Thursday, November 19, 2015

Morning News: Providence Survives, Akron Defeats Arkansas, Giants Collide, And Richmond/Wake Forest

I can definitely watch these two guys go at it again.
Providence Survives At The Buzzer Illinois had approximately 17 shots in the final 10 seconds of this game (I might be exaggerating slightly), but none of them went in and Providence managed to survive a heart-stopping finale. The Illini did manage to reasonably contain Kris Dunn (10 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists), but their offense sputtered, as it likely is to continue to do for much of this season without Tracy Abrams. The Illini are desperately looking for something good to happen to them this season, but so far they haven't been able to catch a break.
Illinois/Providence final seconds

I'm not quite sure how impressive home wins over Harvard and Illinois are this season, and what that really says about Providence. Are they a Tournament team? It's way too early to tell. We should get a much better idea of where this team is next week when they play at the Wooden Legacy tournament.

Akron Defeats Arkansas There was a lid on the basket for Arkansas in this game, as they hit just 30% of their jump shots. It's why they outscored Akron 32-to-20 in the paint and still lost the game by 8. We have seen this from Mike Anderson teams in the past, however, when they aren't getting easy baskets off of turnovers or offensive rebounds. They forced only 12 turnovers here, in what was an ugly defensive performance overall. The 1.28 PPP they allowed were their most allowed in a game since way back on January 17th.

The fact is that this wasn't much of an upset. Arkansas was a 6.5 point favorite in Vegas, but the computer ratings had the spread even closer, with these two teams almost even. Pomeroy actually rated Akron the better team (though computer ratings, of course, have large margins of error this early in the season). Akron is definitely looking like a serious contender in the MAC. Arkansas, in contrast, is not yet playing like an NCAA Tournament team. Their defense has just been brutal, even if you consider that their 3P% allowed (42.5% so far) has been unlucky and will regress.

Giants Collide UCF vs UC-Irvine wasn't a game with likely NCAA Tournament implications, but it did feature a 7'6" vs 7'6" match-up between Mamadou Ndiaye and UCF's new Tacko Fall. And when the two men went up against each other, Fall was the winner:

Ndiaye had the last laugh, though. His free throw with 1:49 left in overtime proved to be the game winner. UC-Irvine was my preseason pick to win the Big West Conference, and a quick 3-0 start to the season has hardly disabused me of that notion, but they will be in a competitive race with teams like Cal Poly, UC Santa Barbara and Hawaii.

Richmond Tops Wake Forest Wake Forest had escaped with narrow wins over UMBC and Cornell, but Richmond is better than either of those. The Spiders really caused troubles defensively for Wake Forest, forcing 11 steals and finishing with a 20-to-6 turnover advantage. The Atlantic Ten has looked strong in the early going this season, but this Richmond performance at least puts them in the discussion of the top tier teams in the conference, perhaps not quite at the level of Dayton, VCU, George Washington, Rhode Island, or Davidson, but right behind them.

For Wake Forest, the fact is that they're not at full strength right now. Cornelius Hudson (7.5 points and 3.1 rebounds per game last season) is suspended while Codi Miller-McIntyre (a team-high 14.5 points per game last season) is out injured. The good news for them is that the ACC is so well-respected and deep that they will be able to make an iffy non-conference performance disappear if they can get their full roster together and play well in ACC play.

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