Sunday, December 05, 2010

Illinois & Syracuse Narrowly Win At Home

#21 Illinois 73, #24 Gonzaga 61
The title of this post might seem bizarre since Illinois won by double-digits and the game was never in doubt in the final minutes. But the reality is that this was a very close game, and the only reason Illinois won was some white hot outside shooting. Gonzaga dominated the boards and ended up earning five more shots from the field (both teams took 16 shots from the line). And Gonzaga actually shot better from two point land (48.8% versus 38.7% for Illinois). But Illinois hit 12-of-23 behind the arc while Gonzaga hit 3-for-16. On the season, Gonzaga is actually the better three-point shooting team, so a big part of today's performance was luck. But as far as resumes go, all that matters are wins and losses, and Illinois has picked up another big win and looks to be seriously in a three team competition for the Big Ten title, along with Ohio State and Michigan State. As for Gonzaga, it's worth pointing out that they've played four top level teams this season and gone only 1-3, with the lone win a three-point squeaker on a neutral floor over Marquette. They still have Baylor, Memphis, Notre Dame and a few other RPI Top 100 teams ahead, but the fact is that Gonzaga has to close the deal on at least a couple of these teams to assure themselves another trip to the NCAA Tournament. Gonzaga is a very good team, but in the end it's all wins and losses, and they've had too many losses so far.

#7 Syracuse 65, NC State 57
After the way that NC State was blown off the floor by 39 points by Wisconsin earlier this week, I don't think anybody saw this game being remotely competitive, but Syracuse was flat out awful offensively in the half court. Syracuse forced 12 steals and had 28 points of transition offense, meaning that they only scored 38 points in the half court the entire game. Keep in mind how awful NC State had been defensively up to this point (95th in adjusted defensive efficiency). The light in the darkness was Scoop Jardine, who had 23 points, 7 assists and 7 rebounds. Either way, Syracuse is now 8-0 and will be getting ready for a game against Michigan State at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night. After that it should be pretty easy sledding until Big East play begins. As for NC State, the best sign from this game was CJ Leslie, who played really well off of the bench after being benched during a putrid performance against Wisconsin. For a guy with his level of raw talent his state of mind is so important, and it's possible that the benching did a whole lot of good. NC State is now 4-3 with only a win over George Mason worth anything. NC State fans came into this season thinking NCAA Tournament, but they have a lot of ground to make up now. They play Arizona on December 19th, and if they can't win that one then they might need to go 10-6 in ACC play to earn an at-large bid. This game was a good start, but it was still a loss.

Delaware 75, Old Dominion 67
This was a brutal letdown game for Old Dominion coming off consecutive victories over Clemson, Xavier and Richmond. They actually had a remarkable 26 offensive rebounds in this game (a 59% offensive rebounding percentage), but couldn't get the ball into the basket. They shot an atrocious 35% from the field, and that led to this upset. Because Old Dominion has put together a hard out-of-conference schedule and the Colonial looks to be fairly strong, Old Dominion can probably get away with one bad loss, but they're blown a whole lot of their at-large margin of error. If they can't beat Missouri on December 30th they will head into Selection Sunday without a big time win, which is what makes this bad loss so significant. And as for Delaware, this win doesn't mean much other than that it's a nice scalp for their program. I'll be shocked if they finish higher than sixth in the Colonial.

1 comment:

Bob said...

Pretty sure the Illinois-Gonzaga game was played in Seattle. Love the blog.