Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The First Controversial Ending Of The Season: SIU vs NU

Northeastern 63, Southern Illinois 62, OT
Southern Illinois is the first team this season to lose a game based on an apparent blown call by a ref. The game was tied in the final seconds of overtime when Northeastern missed a shot and Southern Illinois rebounded the ball. A ref immediately blew the whistle and announced that Southern Illinois had called a timeout. The problem was, Southern Illinois had no timeouts left and Northeastern would get to shoot a technical free throw. The bigger problem was that an in-depth analysis of the replay shows that nobody on Southern Illinois called a timeout - the ref thought he heard somebody shout timeout, but every player denied yelling anything and no replay shows a player mouthing the word "timeout". It was a heartbreaking way for Southern Illinois to lose a game, and they now fall to 0-2 after getting drubbed at Illinois in their opener. If I'm going to try to draw a silver lining out of this game for the Salukis it's that they were never really a realistic bubble team this season, so it's not like they're going to be regretting this loss on Selection Sunday. And they did play very good defense, holding Northeastern to 36.7% shooting. One game is not a trend, but SIU is finally showing flashes of the excellent defense they had in the middle of the last decade. That said, they're going to have to clean up their offense (23 turnovers in this game) if they're going to win games consistently in the Missouri Valley. As for Northeastern, they collect another scalp for the Colonial Athletic Association. Most people expected them to take a big step back after a very strong 2009-10 season, but they're looking like a fiesty team yet again. Chaisson Allen looks very good so far, averaging 16 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals per game so far (after averaging only 13.6/4.7/3.6/1.5 as a junior). We'll have a good sense of where this team is in the next few weeks as they play Siena on Saturday, and then head to Utah State the following Saturday. It's a nice job of scheduling games that will help their computer ratings if they can pull off the wins.

#17 Baylor 74, La Salle 64
Basketball purists that watched this game cringed, but I have to admit that it was actually pretty fun to watch. Baylor has an insane amount of length and athleticism on their front line, and watching them jump around the rim like pogo sticks on every rebounding opportunity was fun. But without LaceDarius Dunn the fact is that Baylor's offense is flat out ugly. La Salle actually forced 15 steals in this game. Baylor would have lost this game if it wasn't for their total domination of the paint (13 offensive rebounds compared to only 14 defensive rebounds for La Salle, along with 8 blocks). Any team that wants to beat Baylor is going to have to find a way to force them to shoot from outside, because it's just impossible to get them out of the paint once they get the ball in there. This was the only halfway decent opponent Baylor had on their schedule before LaceDarius Dunn gets back, so that suspension will not cost them any wins, which actually bothers me. If Dunn wasn't a basketball star he wouldn't just have been booted from the school, he'd probably be in jail. But college athletics is the way it is, and I'm not going to get self-righteous here. Baylor's next test will be against Arizona State on December 2nd. As for La Salle, I don't expect them to be better than the middle of the pack in the Atlantic Ten. This would have been a nice upset, but I didn't see them getting too close to the Tournament bubble even if they won here.

Tulsa 83, Oral Roberts 68
Memphis threw down the gauntlet with a blue chip recruiting class and a quality opening win over Miami (Fl), so they're the clear favorites in Conference USA. But it's worth noting that Tulsa looks pretty good as well. They didn't get off to the start they wanted with a narrow loss to Appalachian State followed by a seven point halftime deficit to Oral Roberts, but they looked really sharp in the second half here. Steven Idlet was particular was impressive, collecting his second straight 20-point game with 7-for-8 shooting. He has nice moves in the paint for a 6'11" player. They got double-digit scoring from three different guards, and that inside-outside combo will get even better when DJ Magley really gets going. Magley was a very good player off the bench at Western Kentucky, and he'll play better than he did today once he gets back in the groove of things (he had to sit out all of last season because of the transfer). I don't think Tulsa is good enough to make the NCAA Tournament, but they could finish as high as third or fourth in Conference USA. As for Oral Roberts, they remain my pick to win the Summit Conference. They're 0-2 so far, but both losses have come on the road against quality competition (Tulsa and Missouri State). Things don't get much easier with a game against Indiana State on Saturday night followed by games against Utah, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Missouri and Miami (Fl) before Christmas.

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