.

4. Michigan State - The Spartans drop two spots due to their loss against Florida. It wasn't a bad loss, and Florida is a good team, but MSU still has UNC and Texas before starting Big Ten play, and when they are held to under 75 points, opponents have a chance to knock them off. What I do like about Sparty is the pace of their play and the intangibles. Don't get this team in a hole because they have the players to build momentum and rally from behind. They have size inside and an excellent back court. I predict Izzo's team hanging around the Top 5 for a majority of the season.

5. Duke - I am anything but a Duke fan, but I really like how the Blue Devils have been playing. Forget all the "non-athleticism" talk, because this team is big and intelligent. They are a deep team, and the preseason back court concerns have seem to disappear. Jon Scheyer is emerging as one of the best guards in the ACC. Even when Kyle Singler has a quiet game, the Dukies have the players to contribute and get it done. For the first time in four years, we are seeing the Brain Zoubek that Coach K recruited. The Dukies shared the top position with UNC in preseason ACC polls, but at this point, they look like the best team in the ACC and one of the best teams in the country.

6. Purdue - Strong defense and savvy offense has kept the Boilermakers undefeated thus far. E'Twaun Moore has been playing terrific and along with JaJuan Johnson, have taken a lot of the pressure off of Robby Hummel. Purdue definitely has what it takes to be a top team and compete with MSU for the Big 10 crown. I am very excited to see what they can do against Wake Forest this week.

7. Kentucky - Some people will have Kentucky ranked higher than #7. Don't get me wrong, the Wildcats have played excellent, but when you have to have a freshman, albeit a phenom, bail you out of two late game situations, it raises some concern when thinking about February and March. Back-to-back games against UNC and UConn should determine if this team is for real. The early rt of December is going to be the most important part of the Wildcat's non-conference season.

8. Syracuse - The hype is still here. The question is, how long will it be here? Syracuse deserved the huge jump in rankings last week, and if they can continue to play at the same level, shouldn't be doing a lot of moving in the rankings for a while (well, at least until Big East play). The rest of their non-conference schedule is littered with cupcakes, except for a Dec. 10 match up with a streaking Florida Gator squad.

9. West Virginia - With the status of Den Ebanks hanging in the proverbial rafters, the Mountaineers played steady ball and took home the 76 Classic title. With Ebanks back and focused, Bob Huggins squad looks like the team we expected them to be (a very dangerous one).

10. UNC - The road to recovery does not get any more smooth for the Tar Heels following their CvC championship game loss to Syracuse. They still have battles with teams ranked above them (Kentucky, MSU, Texas), but UNC is big and athletic. They just have to put it all together.

11. Tennessee - Sure, they lost to a very good Purdue team in a very close game, but I don't have a ton of faith in this Volunteer squad. The problem that will plague them throughout the season will be their decision-making skills and team poise in close games. They do know how to score a lot of points, so if they can figure out how to win close games, I might become a believer in Bruce Pearl's team.

12. UConn - Quite possibly the most athletic team in the country, UConn got straight-up outplayed in the Preseason N.I.T final against Duke. Stanley Robinson cannot carry this team by himself, and should not be expected to. If this team can learn how to score in a half-court offense, they will be much much better.

13. Washington - The Huskies have beat up on same descent mid-major teams to start their season. Pondexter and Thomas continue to carry the load for the Huskies, but I want to know what happens when they can't score? The team's first interesting matchup comes against #14 Georgetown on December 12th in the John Wooden Classic. After that its Texas A&M and a red-hot Portalnd team.

14. Georgetown - I might have them ranked a bit too high, but thus far the Hoyas have been playing typical Georgetown basketball. It remains to be seen how typical Georgetown basketball will fare against ranked teams like Washington and Butler. Greg Monroe is averaging nearly a double-double and guard Jason Clark is on course for a super sophomore season.

15. Ohio State - It's only two weeks in, but if I had to vote for PoY, it would be for Evan Turner. Mr. Triple-Double is leading a solid buckeye team who only has a loss to #10 UNC on their resume thus far.

16. Gonzaga
17. Louisville
18. Butler
19. Clemson
20. Michigan
21. Florida
22. Minnesota
23. Notre Dame
24. Cincinnati
25. Arizona State

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The ACC/Big Ten Challenge starts tonight: is it the Big Ten's time to shine?

Tonight kicks off the 11th installment of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

And for those of you who don't follow the ACC or the Big Ten too closely, this event has been dominated by the ACC.

When I say dominated, I mean dominated: the Big Ten has never won the challenge. In the ten years it has been in existence, the ACC has an overall record of 62-35, and only five times has the Big Ten lost the challenge by one game.

Dominated.

But with a favorable schedule this season, 2009 may be the year that the Big Ten finally gets off the schneid.

MONDAY:

7:00 pm: Penn State (4-2) @ Virginia (4-2): The Cavs are 0-2 against BCS opponents, having lost at South Florida and to Stanford in Cancun. Having said that, Penn State has two losses to mid-major opponents and has struggled to beat powerhouses like Davidson and Sacred Heart. Virginia is 3-0 at home, including blow outs of Rider and Oran Roberts, and own a victory over Cleveland State on a neutral court.

BIAH's pick: Virginia


TUESDAY:

7:00 pm: Wake Forest @ Purdue: Wake Forest will have the best player on the floor on Tuesday as Al-Farouq Aminu has been playing great basketball early in the season. Ishmael Smith, who had a promising freshman season before playing second fiddle to Jeff Teague in the back court the past two years, also finally looks like the Ish Smith we remember. But Purdue is good this year. Really good. They have already proven they can beat a team that wants to play uptempo (a 73-72 win over a good Tennessee team) and can be very tough in Mackey Arena. Purdue is excellent at controlling tempo, which makes one question whether the Demon Deacons are disciplined enough to pull off the upset.

BIAH's pick: Purdue


7:00 pm: Northwestern @ NC State: Princeton offense versus princeton offense. Don't expect either school to be fooled or unprepared on the defensive end. This game is going to come down to talent and execution, and Northwestern, who is coming off of wins against Notre Dame and Iowa State, looks to have advantage. If John Shurna can outplay both Luke Harangody and Craig Brackins, he should have a field day against Tracy Smith.

BIAH's pick: Northwestern


7:30 pm: Maryland @ Indiana: Greivis Vasquez has let to play up to his potential, and as a result, Maryland has struggled quite a bit early this season. But Indiana is still a few years away from being Indiana. Even though they are improved this season, the Hoosiers have lost three games this season, two of them coming against BU and George Mason.

BIAH's pick: Maryland


9:00 pm: Michigan State @ UNC: Both Michigan State and UNC have fallen aways from where they were last season - atop the polls and in the title game. The Spartans are not going to be as big inside as the Heels, but Drayond Green, Delvon Roe, and company should be able to with compete the muscle of the Heels. The issue is going to be in the back court. Will Larry Drew be effective against a very good Spartan back court? Can Durrell Summers and Chris Allen be scoring threats against Will Graves and Marcus Ginyard?

BIAH's pick: Michigan State


9:30 pm: Virginia Tech @ Iowa: Iowa has already lost home games to Duquesne and Texas-San Antonio, and neither of those teams were as good as the Hokies. And neither team has a Malcolm Delaney.

BIAH's pick: Virginia Tech


WEDNESDAY:

7:15 pm: Illinois @ Clemson: The Illini had a terrible trip to Vegas, as they lost games to Utah (after blowing a 16 point halftime lead) and Bradley. Now they have to head to Littlejohn Coliseum to take on a Clemson team that is going to pressure the Illini back court for 40 minutes. Will the two freshman and Demetri McCamey (who was ripped by Bruce Weber in the press after the loss) be able to handle the pressure? Can the Illini handle Trevor Booker inside?

BIAH's pick: Clemson


7:15 pm: Minnesota @ Miami FL: The Hurricanes have been playing some great basketball so far this season, including a run to the title in the Charleston Classic. But the Canes best win is over a South Carolina team that lost Dominique Archie just seven minutes into the game. While the Gophers had a less than stellar performance out in Anaheim, this is a team that is big, athletic, and very good defensively. It is going to be quite a test for Miami.

BIAH's pick: Minnesota


7:30 pm: Boston College @ Michigan: Manny Harris is fast becoming a kid you have to consider for Big Ten Player of the Year. But the Wolverines have struggled as a team, as they are shooting just 30% from three. Boston College as not been playing great basketball either, losing two out of their last four games. Rakim Sanders has played just four minutes this season as he was suspended for two games and has been hobbled by a sprained ankle. Forward Joe Trapani has been playing well, as has point guard Reggie Jackson. The Eagles are going to need those two to show up if they want to beat the Wolverines zone defense.

BIAH's pick: Michigan


9:15 pm: Duke @ Wisconsin: Duke is built like your typical Wisconsin team. Big inside, good guard play, a couple of shooters, and tough defense. They just happen to be more talented and athletic than the Badgers. The question is how will the Blue Devils play in an always tough Kohl Center.

BIAH's pick: Duke


9:30 pm: Florida State @ Ohio State: A true point guard may not see the floor throughout this entire game. Florida State has a distinct size advantage over the Buckeyes, but the Seminoles bigs don't always play up to their height. Chris Singleton did an excellent job slowing down Lazar Hayward against Marquette in the Old Spice finals, but will he be able to do the same against a more talented Evan Turner? The Noles are shooting very well from deep early on this season, but will they be able to hit them if OSU packs in their defense?

BIAH's pick: Ohio State


If the games play out the way we foresee, then the Big Ten wins this thing 6-5.
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Monday's Pregame Beat

7:00 pm: UNC-Asheville @ Kentucky: The Wildcats have not been as good as advertised this season. They don't give consistent effort on the defensive end, and offensively they are either too selfish or don't quite understand the dribble-drive motion offense. Eric Bledsoe has been a turnover machine, and DeMarcus Cousins does not seem like he grasps the notion of team play. That said, isn't this what everyone expected? This is a team who's best players are mostly freshman. Give them some time and more experience against teams like Asheville. The Wildcats will get there.

7:00 pm: Penn State @ Virginia: The ACC/Big Ten Challenge kicks off in Charlottesville tonight.

9:00 pm: Arkansas-Pine Bluff @ Arizona State: ASU has visions of the NCAA Tournament. With how weak the Pac-10 is, these are games they need to win and need to win big.

Other notable games:

  • 7:00 pm: Colgate @ Syracuse
  • 7:00 pm: St. Joe's @ Rider
  • 7:00 pm: NJIT @ Seton Hall
  • 7:30 pm: Mt. St. Mary's @ Georgetown
  • 8:00 pm: Oakland @ Memphis
  • 10:00 pm: St. Mary's @ San Jose State

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ESPN has a monopoly on college hoops broadcasting, but is that a bad thing for the sport?

You may have missed it while celebrating your Thanksgiving, but Luke Winn wrote an excellent piece on the preseason tournaments and ESPN's influence on them.

Two rule changes - the NCAA doing away with the limitation of two multi-team events in four seasons and the decision to reduce the red tape involved with hosting a tournament - have had a huge effect on the structure of college hoops in November. Essentially, it allowed ESPN to operate their own tournaments instead of having to purchase the rights to televising events such as the Maui Invitational and the Great Alaska Shootout.

Why do you think tournaments like last weekend's 76 and Old Spice Classics had all 12 games televised on ESPN? And why do you think they were conveniently scheduled for Thursday, Friday, and Sunday, leaving open the lucrative college football Saturday?

This obviously is a big blow to tournament organizers. It can't feel good when a massive corporation breaks into your industry, corners the market, and forces you out. And I doubt I'm the only one that would be upset if the Maui Invitational went the way of the Great Alaska Shootout.

But at some point, you have to call a spade, a spade. As much as we would like to think that ESPN is in existence to provide us with endless coverage of our favorite teams, the fact of the matter is that ESPN is a business. And like any other business, ESPN's main goal is to make money. To make as much of it as possible. In thirty short years, they have gone from a little station started in Bristol, CT, to the World Wide Leader in Sports in large part because of aggressive maneuvering like this.

Like it or not, that's how ESPN does business.

But this isn't a business blog; we talk hoops here.

And from a hoops perspective, the addition of all these tournaments, and the exposure given them by ESPN, is a very good thing. Getting people excited about college basketball in November is not easy with the NFL and college football winding down and the NBA and hockey starting up.

These tournaments provide that excitement.

Think about the build up to the Duke-UConn game how excited the fans were to see it.

Think about how hard the kids from Gonzaga and Cincinnati were playing in the finals out in Maui.

Think about how special it was for the Portland basketball program to beat a blue blood and then knock off a ranked team on back-to-back nights on national television.

One of the biggest advantages is for the mid-major schools like a Creighton or a Siena. For major programs playing outside the BCS (the Gonzagas and Xaviers of the world), it is relatively easy to land tough non-conference competition. There is no shame in losing to a perennial top 25 power. But for the smaller mid-majors, the teams that turn into cinderellas when the calender strikes March, it is a different story. No power conference school wants to lose to a mediocre mid-major. You don't think Mississippi State's home loss to Rider is going to be talked about extensively if the Bulldogs end up on the bubble?

These tournaments allow the good small schools a chance to beef up their out-of-conference schedule, and if they win a few games, establish the groundwork for a possible at-large bid.

Hell, the biggest advocates should be the bracket buffs. For someone like me, born, raised, and still living on the east coast, it helps so much to see a school like Portland or Dayton or Arizona State, teams that are seldom on national television and never on locally, play a couple times.

None of that happens without these tournaments.

As far as I'm concerned, the only drawback from a basketball perspective is the crowds. Some of these tournaments looked like high school freshman games. The only people in the gym were the teams, the media, and family members. But remember, these games are played during Thanksgiving, and for the most part take place in exotic locales or tourist destinations. It isn't easy to draw the interest of Los Angelians, especially when teams like Clemson, Minnesota, or Texas A&M are playing.

And its Thanksgiving! Power conference teams that don't have to play road game aren't going to, which means the games we would end up with are low-majors traveling to play high-majors. With the students gone for the holiday, the only people that are going to see the games played are the local fans that are willing to put dinner on hold for a couple of hours.

Yes, it sucks what is happening to some of the traditionally great tournaments as a result of the new rules. Hopefully, ESPN isn't so greedy that they would be willing to put an end to a tradition as great as the Maui Invitational.

But if they are, that just means that events like the Puerto Rico Tip-Off are going to have to take their place.

In terms of what is best for the game, that isn't necessarily a bad thing.
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Morning Shootaround: West Virginia, Florida State with the 76, Old Spice Classics

Old Spice Classic

  • Florida State 57, Marquette 56: Great game in the final, as FSU came back from a 40-24 second half deficit to pick up the win. The Seminoles really turned up their defensive pressure during the second half, using a 15-4 run to get the lead down to 44-39. FSU kept creeping closer in this one before finally taking a 53-52 lead on a Derwin Kitchen three. It was their first lead since 2-0. Mo Acker responded by coming off of a ball screen and getting to the rim for a lay-up. At the other end, the Noles threw the ball in to Solomon Alabi, who hadn't finished a post move all night, used a powerful righty jump hook to take the lead back.

    Florida State won the Old Spice Classic on a couple post moves from Solomon Alabi.
    (photo credit: TBO)


    Lazar Hayward gave Marquette its last lead of the night at 56-55 on a 17 foot jumper from the top of the key, but on the next possession the Noles threw the ball back in to Alabi. Alabi, who had tried about six right-handed jump hooks while only making the one, gave a little fake to the left, then hit a turn around over his right should to give Florida State the win. Darius Johnson-Odom threw away a pass with 2.9 seconds to cement things. Chris Singleton, who was named Tourney MVP, had 18 points and 10 boards. Hayward had 19 points for the Golden Eagles, who were done in by poor free throw shooting (Jimmy Butlers was 4-12 on the night, missing four straight big ones late).
  • Alabama 68, Michigan 66: Alabama played great defensively, holding the Wolverines to just 38% shooting and 6-25 from deep. But it was the play of JaMychal Green inside that really helped the Crimson Tide to overcome another sterling performance from Manny Harris (26, 10 boards, 4 assists). Green had 20 points and 7 boards, which included a tip-dunk with five seconds left to break a 66-66 tie. At the other end, freshman Darius Morris went coast-to-coast but had his shot thrown into the stands by Green to seal the win. Mikhail Torrance had 11 points, 8 assists, and 6 boards for the Tide.
  • Baylor 69, Xavier 64: Tweety Carter had 27 points and six assists to lead the Bears to a win in the fifth place game. Carter's sixth three gave Baylor a 61-57 lead late in the second half, and the Bears sealed the game by hitting eight straight free throws. Epke Udoh, the Michigan State transfer, had 15 points, 9 boards, and 6 blocks, looking like he could one day be a star in the Big XII. Jordan Crawford played two horrible games down in Orlando, both Musketeer losses. Last night, Crawford was just 6-19 from the floor.
  • Iona 63, Creighton 55: Tied at 47, Iona went on a 10-1 spurt to build a 57-48 with just four minutes left. Kenny Lawson Jr had 18 points to lead the Gaels, while Kyle Smith added 14 points. Iona had a very strong showing in Orlando, almost knocking off Florida State and taking Baylor to OT before losing. They should be more than competitive in the MAAC this season.
76 Classic
  • West Virginia 84, Portland 66: The Pilots dream run came to an end on Sunday as they were just too small to deal with the Mountaineers inside. WVU pounded the offensive glass in the first half and used a stretch of four straight three pointers to open up a lead that swelled to as much as 22. Da'Sean Butler had 26 and 6 boards to lead the Mountaineers while Kevin Jones added 17 and 6 boards. Portland just could never find the range offensively as they went 5-24 from deep and struggled in the half court against WU's strong, athletic, and aggressive perimeter defense.
West Virginia was too physical inside for Portland.
(photo credit: AP)
  • Clemson 70, Butler 69: In what may have been the game of the night, Clemson rallied from a 12 points deficit to hand Butler their second loss of the tournament. The Tigers made their run when they dropped back from their full court press into a trapping half court defense. Down 67-62, Clemson hit back-to-back three to take the lead, the second of which was made by Andre Young from deep in the corner with just 1:32 to play. A Matt Howard tip-in gave Butler the lead back, and after both teams missed a shot, Demontez Stitt penetrated and drew a foul with 3.3 seconds left, hitting both free throws. His 19 points led the Tigers. Trevor Booker blocked a Shelvin Mack three pointer and then broke up the ensuing in bounds to seal the game. He finished with 12 points and 12 boards and Willie Veasley did an excellent job on him defensively. Mack finished the game with 15, 8 boards, and 4 assists, while Gordon Hayward had 20 and 12 boards for the Bulldogs.
  • Texas A&M 66, Minnesota 65: Down 66-59 late, the Aggies nearly blew this one as they missed six straight free throws late. First Paul Carter scored an acrobatic and-1 lay-in, then Al Nolen added a lay-up of his own. With under 30 seconds left, the Gophers forced a turnover and Carter drew another foul. After hitting his first free throw, Carter missed the second and the Aggies were able to hold on for the win. Derrick Roland led the way with 19 for the Aggies, while Colton Iverson had 14 and 12 boards to pace the Gophers.
  • Long Beach State 79, UCLA 68: The Bruins are in serious trouble this year. They went 0-3 in this tournament, and are now just 2-4 on the year with all four losses coming to mid-major opponents. UCLA simply does not have the talent this season despite having a number of top 50 recruits the past two years. TJ Robinson had 25 and 13 to lead the 49ers.
UNC 70, Nevada 63: The Tar Heels came up big down the stretch to win their first close game of the season. Down 64-62 with just over seven minutes left, the Heels went on a 12-3 run to open up a seven point lead and hit their free throws down the stretch. Once again, UNC flexed their muscles inside. Deon Thompson had a career high 23 points while Ed Davis added 16 points, 15 boards, and 2 big blocks late. Larry Drew and 12 points, 10 assists, and just one turnover in the win. Armon Johnson had 20 for the Wolfpack, while Luke Babbitt added 15 points and 11 boards, but was just 5-18 from the field.

Washington 63, Montana 59: Venoy Overton knocked down two late free throws, and then blocked what would have been a game-tying three as U-Dub held on against a pesky Grizzlies team. Isaiah Thomas had 13 despite going 1-9 from the floor for the Huskies, who were down 12 and shooting just 31% from the field before making their comeback.

Other notable scores:
  • Texas 77, Rice 59: The Owls just had no answer inside for Dexter Pittman, who finished the day with 21 points on 7-8 shooting. Rice made a run in the second half, but the Horns were just too big inside.
  • Cal 81, Princeton 60: Jamal Boykin had 22 points and 7 boards while Jerome Randle went for 22 and 9 dimes as the Bears battled injuries and illnesses Sunday.
  • Duquesne 71, Radford 63: BJ Monteiro had 21 points while Damian Saunders added 14 points, 16 boards, 6 blocks, 4 steals, and 3 assists as the Dukes hung on to the Radford.
  • NC State 69, New Orleans 52: Tracy Smith went for 20 points and 8 boards in the Wolfpack win.
  • Cornell 61, Drexel 54: Ryan Wittman had 18 points and Jeff Foote added 15 as the Big Red extended their winning streak to three games.
  • South Alabama 74, Arkansas 61: Already depleted due to suspension, the Razorbacks played without Michael Washington, who aggravated a back injury in warm-ups, taking their fourth loss of the year. Arkansas hit just six field goals in the second half.
  • Ole Miss 73, Texas A&M-CC 58: Terrico White and Chris Warren each scored 19 points in the win.
  • Nebraska 51, USC 48: Eshaunte Jones hit a three with just 11.7 seconds left, and Marcus Johnson air-balled a three at the end of the game as the Pac-10 lost another game to a major conference team.
  • Stanford 83, Portland State 64: Landry Fields scored 25 points to lead the Cardinal to a win over the Vikings.

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Monday Morning Dump

Hope everybody had a great weekend. Today's dump is going to be a massive one as we are trying to digest all the news and notes from a packed weekend of delicious food and terrific basketball.

- If you don't know who the Portland Pilots are by now, You're no hoops fan

- UConn will get better when Majok returns

- Demetri McCamey is not performing up to Bruce Weber's lofty standards

- Win against Nevada gives Roy Williams his 600th career victory

- Former Duke star doesn't buy all the "non-athleticism" talk

- John Wall continues to shine as Kentucky takes the Cancun Challenge; take a closer look at Kentucky's work in Cancun

- UCLA got trounced by Portland; Bruins fans are not happy; Andy Katz and Gary Parrish weigh in

- But there is a chance freshman Tyler Honeycutt is back by Dec. 12th

- Trevor Mbakwe's case may be dropped

- Syracuse's big men are having trouble adapting to new rules

- A computer poll of the lower 24 conferences (long and confusing)

- I never thought it was possible to write this much about cheerleading

- The 10 things Jeff Goodman was thankful for this week

- Who are the best juniors in the country?

- Mick Cronin was upset over the no-call in the Maui Invitational title game. Stevenson should have never made that pass, but it was a foul.

- Is Josh Pastner better at recruiting than John Calipari?

- $100,000 is a lot of money

- An in-depth review of the Maui Invitational championship game

- Iowa State has more than just Craig Brackins

- A quick interview with Duke's Nolan Smith

- A great read about where Stanley Robinson was at this point last season

- Joe Mazulla is happy to get back to work with the Mountaineers; Speaking of WVU, with Ebanks back, they are a legit threat to make it to Indianapolis

After the jump, A half-court game-winner

Northeastern beats Wright State on a buzzer-beater. Watch for the mascot



Sean McDonough rips Karl Hess



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Sunday, November 29, 2009

11/30 - College Hoops Week in Review: Feast Week Rehashed

Maybe it is just us, but Feast Week is easily our favorite week of the season outside the month of March.

Meaningful games and twelve straight hours of basketball in November? For an entire week? Can we make this a holiday tradition? Does anyone else like the idea of gift week in mid-December?

All kidding aside, beyond the fact that this week gives us sports fans something to watch when the Lions are getting blown out on Thanksgiving day, college hoops junkies get a chance to see a number of teams that are going to be a factor come March.

(photo credit: ESPN)

Without Feast Week, would you know that Iona has the horses to compete in the competitive MAAC this season? Or that the Gaels have a seven footer named Jonathon Huffman that is a lights out three point shooter? Or that Portland will beat some good teams with their shooting, but will struggle against athletic teams that pressure on the perimeter and crash the glass?

Probably not.

Hit the jump for a recap of all the Feast Week tournaments.

Feast Week MOP: Klay Thompson, Washington State

Thompson has certified himself as the early favorite for Pac-10 player of the year. In three games in the Great Alaska Shootout, Thompson averaged 29.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 4.7 apg, and 2.0 apg while shooting 56.9% from the floor and going 14-24 from deep. He also spent a lot of time defending the best perimeter player on the floor and was a big reason the Cougars were able to hold San Diego's dynamic point guard Brandon Johnson to just 13 points (on 4-12 shooting) and 2 assists. What is most impressive is that Thompson is doing this while team's know that he is the only guy that is a real threat offensively in the half court. There may not be a more dangerous play in the country coming off of a screen than Thompson, who proved that fact on Saturday night. He set a Great Alaska Shootout record with 43 points against San Diego.

Klay Thompson was on fire throughout the four day tournament.
(photo credit: AP)

First Team All-Feast Week:
  • Manny Harris, Michigan: Michigan lost their last two games in the Old Spice Classic, but it wasn't because Manny Harris didn't show up. In the three games in Orlando, Harris averaged 22.7 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 5.7 apg, and 2.7 spg. Evan Turner may have a challenger for most complete player in the Big Ten.
  • John Shurna, Northwestern: Everyone thought Northwestern's season was a lost cause when they lost Kevin Coble, but this John Shurna kid looks pretty good. He only outplayed Luke Harangody and Craig Brackins while averaging 24 ppg, 7.5 rpg, and 4.0 apg in leading Northwestern to a title in the Chicago Invitational. Not a bad introduction to the nation.
  • DJ Kennedy, St. John's: Are the Johnnies back? They won the Hoop Group Classic in Philly this weekend, beating Siena and Temple (in what was basically a road game) en route to the title. Kennedy was the best player on the floor for St. John's as he averaged 19 ppg, 5.5 rpg, and 3.5 apg.
  • Lazar Hayward, Marquette: Hayward, along with his front court counterpart Jimmy Butler, was a huge reason that Marquette was able to make a run to the finals of the Old Spice Classic. In three games in Orlando, Hayward 22.7 ppg and 7.3 rpg, but more importantly created match-up problems all over the court.
  • Da'Sean Butler, West Virginia: The Mountaineers won the 76 Classic in Anaheim, and Butler was the biggest reason why. Butler averaged 18.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg, and 3.3 apg, which included a 15 point second half that carried WVU to a win against Texas A&M, while earning MVP honors.
Second Team All-Feast Week
  • Matt Bouldin, Gonzaga: Bouldin didn't put up the greatest numbers out in Maui, but he consistently made the big plays that helped the Zags bring their first title back to Spokane. He averaged 15 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 4.3 apg, and 2.0 spg.
  • Malcolm Delaney, Virginia Tech: Delaney was borderline unstoppable during the Philly Hoop Group Classic, as he averaged 28.0 ppg in two games. That included a 32 point outburst against Temple in a game where the Hokies managed just 50 as a team.
  • Jon Scheyer, Duke: Scheyer is never going to put up the best numbers playing the point for Duke, but, as Coach K said after the UConn game, Scheyer is the most important player on the Blue Devils roster. He proved it in two games in MSG this week, averaging 17.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg, and 5.0 apg while committing just his first three turnovers of the season. If you include the two first round games from two weeks ago, Scheyer averaged 16.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg, and 5.0 apg with a 6.7:1 assist:turnover ratio.
  • Chris Singleton, Florida State: Singleton won the MVP of the Old Spice Classic as he went for 18 points and 10 boards in the final against Marquette. Not only did he give FSU a huge lift in the second half, he was a big reason that Lazar Hayward struggled to find a rhythm in the final. For the tournament, he averaged 15.0 ppg, 7.7 rpg, and 3.0 spg.
  • Keion Bell, Pepperdine: Bell earned a national reputation in the fall for being a dunker, but through seven games he has shown he is much more than just his vertical. In three games during the World Vision Basketball Challenge, Bell averaged 26.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg, and 4.7 apg while winning tournament MVP.

TOURNAMENT RECAPS

76 Classic
  • Champ: West Virginia over Portland
  • MVP: Da'Sean Butler
  • Three Key Storylines:

    - UCLA's struggles continue as they lost three games in this tournament to mid-majors - Butler, Long Beach State, and Portland by 27.

    - Portland, a team some think may be the third best WCC, reaches the finals as they knocked off UCLA and Minnesota, a win that will look very good come Selection Sunday. The same can be said for Texas A&M, who knocked off Clemson and Minnesota.

    - West Virginia finally got Devin Ebanks back into uniform, and he didn't disappoint, scoring 14 points and 9 boards in his debut on Friday.
CBE Classic
  • Champ: Texas over Pitt
  • MVP: Damion James
  • Three Key Storylines:

    - Pitt may be without Jermaine Dixon and Gilbert Brown, and they sure are going to miss the four starters that are gone, but the Panthers are going to be able to compete with anyone simply because they play defense and they play hard.

    - Texas lost guard Varez Ward for the season with a torn quad muscle he suffered in warmups. Ward was much improved this season, and was a starter for Rick Barnes. The Longhorns are deep in the back court, but losing Ward could still hurt this team.

    - How much longer is Todd Lickliter going to be allowed to try and rebuild Iowa?
Chicago Invitational Challenge
  • Champ: Northwestern over Iowa State
  • MVP: John Shurna
  • Three Key Storylines:

    - A lot of people thought Northwestern had a chance to make to NCAA Tournament for the first time ever before Kevin Coble got hurt. With John Shurna out playing Craig Brackins and Luke Harangody, they may still have a chance.

    - We know about Craig Brackins, but with Lucca Staiger and Marquis Gilstrap developing into solid offensive threats, the Cyclones may be end up being able to compete in the Big XII.

    - Along those same lines, we know what Ben Hansbrough can provide, but will Tim Abromaitis continue to play at this level as the competition increases.
Great Alaska Shootout
  • Champ: Washington State over San Diego
  • MVP: Klay Thompson
  • Three Key Storylines:

    - Klay Thompson averaged 29.7 ppg in three games. If he can keep producing anywhere near that well, Wazzu has a shot of getting a bid to the dance.

    - Oklahoma lost their first two games in this tournament, and won their third despite Willie Warren being held out by Jeff Capel.

    - San Diego picked up two wins in the tournament, including one over Oklahoma. Brandon Johnson looks like he can really play. Can the Toreros win enough games to make the tournament?
Legends Classic
  • Champ: Florida over Rutgers
  • MVP: Erving Walker
  • Three Key Storylines:

    - After beating Florida State and Michigan State in the span of a week, Florida should be getting the hype that Syracuse got after their run through the CvC. They won't. They won on HDNet. Syracuse won on ESPN.

    - How good is Mike Rosario? He scored 20 in the first half of Rutgers opener against UMass, but he scored just 16 over the rest of the two day tournament.

    - Against Florida, Michigan State committed 23 turnovers and made a number of silly, costly fouls down the stretch. Is this really a team coached by Tom Izzo?
Maui Invitational
  • Champ: Gonzaga over Cincinnati
  • MVP: Matt Bouldin and Steven Gray
  • Three Key Storylines:

    - Cincinnati has the talent, the toughness, and the size to make a run at a top three spot in the Big East. But will they be enough of a team?

    - Apparently, Gonzaga has some strength on the interior this season, as Robert Sacre and Elias Harris were able to hold their own against a very big Cincinnati team.

    - Greivis Vasquez still has yet to find his stride. He is shooting just 32.9% from the floor and 26.1% from deep on the season, and in the three games this week, he was just 13-37 from the field and 4-15 from deep. He had 11 assists and 11 turnovers.
NIT Season Tip-Off
  • Champ: Duke over UConn
  • MVP: Jon Scheyer
  • Three Key Storylines:

    - If Derek Glasser and Eric Boateng can perform like they against LSU, the Sun Devils may just be good enough to make the NCAA Tournament.

    - UConn is athletic. UConn can block shots. But UConn is not strong inside, and not a good rebounding team this season.

    - Duke is for real this season, as their back court is playing some great basketball right now and their front court seems to be living up to the potential.
Old Spice Classic
  • Champ: Florida State over Marquette
  • MVP: Chris Singleton
  • Three Key Storylines:

    - Manny Harris, who averaged 22.7 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 5.7 apg, and 2.7 spg, looks like he may be having a good enough season to make a run at the Big 10 player of the year award.

    - Siena and Niagara may not be the runaway favorites in the MAAC. Iona gave Florida State all they could hand in the opener, took Baylor to OT in the second round, and yesterday knocked off Creighton.

    - Xavier goes as Jordan Crawford goes. In the win, he had 22 points on 8-12 from the field and 4-5 from three. In the two losses, Crawford was a combined 10-39 from the floor while averaging 12.5 ppg.
Match-ups of the week:
  • 12/2 - 7:00 pm: Siena @ Georgia Tech
  • 12/2 - 7:00 pm: Pitt @ Duquesne
  • 12/2 - 8:00 pm: Northern Iowa @ Iowa State
  • 12/2 - 8:00 pm: Arkansas @ Oklahoma
  • 12/2 - 8:00 pm: Oklahoma State @ Tulsa
  • 12/2 - 9:00 pm: UNLV @ Arizona
  • 12/2 - 9:00 pm: Washington State @ Gonzaga
  • 12/2 - 9:30 pm: Missouri @ Vanderbilt
  • 12/3 - 7:00 pm: Washington @ Texas Tech
  • 12/3 - 10:30 pm: Baylor @ Arizona State
  • 12/5 - 12:30 pm: UNC @ Kentucky
  • 12/5 - 3:30 pm: St. John's @ Duke
  • 12/5 - 5:30 pm: Wake Forest @ Gonzaga
  • 12/5 - 9:00 pm: Washington State @ Kansas State
  • 12/5 - 11:00 pm: Iowa State @ Cal
  • 12/6 - 1:00 pm: South Carolina @ Clemson
  • 12/6 - 5:30 pm: Kansas @ UCLA
  • 12/6 - 7:30 pm: Villanova @ Maryland


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Sunday's Pregame

There is a lot of really good basketball to be played today, so if your football team played Thursday, or you happen to hail from Kansas City, you are in luck. Besides, everyone knows the only good game this week is Monday Night.

Here's your Sunday hoops line-up.

Old Spice Classic

  • 10:00 am: Creighton vs. Iona: Iona has looked very good through two games, giving both Florida State and Baylor all they could handle. Creighton is a different team, however. Still athletic, the Bluejays get much more out of the guys on their perimeter, even employing a trapping full-court press. Given how well Iona has played in the interior in their first two OSC games, don't be surprised if the Gaels pull out a win so long as they protect the ball.
  • 12:30 pm: Baylor vs. Xavier: Xavier had a rough showing in their first game, specifically Jordan Crawford, who finished the opener against Marquette just 4-20 from field. But in game two, Crawford looked like the guy that dunked on LeBron, going for 22 points on 8-12 from the floor and 4-5 from deep. If he shows up again, X has the bigs the match-up with Baylor on the interior and should pull out the win. If you haven't had a chance to see Epke Udoh of Baylor play yet, tune in. He has a chance to be special.
  • 5:00 pm: Michigan vs. Alabama: In the third place game, the Crimson Tide are going to have to figure out a way to slow down Manny Harris, who is averaging 21 ppg, 8.5 rpg, and 7.5 apg in the tournament. Bama has some bigs and some athletes, but do they have enough shooting to beat the Wolverines zone?
  • 7:30 pm: Marquette vs. Florida State: Marquette once again is a team that is based on spreading the floor offensively, taking advantage of the mismatches created by Lazar Hayward and Jimmy Butler. But the Seminoles are as big as any team that Marquette has faced this season. Granted, guys like Solomon Alabi and Chris Singleton are far from dominating offensive post presences, that length could cause some problems. Will FSU have to go small against Marquette, or will the Noles be able to utilize their mismatches inside? That will decide the game.
76 Classic
  • 2:30 pm: Long Beach State vs. UCLA: The Bruins looked much better against Butler, as they made a big comeback and tied the Bulldogs late. UCLA still has a long way to go, but the biggest issue may actually be effort - are these kids going to play hard for 40 minutes? LBSU gave Clemson a fight on Friday, so UCLA is going to need to be prepared. Going 0-3 in this tourney would be quite an embarrassment for the Bruins.
  • 5:00 pm: Minnesota vs. Texas A&M: There is something to be said for teams that are disciplined and well-coached defensively, and that is the Gophers and the Aggies to a T. A&M was simply out classed against a very good West Virginia team playing wih Devin Ebanks, but the underrated Aggies should have the horses to run with Minnesota. The Gophers were upset by upstart Portland in the second round, and a big reason was their interior play; their bigs just didn't show up. Combine that with cold shooting, and Minnesota just wasn't right offensively. The Gophers are too talented for that to be the norm, and with their defense playing great right now (Portland was over 50% from three on the year before going 8-25 vs Minne), Tubby Smith shouldn't be too worried.
  • 7:30 pm: Butler vs. Clemson: The first of two great games out in Anaheim, the uptempo, pressing Tigers take on the more deliberate Bulldogs. Both of the teams rely on their defensive prowess to be successful, but it is two completely different styles. Clemson plays full court, trying to force tempo and create turnovers. Butler is more comfortable in the half court game. Booker-Howard will be a fun match-up to watch, as will Hayward going against the multitude of athletic wings Clemson has, but this game will be decided by how well Butler defends Clemson from behind the arc. That was the question mark for the Tigers coming into the season, and they have struggled from out there in Anaheim.
  • 10:00 pm: West Virginia vs. Portland: Portland can shoot, West Virginia can defend and rebound. That right there is going to decide this game. Will WVU's size, strength, and athleticism be an issue for Portland on the glass and on the offensive end? Will they be able to create open looks from three? They struggled a bit with it against Minnesota, and WVU is stronger and more athletic than the Gophers.
Other notable games:
  • 2:00 pm: New Orleans @ NC State
  • 2:00 pm: Radford @ Duquesne
  • 2:00 pm: Niagara @ Akron
  • 3:00 pm: South Alabama @ Arkansas
  • 4:00 pm: Texas A&M CC @ Ole Miss
  • 4:00 pm: Texas @ Rice
  • 4:30 pm: Nebraska @ USC
  • 5:00 pm: Princeton @ Cal
  • 6:45 pm: Nevada @ UNC
  • 9:00 pm: Montana @ Washington
  • 10:00 pm: Portland State @ Stanford

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Sunday's Shootaround: UNLV, Bradley, and William and Mary make the day interesting

UNLV 76, Louisville 71: So apparently I don't actually get Versus, which means that I was unable to watch this game when I got home last night (I do have two and a half hours of "To receive this channel, call RCN cable" recorded though). UNLV opened up a 53-34 lead on a cold shooting Louisville, but the Cardinals came storming back. Using a 30-11 surge over a 10 minute stretch, the Cards tied the game on a Raheem Buckles lay-in with four minutes to play. But Oscar Bellfield scored six of his 17 points in an 8-2 run over the next two minutes as the Runnin' Rebels were able to hang on.

Oscar Bellfield keyed the Rebels win over Louisville with 18 points.
(photo credit: AP)

This is the second straight season that UNLV has knocked off Louisville, winning 56-55 in Freedom Hall last season. This is not a terrible loss for Pitino's team, as UNLV is deep and talented this season after the addition of transfers Derrick Jasper and Chace Stanback. Keep an eye on UNLV in the MWC this season.

Bradley 72, Illinois 68: Andrew Warren scored a team-high 16 points, including the go-ahead three pointer with 30 seconds left, as the Braves ended the game on a 11-2 run. After Warren's three put Bradley up 68-66, Demetri McCamey had a chance to tie the game at the line, but he missed the front end of a 1-and-1. Bradley had taken a 47-38 lead early in the first half, but Illinois responded with an 18-8 run, then pushed their lead to 66-61 before Bradley closed out the game. Mike Davis led the Illini with 17 points and 8 boards, but Illinois was done in by 8-29 shooting from their back court of Alex Legion, DJ Richardson, Brandon Paul, and McCamey.

William & Mary 78, Wake Forest 68: Wake Forest never led after the first few minutes, as the Tribe opened up a 60-48 lead late and hit their free throws down the stretch (their last 18 points came from the line). W&M gave up 20 offensive rebounds, but were able to force just 35% shooting from Wake. Danny Summer and David Schneider combined for 32 points and 17 rebounds to lead the Tribe, while Wake got big games out of Al Farouq-Aminu (13 points, 20 boards) and Ishmael Smith (12 points, 11 assists).

Other notable scores:
  • Villanova 81, La Salle 63: Villanova's defensive pressure was in full effect yesterday, as they scored 28 points off of 27 La Salle turnovers. It was a good thing that Villanova was forcing turnovers, because they gave up 26 offensive rebounds and shot just 6-24 from three, making three of those triple in the final minutes of the game when it was already decided. The Wildcats got 14 from Scottie Reynolds and Antonio Pena in an ugly win. Heralded freshman Dominic Cheek played very well for Nova, scoring 10 points while making a number of important hustle plays.
  • Michigan State 106, UMass 68: The Spartans rebounded after a loss to Florida with a hot shooting night, as they went 14-22 from deep. Chris Allen led four players in double figures with 18 points, while Raymar Morgan finally looked healthy scoring 17.
  • Purdue 64, Central Michigan 38: This is Purdue basketball. The Boilermakers allowed just 14 first half points and held the Chippewas to 28% shooting on the game. E'Twaun Moore led the way with 15 points.
  • Ohio State 110, St. Francis (PA) 47: The Buckeyes rolled in this one, as Jon Diebler scored 18 points, Evan Turner added 16, 8 boards, and 5 assists, and Dallas Lauderdale had his best game of the season with 11 points, 6 boards, and 6 blocks.
  • Georgetown 97, Lafayette 64: The Hoyas offense exploded as Jason Clark led five players in double figures with a career high 19 points. Greg Monroe had 13 points, 9 boards, and 6 assists in the win.
  • Pitt 72, Youngstown State 56: Ashton Gibbs scored eight of his 14 points in a 10-0 run midway through the second half as Pitt bounced back after blowing an 11 point lead to get the win.
  • Miami FL 70, USC-Upstate 41: The Hurricanes stayed undefeated as they used a 20-4 first half run to gain control of this one. Dwayne Collins had 17 to pace the Canes.
  • Oregon State 64, George Washington 57: The Beavers held on in front of the first family as GW made a furious rally to close a late 15 point deficit, but Oregon State hit their free throws late. This was a big win for the Beavers, who are still waiting to get Ricardo Nelson eligible.
  • Cornell 67, Vermont 59: The Big Red used a late 16-6 to close the game as Cornell hung on to win in Philly. Jeff Foote had 12 to lead Cornell.
  • Northeastern 70, Wright State 67: Chaisson Allen hit a half court shot at the buzzer to win it:



    Allen had 21 points, 8 boards, and 6 assists in the win.
  • DePaul 68, Detroit 66 OT: Will Walker hit a three with 44 seconds left to give the Blue Demons the lead late in OT.
  • Dayton 74, Towson 69: Chris Wright scored 20 points and grabbed 9 boards as Dayton overcame an 18 points deficit for a much-needed rebound win after struggling in the Puerto Rico tip-off.
  • Kansas State 70, IUPUI 57: Jacob Pulled scored 25 points, including five in a decisive 15-1 run in the second half that opened up a 21 points Wildcat lead.
  • Siena 99, Brown 79: Ronald Moore had 19 and 11 assists while Clarence Jackson added 23 points as Siena rebounded from a loss to St. John's on Friday.
  • Oklahoma 81, Nicholls State 60: The Sooners rebounded from three straight losses by jumping on Nicholls State in the second half. Nicholls held a 48-41 lead before a 10-0 run by the Sooners, who closed the game on a 40-12 push. Cade Davis had 18 to lead OU. Willie Warren didn't play, and Jeff Capel didn't provide an explanation as to why.
  • Virginia Tech 74, Delaware 66 OT: Malcolm Delaney scored 24 points, including the first five in OT, as the Hokies were able to hang on against the Blue Hens. Tech has struggled quite a bit in the early going this season despite great numbers from Delaney. If the Hokies don't start getting production from the rest of their line-up, this could be a long year in Blacksburg.
  • Notre Dame 64, St. Louis 52: Luke Harangody scored 14 of his 18 points in the second half and Ben Hansbrough added 14 of his own as the Irish held on against a tough Billikens team.
  • Boston College 82, Providence 77: Reggie Jackson went for 20 and 12 boards and Josh Southern finished an and-1 with 43 seconds left to give BC a 78-77 lead as the Eagles, who are still without Rakim Sanders, survived after giving up an 18 point first half lead. Sharaud Curry had 20 and 8 assists for the Friars.
  • Mississippi State 69, Old Dominion 55: Dee Bost scored 25 points and hit six threes as the Rebels bounced back from a tough defeat against Richmond on Friday night.
  • Richmond 59, Missouri 52: David Gonzalvez, who led the Spiders with 18 points, hit a three with four minutes left to give Richmond the lead for good. Missouri got 14 points from Kim English, but it wasn't enough as the Spiders won the South Padre Invitational.
  • Missouri State 83, Tulsa 75: Adam Leonard scored 24 points as MSU almost blew a 21 points second half lead. The Bears are now 5-0, and look like a team that can make some noise in the MVC.
  • Seton Hall 95, Long Island 66: Jeremy Hazell had 21 points to lead five players in double figures.
  • Oklahoma State 77, Utah 55: James Anderson scored 24 points as the Cowboys hung on to beat the Utes.
  • Oregon 89, Montana State 66: Teondre Williams had 19 points to lead the Ducks, who bounced back from back-to-back losses for a big win against the Bobcats.
  • Northwestern 67, Iowa State 65: Josh Shurna scored 23 points to lead the Wildcats. Shurna, a sophomore replacement for the injured Kevin Coble, outplayed all-american Craig Brackins to win the Chicago Invitational.
  • Florida 73, Rutgers 58: Kenny Boynton scored 19 points and the Gators continued their excellent play as Florida won the Legends Classic.
  • Northern Iowa 52, Northern Illinois 45: Adam Koch scored 15 points and Kwadzo Ahelegbe added 13 points as the Panthers held on for the win.
  • St. John's 55, Temple 48: DJ Kennedy scored 15 points as the Johnnies beat Temple to win the Philly Hoop Group Classic. St. John's used a 13-2 run to open a 34-24 lead after halftime.
  • Washington State 93, San Diego 56: San Diego had no answer for Klay Thompson, who scored 43 points for the Cougars in the finals of the Great Alaska Shootout.
Saturday's stars:
  • Keith Benson, Oakland: Benson had 24 points, 18 boards, and 7 blocks as the Grizzlies beat Central Arkansas 83-75.
  • Klay Thompson, Washington State: Klay Thompson scored a Great Alaska Shootout record 43 points, hitting 16-24 from the field and 8-13 from deep, as he showed why he may be the best player in the country coming off of a screen.
  • Keion Bell, Pepperdine: Bell proved he is more than just a dunker. Averaging almost 23 ppg, Bell had his best game of the season as he went for 34 points, 9 boards, and 4 assists in an 83-75 win over Monmouth.

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Saturday's Pregame Beat

With the 76 and Old Spice Classics getting the day off, there is not much in the way of great basketball today. But if you dig a little bit, there is still plenty of good college hoops to be seen.

3:30 pm: La Salle @ Villanova: One thing you can guarantee about these Big Five games is that they are always going to be a dog fight. Nothing less should be expected today, as the Wildcats and Explorers butt heads. Villanova is once again playing short handed, as they are likely going to be without Mouph Yarou due to a viral infection while Reggie Redding is still a good two-to-three weeks from reinstatement. That said, the Cats are coming off of a win in the Puerto Rico Tip-off in which their back court never really got on track. A big reason for their early success has been the emergence of Antonio Pena as a legit double-double guy. Nova will need to slow down La Salle's Rodney Green, but the Explorers will be looking for Aaric Murray, a top 50 recruit, to become less of a jump shooter and more of a real post player.

4:00 pm: Louisville @ UNLV: Louisville has yet to look great outside of one half of basketball against a depleted Arkansas squad. The Cardinals have the pieces this season, with a solid and deep back court rotation to go along with Samardo Samuels, Jared Swopshire, Terrence Jennings, and the rest of their front line. A good UNLV team led by Kentucky transfer will be a good gauge of how far along the Cardinals are at this point.

5:30 pm: Michigan State vs. UMass, 8:00 pm: Rutgers vs. Florida: I'm not sure exactly why the Gazelle Group decided to go with Florida and Michigan State in the semifinals of this one, as we now have two relatively unintriguing match-ups on the second day of the Legends Classic. Florida has looked very good the last two games, beating MSU and running Florida State out of the gym. The Gators will have their hands full with Mike Rosario, a St. Anthony's product who is one of the best scorers in the Big East. UMass is going to have their hands full with the Spartans. Derek Kellogg's group is still learning the dribble drive motion offense, and the Minutemen look like they are still a year or two away.

5:30 pm: Notre Dame vs. St. Louis; 8:00 pm: Northwestern vs. Iowa State: It is a shame that Notre Dame lost, as I'm sure everyone was hoping to see Luke Harangody and Craig Brackins do battle. But Brackins and Marqus Gilstrap taking on the tough 1-3-1 of Northwestern should be a treat as well. The Cyclones are going to need to be patient on the offensive end and disciplined defensively, or Northwestern may land themselves another nice win. Keep an eye on sophomore John Shurna of the Wildcats. St. Louis will get a chance to slow down Harangody, who hasn't been impressive yet this season. Although, to be fair, I'm so used to Harangody's "pedestrian" 21 and 9 games (like last night) that not much from the big fella impresses me anymore.

5:30 pm: Old Dominion vs. Mississippi State: The Bulldogs have had a pretty disappointing season this far. After being picked as a possible contender in the SEC, MSU has now lost two games early in the season to mid-major schools. Old Dominion could end up being a contender in the CAA. Will they spring the upset as well?
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Saturday's Shootaround: Upsets abound

Legends Classic

  • Florida 77, Michigan State 74: Florida picks up arguably their biggest win since the 2007 title season as they won a back-and-forth game with the Spartans. Down 69-68 with 1:56 left in the game, Erving Walker hit a deep three from in front of his own bench to give the Gators a lead they would not relinquish. Dan Werner hit two free throws with 17 seconds left and Durrell Summers missed two late threes as the Gators hung on for a well earned win. The story of this game was how out of sync the Spartans looked. They committed 23 turnovers while committing silly fouls down the stretch which allowed to Gators to take control. Erving Walker was just 2-10 from the floor, but he had 7 assists to just 1 turnover. Freshman Kenny Boynton struggled, going 2-12 and 1-9 from deep, but Chandler Parsons (14 points) and Vernon Macklin (10 points, 5 boards) provided a boost off the bench. Kalin Lucas played great for Michigan State, scoring 20 points while hitting numerous big shots.
  • Rutgers 83, UMass 75: Mike Rosario scored 20 of his 22 points in the first half as the Scarlet Knights used a hot shooting first half to open a big lead. UMass rallied from a 22 point deficit early in the second half, with a Ricky Harris three cutting the lead to 79-75 late, but Rutgers was able to seal the game from the line.
76 Classic
  • West Virginia 73, Texas A&M 66: Da'Sean Butler scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half while also adding 5 boards and 5 assists as the Mountaineers used a 12-1 run midway through the second half to pull away. The Aggies got as close as four with a minute left, but were unable to get any closer as WVU hit their free throws down the stretch. The biggest news to come out of this one was that Devin Ebanks, West Virginia's star forward who missed the first three games of the season due to "personal issues", finally suited up. He came in midway through the second half and proceeded to score six straight points, finishing with 14 points and 9 boards in 25 minutes. Donald Sloan and BJ Holmes led A&M with 18 a piece.
  • Clemson 87, Long Beach State 79: Tanner Smith led six Tigers in double figures as Clemson held on against a tough 49ers team. LBSU used a 13-2 run to cut a 12 point Clemson lead one midway through the second half, but the Tigers controlled this one for most of the second have. TJ Robinson (25 points, 15 boards) and Casper Ware (20 points, 10 assists) both played great for the 49ers, but Demontez Stitt (16 and 5 assists) and Trevor Booker (12 points and 7 boards) and company were too much.
  • Portland 61, Minnesota 56: What were we saying about the WCC? Eric Revelo may be coaching his way to the big time as his Pilots effectively mixed defenses, holding Minnesota to 33% shooting and just 16% from deep. TJ Campbell had 23 points to lead Portland while Robin Smeulders added 13 and 6 boards and Nik Raivio had a cold night (9 points on 4-15 shooting) but added 11 rebounds. Minnesota's front court really struggled, and if it wasn't for 19 Portland turnovers and an off-night from deep (8-25), the Gophers might have gotten blown out. A final pitting the Pilots and the Mountaineers will be quite a good game.
  • Butler 69, UCLA 67: The Bruins finally showed up to play Friday night. Too bad it was against a team many believe to be one of the best in the country. UCLA hung around with the Bulldogs by forcing another off-night from Gordon Hayward (3-14) and getting Matt Howard into foul trouble (16 minutes before fouling out). Still, Butler was able to build a 60-52, largely a result of a game-high 21 points from Shelvin Mack, before UCLA came storming back. Jerime Anderson hit a three with 8.6 seconds left to tie the game at 67, but Hayward went the other direction, getting into the lane and drawing a foul with 0.6 seconds left. He hit both free throws for the win. Butler blew a 14 points halftime lead, however. I'm not really sure what to make of the Bulldogs right now. UCLA has too many talented players to play as poorly as they did against Portland all season long, but Butler has yet to put together a complete performance. The Bulldogs will get quite the test against Clemson in the fifth place game.
Old Spice Classic
  • Marquette 79, Michigan 65: Marquette looks like they may make some noise in the Big East. Playing small once again this season, the Golden Eagles out-quicked and out-hustled the Wolverines as they earned a trip to the Old Spice Finals. Michigan used a 12-4 run to start the second half, but Marquette responded with a 10-0 run of their own to open a 58-47 lead that Michigan never came back from. Lazar Hayward (22 points, 9 boards) and Jimmy Butler (17 points, 9 boards) look like they will be one of the better front courts in the Big East. Manny Harris went for 22 points, 8 boards, and 4 assists in the loss.
  • Xavier 80, Creighton 67: Xavier looked like a different team yesterday. I take that back, Jordan Crawford looked like a different player. After shooting his team out of the game on Thursday with a 4-20 performance, Crawford was 8-12 from the floor for 22 points as Xavier completely outplayed the Bluejays, extending their lead to as much as 19. The Musketeers were 9-18 from deep. If it wasn't for Ethan Fragge's 21 point and 5 three's, this one could have been even uglier.
  • Florida State 60, Alabama 51: In a game that rivaled Duke-UConn for ugliness, the Seminoles displayed their defensive prowess, keeping everyone on the Crimson Tide to a subpar game - no one reached double figures. The Noles opened up a lead as big as 13, mainly on the strength of sizzling perimeter shooting, as they were 6-7 from deep in the first half and 9-13 overall. Chris Singleton had 14 and 6 boards to lead FSU while Solomon Alabi added 10 points, 4 boards, and 4 blocks.
  • Baylor 72, Iona 62 OT: LaceDarius Dunn scored 7 of his game-high 17 in the extra session as Baylor avoided the upset against the upstart Gaels. Iona trailed 32-23 at the half, but thanks to some hot shooting from seven footer Jonathon Huffman (four threes), the Gaels were able to work their way back into the game. Baylor is going to be in trouble if they don't figure out how to take advantage of their size and athleticism on the interior. Epke Udoh, Quincy Acy, and Anthony Jones went for 38 points and 28 boards combined, but were less than impressive asserting their dominance when Iona made their run.
Preseason NIT
  • Duke 68, UConn 59: For a full recap, go to our postgame write-up here. But I did want to touch on a couple of things that didn't make the cut. For starters, lets talk about Andre Dawkins. Here is a freshman that thought that he was going to be playing high school ball this season as late as August, but he is turning into Duke's most reliable three point threat and showing a knack for knocking down big shots. And as much flack as Sticks got for his poor performance on the glass, he definitely deserves mention for the defensive performance he had against Kyle Singler. Sticks length really got to the all-american, and he was a huge reason that Singler went 2-12 from the field.
  • Arizona State 71, LSU 52: Down 34-27 at halftime, a completely different Arizona State team showed up for the second half. It started with defense, as the Sun Devils held LSU to a meager 18 points after the break. Derek Glasser and Eric Boateng were dynamite tonight. Glasser looked like he could compete with Nic Wise, Jerome Randle and Isaiah Thomas for 1st team all-Pac-10 as he had 21 points and 6 assists in the win. He torched the Tigers using the pick and roll in the second half. Boateng was a completely different player tonight as he went for 17 and 8 boards, while also adding 3 assists. If ASU can get two freshman — Trent Lockett and Victor Rudd — to play at a consistently high level, this may be a tournament team in a weakened Pac-10 this year.
Other notable scores
  • Utah 60, Illinois 58: Luka Drca scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half as the Utes overcame a 32-16 halftime deficit. Freshman Shawn Glover scored on a runner at the buzzer after the Utes rebounded a Demetri McCamey miss with four seconds left.
  • San Diego 72, Houston 65: Score another win for the WCC. The Toreros advanced to the finals of the Great Alaska Shootout as Clinton Houston scored 21 to lead the way. Brandon Johnson added 13 of his 15 points in the second half.
  • Richmond 63, Mississippi State 62: Richmond jumped out to a quick 13-2 lead, but the Bulldogs responded with some hot three point shooting to take a lead in the second half. After going back and forth for a couple possessions, the Spiders took the lead on a Kevin Anderson jumper with 30 seconds left. Ryan Butler had 19 to lead Richmond.
  • Temple 61, Virginia Tech 50: Lavoy Allen had 18 and 10 to lead the Owls, who used a 19-4 run to close out the first half. Malcolm Delaney scored 28 of his 32 points in the second half as the Hokies got as close as two in the second half. Temple responded with a 16-4 run, and extended their lead to as much as 19.
  • Northwestern 72, Notre Dame 58: The Wildcats 1-3-1 defense wreaked havoc with the Irish offensively, as Notre Dame managed just 32% shooting from the field. John Shurna scored 25 points, and freshman Alex Marcotullio hit two big threes to kill Irish rallies. Gody had 21 and 9 to lead Notre Dame.
  • St. John's 77, Siena 68: DJ Kennedy scored 23 points to lead the Johnnies. Siena got a bucket from Ryan Rossiter, who paced the Saints with 24 and 13 boards, to cut the lead to 52-51, but St. John's responded with a 10-2 run to take a 62-53 lead. Siena never threatened again.
  • Kansas 112, Tennessee Tech 75: Tyshawn Taylor scored 18 to lead five Jayhawks in double figures in a rout. Cole Aldrich had 14 and 10 boards to break out of a mini-slump.
  • Syracuse 85, Columbia 60: The Orange got 26 points from Wesley Johnson and another excellet floor game from Scoop Jardine (8 points, 7 assists, 5 steals). Mookie Jones, who is seemingly considering transferring according to some rumors, hit four straight threes in the second half.
  • Tennessee 86, Charleston 69: A fatigued Tennessee team got 21 points from Scottie Hopson as they needed a late push to put away Charleston.
  • Georgia Tech 85, Mercer 74: Derrick Favors and Mfon Udofia both scored 16 points and Gani Lawal added 15 and 10 as the Yellow Jackets overcame a 40 point outburst from James Florence.
  • Oklahoma State 68, Bradley 57: James Anderson scored 19 points as the Cowboys built up a lead as big as 20 against the Braves.
  • Cornell 78, Toledo 60: Ryan Wittman scored 20 and Jeff Foote added 12 and 12 as the Big Red bounced back from consecutive losses.
  • Iowa State 65, St. Louis 54: Craig Brackins had 16 points to pace the Cyclones, who needed a 13-0 run in the second half to take control of this game.
  • South Florida 78, Florida Atlantic 58: The Bulls got 27 points and 7 boards from Gus Gilchrist in the win.
  • South Carolina 97, Jacksonville 93: The Gamecocks got 34 from Devan Downey, including 17 in the final six minutes, as they held off the Dolphins. It was USC's first game without Dominique Archie, and if it is any indication, the Gamecocks may be hurting defensively.
  • VCU 85, Nevada 76: The Commodores got 17 points, 14 boards, and 5 blocks from Larry Sanders as they blew the one open in the second half, building a lead as big as 20.
  • Missouri 66, Old Dominion 61: The Tigers got 12 points from JT Tiller and 11 from Kim English as they forced 24 Monarch turnovers. Mizzou survived a late run by ODU, who cut a 14 point lead to four late.
  • BYU 87, Weber State 70: The Cougars got 23 and 7 dimes from Jimmer Fredette as the pulled away during the second half.

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Friday, November 27, 2009

The BIAH Quotables: Duke vs. UConn

This a new feature we are trying out here at BIAH this season. Throughout the week, we are going to post some notable quotes or excerpts that show up in our google reader. Stupid people say stupid things 24 hours a day, and being somehow associated with the college hoops landscape does not preclude that fact. That said, we will not limit our quotables to the simple and idiotic, as the insightful and intelligent will also be highlighted. Feel free to pass along any quotables you stumble across to contactbiah@gmail.com or @ballinisahabit.

This entire quotables post would likely have not occurred if a reporter had not asked Coach K his thoughts on Doug Gottlieb's comment that Duke was "alarmingly unathletic" during halftime of the Duke ASU broadcast. Coach K's initial response:

He should be an expert on alarmingly non-athletic. So I'll have to take a look at that a little bit closer because it comes from an expert who actually knows what it feels like to be alarmingly non-athletic.

Actually, we're pretty athletic; we're just not as athletic as UConn. Singler is a really good athlete. Lance, Miles. Jon is not leaping tall buildings with a single bound but he's a real good athlete. But I wouldn't call us like this athletic team, but we're not amazingly non-athletic. And I would rather not get into a discussion with Doug because I have respect of his stature and he should have his arguments with people of similar stature. That would be a good thing.
When he was asked about how his team grabbed 25 offensive boards against a team with the size and athleticism of UConn:
Well, we're big too. Non-athletic but very big.
But this was the best of the night. Jeff Goodman asked "Kyle was 2-of-12, six points, you shoot 29%. If I told you those numbers coming into..." before Coach K cut him off:
I would have been very worried ... Or mad at you. I would have told you to go talk to Doug Gottlieb. You don't have to do that by the way. I won't punish you like that.
Nolan Smith on how athletic Duke will be when Mason Plumlee gets healthy:
Even more athletic than people don't think we are.
Jon Scheyer, when asked if Duke being considered unathletic is a product of the number of white players on their roster (via @AdamZagoria):
I think that's a possibility. There's definitely the thought of that. We have some really athletic [white] guys like Miles and Mason [Plumlee], for example, and I don't really hear people talking about them being great athletes. So I don't know what that means. But I do know that.
More of Scheyer, this time talking directly about his athleticism:
I'm not going to say I'm the most athletic guy in college basketball. But I would say I'm one of the smartest and I know how to play the game and I think that's one thing our team overall. We have guys who really know how to play the game and we are athletic, so for me I don't consider myself one of the most athletic guys but I'm athletic enough. I'm fine.
Scheyer, who basically had to defend his entire skill set, handled the questions well:
When they talk about my game, people have never described it as athletic so I'm not getting offended eight years later when they're still not saying it. But I hope people do see that I play the game the right way and I'm a competitor and I want to be a winner and that's something I'm out to prove this year.
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Duke wins on the strength of their front line

Coming into the season, everyone knew that Duke had size on their roster.

Brian Zoubek is 7'1". Miles Plumlee and Ryan Kelly are 6'10". Kyle Singler and Lance Thomas check in at 6'9". And 6'11" freshman Mason Plumlee, who may actually be the best of the group, has not yet suited up as a result of a wrist injury he suffered in the preseason.

The issue wasn't size, it was experience and ability. Was this group going to be good enough, strong enough, to handle the best front lines in the country?

I think we got the answer tonight.

Duke out-muscled, out-physicaled, and completely outplayed the Huskies front line tonight, winning a battle 68-59.

The biggest reason? Two unheralded seniors.

"I thought Thomas and Zoubek were the difference-makers for us," Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said after the game. "I mean, they both had 11 rebounds."

It was more than just the play of those two inside. The Blue Devils as a team played phenomenal defense, controlling the tempo of the game and preventing the high powered UConn transition game from getting into gear.

The game sure didn't start that way, however.

For about the first 10 minutes of basketball, this one had the look of a game that could get into the 80's or 90's. UConn's transition game was in full effect as Duke was struggling to get back on defense, resulting in some easy baskets (including a two-handed windmill from Stanley Robinson that nearly brought the house down).

But Coach K made a change.

Typically, Duke picks up at half court when playing their man-to-man, but Walker kept beating the Duke defenders down the floor.

"What we normally do with a point guard like that is try to corral him at half court," Krzyzewski said, "you know, just to hold him back. So after the first TV time-out, we just said 'Get back. Don't worry about corral. Everybody is responsible for corralling him.'"

It worked.

By slowing down the Huskies, Duke took control of the tempo of the game. By keeping the Huskies from getting easy baskets in transition, the Blue Devils played to their strength and the Huskies weakness - a half court game.

"We knew we shouldn't try to fast break with them," said Krzyzewski.

What made Duke's transition defense all the more impressive was their rebounding numbers; the Blue Devils grabbed 25 offensive boards. Typically, when a team goes to the glass as hard as the Blue Devils were, it leaves them susceptible to leak outs and fast breaks.

Not so, for the Blue Devils.

Why?

Because it was their bigs doing the dirty work. Of their 25 offensive rebounds, only five came from perimeter players, mostly the result of long rebounds or tip outs.

"It's been a problem four out of our five games, for whatever reason," Huskies coach Jim Calhoun said after the game. "You can't leave an 18 year old freshman (Alex Oriakhi) to be the only guy rebounding.

"I'm so appalled by the lack of rebounding by us as a team. You can't beat anybody if they get 25 offensive rebounds."

Stanley Robinson, in particular, faced the wrath of Calhoun.

"For [Robinson] to play 35 minutes and get four rebounds in a game of 87 misses just can't happen."

Playing as poorly as they did offensively and as weak as they did on the glass, UConn still had a chance at this thing late, and it was because of their defense.

Duke opened up a 58-38 lead on a Andre Dawkins free throw with 12:21 left in the game. But over the next 11:29 of game time, Duke managed just four points and one field goal.

UConn failed to capitalize, however. During that same stretch, the Huskies missed a number of lay-ups, including two open lay-ups from Jerome Dyson in transition, and went 4-10 from the foul line. Even with those missed opportunities, the Huskies were able to get the lead down to 62-54 with 52 seconds left.

Would this have another Duke-UConn classic if the Huskies hadn't left those points on the floor?
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Friday's Pregame Beat

Preseason NIT: I'm just going to copy and paste what I wrote for the preview over at Rush the Court. Remember, come join our live-chat today during the games here.

Welcome back to MSG as we take in the third place game and the finals of the Preseason NIT. In the first game, tipping right at 2:30 pm today, LSU takes on Arizona State. The Tigers were run off the court against UConn, as their backcourt was unable to handle the pressure from the Huskies. The Sun Devils come out strong against Duke, but looked lost on the offensive end over the final 30 minutes of the game. A big issue for the Tigers is going to be how they match up with Arizona State defensively. The Tigers are pretty big — Storm Warren and Tasmin Mitchell are the two forwards, but neither is what you would call a “pure” small forward. ASU plays four guards (including Rihards Kuksiks), meaning that Trent Johnson is going to have to decide between dealing with the mismatch or playing zone. At the other end, ASU is going to have their hands full with Warren inside. He had 15 and 6 in limited minutes against a good Husky front line. Eric Boateng (4 points, 4 boards, 9 turnovers) will need to play much better for ASU.

The final is the game everyone will be waiting to see. There are a few certainties in life — gravity exists, turkey puts you to sleep, Dickie V loves Duke — and one of those certainties is that Duke-UConn is going to be a classic. Think back to 1990 and Christian Laettner’s heroics; or the 1999 title game and Trajan Langdan’s travels; or the 2004 national semifinal and the UConn comeback. Whenever these two teams tango, it is an event, and tonight will be no different. Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith have been playing fantastic basketball, but they have yet to face a team that has the athletes that UConn has in the backcourt. Jerome “Slicin’” Dyson (ESPN really needs to stop using that nickname, it is terrible. What’s wrong with Romey?) and Kemba Walker are as good defending on the ball as anyone in the nation, and the ability of the Duke guards to handle the 2-2-1 press (with Romey and Kemba up top) will be a huge determinant in the outcome of this game. That said, the difference between UConn last night and UConn of the first three games was their aggressiveness going to the glass. But for the first time all season, they will play a team that can match up with them size-wise. Will the Huskies still be able to rebound the basketball?

Two things to keep an eye on: 1) Who controls the tempo of this game. UConn is going to want to get this thing going up and down, as Duke does not have the athletes to run with them. But Duke is going to want slow this down, sit back in a packed-in zone, and let the Huskies try to shoot their way to the title. 2) Stanley Robinson vs. Kyle Singler. Singler is the best player on this Duke team, and is the guy they look to for big shots. But Sticks is a phenomenal athlete, and will be counted on to slow down Singler.

Is it 5 pm yet? In the immortal words of Fergie, “Let’s get it started in here."
Old Spice Classic
  • 12:00 pm: Marquette vs. Michigan: Manny Harris is coming off a near triple-double as Michigan knocked off an impressive Creighton team. But Marquette not only thoroughly beat Xavier, they held Jordan Crawford to one of the worst night's I've seen a player have in a while. Jameson Fleming, who is courtside in Orlando, said that he thought Lazar Hayward and Jimmy Butler may actually be better than Da'Sean Butler and Devin Ebanks. They combined for 42 in the first game, let's see what they can muster against a unique Michigan system.
  • 2:30 pm: Xavier vs. Creighton: A great mid-major match-up between the traditional powers in the A-10 and MVC. Creighton is a team that is going to press, press, press this season and try and force tempo. That said, Xavier does have some good back court players, and their size inside with Kenny Frease and Jason Love may be too much for the Bluejays. Keep an eye on Justin Carter for Creighton. He had a career high 21 yesterday.
  • 5:00 pm: Florida State vs. Alabama: Anthony Grant has gone on record saying that he knows his Alabama team is going to be under-talented in most of their games this season, and thus must outwork teams to survive. If you watched Iona take FSU to wire last night, then you know that FSU could be susceptible to teams out hustling them. Best personal match-up of the day as Solomon Alabi goes up against JaMychal Green.
  • 7:30 pm: Iona vs. Baylor: Baylor, in stark contrast to last season's team, is very big and very athletic across their front line. Iona isn't. While it didn't really effect the Gaels against FSU, we shall see if they can continue that play against the Bears.
76 Classic
  • 2:30 pm: West Virginia vs. Texas A&M: Bob Huggins and Mark Turgeon. What do you think this game is going to be like? Expect a grind it out, physical affair between two of the better defensive coaches in the country. West Virginia is expected to get Devin Ebanks back today (althought technically he was "back" last night, Huggy Bear just chose not to play him). Can the Aggies keep WVU from hitting the glass?
  • 5:00 pm: Clemson vs. Long Beach State: After losing like they did last night, there should be no way that LBSU is able to stay with the Tigers today. Let's see in Clemson can get that three point stroke back on track.
  • 9:30 pm: Minnesota vs. Portland: If Portland wants to earn an at-large bid, they are going to have to win another game in the 76 Classic, and what better way to do it that the team that just knocked off Butler. Portland will be able to match-up with the Gophers in terms of size, but will have no where near the athleticism of Minnesota. Portland relies on their three point shot to stay in games, but the Gophers held Butler to 3-18 from deep last night. If Portland is hitting their shots, this will be a battle for Minnesota.
  • 12:00 am: UCLA vs. Butler: Butler has struggled a bit in the early season, but what better way to get out of a funk than against a UCLA team that is playing very poorly. To be honest, I expect a big game out of the Bruins. They were embarrassed last night, ad at the very least I see them playing all out tonight.
8:00 pm: Florida vs. Michigan State: The Gators are coming off of a blowout win over Florida State earlier this week, but the Spartans are one of the few teams everyone thinks can make a Final Four. If you haven't seen freshman Kenny Boynton play for Florida, he's the real deal.

10:30 pm: Utah @ Illinois: The Utes did just lose to Seattle, but this is a Utah team with a solid back court in Carlon Brown and Luka Drca. Illinois has a young and talented back court, but their front line may end up being too much for the Utes to handle.

Other notable games:
  • 4:00 pm: Mercer @ Georgia Tech
  • 5:30 pm: Rutgers vs. UMass
  • 5:30 pm: Siena vs. St. John's
  • 6:00 pm: St. Louis vs. Iowa State
  • 7:00 pm: Jacksonville @ South Carolina
  • 7:00 pm: Charleston @ Tennessee
  • 7:00 pm: Columbia @ Syracuse
  • 7:30 pm: Nevada @ VCU
  • 8:00 pm: Bradley @ Oklahoma State
  • 8:00 pm: Virginia Tech vs. Temple
  • 8:00 pm: Tennessee Tech vs. Kansas
  • 8:30 pm: Northwestern vs. Notre Dame
  • 8:30 pm: Old Dominion vs. Missouri
  • 11:30 pm: Houston vs. San Diego

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