Thursday, December 01, 2011

VCU Destroys South Florida

VCU 69, South Florida 44
VCU struggled quite a bit to start this season, which wasn't a huge surprise when you consider how much was gone from last year's team, but they've played better the past week or so. After blowing out Western Kentucky and only losing by eight to Alabama, they had a very nice blowout here. They actually outscored South Florida 41-18 in the second half. They key was a defense that forced 11 steals while only allowing 18 made baskets from the field. South Florida, by my calculation, scored only 0.81 PPP. VCU will also be happy with 10-for-24 shooting behind the arc considering how big outside shooting was last season and how poor it had been so far this season (30.6% behind the arc coming into this game).

VCU is a long way away from having a chance at an at-large bid, and I don't expect them to get that close. But with Drexel and George Mason having disappointing starts to their own seasons, VCU has to be considered a contender in a Colonial Athletic Association very likely to be a one-bid league. Their next game will be on Sunday in Washington, DC against George Washington. They also will play Richmond, UAB and Akron before beginning conference play.

South Florida continues to struggle to beat quality teams. They now have lost to the three best opponents they've played this season, and their best win was over Vermont. It's unlikely that things will get better on Saturday when they play at Kansas. Of course, South Florida isn't playing for an at-large bid anyway. The question is whether they've figured out something that will allow them to be more competitive in Big east play. Personally, I have my doubts.

Michigan State 65, Florida State 49
Florida State was never going to score a lot of points in this game. Their offense has been as stagnant the past couple of weeks as it's been the past few years. Throw in a slow paced game and a solid Michigan State defense and 49 points is about where you'd expect FSU. What was surprising was how good Michigan State's offense looked. They actually scored more than 1 PPP on a 48.1 eFG% and 11 offensive rebounds. It doesn't sound that impressive, but against Florida State it definitely is. Transfer Brandon Wood led the way with 16 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists, and he's rapidly becoming the best scorer Michigan State has.

This was the first quality opponent for Michigan State since losing their first two games of the season against North Carolina and Duke. That makes it their first quality win. Their only other quality opponent before beginning Big Ten play will be Gonzaga, on December 10th. If they don't win that game then they'll have an uphill battle in the Big Ten to make the NCAA Tournament. Though as good as that conference looks to be, a 10-8 record should be sufficient for the Spartans.

For FSU, this loss came off the losses to Harvard and UConn in the Bahamas. So despite avoiding any bad losses, they've lost three straight games, and still are without a quality win this season. Their next chance will be December 22nd at Florida. Their next game will be on Monday, against Charleston Southern.

Northern Iowa 69, Iowa State 62
Northern Iowa had a narrow lead for most of this game, and all Iowa State needed was to hit a couple of shots, but they just couldn't do it. The Cyclones finished a putrid 4-for-18 on threes. It ends up being a missed opportunity for an Iowa State team still looking for their first quality win of the season. And it allows Northern Iowa to avoid what might have ended up a "bad" loss for their at-large resume.

LinkIowa State is 5-2, but a loss to Drake isn't a great loss, and their best win was over a weak Providence team. They have a tough road game coming up at Michigan. Their next decent opponent after that will be Iowa on December 9th.

Northern Iowa is now 6-1 with this win and wins over Old Dominion and Providence, and only a loss to St. Mary's. They will play Colorado State on Saturday, and then Iowa on Tuesday.

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