Friday, December 01, 2006

Rematch in April?

#6 North Carolina 98, #1 Ohio State 89
Everyone agrees that this was the game of the year so far. And most people who saw the game agree that these are the two best teams in the country. The athleticism on both sides was out of this world. What most amazed me was how both of these teams spent much of the time without anyone older than a sophomore on the floor. Most of the kids on both sides will go pro early, but imagine if all of the kids on both teams agreed to stay in college for all four years. Two or three years from now, they'd actually be good enough to challenge an NBA team. I can't wait to see these two teams hook up again in the NCAA Tournament. If Oden is as good as everyone thinks he'll be, they very well might not hook up again until the NCAA Tournament Finals. North Carolina was #1 in my last BP65, so that obviously won't change. But Ohio State will pick up from #5, it seems clear they'll be good enough for a top seed. They've shown enough consistency to stick around with a top ranking all year.

Missouri 86, Arkansas 64

A real statement win for Mike Anderson and the Missouri program. The best part of it all was who it came against: the school that turned its back on "40 Minutes of Hell" and sent Anderson away to UAB. It was painfully obvious, of course, that Anderson doesn't have the athletes yet to be a real serious contender. His full-court pressing forced Arkansas into dozens of turnovers and rushed shots. But Missouri made plenty of its own mistakes during counter-attacks. They don't seem to have a senior leader who can handle the ball and settle the kids down. When they face a school like Kansas, they're probably going to get creamed. This Missouri team, as currently constituted, would have a much better shot against Texas - a very young team that is inconsistent and makes mistakes. It's too bad that they don't get a home game against Texas - their only matchup of the year will be in Austin. Regardless, Missouri has a shot to finish as high as 4th in the Big 12, which would be good enough to make the NCAA Tournament. Give Mike Anderson a few years to bring in some real Big 12 quality athletes (something Missouri is remarkably short of) and the Tigers will be a real force.

Middle Tennessee State 65, Indiana State 58
A bad game for the Indiana State. Not too many people are predicting a run to the Tournament for the Sycamores, but they had a legitimate claim. Indiana State has the talent to finish in the top half of the Missouri Valley, a conference that could get five teams selected again. Up until this point, Indiana State didn't have any marquee wins, but they didn't have any bad losses either. Their one loss was by seven points, at Indiana - nothing to be ashamed of. The Sycamores get two more shots at a solid out-of-conference win. Butler shows up a week, and Pudue comes in just before the end of December. Even with a win in both of those games, neither might end up being a marquee win in March (depending on how Butler and Purdue play the rest of the year). After this loss, Indiana State really needs to finish in the top 3 of the Missouri Valley to be a legitimate at-large team.

No comments: