Thursday, December 19, 2013

Morning News: Texas Wins Ugly, Tennessee's Shooting Lets Them Down, UConn Unbeaten No More

Leslie McDonald returned for the Tar Heels last night, but PJ Hairston might miss the whole season.

Texas Wins Ugly Over North Carolina Since this game happened at a fast tempo (82 possessions), it was immune to criticism from the Pacist media, but it was horrible basketball all around. Neither offense had any idea what they were doing, although Texas was particularly terrible. The Longhorns have no ball movement or off-the-ball player movement, and any possession that wasn't in transition ended up as a rushed jump shoot or a driving circus shot. Most of their offense came via offensive rebounds, foul shots and transition. In all, this game featured 55 fouls, 80 free throws and 35 offensive rebounds.

The fact that this game was terribly ugly is why Texas fans shouldn't get too excited. If they face a team that limits transition opportunities and can control the defensive glass, Texas is going to have a really tough time trying to score. So while they're athletic, I just don't see how the Longhorns can win games consistently enough to get into the NCAA Tournament.

The Tar Heels got Leslie McDonald back for this game, but PJ Hairston remains a bit question mark. Their best player last season, Hairston is the player who could turn this team into the ACC champ. But for now, UNC has not appealed to the NCAA to get him reinstated. Hopefully this can all get resolved soon, and either Hairston will be back or we'll know for certain that he's done for the season.

Tennessee's Shooting Lets Them Down Vs NC State Tennessee fought hard in the second half of this game, crawling back from a 17 point deficit to get close enough that they were fouling in the final 30 seconds. And this was a physical game, with two big front lines going at each other. Jeronne Maymon had 10 offensive rebounds by himself, while NC State blocked 12 shots. In the end, the difference was an atrocious jump shooting night for the Vols (3-for-24 behind the arc). This is the second time this season that they have doomed themselves with three-point bricks (they shot 3-for-21 in their loss to UTEP a couple of weeks ago).

This is not a good loss for Tennessee, but there's no reason for panic. First of all, they'll get a chance for a quality win over Virginia on December 30th (and they've already beaten Xavier). Second of all, the tail end of their regular season schedule is very soft. Don't be surprised if they run the table late and finish with something like a 12-6 record in the SEC. The Vols are a good team, even if they sometimes shoot themselves out of games.

NC State has quietly won six straight games, including this win and a win over Northwestern. They do have a loss to NC Central, though. And when you throw in the fact that Northwestern stinks this year and that Tennessee would have won this game easily if they'd shot anywhere near their season average behind the arc, I don't think think we should be getting too excited about the Wolfpack just yet. Over the next two weeks or so, they have great opportunities to build their resume with home games against Missouri and Pittsburgh. If they're going to make a run at getting onto the bubble, they really have to win at least one of those two games.

Stanford Ends UConn's Unbeaten Run It's totally weird how there seems to be no correlation between clutch wins in the past and clutch wins in the future, huh? After starting the season 4-0 in games decided by two points or less and with Shabazz Napier getting a lot of media buzz for NPOY, UConn looked absolutely and completely lost in the final seconds of this game, ending up with an awkward two point loss. The Huskies just seemed to be off all night, as their entire backcourt was weirdly inefficient and quiet.

On a side note, those who follow me on twitter saw me make fun of Jeff Borzello's article on CBS that was published around 7 hours before this game tipped off. He listed the "next possible loss" for each of the 13 remaining undefeated teams, and I pointed out that teams don't only lose when they're in toss-up games or games they're supposed to lose. In fact, I said I could virtually guarantee that at least one of those teams would lose before their next "possible loss". But now you'll notice that despite the title and URL talking about 13 teams, only 12 are listed. The UConn section (which said their next "possible" loss was their game against SMU) has been deleted, without an editor's note or even a timestamp saying that the article had been changed.

That whole charade is why I bring up writers like Jeff Goodman that say stupid things early in the season and then deny them later (like Baylor being better than Kansas... anybody see the score of the Baylor game last night?). National sportswriters and sports websites simply whitewash this stuff, and delete their old dumb assertions.

So to be clear, I never do that here. When I get a team wrong, you can still see it. You can still see my preseason bracket projection back from April here, which as far as I know is the first full bracket projection anybody in the country put out for the 2013-14 season. I nailed some teams (Villanova, Michigan, North Dakota State), get an excuse on some (I thought Vander Blue would be back for Marquette), but also whiffed on others (Syracuse, Kansas State, Boston College). You'll never see me whitewash my previous posts, which is why I'm careful not to make stupid assertions with certainty.

On a post-rant side note, I had dropped Stanford out of my bracket projection last week because of the season-ending injury to Aaron Bright, and I do think that depth is still a major concern (four of five starters played at least 38 minutes), but this win will help keep them on the bubble a while longer. The key with that lack of depth is going to be staying healthy and winning consistently enough to get to at least 10-8 in Pac-12 play.


Anonymous said...

So you don't erase stuff in your articles, but you erase comments calling out your errors? You're so classy.

Jeff said...

I didn't erase your comment, nitwit. I never erase comments unless a person gets super personally nasty repeatedly. It's been a couple of years since I've erased a single non-spam post.

If your previous post disappeared, complain to Blogger or figure out how you submitted it wrong. I assure you I didn't delete it.

Anonymous said...

Now I'm curious what these so-called errorsWere