Sunday, November 28, 2010

Purdue Proves They Were Overrated

Richmond 65, #8 Purdue 54
I never understood why Purdue was ranked 8th in the nation. They were arguably a Top Five team preseason, but it's like a lot of the voters are not aware that Robbie Hummel is out for the season. I don't care how good a team is - you can't lose a potential senior All-American and not have it dramatically affect your play. As well as the top of the Big Ten is playing, there's no guarantee that Purdue is even one of the five best teams in their own conference. I do believe that E'Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson are the best inside-outside duo in the Big Ten, if not the nation, but they didn't get any production from anybody else in this game. Even Moore had a tough game - he was forcing offense because he sensed his team was in trouble, and the shots just weren't falling. Purdue has a lot of talented guards, and Moore is going to have to trust them to do more. Richmond played a good all around game here, but they were probably strongest at defensive rebounding, collecting 80% of rebounds on their defensive end against a Purdue team that had been collecting close to 40% of rebounds on their offensive end coming into this game. Purdue is 5-1 now with double-digit wins over Southern Illinois and Oakland. They now head to Virginia Tech for the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. As for Richmond, they now move to 6-1, and that loss at Iona will not look so bad by the end of the season. But they now have a very tough game coming up against Old Dominion, followed by a road game at Arizona State and a home game against VCU.

#6 Kansas 87, Arizona 78
This game was closer than Kansas probably wanted it to be, but they did pass their first test of the season, and should be rounding into form just in time to get Josh Selby eligible in about three weeks. Thomas Robinson and Travis Releford, two players who didn't play much as freshmen, have taken up expanded roles as sophomores and will help Kansas have a really deep bench this season. Mario Little is still finding his way back, and will likely be earning more playing time by the time Josh Selby becomes eligible. At that point, a guy like Jeff Withey (a pretty highly touted recruit out of high school - the top recruit in Arizona's 2008 recruiting class, ironically, before transferring to Kansas) is likely going to be the 11th man. The Jayhawks will play UCLA next, but have Memphis on December 7th, a game that will be a big challenge without Selby. As for Arizona, we need to keep in mind that this is still a very young team - most every key player is a freshman or a sophomore. And Sean Miller is putting together blue chip 2011 and 2012 recruiting classes, so Arizona's future is bright. Whether they'll get back to the Tournament this year is still unclear, however. They next head to Rice, and then have a very winnable home game coming up a week from today against Oklahoma.

BYU 74, Saint Mary's 73
This was a match-up between teams that have arguably two of the ten best homecourt advantages in the nation, which made it interesting that these teams were actually playing halfway across the country on a neutral floor. Jimmer Fredette hit the game winning shot, but with a game this close you never want to try to draw too many conclusions. The impact is primarily with the resumes, where BYU has added yet another nice win and Saint Mary's still has work to do. BYU has wins over Utah State, South Florida and Fresno State to go with this one, and already look pretty safe for the Tournament. They have a tricky road game coming up on Wednesday at Creighton, and still have games against Arizona, UCLA, UTEP and Weber State (a potentially tricky true road game) ahead before Mountain West play begins. Saint Mary's needed this win more because there are no opportunities for good wins in the WCC except their two games per year against Gonzaga. They do have wins over Saint John's and Texas Tech, but neither of those will wow the Selection Committee. If they can't upset San Diego State on the road on Wednesday night then all they'll have left out-of-conference is a road game at Mississippi State on December 30th.

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