Minnesota 72, #8 North Carolina
It's a good thing that the mainstream media has college football and the NFL to focus on, because otherwise this game would have been overblown and taken way out of proportion. The big story was superfrosh Harrison Barnes, who looked dominant against the inferior teams that UNC opened against, but was completely shut down here with 0-for-12 shooting. But the fact is that people need to relax about that result. Every freshman is going to have a bad game or two, and for Barnes this was his first taste of big time college basketball. After rolling through bad teams that had nobody who could body him up, he suddenly had to face a gigantic Minnesota front line that pushed him around. Even in the ACC he'll rarely face another frontcourt this big and strong. This game will be a learning experience for him. To me, the bigger worry for UNC is Larry Drew III, who still hasn't really learned how to play point guard. North Carolina might want to lower his minutes, hoping that a three-guard lineup with three of the other guards (I still love Dexter Strickland and think he's one of the best shooting guards in the ACC) will be enough ball handling. Drew just isn't good enough to be a starting point guard on a Top Ten team. As for Minnesota, they obviously got UNC at the right time. I think North Carolina would win this game easily if it was played in March. But this will be a quality resume-building win for a Minnesota team that already looks primed to break into the upper tier of the Big Ten. Still without Devoe Joseph, it will be particularly impressive if the Gophers can win the Puerto Rico Tip-Off over West Virginia tomorrow evening.
Tulsa 62, Missouri State 50
Tulsa bounced back from a disappointing opening night loss to Oral Roberts with a solid victory here. They played suffocating defense, holding Missouri State to 28% shooting for the game (including only 31% on two-pointers). The conventional wisdom was that Tulsa would drop off a lot this season without Jerome Jordan, but Steven Idlet has filled a lot of that void (even though he was fairly quiet in this particular game), and the team's strength last season was defense anyway. I don't think Tulsa is a Tournament team, but I wouldn't be shocked if they keep themselves on the bubble into March. As for Missouri State, this isn't the first time their offense has looked bad this season, which is a surprise after how efficient they were last season. Obviously stats are inaccurate and don't mean much this early in the season, but so far Missouri State is 247th in the nation in effective field goal percentage, compared to 75th in the nation last season. With almost all of their best offensive players back, there's no reason for them to be this bad. With losses already to Tennessee and Tulsa, the only remaining quality out-of-conference opponents for Missouri State will be Oklahoma State and Saint Louis.
Arizona State 69, UAB 66
This was a tight game the entire way, and the game ended up coming down to a Ty Abbott three-pointer for the win with 2.2 seconds remaining. Trent Lockett continued his strong start, but Arizona State is still looking very unimpressive in the paint. They were outrebounded by an undersized UAB team in this game. The Sun Devils now head off to the Great Alaska Shootout, but it's a weak field and their only real quality opponent could be St. John's, a team they could draw in the finals. They also head to Baylor on December 2nd, but the way things look right now I would expect Arizona State to get blown off the boards there. As for UAB, they again have a very short rotation. It's like Mike Davis would get an allergic reaction if he ever played nine different guys in the same game. This was their first decent opponent of the season, but they'll have a bunch more over the next few weeks (South Alabama, Georgia, Kent State, VCU).