Saturday, December 11, 2010

Temple Knocks Off Georgetown

Temple 68, #10 Georgetown 65
This was a very solid performance from Temple from start to finish. They jumped out to the early lead and just seemed to hold a 3-to-5 point lead the entire way. The star was Ramone Moore, who scored 30 points on 12-for-18 shooting. His performance was key because of the quality team they were playing. Temple's defense and defensive rebounding are always spectacular, but they have had no offensive spark at all this season, and you've got to be able to get a basket in a key spot to beat a team as good as Georgetown. Moore had been more of a volume scorer this season than an efficient scorer, but Temple fans will hope that this is a start of a trend for him. Temple, to me, has separated themselves atop the Atlantic Ten. Richmond is the only other team that is close. They are now 6-2 with wins over Maryland, Georgia, Seton Hall and Georgetown, and only quality losses. They head to Ohio on December 22nd, and then play at Villanova on December 30th. As for Georgetown, they actually played pretty well against the suffocating Temple defense. If Ramone Moore hadn't played the game of his life then Georgetown would have won this game. And coming off a pummeling of Utah State, which came after a win at Missouri, Georgetown remains an elite team that will contend for the Big East title. A December 23rd game at Memphis remains their only tough challenge before starting that run at a Big East title.

Xavier 51, Butler 49
I'm not sure how many conclusions we can draw from this game. The two teams combined for 5-for-36 shooting behind the arc, so either team could have won this game going away if they could have hit a shot from beyond 15 feet. But Xavier dominated the boards (both Andrew Smith and Matt Howard got into foul trouble for Butler) and basically fought to a backcourt draw (both teams had 9 assists, and were only separated by one steal and one turnover). Xavier moves to 6-2, but this is their best win, and they have a loss to Miami of Ohio. They play Wake Forest next Saturday, and then head to Gonzaga and also play Florida and Cincinnati before beginning Atlantic Ten play. But this game meant more for Butler, a team that is better than its resume, but still has a true bubble team resume right now. They're 4-4 without a single win over a likely RPI Top 100 team. All they have left before beginning Horizon League play are Stanford and Utah. Butler is going to have to really dominate the Horizon League this year or they might find themselves heading into the Horizon League tournament needing the automatic bid.

Michigan 75, Utah 64
I wanted to talk about this game because it's the first time this year that Michigan has played good basketball. I've been complaining all season that they just stand around shooting threes, even when the shots aren't falling, and even though they have two explosive young guards in Darius Morris and Tim Hardaway, Jr. In this game the two of them combined to shoot 13-for-26 with 11 assists, 4 steals and only 3 turnovers. And Michigan had a 3PA/FGA ratio of only 37%, compared to a season average of 44%. And this was a solid victory over an underrated Utah team. The Wolverines are now up to 7-2 but without a really big win, and with a mediocre loss to UTEP. But if they play like this every night in the Big Ten then it's not impossible for them to work their way onto the bubble. As for Utah, they are 6-3, but without a big win and with a loss to Oral Roberts they are also a team looking up at the bubble. Utah may be the fifth best team in the Mountain West, but there's a pretty big gap between them and the Big Four at the top (BYU, UNLV, San Diego State, New Mexico). A key upcoming game will be against Butler on December 22nd.

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