Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Missouri Wins, Is Still Overrated

#11 Missouri 85, Vanderbilt 82, OT
Missouri pulled out this home game against a quality Vanderbilt team, but the fact is that they're overrated. And this is painful for me to say, because I've always been a huge Mike Anderson fan, and I've talked many times about how well he's built his program. But I think we need to realize that he just doesn't have premier talent, and his system can't be run properly without premier talent. Their frenetic press forces a ton of turnovers, as it always has, but not only is his team a mess offensively but they also really struggle defensively if they don't get that turnover. They are one of the worst teams in the Big 12 in shooting defense, and a huge part of that is all of the open shots they allow. Vanderbilt actually would have won this game if not for uncharacteristically awful free throw shooting. The team shot 72.3% at the line last season and are at 76.1% this season, but they hit 11-for-22 in this game, including two killer misses by star Jeffery Taylor with under 30 seconds to play in regulation that would have nearly put the game away. Missouri is a quality team, and probably even a Top 25 team, but it was ridiculous for them to be ranked in the Top Ten, and in no way do I see them a serious contender in the Big 12. As for Vanderbilt, this would have been a great chance for the average fan to learn how good this team is. Jeffery Taylor is tremendous - I already knew he was a great offensive player, but he showed some really nice flashes defensively and on the boards. I also really liked what I saw from Festus Ezeli. Missouri does not have a very good frontcourt, so it remains to be seen if Ezeli can do this against the SEC powers, but I do think Vanderbilt deserves to at least be in the discussion for best team in the SEC right now. At the very least they look like a solid Tournament team.

Arkansas 71, Seton Hall 62
One thing that the Selection Committee has made clear over the past few years has been that they really don't care about the injuries you've had. They will take into account if some bad losses happen because of a star player out with injury, but it's a really, really minor factor. They're not going to give you a pass on a chunk of your schedule just because you were missing a player - the good teams keep on winning. So Seton Hall fans can complain all they want about how important Jeremy Hazell is to their offense, but he's likely going to be out another month, and Seton Hall's losses just continue to mount. They just have been putrid offensively without their star. Also, it's not just shooting. They were beat pretty badly on the boards in this game (Arkansas had an offensive rebounding percentage of 33%, Seton Hall's was 19%) against a very undersized Arkansas team (the Hogs entered the game 266th in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage and 125th in defensive rebounding despite a very soft schedule). Hazell is not a big rebounder, and there's no excuse to not be able to win the boards against most teams with big guys like Herb Pope and Jeff Robinson. Seton Hall hasn't beat anybody good this season, and they now have a bad loss to go with a 3-4 overall record. They head to UMass on Saturday for what should be a fairly difficult game for them, and then play at home against Dayton and Richmond before beginning Big East play. Seton Hall has an uphill battle right now just to get back on the bubble. As for Arkansas, they move to 6-1 but against a very soft schedule. In addition to this win they beat an Oklahoma team that might be the worst team in the Big 12, and lost to UAB. Other than that every other game has been against a team that is outside the Top 250 in both Sagarin and Pomeroy's ratings. I don't view them as a plausible at-large team at this point. Their next tough game will be December 18th against Texas A&M.

Oklahoma State 71, Tulsa 54
Oklahoma State has been under the radar this season, but this was a beatdown on the road against a quality Tulsa team. Marshall Moses was the star for this one, dominating Tulsa in the paint with a 12-for-12 shooting performance. Matt Pilgrim also played very well inside (4-for-6 shooting, 12 rebounds). This is Oklahoma State's best win, but they're 8-1 and their one loss wasn't too bad (neutral court against Virginia Tech). They have a key game coming up on Saturday against a strong Missouri State team. They also will play Gonzaga, Stanford and Alabama before beginning Big 12 play. As for Tulsa, this loss won't hurt their resume too much, but it comes with losses to Appalachian State and Arkansas-Little Rock. They do have wins over Stanford and Missouri State, and they are rated fairly strong by the computers, so they're worth keeping an eye but have a lot of work to do. A road game at Wichita State on December 21st and a home game against TCU on December 30th both loom, and they also will play at Arizona State on January 12th. But they're likely going to have to go 12-4 or better in Conference USA to get attention from the Selection Committee.


Old Prospector said...

I gave you crap last year about your lack of respect for Vandy, so its only fair that I recognize your respect for them this year. This team plays with much more fire than last year's team. Its a shame that they could not get the "statement" win last night. Thanks for the post.

Jeff said...

Well,I think this year's team is better than last year's team, only this year's team is getting less attention. I think that what we've learned is that AJ Ogilvy was overrated. And Jeffery Taylor is all of a sudden one of the best players in the SEC, and Festus Ezeli (who was almost invisible last season) is a tremendous player as well.

I was impressed with them last night, except for the fact that they looked very shaky and nervous down the stretch. But that's the kind of thing that teams usually clean up throughout a season.