After a week break the Orange open Big East play at 12-0 for the sixth time during Boeheim’s tenure. Seton Hall will face their second consecutive undefeated and top ten team. On Saturday, the Pirates lost in overtime to West Virginia, 90-84.
Conflict: Seton Hall went 10-11 from long range and scored 64 points in the second half against Navy, but Bobby Gonzalez’s crew will need a different focus come tip off today. The Mountaineers can score in bunches as evidenced by Wednesday night’s second half outburst. Wellington Smith led the Mountaineers hitting four threes in the first 4:30 of the second half. Smith led three Mountaineers in double figures. Devin Ebanks scored 14 and Kevin Jones chipped in 12. Pre-season All American, De’Sean Butler was only needed for nine points.
Kennedy served as an assistant to Huggins for four years at Cincinnati. The Rebels are trying to win seven straight for the first time since 2007. The Mountaineers’ six spot in the polls is the program’s highest ranking since 1982. West Virginia has won 29 in a row during the month of December. Over the last seven seasons, West Virginia is 47-2 at home against at non-conference opponents. Their last loss was to Dusquesne in 2001, 68-61. Ole Miss has never defeated a top ten non-conference opponent.
Things we learned: 1. Gordon Hayward is a really good player. His 22 points and 14 rebounds were special – add to that 3 assists. He went 4-5 from the three-point arc, and 6-7 from the free throw line. He scored the winning bucket and finished another basket on a drive to the basket against the half court set. He sees the floor well and makes great cuts.
The two teams have played at least twice a season since 1915-1916. NC State leads the all-time series, 131-98. Wake is 16-4 at Joel against the Wolfpack including four of the last five. Wake won last year, 85-78. The Wolfpack won at Raleigh, 82-76.
Xavier and Butler represent two of the most successful college basketball programs of the last decade. From 2000-09 Butler holds a winning percentage of .729 – 12th in the nation. Xavier earns the 14th spot at .727. Butler and Xavier are two of nine schools to win 25 or more games each of the last three seasons. The schools combined for 14 NCAA Tournament appearances during the ten-year span. Xavier reaching the Elite Eight twice with one Sweet Sixteen appearance. Butler advanced to the Sweet Sixteen twice.
Rumors of the Atlantic 10’s demise appear greatly exaggerated, at least for now. After a sluggish November characterized more as opportunities lost rather than seizing chances, the A-10 seems to have landed on its feet. In a pair of intra-city rivalries, Xavier downed Cincinnati, 83-79 in a double overtime classic, and Temple took down Villanova
The maintenance staff should prepare for soggy floor conditions as both teams will make it rain with 3s. After taking just 10 attempts from behind the arc in a 77-74 win over Michigan State, the Gators have taken 19 a game in three contests since – making 50% or better in those games. Florida made 12 of 20 in a win over Jacksonville. As a team, Syracuse has made over 42% of their attempts from behind the arc knocking down nine or better 3s in seven of eight games.
Early returns from the Big 12 / Pac-10 Hardwood indicate a notable disparity: Big 12 8 wins and the Pac-10 2 wins. That has to hurt. Especially when you consider that the two wins are Oregon State over Colorado, 74-69 and California over Iowa State, 82-63. The Buffaloes of Colorado haven’t exactly been setting the basketball world on fire. In fact, the last time Colorado saw action in a post-season tournament was 2006. They lost in the first round of the NIT to Old Dominion, 79-61.
November offered heaps of fodder for discussions among college hoops fans. Pre-season tournaments shared surprises and glimpses into the near-future for the faithful. Careful not to jump to conclusions. Many of these teams are seeking an identity. Just a year ago, Tom Izzo’s Michigan State Spartans were 4-1 after a close victory over Wichita State. Then, the Spartans endured a 30-pt. beat down courtesy of North Carolina – barely a suggestion of their Final Four destiny. On the other hand, with wins over Georgetown and Siena, Tennessee looked like a trip to Detroit was inevitable. Still, trends and tendencies can be deciphered.