Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Morning News: Virginia Comes Back, Maryland Holds Off UConn, Wagner's Game-Winning Dunk, And More

Michigan fans have the same feeling watching this team.
Virginia Comes Back Against West Virginia West Virginia will be among the nation's leaders in offensive rebounding and turnovers for the second straight season. And while Virginia entered this game leading the nation in fewest turnovers per game (and 2nd in the nation in turnover percentage), West Virginia did their damage, forcing turnovers on 29% of possessions and rebounding 36% of their misses. That said, that was all much more extreme in the first half. Virginia cleaned things up in the second half, particularly on the glass, where they allowed West Virginia to only rebound 29% of their misses (compared to 45% in the first half). Without the easy baskets, West Virginia scored only 0.55 PPP in the second half, and were outscored 40-18.

West Virginia's inability to score out of their half court offense, and their poor shooting (they are hitting just 27% of their three-pointers as a team), are what will keep them from contending to win the Big 12, as it kept them last season. That said, most teams are not Virginia, and they'll be able to run enough teams off the court to get back to the NCAA Tournament.

As for Virginia, their offense is again one of the best in the nation. They were Top 5 in the nation last year before losing Justin Anderson to injury, and this year's team is currently rated 6th offensively by Pomeroy. Even after their struggles here, they still are averaging 1.22 PPP. But because they play a slow tempo, the media will continue to drive the ridiculous narrative that they can't score. The media is "Pacist", and will continue to be for some time longer.

Maryland Holds Off A Late UConn Rally Maryland led this game by 16 points with 8:15 to go, but a UConn rally sparked by a 5-for-6 stretch behind the arc pulled the Huskies within three points with a little under 3 minutes to go. But that's when things got weird and Kevin Ollie, unhappy about a foul call, threw papers on the court and got called for a technical. The media is crediting the technical for killing UConn's "momentum", which is dumb (if UConn had come back to win the game, the media would have credited the technical for "firing up" his team and giving them momentum), but it's probably inadvisable to give the opponent a free point in the final three minutes of a one-possession game. You can watch what Ollie did to earn the technical foul below:

Outside of the technical, the two stories for UConn were the inability to contain Melo Trimble (25 points, including 14-for-15 at the free throw line), and their inability to convert near the hoop, making just 6 of their 16 layup attempts. For Maryland, the story (besides Trimble) was a career high in scoring for freshman Diamond Stone (16 points and 9 rebounds).

UConn needed this win more than Maryland. That win over Michigan is not looking particularly impressive, yet it's UConn's only win so far over a team with a realistic chance to finish in the RPI Top 50. They still have Ohio State, Texas, and Georgetown ahead, but in AAC play it's going to be much tougher to pick up quality victories to build the type of resume necessary for 3-5 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Maryland's schedule gets easy for the next few weeks, including into the start of Big Ten play. They get to open conference play with Penn State, Northwestern, and Rutgers.

Wagner's Game-Winning Dunk A Wagner/Rider game doesn't mean much for any other team in the country, but it's hard to win a game in any more style than this:
SMU Routs Michigan Some parts of this rout were a bit fluky. Michigan star Caris LeVert had an ugly 1-for-13 shooting day. As a team, Michigan hit only 28% of their threes, compared to 53% for SMU. That said, Michigan's biggest problem all season long has been finding front court physicality and production, and SMU's front line annihilated them here. SMU rebounded 54% of their missed shots (Michigan rebounded only 21% of theirs), while SMU had a massive 42-to-16 advantage in paint points. Jordan Tolbert was the star with 23 points on 11-for-12 shooting.

Michigan has some talented young big men in guys like Ricky Doyle and Moritz Wagner, but they're just not performing well so far this season. And while 6'8" Duncan Robinson has been effective, he's a wing player rather than a big, and hasn't proven the ability to rebound or defend the paint. Michigan has a win over Texas, but they are now 0-3 against the Pomeroy Top 25, and at this point look like a bubble team at best.

Miami Defeats Cold Florida The Gators have struggled offensively this season, and their shooting woes continued here. They hit just 1-for-12 behind the arc, dropping their season long three-point shooting to 29%. Their defense has been elite, but at some point Angel Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan (a combined 41 points on 12-for-20 shooting) were going to hit a few shots, and Florida simply was never able to hit shots consistently. And so Miami was able to pick up their third quality win of the season.

Florida is a tough team to figure out because the computers love them (24th in Pomeroy, 17th in the Sagarin PREDICTOR), but their two games against likely RPI Top 50 opponents were both double-digit losses. It wouldn't be the first time that a major conference team was able to out-athlete inferior opponents while struggling to repeat that success against major conference foes, but at the same time it would be silly to toss out those computer numbers. This Gators team is likely good enough to make a serious at-large bid run.

No comments: