Friday, November 19, 2010

Texas Outmuscles Illinois

#22 Texas 90, #16 Illinois 84
I told you that Texas is underrated. What I really liked about them in this game was their toughness. Playing against a very experienced and talented Illinois team, on a day where their shots were falling from deep (25%) or at the free throw line (57%), they just outmuscled Illinois inside. They also got a great lift from Dogus Balbay, who completely shut down Illinois star Demetri McCamey when they needed him to. McCamey got his 22 points, but a lot of that came when Balbay wasn't guarding him. On the key possessions late in regulation and overtime, Illinois couldn't even get McCamey the ball. I was disappointed most with Mike Tisdale, who seemed intimidated by the physical Texas play. The only Illinois players who really fought back and played well were Mike Davis (8 points, 12 rebounds) and Jereme Richmond (11 points, 5 rebounds). Richmond actually played as well as I've ever seen him play, and he will be very good for this team. An interesting strategic choice by Bruce Weber was to basically not play his freshmen (other than Richmond) - he possibly didn't think that they were ready yet for a game like this. Playing almost the entire game with a seven man rotation seemed to wear Illinois out, and possibly explained why they looked so poor in overtime. But Illinois is still a very strong and talented team, and this loss doesn't remove them from a position as Big Ten title contender. Texas is just really good.

Minnesota 95, Western Kentucky 77
Western Kentucky just didn't have a player big enough to handle Ralph Sampson III inside. He had 22 points, 8 rebounds and 7 blocks. Trevor Mbakwe also was a force inside with 12 points (on 8-for-9 shooting) and 10 rebounds. That said, I give Western Kentucky a lot of credit for the way they hung in this game against a much bigger and more talented Gophers squad. They hustled their butts off and actually won the overall rebounding battle because their guards were diving in and grabbing boards while Minnesota's weren't. But against that much size Western Kentucky was forced to take a lot of outside shots, and the only way they were going to pull off the upset was with strong shooting, which they didn't have (10-for-29 behind the arc). Western Kentucky is a strong team that is going to pull off some more upsets this season, but they just didn't get one here. But getting back to Minnesota, I have to say that I'm impressed with how well they've played so far this season without Devoe Joseph. As good as the top of the Big Ten is this season, there's no reason that Minnesota can't crash the party with a Top-4 finish.

George Mason 78, Charlotte 52
George Mason was probably the slight favorite heading into this game, but they absolutely obliterated Charlotte. They scored the first six points of the game and never again led by fewer than four. The lead got up to 26 points before settling at the final victory margin of 22. And this result was no fluke. George Mason shot poorer than Charlotte behind the arc and at the line, but they won the turnover battle by nine and the offensive rebounding battle by six, meaning 15 extra possessions. They also assisted on 47% of their made baskets compared to 26% for Charlotte, meaning that they were doing a better job of moving the ball around as a team, while Charlotte was playing one-on-one streetball. George Mason had a really nice balanced attack, with seven players finishing with between 5 and 11 points. George Mason is now 2-0 with quality wins over both Harvard and Charlotte. If they can beat NC State today (the game has just tipped off as I'm typing this) then they'll really start establishing themselves as a bubble team. For Charlotte, this was not a bad loss, but it was a missed opportunity to make up for a bad loss to Gardner Webb. Not only that but they are now pushed into the Loser's Bracket at the Charleston Classic where they won't face another quality team. It's a huge missed opportunity for a Charlotte team that is going to need a really strong Atlantic Ten season to even sniff the Tournament bubble.


Anonymous said...

Hello Jeff ¿ can you predict games with the odds? For example ¿ do you think that akron will win the saturday game for 12 points or more?. Akron will play with youngstown state.

Jeff said...

I don't particularly want to do gambling odds throughout the regular season. You can look at the Pomeroy & Sagarin stats to see what they project. Pomeroy projects a 13 points win for Akron, Sagarin projects a 9 point win.