Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Michigan Escapes A Late NC State Run

#3 Michigan 79, #18 NC State 72
I thought that Michigan would win this game relatively easily, and was very impressed with the way NC State fought back from a 15 points deficit with under six minutes to go. After a 14-4 run to pull within five, CJ Leslie was called for a dubious offensive foul that popped their momentum. A Lorenzo Brown travel on their next possession was the clincher.

Trey Burke (18 points, 11 assists) was the star for Michigan, as usual, but Nik Stauskas had his best collegiate performance with 20 points on 4-for-7 three-point shooting. CJ Leslie led the way for NC State, scoring 16 points and adding 10 rebounds against a Michigan front line that really didn't know how to contain him. Overall this was the worst the Michigan defense has looked all season (1.14 PPP allowed), and it remains to be seen if this is the sign of a bigger problem or if this was just the case of NC State having a really good combination of a game plan and talent.

Michigan is now 6-0 and through the toughest part of their non-conference schedule. Arkansas and West Virginia will be their only serious tests before starting Big Ten play. I don't want to look too far ahead, but there's a very realistic chance that they'll be 16-0 and flying high as they head into a road game at Ohio State on January 13th. It's a game that could make both of those schools forget about football for a little while. But that's a long way off. Their next game will be Saturday at Bradley.

NC State falls to 4-2 with this loss and could really use a quality win. I'm not sure if beating UConn will be looked at as a "quality win" at the end of the season, but NC State will get a chance against them in Madison Square Garden next Tuesday. After that, a home game against Stanford is their only serious non-conference opponent before they begin ACC play.

Georgia Tech 65, St. Mary's 56
There was an opportunity in this game to see what happens when Matthew Dellavedova has a bad day for St. Mary's, and it wasn't pretty. Dellavedova is averaging 17.2 points per game this season, but he scored only five points on 1-for-8 shooting here. St. Mary's ended up with only 0.88 PPP on offense, after not finishing below 1 PPP in any of their previous five games this season. Brandon Reed led the way for Georgia Tech with 19 points on 4-for-6 three-point shooting.

Coming off a loss to Pacific, this has been a very disappointing two game stretch for St. Mary's. You never want to overreact to performances in early season tournaments, but if nothing else the Gaels have badly damaged their at-large resume. They really can't afford any more bad losses before starting WCC regular season play. They will face Cal Poly on Saturday.

This is one of the better wins that Georgia Tech has had the past few seasons. Brian Gregory appears to really have things moving in the right direction. They'll get a great test tomorrow, on the road at Illinois. If they can somehow pull an upset there then we actually might need to talk about their at-large chances.

Virginia Tech 95, Iowa 79
Iowa made a game of this early in the second half, going on a 14-0 spurt to pull within three points of Virginia Tech. But the Hokies pulled away by scoring on almost every possession over the next 7 minutes. In a stretch beginning with just over 11 minutes left in the game, they scored 27 points on 15 possessions (an absurd 1.80 PPP). For the game, Virginia Tech finished with 1.27 PPP.

The concern for Iowa coming into this season was defense. They are allowing only 0.88 PPP so far, but most of that has to do with a very soft schedule. This game proves that defense is still a very serious concern, particularly with the uptempo style that Fran McCaffery plays, which opens them up to allowing massive amounts of points in short periods of time.

Iowa is 5-2, but has lost to both of the quality teams they have played (their other loss came against Wichita State). They have a couple of cupcakes up next before taking on Iowa State on December 7th. Virginia Tech is now 6-0, though this is their first win over a quality opponent. They will play Oklahoma State on Saturday, and then a week later will play at West Virginia.

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