Friday, November 23, 2012

Andre Hollins Leads Minnesota Over Memphis

Minnesota 84, #18 Memphis 75
Andre Hollins had the game of his life here, scoring 41 points on 12-for-16 shooting, including 5-for-5 behind the arc. Minnesota is a borderline Top 25 team, so it's going to be pretty difficult to beat them when their primary playmaker can't miss. The bigger concern for Memphis is that their ball handling issues are far from solved. A day after getting eaten alive by the VCU defense, Joe Jackson was basically benched here, playing only seven minutes. Jackson, for all of his problems, is the one true point guard that Memphis has. With him not playing, the Memphis offense devolves into a variety of players taking turns trying to take their man off the dribble.

A loss to Minnesota isn't a bad loss, but it's a missed opportunity. Memphis will play Northern Iowa in the 7th place game in Bahamas. Their remaining quality non-conference opponents are Louisville, Ohio, Tennessee and Harvard. Considering the fact that the Conference USA doesn't have any other elite teams, Memphis might need that upset of Louisville to avoid going the entire season without an RPI Top 50 win (Ohio is probably the best shot of the other teams to sneak into the Top 50). That's a major concern for their resume on Selection Sunday.

It would be a mistake to draw too many conclusions from this Minnesota win since Andre Hollins probably won't have a game like this the rest of the season. But it's a sign that Minnesota is throwing their hat in the ring near the top of the Big Ten. Right now there are seven Big Ten teams looking really good, and Minnesota is one of the them (the others are Indiana, Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Illinois). Purdue, Iowa and Northwestern are the teams that realistically can make the Big Ten an eight-bid NCAA Tournament league. But those seven teams, including Minnesota, are all playing like NCAA Tournament teams right now. Minnesota's next game will be the Battle 4 Atlantis fifth place game, against Stanford.

Davidson 63, West Virginia 60
Davidson's interior passing was excellent in this game. Nik Cochran led the way with 7 assists, and as a team they assisted on 60% of made baskets, and made 56% of attempted two-pointers. West Virginia, on the other hand, struggled to get the ball into the paint. They settled for a lot of long jumpers, and it was why dominating the boards was not enough to beat Davidson here.

With every game Davidson plays, that loss to Wisconsin-Milwaukee is looking like more and more of an aberration. This win comes on the heels of that 13 point victory over Vanderbilt. They'll face either Oklahoma or Gonzaga in the Old Spice Classic title game.

West Virginia had this clunker on the heels of their 43 point destruction of Marist, so it's hard to know quite what to make of their performance here in Orlando. They'll play either Oklahoma or Gonzaga in the third place game, where they'll need a win to salvage something from this tournament.

Marist 50, Vanderbilt 33
This was an ugly, ugly loss for Vanderbilt. There was a lid on the rim, and they finished with a 24.6 eFG% and only 0.54 PPP. I was able to pull up efficiency stats going back a full decade and couldn't find a shooting or scoring performance that bad from Vanderbilt. The only Division I team to beat those two stats this entire season is North Carolina A&T, which did so in a 93-39 loss to Cincinnati.

We knew this was going to be a rebuilding season for Vanderbilt, but this is brutal. They have a great homecourt advantage, which will deliver a few wins, but they'll be near the bottom of the SEC. Their next game will be against UTEP in the Old Spice Classic 7th place game.

This is a nice win for Marist, and they'll get a chance to really enjoy their trip to Orlando with a win over Clemson in the Old Spice Classic 5th place game. I still don't like their chances to win the MAAC, but it's always good for a program like Marist to collect a scalp like Vanderbilt.


Anonymous said...

Hello Jeff, Pacific won the last two games. St marys and xavier. Now you think that he can win the big west?

Jeff said...

I certainly think that they can. I'm saying that at this point I don't think they're the favorite. They have to keep up this level of play for a bit longer before I believe this is really how good they are.