Saturday, November 24, 2012

Louisville Thumps An Undermanned Missouri Team

#2 Louisville 84, #13 Missouri 61
This game got away from Missouri in the second half, and ended up as an easy Louisville victory. Missouri fans continue to hope to have Michael Dixon back soon, but it's still unclear just exactly why he is suspended and how much longer he'll be suspended. Missouri is also waiting for transfer Jabari Brown, who will be eligible at the end of the semester. Louisville's defense forced 21 turnovers, and Peyton Siva was sharp (4-for-8 shooting, with 6 assists to only 1 turnover).

Getting Dixon and Brown will be very helpful for Missouri, but it's a misconception that their biggest need is a second perimeter playmaker behind Phil Pressey. The reality is that Missouri is scoring plenty - even their 0.85 PPP here, while not great, is the most Louisville has given up all season. Mizzou's problem here was defense. Getting back Dixon and Brown won't hurt, but I don't think it will be enough for them to be one of the 15 best teams in the nation. They're overrated, in my opinion. Missouri will play VCU in the Battle 4 Atlantis third place game.

Louisville is 5-0 after this win, but take a huge step up in difficulty next when they take on Duke. That game is on at 9:30 PM eastern time, so try your best to tune in - should be a good one. After this game, Louisville will get a week off before taking on an underrated Illinois State squad.

California 68, Georgia Tech 57
The DirectTV Classic has been.... underwhelming. There wasn't a great field to begin with, and none of the teams have really played that well. It's made sleep seem more appealing than staying up late to watch the end of these games, to be honest. Even here, California's win had more to do with bad Georgia Tech offense than anything else (a 41.0 eFG%). Still, California will always be happy when they can win on an off day from star Allen Crabbe (4-for-13 shooting).

California will take on an upstart Pacific squad in the DirecTV Classic title game. After that they will play consecutive games against Wisconsin, UNLV and Creighton - a pretty brutal stretch, and a great opportunity for Cal to build their at-large resume. Georgia Tech will take on St. Mary's next, and then will head on the road to face Illinois as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Their rivalry game with Georgia, on December 4th, will be their final game against a quality opponent before ACC play.

#19 Memphis 52, Northern Iowa 47
Memphis had to do something to avoid a total wipe out in the Bahamas, and they did that with a win here in the 7th place game against Northern Iowa. Joe Jackson bounced back after doing almost nothing positive in their first two games in Bahamas, scoring 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting and adding 3 assists. Northern Iowa was flummoxed by the athletic Memphis defense, scoring only 0.76 PPP.

Memphis is a good team, but they're inconsistent offensively, and a down Conference USA is not going to do them any favors. Unless they can knock off Louisville in a few weeks then there's a good chance they will finish the regular season without a single RPI Top 50 victory. Northern Iowa could end up in the Top 50, as could Ohio, a team Memphis plays on December 5th. At this point, it's pretty hard to project Memphis as any higher than a 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament, simply because of their schedule.

Northern Iowa is a pretty good team. Even after this loss they will still be in the Top 80 of both the Pomeroy and Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings. But a wipe out in Bahamas really messes up any at-large chances that they had. They'll be a contender in the Missouri Valley Conference, but there's a good chance that by the time league play starts they'll basically just be gunning for the automatic bid. Their next game will be next Saturday, against Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

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