Friday, December 08, 2006

More Dogs in the Fight

Tennessee 76, #17 Memphis 58
A huge win for a Volunteers team in desperate need of a win. No real bad losses, but no good wins either for a team with a lot of talent and a great coach. A couple things that probably made this win extra sweet for the men in orange: First, an All-American performance from Chris Lofton. The junior had played well all year, but 6-11 3-point shooting for 34 points against Memphis on national tv is going to get anyone a lot of attention. Meanwhile, I'm sure Bruce Pearl is satisfied with a win over John Calipari, with whom he has a rivalry that has been covered plenty in the media.

#9 Duke 57, Holy Cross 45
This game was even closer than the final score. While Duke's offensive struggles have been covered plenty in the news, their biggest issue in this game actually wasn't their offensive aggressiveness. They got to the foul line 27 times and pulled down 15 offensive boards (Holy Cross only took down 15 defensive rebounds). However, they turned the ball over 19 times. Holy Cross actually forced a remarkable 11 steals. Duke has always had good guard play, but Greg Paulus has simply not done the job. Some have suggested that Jon Scheyer take over the starting role, but he is still a freshman with more turnovers than assists. The fact is that Coach K has a ton of talent at his disposal, and there has to be someone who can control the ball against Holy Cross. He just needs to find that kid soon, because Gonzaga is coming up in a couple weeks and ACC play starts in less than a month.

Washington St. 77, #18 Gonzaga 67
A great win for a Cougars team looking to justify its early season record with a win over a top-tier team. As for the Zags, we'll have to see if this was a look-ahead game. They have a big game against Washington coming up - if they win that then all is well. If not, Gonzaga could find itself sliding right out of the Top 25, with no chance to return for two weeks until they play a hungry Duke team. Back to Washington State, I don't think this win gets them on the bubble quite yet, but they're worth keeping an eye on. With no more good out-of-conference games (honestly, this was their only good out-of-conference opponent), the Cougars need a good run in conference. They get a good shot at Pauley Pavilion in a few weeks.

Notre Dame 99, #5 Alabama 85
Excellent win for a Notre Dame team looking for a game to brag about. Their early season last-second loss to Butler must have given Irish fans nightmares of another season like last year, when they seemingly lost a dozen games at the buzzer. But a win over Maryland, and another over the Tide has to have South Bend thinking Tournament. The Big East is pretty wide open this year - no one has had a real big early season win, no one like Villanova and UConn of last year. Notre Dame should believe they have a chance to win every one of their games. If they're right the majority of the time, they might have a longer postseason than they had last year.

No comments: