Saturday, November 10, 2007

Saturday Night Update

I know that most college sports fans were focused on football today, but a few interesting basketball results did show up around the land. The most interesting to me:

Mercer 96, #18 USC 81

I've already talked about how USC seems overhyped to me, and that I doubted that they'd be on the level of UCLA, but nobody expected a performance this poor to begin the season. What's ironic is that I had linked the team's being overrated with OJ Mayo being overrated, but he actually played fairly well. His final stat line of 32 points and 7 boards seems very impressive, although that is dampened a bit when you consider that he took 27 shots. You have to wonder if this is going to be every game for USC: sitting around and watching while Mayo takes half the shots. He managed to shoot well tonight (12 for 27 from the field, 4 for 5 from the line), but this just isn't a winning strategy for the season. Taj Gibson is already a star after his good freshman season, but they need better play all around. You can't win as OJ Mayo and The Sidekick.

Illinois-Chicago 84, Bradley 75

Toledo 57, Missouri State 53
A surprisingly bad day for the Missouri Valley. Kyle Whelliston penned a long piece a few days back about how this could be a very down year for the Valley. His title was intended to be eye-catching in order to draw in readership, but I think most people see that he's overstating the issue. Yes, a lot of the stars from the Valley will be gone, but how big were the stars anyway? Few college basketball fans could name more than one or two players out of the Valley last year anyway. The league's success has never come from its stars, but from the depth of talent and high quality coaching. Southern Illinois will be a very safe pick for the Tournament, and Creighton looked pretty good in its opener. Also, despite the fact that both Bradley and Missouri State were bubble teams last year, I've picked both of them to have down years this season. I still think that the Valley is looking at something at something like three bids. Two should be a minimum. I can't see Whelliston's talk of a single bid coming true.

Minnesota 84, Army 52
Okay, Army isn't exactly Michigan State or Indiana, but it's still a good start for the Tubby Smith era. The key to this game for the Gophers was the performance out of their bench. Dozens of points scored by players that nobody but true Big Ten fanatics had ever heard of. Everybody expects Lawrence McKenzie and Dan Coleman to be good, but teams in the Big Ten have to be worried about all of the production that Tubby got off his bench. Give him a year or two to stock his program with some good recruits and Minnesota could be back to the Tournament within a year or two. Army obviously isn't too much of a test, but the Gophers have a decent game coming up on the road against Iowa State. And they head to Florida to play the Seminoles in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Both will be excellent tests for this squad.

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