Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Indiana Looks Like A Bubble Team

Indiana 67, Wright State 44
It's not supposed to be a compliment when somebody says that the Indiana Hoosiers look like a bubble team, but after two straight seasons where they were a combined 16-46 there were plenty of people who thought that it would take at least one more season before Indiana would be ready to make a run at an at-large bid. But not only did Indiana roll over a quality Wright State team (more on them in a moment), but they did it with Maurice Creek still trying to find his game after that awful injury last season. Creek suffered with foul trouble and only played 16 minutes, scoring nine points. Verdell Jones was the star, torching Wright State for 27 points on 11-for-14 shooting, and Christian Watford helped inside with 10 rebounds. Wright State was a poor offensive rebounding team last season, but for Indiana to collect 34 defensive rebounds while only giving up two offensive rebounds is incredibly impressive against anybody, and shows that Tom Crean is really starting to get his kids to play good basketball. I'm not putting Indiana in the Field of 68 right now, but they've got to be considered at least a plausible bubble team. Their next decent opponent will be Evansville on Sunday, and then they head to Boston College on December 1st. As for Wright State, you had to figure they were coming into this game thinking win after they were far better than Indiana last season. They were one of the 75 best teams in the country, and are probably the second best team in the Horizon League after Butler. This is a disappointing start, but they get a chance to bounce back next week against Oakland and Richmond.

Kennesaw State 80, Georgia Tech 63
With this result following Stetson's beating of Wake Forest, the Atlantic Sun is 2-0 against the ACC. Huh. This result is actually the more surprising of the two. Neither Stetson or Kennesaw State is any good, and neither squad is expected to seriously contend for the Atlantic Sun crown, but Wake Forest is supposed to stink this season. Georgia Tech was supposed to be a plausible at-large team. This is the type of loss that can cripple a bubble team's resume. What makes this loss so frustrating is that Georgia Tech has so much talent - Iman Shumpert, Glen Rice Jr., Mfon Udofia... even a guy like Kammeon Holsey coming off the bench. But Georgia Tech was incredibly sloppy here. They allowed 11 offensive rebounds while grabbing only 17 defensive rebounds, they committed 19 turnovers, and they allowed 47% shooting. They just gave this game away against a vastly inferior opponent. Their first chance to earn a quality win will come at the Legends Classic, where they will play UTEP in the semifinals on November 26th.

Oakland 78, Ohio 66
This was a game that didn't get any attention from the mainstream media, but it was an interesting match-up between two teams that will be fighting for an NCAA Tournament bid in March. Both teams went dancing last season. I have picked Ohio to win the MAC again, although I've picked Oakland to come up just a little bit short in the Summit. But that said, I might have to re-evaluate those picks after Oakland came into this game and just slapped an unprepared Ohio team from the opening buzzer, opening up a 22-6 lead before Ohio realized the game had started. Ohio must have been spooked by the early deficit, because they relied extremely heavily on DJ Cooper and Tommy Freeman, with those two taking 36 of the team's 68 shots (and hitting only 14 of those 36 shots). Oakland showed much more poise, spreading the ball around and getting four players into double digit scoring. Ohio dominated the boards, had a larger number of assists, and forced more steals and turnovers, so they're still the better squad overall. But on this day they came out unprepared, and that doesn't bode well for a team in a smaller conference that is going to have to continue winning night in and night out to put together a decent resume. As for Oakland, they're not playing for an at-large bid, so the win itself doesn't matter for any sort of resume. But it should help their confidence as they head into a really brutal stretch (against Michigan State, Illinois and Tennessee, among others) before conference play begins. They need to stay positive before Summit play begins and they can start winning games more regularly.


Mark L. said...

Georgia Tech losing to Kennesaw State? Say what? What does that do to the ACC this year.....could be an ugly start. As far as Ohio is concerned, I think Oakland is a solid squad so I don't know if that will play into things that much. Jeff, your thoughts?

Jeff said...

The ACC definitely does appear to be down this season. The thing is that in the computer rankings it's okay if one or two teams have awful out-of-conference performances, as long as the other teams wipe the floor with them during conference play. If Wake Forest or Georgia Tech goes 8-8 in the ACC, that's when the conference will really have a problem.

I do agree with you on Oakland vs Ohio: Oakland is a solid team, and it's not like Ohio is a realistic bubble team anyway. And like I said, I still think Ohio is better than Oakland, even after this result. It was an upset.