Saturday, November 10, 2007

Friday Night Update

First full slate of games. A few highlights:

North Carolina Greensboro 83, Georgia Tech 74
You knew this would be a tough year for Tech after losing Javaris Crittenton and Thaddeus Young, but... wow. The first opening-night home loss for Tech since 1980, when they went 4-23. To be sure, UNC-Greensboro played out of their minds, shooting 51% from the field. But the Jackets should have enough of an athletic advantage to win this game, even on an off-night. The first in-season BP65 doesn't come out until after another eight days of games, but Tech will need a quick recovery if they're going to stay in. I had faith that with just about everyone back other than the two stars that the Jackets would still be a decent, middle-of-the-pack ACC team. Maybe not.

UMass 90, Cal Poly 64
There's no doubt that UMass is a program on the rise with outstanding young coach Travis Ford. With Rashaun Freeman and Stephane Lasme gone, you had to wonder if this program would take two steps forward and one step backwards, but year three of the Ford era is off to a good start. It was a bit of a tough start for the Minutemen, but they got on a roll in the second half, and ended up winning quite comfortably. I wouldn't put this team in any brackets anytime soon, but you have to look for them to compete in an improved Atlantic 10.

George Mason 60, Vermont 53

A good start for Jim Larranaga's boys. Will Thomas is probably the only name that casual fans will remember from Mason's Final Four run, and he made sure tonight that nobody forgets it - 16 points and 17 boards. His presence was especially important in the paint, where Mason used its size to counter Vermont's stellar shooting. I know that a lot of people are already picking the Patriots for an at-large bid. I am not quite there yet, but this is a good start for the resume. A big early matchup will be against fellow conference power (and at-large bid competitor) Drexel, which amazingly happens on November 29th. I know that the Colonial has to get 18 conference games in... but November 29th is ridiculous.

Cleveland State 73, South Florida 70

So Matt Grothe doesn't play basketball? The Bulls have been bringing in a decent amount of talented players, mining the Junior Colleges and taking advantage of the Big East allure, but the results have yet to show. The fact that they can't be excluded from the Big East Tourney next year should help even more with recruiting. Still, right now, this team simply won't be able to compete in the Big East. If they manage to finish 15th in the conference, the school should celebrate.

Creighton 74, Depaul 62
Another important win in the battle the Missouri Valley is fighting to join the BCS conferences atop the college basketball landscape. This Creighton team has a lot of new faces - Nate Funk and Anthony Tolliver are gone. But as of this moment Dana Altman is still the head coach, and he obviously has stocked the pipeline with talent. This is the type of win that helps build the meat of a good resume. It won't bowl anyone over, but it helps. Assuming they don't stumble against Mississippi Valley State next weekend, they will probably move up to "Other teams considered" in the new BP65. As for Depaul... this was a team thinking at-large bid, but they missed a huge opportunity tonight at a nice out-of-conference win.

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