Sunday, December 09, 2012

UCLA Wins An Embarrassing Game Over Texas

UCLA 65, Texas 63
This was, well, a terrible game. Both of these programs are a mess right now. And unfortunately for them, they couldn't hide this game. Dick Vitale called the game on national television from Reliant Stadium, and judging from the size of the crowd I'd say that at least 65,000 of the 71-72k seats that Reliant Stadium has were empty. As both of these teams floundered toward the finish of the game, it seemed like everybody on twitter was just trying to outdo each other with jokes making fun of it. As I joked, I'd never seen so many people "hate-watching" a game before. Both of these teams scored well under 1 PPP (UCLA won with 0.90 PPP), but in the end it was Texas that tried harder to blow the game, allowing UCLA to overcome a late eight point deficit.

If there was a silver lining for each of these teams, it's that so much of their production came from very young players. UCLA's best player was freshman Jordan Adams, who had 18 points (on 7-for-14 shooting) and 7 rebounds. The best player for Texas also a freshman: 6'9" Cameron Ridley, who had 14 points (on 5-for-6 shooting) and 10 rebounds.

UCLA moves to 6-3 with this win. This is their best win of the season and they have a bad loss to Cal Poly. Their only remaining non-conference game against a likely RPI Top 100 opponent is Missouri, on December 28th. Even if they win every remaining non-conference game, there's still no way they can make the NCAA Tournament unless they finish at least 11-7 in Pac-12 play.

The Texas at-large chances are really starting to look pretty ify. They are 5-4 with no good wins and with bad losses to USC and Chaminade. They still have North Carolina and Michigan State coming up. Unless they pull a big upset in one of those two games they're going to enter Big 12 play at 7-6 and needing to get to 11-7 in conference play to even have a chance at an at-large bid heading into the Big 12 tournament. The Longhorns might get back Myck Kabongo, and they might start playing a lot better, but until and when that happens I can't see anybody projecting Texas as an at-large team.

West Virginia 68, Virginia Tech 67
This wasn't a particularly well-played game, but it ended up being pretty wild and exciting toward the end. With Virginia Tech trailing by 1 with just over 30 seconds to play, Cadarian Raines went to the free throw line and missed both shots. Aaric Murray came down with the rebound and seemed to quite obviously travel, but it was so goofy looking that the refs froze and missed it, allowing him to hit one-of-two at the line. With around 30 seconds to work with, Robert Brown took an idiotic 25-27 foot three-pointer with 16 seconds left for Virginia Tech that somehow banked in (once again, this is why I tell you that results in very close games are effectively random). But Juwan Staten scored on a great driving layup that put West Virginia ahead to stay. Virginia Tech got a final shot for the win, but it wasn't a good one.

West Virginia's offense struggled all game, but they were able to stay in this game with dominant rebounding (a 46.5 OR%). Kevin Noreen led the with 7 offensive rebounds, and freshman Terry Henderson had 4 offensive rebounds in only 12 minutes off the bench. Erick Green had another 20+ point night (23 total) and also had 10 assists. If he can have a really big night while taking down North Carolina or Duke or national television, he will finally start getting some of the hype that he deserves. He's off to an incredible start to the season.

This win moves West Virginia to 4-3 and is also their best win of the season. Despite the poor won/loss record, the lack of any bad losses means that they're just one big win from looking like a real bubble team, despite how young they are. If they can get past Duquesne on Tuesday then they'll get a chance for that big scalp on Saturday against Michigan at the Barclays Center.

Virginia Tech came into this game 7-0 with wins over Oklahoma State and Iowa, but the computers were not particularly impressed. They were rated the 60th best team by Sagarin and 67th by Pomeroy. And that has nothing to do with preseason ratings - they've simply played a soft schedule and haven't blown out their opponents the way an elite team would. They were overdue for a close loss like this. They have a couple of cupcakes coming up before taking on Bradley on December 22nd.

Middle Tennessee 65, Ole Miss 62
This was a nice, tight game between two teams that play good defense. The difference was Mississippi's outside shooting, which has been brutal all season and was 5-for-23 here. I didn't watch this whole game, but what stood out to me in the bits that I did watch was that if you couldn't read the uniforms you'd have no idea which team was the SEC squad and which was coming out of the Sun Belt. Middle Tennessee is a good team, and there's a reason why they were 2-4 point favorites (depending on where you looked) in Vegas and why none of the fans felt the urge to rush the court after this win. This was almost a "taking care of business" home victory for Middle Tennessee. Win and move on.

Middle Tennessee is 7-2. This is their best win and they have an iffy loss to Akron. It's very unlikely that they'll be in contention for an at-large bid, but it's something we'll have to at least consider if they can win on the road at Belmont on Thursday. Ole Miss falls to 6-1, meanwhile, and they haven't beaten anybody yet. Their next game will be on Friday, at East Tennessee State. Their first chance for a resume-building win this season will come at the Diamond Head Classic. They will open against Indiana State on December 22nd, and can potentially play San Diego State in their second game, and potentially Arizona or Miami in their third game.

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