Saturday, December 04, 2010

Refs Rob UCLA Against Kansas

#4 Kansas 77, UCLA 76
I'm sure pretty much everybody has seen the replay by now of the final play of this game. Kansas had the ball with the game tied when Mario Little was fouled with 0.9 seconds remaining. He hit one of two to win the game. The NCAA is defending the call, although I think they're exaggerating how obvious the call was - to me that was a borderline foul call at any point in the game. But to me, the spirit of the game goes beyond that - unless a call is truly blatant or causes a player to miss a shot, I don't believe a foul should be called in the final moments to decide a game. Nobody wants to see games decided by free throws and there should be a tougher standard. But lost in all this controversy is the fight that UCLA put up in this game, on the road against a Kansas team that came in with 63 consecutive home victories. Kansas isn't the 4th best team in the nation right now, of course. They're still waiting on Josh Selby. But UCLA is clearly improved over last season, and despite a 3-3 record they have not had any bad losses and I still think they're going to get onto the bubble. They have BYU coming up in two weeks, and people are underrating the Pac-10 in general, so UCLA will actually have pretty strong computer numbers if they can go something like 11-7 in conference play. Kansas is 7-0, but it's a soft 7-0 with narrow victories over Arizona and UCLA along with five wins over cupcakes. On Tuesday they will play Memphis on a neutral floor. Kansas still will be without Selby, but Memphis isn't as good as their ranking (currently 15th) either. I think Kansas should win.

Charleston 82, Davidson 73
It's always bizarre to me when conferences start regular season play this early in the year, particularly when it's a game between the two teams fighting for the conference crown, which this game was. To me, Charleston and Davidson are just a step ahead of everybody else in the Southern Conference. Charleston won this one, but in my opinion Davidson is still the favorite. First of all, this game was Charleston, and Davidson has a chance to hold serve when these teams play again on January 29th. Second of all, this game was really even. Davidson earned four fewer shots from the field, but eight more free throws. Charleston just shot the ball a little bit better, in no small part because Davidson couldn't guard Andrew Goudelock (33 points on 13-for-19 shooting, plus 5 assists). They have the rest of the season to figure out how to slow Goudelock down to take back the lead in the conference. It's extremely unlikely that either of these two teams will get onto the bubble, so I expect them to eventually be playing in the SoCon tournament finals with a Tournament bid on the line.

#10 Baylor 68, Arizona State 54
Baylor didn't have a particularly strong offensive night, but they don't need to be very good offensively to beat a team like Arizona State. Their length and athleticism inside kept Arizona State launching outside shots, and Baylor also dominated the boards (a 45% offensive rebounding percentage and an 85% defensive rebounding percentage). Baylor is going to have to clean things up against elite teams, particularly since they're so good at rebounding the ball and can easily turn a missed shot into a tip-in. They are currently 322nd in the nation in offensive turnover percentage, and that's just not good enough to win the Big 12. They're now 6-0, but this is their first decent win. Their next real test will be in two weeks against Gonzaga. Arizona State is 3-3, but their only decent win was a three point squeaker over UAB. They will play Richmond on Sunday, but even a win there will leave them entering Pac-10 play without a really good win. ASU is going to have to go something like 11-7 in the Pac-10 to have a good shot at making the Tournament.

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