Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Morning News: North Carolina Wins A Wild Game, Virginia Holds Off Ohio State, Zeus Out 4-6 Weeks, And More

It'll be a while before we see Zeus again, unfortunately.
North Carolina Wins A Wild Game Both offenses in this game were ridiculous, for a combination of reasons. For one thing, both of these teams are really good offensively. In addition, both looked totally lost defensively for large stretches of this game. And neither team could miss a shot. When Maryland briefly took a lead in the second half, it came after they had hit 9 of their last 10 jump shots. They cooled off late in the game (which is what allowed North Carolina to escape with the win), but Maryland still finished the game 12-for-26 on threes.

The star for Maryland was Melo Trimble, unsurprisingly, though he has to learn to play within himself more. He had 23 points and 12 assists, while also committing 8 turnovers. North Carolina got a much more controlled performance from Marcus Paige, who returned to score 20 points with 5 assists and only 1 turnover.

The question I have coming out of this game is just how good Maryland really is. The computers all have them rated somewhere around the 20th best team. Obviously they're good luck in close games last season set them up to be overrated preseason this season, but is it still possible for them to challenge in the Big Ten? Possibly. But in my opinion, Purdue and Michigan State are a class ahead, while Maryland is in the second tier with teams like Iowa.

Virginia Holds Off Ohio State Ohio State has struggled badly early this season, but Virginia was shorthanded here. London Perrantes had his appendix removed and had to miss the game. Ohio State looked probably the best they have all year offensively, scoring 1.02 PPP. They hit 62% of their two-pointers and actually outscored Virginia in the paint 22-20. Virginia hung on by hitting their threes (8-for-16) and their free throws (five straight down the stretch when shooting in the 1-and-1).

Ohio State missed an opportunity to turn their season around here, and they drop to 2-4 for the season. But they looked better here than they have all season, and this young, talented team really should improve as the season goes along. They should still be very much in the at-large mix late in the season.

Virginia has some interesting games coming up, including a home game against Villanova on December 19th. A win there would really establish them as a serious contender to North Carolina in the ACC.

Kaleb Tarczewski Out 4-6 Weeks Tarczewski quietly was named to the Wooden Award watchlist preseason. With him out, the only true center left on the Arizona roster is Dusan Ristic, and Arizona starts off Pac-12 play with three tough road games (Arizona St, UCLA, and USC). That all said, Arizona fans should not be pushing the panic button. They have two very good paint players in Ryan Anderson and Mark Tollefsen, and are probably the most talented team in the Pac-12 even without Tarczewski. Assuming he comes back fully healthy in six weeks, Arizona is still the heavy favorite to win the Pac-12 title.

Kerwin. Roach. UT-Arlington pushed Texas into overtime before finally falling. And considering their early season struggles, this actually felt like an important win for Texas. Still, the story from this game was not the result but this monster dunk by Kerwin Roach. Goodness gracious.
K. Roach Jr. made Dunk. - ESPN Video

Purdue Defeats Cold Pitt Purdue jumped out to a quick 18-3 lead here, but Pitt didn't quit and they managed to rally. They actually grabbed the lead for a significant chunk of the second half. In the end, the difference in this game was Pitt's inability to hit a jump shot. They hit 24% of their jumpers overall, including 4-for-19 behind the arc.

Purdue has quietly been one of the best teams in the country. This win boosts them up to 6th in Pomeroy and 4th in the Sagarin PREDICTOR. Computer ratings are working with a small sample size of data at this point, but what that tells us that in the games they have played the Boilermakers have been awfully impressive. It's worth noting that they were without Raphael Davis here with an injury, too.

Pitt did not do themselves any favors with a soft non-conference schedule. A neutral court game against Davidson is their only remaining chance for a win against a likely RPI Top 100 opponent. If they're going to make the NCAA Tournament, they're going to have to earn it with a strong ACC performance.

Michigan Rolls NC State This game was never particularly close, as Michigan led by double digits for almost the entire second half. But the real story for Michigan was not the win but the ankle injury to Derrick Walton, who left the game after playing 13 minutes and never returned. John Beilein's system doesn't really depend on point guards, but Walton is a good one, and it will be a significant problem if Walton has to miss significant time.

NC State has several problem this season, but one of the most blatant is a lack of shooters. They have precisely two players who have hit even a single three-pointer this season, and as a team are hitting only 31%. They aren't hitting two-point jumpers either - they're 284th in the nation at 30.5%. NC State is now going to enter ACC play without a single quality win (unless that LSU win turns into a quality win later in the season).

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