#1 North Carolina 102, #8 Notre Dame 87
Despite the title of this post, this game wasn't really all too close. North Carolina got up by 14 points late in the first half, and I'm pretty sure that the game never got within single digits again. But that said, I did get the sense that North Carolina was mortal. Under different conditions, they could have lost here. For one thing, Luke Harangody was ill with the flu. He was able to play, but wasn't himself. Tory Jackson also just had an off day, so Notre Dame was really just the Kyle McAlarney show (10-for-18 from behind the arc). And on top of that, Carolina just had a great game. They shot 56% from the field, and 91% from the free throw line. And still, Notre Dame hung in there. What I'm trying to say is that while North Carolina is clearly the #1 team in the land, they're mortal. They can lose. The fact that this statement needed to be said, and actually warranted a blog post title, is a testament to how insanely good they have looked so far. For Notre Dame, I think they can be encouraged by what I said. Two of their three best players had off nights, North Carolina played out of their minds, and they still kept it close enough to keep eyes glued to tv sets around the nation. The Irish have that win over Texas, and the demolition of Indiana. The remaining out-of-conference schedule is very easy, so they could easily be 12-1 when Georgetown comes to town on January 5th. Even with this loss they're still a Big East and Final Four contender.
#13 Oklahoma 77, UAB 67
Another Blake Griffin show, as he poured in 32 points and 15 rebounds to drive Oklahoma to another close victory. I don't want to criticize Oklahoma, because they're 5-0 with a few good wins (including that great game against Davidson), but I'm worried that they are continuing to barely survive against inferior teams, and are only doing so with huge games from Griffin. Once the Big 12 season starts, he's not going to be much bigger than his opponents any more. And if Griffin gets shut down, I don't see any obvious player to pick up the slack. They're clearly a Top 25 team, and they're clearly a Tournament team, but I just don't think they're as good as Texas or Kansas. I just don't think they're well-rounded enough. As for UAB, this obviously could have been a huge win for them, but they have another chance for a nice win tomorrow against Boston College. They've got a monumental challenge late in December when they head to Louisville, but other than that every other out-of-conference game for them is winnable. They have a great chance to make a Tournament run with this experienced squad.
#16 Georgetown 58, Wichita State 50
A really bad, messy game. I don't know if it was Georgetown playing down to their competition, or just one of those games that you sometimes see in November when teams are still getting used to playing with each other. The bright spot for the Hoyas was the inside-outside combo of Austin Freeman and super-frosh Greg Monroe. Monroe still has some way to go before he'll be a true Big East star, but he sure has great athletic ability. I was blown away at points in this game by the way he ran the floor was able to move his body. If you didn't see the players around him, you'd never have guessed how tall he was. But that said, Georgetown did not look all too great today. And they're going to have to improve if they're going to be a true Big East contender. I want to see if they look sharper on offense tomorrow against Tennessee. If they truly just had a bad day then we'll see marked improvement tomorrow. If not, then JTIII just needs a little bit more time to really get these guys in shape. So far, Pitt, Notre Dame, UConn and Syracuse have all looked better than Georgetown (I can't throw in Louisville yet because they haven't played a real team yet, so I'm not too impressed that they can blow out Morehead State). That said, JTIII is a very good coach, and even a bad tournament here at the Old Spice Classic doesn't mean that they won't be rounding into form once the Big East season really starts getting going.