Saturday, December 13, 2008

First Real Saturday Of Season

Temple 88, #8 Tennessee 72
With college football's regular season over, college basketball finally gets the day of saturday to itself. And we had a pretty entertaining first real saturday, including Temple's impressive beat down of Tennessee. Actually, the game was closer than the final score. Temple led almost the entire way, but didn't open up the lead until late in the second half, when the rim just seemed to shut whenever the Vols were shooting. All in all, Temple just played as well as they possibly can, and Tennessee played by far their worst game of the year. Temple is good enough that their best will beat basically anybody's worst. And that's what happened here. So I wouldn't read too much into this loss for Tennessee. In my mind, the Vols are still the heavy favorites to take the SEC, although they're relative long shots for a 1 seed at this point. But for Temple, nobody on Selection Sunday will say "Sure they beat Tennessee by 16, but Tennessee stunk that day." It's going to be on the resume as a great win, and it completely rehabilitates the at-large hopes of an Owls team that was on life support after consecutive losses to Buffalo and Miami of Ohio a couple of weeks back. We're far enough in the season that I can start quoting RPI numbers, and this win pushes Temple up to 13th in the nation. I don't think they'll be back in tonight's BP65, but they're definitely a whole lot closer to getting in than they were before this win.

#19 Georgetown 79, #15 Memphis 70, OT

Memphis probably would win this game if they played it again, but their inexperience really showed, especially with so many of their more experienced players in foul trouble. Tyreke Evans continues to be an inefficient scorer, scoring 20 points on 24 shots from the field in this one. Despite expecting a lot out of super-freshman Greg Monroe, Georgetown has way more experience to lean on in games like this. This was a very tight game the entire way, and Georgetown simply played better in crunch time. This game actually meant more for Memphis, because Georgetown has so many tough opponents left to go in Big East play. They might only be a 4-6 seed if the season ended now, but they have plenty of time to earn any seed that they want. All they have to do is win. Memphis, on the other hand, has limited chances. Their best win is either Seton Hall or UMass, with a loss here and against Xavier. Their only remaining ranked opponent is Syracuse, who comes to Memphis next weekend. If Memphis falls there, they can forget anything higher than a 3 seed in the Tournament. They just won't have the wins.

#21 Ohio State 54, Butler 51

I admired the way that Butler fought their way back into this one on the back of the sharpshooting Gordon Hayward (7-for-11 from behind the arc for the game). But the Buckeyes had opened up enough of a lead that they were able to survive one last three-point attempt at the buzzer to keep their undefeated season alive. They are now 6-0, with their last three wins coming over Miami (Fl), Notre Dame and Butler. That's a great start for this team. Barring a huge surprise, Ohio State will still be undefeated when West Virginia comes to town on December 27th. With the win there, Ohio State just has to be careful to remember the 2006-07 Clemson Tigers, and that they haven't won anything until they win some conference games. For Butler, this is their first loss, but it's certainly not a bad loss. And the recent emergence of Hayward is really welcome for a team that probably isn't getting as much as they hoped from Matt Howard, who has nearly identical scoring and rebounding numbers from his (albeit solid) freshman season. Butler gets two more chances at good wins, heading to Xavier on the 23rd, and then getting UAB a week later. Remember that it's not easy to get an at-large bid out of the Horizon. Butler needs a big scalp, and they missed a great shot today.

UMass 61, #23 Kansas 60
Kansas is a young team, and young teams will sometimes have halves like the first half that Kansas played today. Their superior size led to 14 extra shots, but atrocious shooting ending up being the difference. Kansas simply wasn't able to work their way all the way back, despite a perfect chance after Chris Lowe missed two free throws with 20 seconds to go. For Kansas, this probably won't be the last time that they have a game like this. They don't yet have the maturity and consistency to win every single game. But they're still a good team that is almost certain to be Tournament bound. They still have a bunch of good opponents left even before the Big 12 season starts, and the odds are that they'll knock off at least a couple of them. For UMass, this is a huge win, but it's not yet enough to get them back in the at-large debate. They just got off to an awful start to the season, as their 3-6 record can attest to. In the Atlantic Ten, there are enough good opponents that UMass can still work their way back into the at-large picture. But they're Tournament long shots at this point.

1 comment:

Evilmonkeycma said...

Of course, Clemson's problem was ridiculously weak OOC scheduling... Ohio St. has beaten three teams that will, in all likelihood, make the tournament, something that Clemson couldn't say