Monday, December 07, 2015

Morning News: Baylor Tops Vanderbilt, Jaelan Sanford's Buzzer Beater, Florida State Holds Off Melvin Johnson, And More

Enough of this, please.
Baylor Holds On To Beat Vanderbilt This was a heartbreaking loss for Vanderbilt. Baylor took the lead on a four-point play for Lester Medford, and then Vanderbilt failed on three difference chances to tie up the game. First, Nolan Cressler missed a pair of free throws. Then, on the final possession, both Riley LaChance and Nolan Cressler got clean looks and missed.

In the end, Baylor did well to overcome white hot 10-for-21 three-point shooting, which they did by dominating the glass and committing 10 fewer turnovers. Despite the narrative about this being an undersized Baylor team (and though it's small for a Scott Drew Baylor team, it's still not significantly below average height for a Big 12 team), the fact is that Baylor still gets after the glass as hard as they always have. They are 4th in the nation in offensive rebounding rate. And though this is their first quality win of the season, Baylor has impressed the computers all season long, and are now rated 14th in Pomeroy and 15th in the Sagarin PREDICTOR.

Vanderbilt has come awfully close to upsetting Kansas and Baylor but come up short in the final minute both times. But despite not having any impressive resume-building wins so far, they have proven to be a legitimate Top 25 team, and a contender in the SEC should this young Kentucky team slip.

Jaelan Sanford's Buzzer Beater Toledo/Green Bay wasn't a game that a lot of people were paying attention to on an NFL Sunday, but Jaelan Sanford played hero for Toledo at the buzzer, which you can watch below:
In the end, this result doesn't mean too much for two teams that will not be contending for at-large bids. However, a road win at Green Bay is a really nice victory for any mid-major, and Toledo is increasingly looking like the favorite in the MAC East. Central Michigan was the unanimous media pick preseason, but so far Toledo has been better.

Florida State Holds Off Melvin Johnson Melvin Johnson did his best to pull VCU back into this game, scoring 23 of his 36 points in the second half, including VCU's final 16 points. But the fairy tale finish came up just short as Johnson had the ball poked out of his grasp as he tried to put VCU into the lead with 29 seconds to go. This has to go down as a good win for Florida State, overcoming fluky 10-for-19 three-point shooting from a good VCU team. This marks their first quality win of the season.

VCU has played three teams likely to finish in the RPI Top 50, played all of them close until the final minute, but lost all three games. And while the Atlantic Ten is a strong conference that is going to earn multiple NCAA Tournament bids this season, that's a really crippling problem for the Rams. They still have a home game against Cincinnati in a couple weeks, but without a win there they're going to need to go at least 12-6 in A-10 play to have a realistic at-large chance.

North Carolina Annihilates Davidson Davidson came into this game a total unknown, as they had not played a single team higher than 150th in the Pomeroy ratings. But with every player other than Tyler Kalinoski back from a team that earned a 10 seed in the NCAA Tournament last season, this team was expected to be good. They certainly didn't look that way in their first serious test, however. North Carolina's perimeter players decimated the Davidson defense, getting to the rim at will. They assisted on 21 of 38 made baskets and had a 54 to 24 advantage in paint scoring.

You never want to panic over a single performance from a team. It's easy to blame Davidson's schedule for forcing them to take a step up from cupcakes to North Carolina, though that's probably not really to blame here. But at this point we need to see what they do the next time they face a quality opponent. That next test will come at Madison Square Garden in a couple of weeks when they face Pittsburgh.

San Diego State Loses Ugly Outdoor basketball games were a cool idea for a while, but at this point I'll support any candidate for President who will stop them. Or at least stops outdoor games involving San Diego State, which are always horribly ugly. This game got off to a terrible start for the Aztecs, as they shot 3-for-20 from the field in the first half. Things got better in the second half, but they still finished with just 0.80 PPP, and ended their nine game winning streak against their intra-city rival.

This is a bad loss, as San Diego came in just 1-5 against Division I opponents. And San Diego State now has only a win over California to go with bad losses to Arkansas-Little Rock and San Diego. Unless they can knock off Kansas in a couple of weeks, it's going to be an uphill battle for them to earn an at-large bid. UNLV and Boise State will be in the at-large hunt, and New Mexico might as well, but there is not a single Mountain West team that at this point looks to be in good shape for the NCAA Tournament. It's not necessarily likely that the Mountain West will end up a one-bid league, but at this point it looks realistic.

No comments: