Saturday, December 04, 2010

Kansas State Survives Washington State

#5 Kansas State 63, Washington State 58
This was a really interesting game on an otherwise slow sports night, so I hope a bunch of you guys got a chance to watch it. On first glance this looked like a potential blowout, but I knew it would be close - Kansas State is in no way one of the five best teams in the country. In fact, both Pomeroy and Sagarin's computer ratings projected Wazzu as the narrow favorite. Interestingly enough it was one of K-State's weaknesses that turned into a strength and won the game. They are, as they were last season, an atrocious free throw shooting team. They are hitting 53.8% on the season, the single worst free throw shooting by any team in the nation (all 344 of them!). And in the first 39:40 of this game, Kansas State had hit 5-for-13 at the line. In the final 20 seconds Washington State sent K-State to the line three times, and they hit 5-of-6. A win is a win, though, and this is the third quality win of the season for Kansas State, going with wins over Gonzaga and Virginia Tech. They won't be tested again until they play at Florida on December 18th. I also think that a December 21st game at home against UNLV will be really tough since UNLV has arguably been playing better than Kansas State has so far this season. Washington State is a sleeper team, in my opinion, because of Klay Thompson. They are strong defensively, so having a go-to star makes them a bubble team. In the end I expect them to miss the Tournament, but I wouldn't be shocked if I'm wrong about that projection. Wednesday night they welcome Gonzaga to Pullman.

Georgia 66, UAB 64
Every week I get closer and closer to jumping onto the Georgia bandwagon. They ooze talent, and the only thing in their way is fundamentals. Mark Fox is a pretty good x's and o's coach, so it's not beyond his abilities to mold this into a bubble team. And this could end up being a pretty big win for their computer ratings. They are 5-2, but both losses are to likely RPI Top 50 teams, and they have this win along with a win at Saint Louis. It's not a Tournament resume, but it's not too far out either, and they'll get plenty of chances for big wins in the SEC East. Their next game is an interesting one at rival Georgia Tech on Tuesday night. As for UAB, they know that a bounce here or a bounce there could have meant an upset victory here. They did show a lot of fight on the boards against a very athletic Georgia frontline, and that type of performance will help them against a team like Memphis in Conference USA play. UAB is still 5-2, but they likely have zero wins over teams that will finish in the RPI Top 100 (Arkansas is the only team remotely close). They do have a few solid opponents coming to town in the next few weeks (Kent State, VCU and George Washington), and UAB has to go on a winning streak to show me that they're a potential bubble team.

#14 Georgetown 68, Utah State 51
This was not a good match-up for Utah State. With their experience, and the efficient way that they play basketball, they can beat more talented teams than they are that are raw. But Georgetown plays solid fundamental basketball under JT3, and their level of talent is beyond anything that Utah State has ever had. I do think that Georgetown has some flaws that some Big East teams might be able to exploit at some point, particularly their weak frontline, but at this point you'd be hard pressed to list five teams that have had a better set of wins so far this season than Georgetown has. They are now 8-0, and road games at Temple and Memphis will be their final tests before beginning Big East play. Utah State is 5-2, and their two losses have been against very good teams, but they don't have any wins over elite teams and they don't have any elite teams left on their schedule. Utah State will have to go nearly perfect the rest of the season to earn an at-large bid. Most likely they're going to have to win the WAC to get back to the Tournament.

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