Friday, November 20, 2015

Morning News: Iowa Annihilates Marquette, Stanford's Defense Falters, George Mason Upsets Ole Miss, And More

Iowa Annihilates Marquette The 28 point loss for Marquette was their worst ever in the Bradley Center, yet somehow the final score doesn't even totally indicate how lopsided this game was. They trailed by 27 points at halftime, and the second half was just played in cruise control. It's not even worth analyzing the stats in this game since it never really was a game.

For Marquette, this second season for Steve Wojciechowski was not supposed to be a finished product (they still are a very young team), but the team was supposed to be improved. They are just not playing well at all so far this season, in any of their three games. As for Iowa, this was their first game against a non-cupcake and they certainly impressed. The question is whether this is their true talent level or just a fluke. We'll get a much better idea next week when they play in Orlando.

Stanford's Defense Falters Again Stanford has had a shaky start to their season, needing an overtime to beat a mediocre Green Bay team at home, and they were run out of the building here.  SMU had a big 46-34 scoring advantage in the paint and scored 1.31 PPP. Take computer ratings for what they're worth early in the season, but Pomeroy rates Stanford's defense only 128th best in the nation right now. They've got a tricky stretch coming up, with a road game at Saint Mary's and then Villanova in Brooklyn. They'll need to play better just to get a split in those two games.

SMU has nothing to play for this season officially, but they are a very talented roster, and it will be interesting to see how they continue to play as the season goes along. I'd be interested to see how the Selection Committee treats the other top teams in the AAC if SMU is the regular season champion.

George Mason Upsets Mississippi Dave Paulsen inherited a rough situation at the once dominant mid-major program George Mason, but it's hard to imagine that he's not a coaching upgrade over Paul Hewitt. They opened this season with losses to Colgate and Mercer, but this season isn't going to be about results, it's going to be about progress. And while they were inconsistent and made mistakes here, George Mason pulled off a really nice upset.

The silver lining for Ole Miss is that they were probably the better team here. What doomed them (despite an 18-to-4 turnover advantage) was jump shooting. George Mason hit 40% of theirs while Mississippi hit a putrid 24% of theirs. But the fact is that a Tournament team shouldn't be in a position to lose to a team like George Mason, and Mississippi probably is not a Tournament team.

Arizona Holds Off Boise State Arizona was expected to win this game, and they did, but what stood out here was just how well Boise State played in defeat.  This game was played at a high level, and in particular Boise State managed to outplay the Arizona front line. James Webb III went for 27 points and 9 rebounds while Nick Duncan poured in 21 points of his own. In fact, Boise State might have pulled off the upset if Arizona hadn't out-shot them (48% on three-pointers vs 33% for Boise State). Boise State suffered a tough opening night loss at Montana, but if they continue to play like this then they could definitely get themselves into the at-large picture.

Seton Hall Falls To Long Beach State Kevin Willard might be coaching for his job, and this is not the start to his season that he wanted. The struggles for Seton Hall have tended to come when Isaiah Whitehead dominates the ball too much, and that happened here. He scored 21 points but on only 7-for-18 shooting. If you recall last season, Seton Hall actually played better ball without him, though that team had Sterling Gibbs to lean on. With Gibbs gone, Kevin Williard has to live and die with Whitehead.

The star for Long Beach State was Nick Faust (yes, the former Maryland player), who poured in 16 points. And with this win coming off of a win over BYU, Long Beach State is making a good case that they were underrated preseason. The media picked UC-Irvine as the Big West favorite (as did I) and only placed Long Beach State fourth. At this point, they're as good of a contender as any.

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