NCAA Hoops: Observations and some not-so-surprising upsets

ncaa_logoby Paul Casey Gotham

College hoops provided a premier hunker-down event yesterday filled with drama, ‘upsets’, and intrigue.

Observations:  Points are starting to become more difficult to come by.  Yeah conference play has that way about it. Wake Forest and Clemson both entered yesterday’s ACC battle of the undefeated averaging over 80 points per game.  The final score: 78-68.   Clemson was not in a rush to shoot on several occasions.   Opting instead to keep the ball out of the hands of Wake’s Player-of-the-Year Candidate, Jeff Teague.  Didn’t work too well though.

Oklahoma entered yesterday’s game with Texas A&M also scoring 80 points per game.  A&M held the Sooners to 69.  Unfortunately the Aggies could not maintain their unbeaten record at home; they only scored 63.

BYU recently had their home unbeaten streak snapped by Wake Forest.  But they still averaged 81 points per game.  New Mexico took care of that holding the Cougars to 62 while scoring 81.

UNC can actually play defense.  Winless in the ACC after two games the Tar Heels’ defense and especially that on the perimeter came into question.  Rumor has it that Roy had a practice without the rims this week – that’s one way to improve field goal defense.  The Heels held the Hurricanes to 39.7% from the field including a paltry 6 for 21 from behind the arc.

Gerald Henderson appears to be healthy.  Slowed by injury last year the Duke forward scored a game-high 23 – the ninth straight game in double figures for the junior.

Not-so-surprising upsets:

#16 Arizona St. 61 # 9 UCLA 58 – The Bruins were riding a 10-game winning streak and playing at Pauley, so common logic was UCLA would come away with the win.   UCLA’s two losses (Michigan and Texas) were not flukes.  Ben Howland’s group has also survived a couple of close calls – USC (4pts.), Oregon (9pts.), and Miami of Ohio (5pts.).  Combine that with an overlooked Sun Devil team, and the outcome makes sense.  Sun Devil, Derek Glasser, is a pure point guard who puts his teammates in position to score.  Glasser took four shots and scored six points – all from the free throw line.  Meanwhile teammates, James Harden (24pts.) and Jeff Pendergraph (18pts.), carried the scoring load.  ASU came back from an 11-point deficit to send the game into overtime. In comparison UCLA point guard, Darren Collison, scored 14 points but needed 14 shots to accomplish that number.  Collison led the Bruins in shot attempts.

#20 Louisville 69 #1 Pittsburgh 63 – Rick Pitino has the unenviable task of dealing with a group that appears to play to the level of their competition.  Works out nice when the Cardinals take on a team like the Panthers.  Can be rather frustrating when they play UNLV, and the Rebels don’t have their leading scorer.   Pitino has his work cut out for him when preparing for March because not every team will get in foul trouble like the Panthers.

Stanford 75 #22 California 69 – The Cardinal welcomed back their old coach, Mike Montgomery, and promptly gave his crew a little beat down.  Stanford came in losers of three of their last four, but two were one-point losses on the road.  The Bears had won their last nine and were ripe for the picking.

Ohio St. 65 #25 Michigan 58 – The Wolverines have had a couple of impressive wins thus far (Duke and UCLA), but John Beilein is still going through growing pains in just his second year at the helm in Ann Arbor.  Mix that in with the fact that the Buckeyes are limiting opponents to 58 points per game and the Wolverines will drop from the Top25.

Marquette beat Providence 91-82.  In case you haven’t seen it, check out Jeff Xavier’s brother needing to be restrained.

12 Responses to "NCAA Hoops: Observations and some not-so-surprising upsets"

  1. Rey   January 19, 2009 at 10:47 am

    UCLA was overrated to start this year. They haven’t beaten a ranked opponent, yet they remain in the top 10. The close calls certainly open one’s eyes, too. Biggest disappointment thus far has to be highy touted freshman Jrue Holiday (averaging just under 10 points). Howland does not recruit very big guards. Holiday and one other are over 6’2″. The rest stand below that, one even at 5’8″. I don’t see how you can match up now-a-days in college basketball without getting yourself at least one or two big guards.

  2. Casey   January 19, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    And I thought Tennessee was overrated.

    Not one ranked opponent has UCLA been able to beat.

  3. Wally   January 19, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    Anyone think Kentucky is on the right path back toward being a national contender? They’re not there yet, but seem to be showing positive signs and it’s still early in Gillespie’s tenure. Hard to tell, though, with how “down” SEC hoops is.

  4. Casey   January 19, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    They seemed to have turned around and Jodie Meeks has been unconscious, but you are right it is hard to measure based on the play in the SEC right now. Meeks had 54 against a Vol defense that for some reason can’t defend the perimeter. That is the same team that Dionte Christmas torched, and Gonzaga has had their fun with Tennessee. I saw a replay of Meeks’s baskets versus Georgia. If you can believe it, they left him open all night.

  5. Casey   January 19, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    Figure this one out – UCLA is ranked ahead of Arizona St. in both polls.

  6. Smitty   January 20, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    Jim Boeheim needs to work his SU team playing on the road. They looked flat on the road against G’town, looked great at home against ND and then looked flat AGAIN on the road against Pitt.

    No room for error this year in the Big East and you can’t take a night off. Besides you are on the road, going up against the #4 team in the country.. How can you come out flat?? Is it possible? Is it possible that Boeheim is losing his touch?

    The vaunted SU zone defense looks beatable and they were even forced to go man to man last night.. It was tough to watch.

  7. Casey   January 20, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    No doubt Syracuse looks like a different team on the road. If I had to guess at the problem, I would look at Flynn or Onuaku. SU’s defense feeds off their offense. When they are in a rhythm and scoring their defense gets on their toes and plays hard – like wolves smelling blood. Flynn is very talented, but he thinks of shooting before passing too often. Like all shooters he is streaky. Yeah he can make some spectacular passes, but he is not a play-maker.

    Onuaku, on the other hand, is a complete liability on defense. How many times last night did he get caught staring at the ball?

    Of course SU is not the only team struggling on the road. Pittsburgh looked much different last night than at Freedom Hall on Saturday.

    And ND? Is there any coincidence that the recent heat wave in Alaska is taking place at the same time the Irish are struggling. Geez the steam coming out of Wally’s ears must be geyser-like. 🙂

  8. Smitty   January 20, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    So we can thank Wally and Notre Dame sports for Global Warming?? 🙂

  9. Casey   January 20, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    I would like to take this opportunity to introduce everyone to ‘Burghy’ – the mascot of Plattsburgh State.

    Go Cardinals!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Smitty   January 20, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    That is so much better the Pat Riley’s Porn Picture

  11. Wally   January 20, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    No … the heat wave up here is taking place the same time as ND’s #1 hockey team and Anchorage’s favorite son, Jordan Pierce, are heating up the ice.

    Smitty — you know that I’m a “glass is half full” type of guy. It’s as sure as Luke Zeller’s head is pointy.

  12. Casey   January 20, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    helmet sticker!

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