Sunday, December 06, 2009

New Mexico Beats California

New Mexico 86, #25 California 78
California continues to struggle out of the gate, although in this case they just ran into the buzzsaw that is New Mexico. The Lobos are big, they can handle the ball and they can shoot. Even though they lack great players and aren't great at any particular part of the game, they are good at everything and are going to be tough for anybody to beat. New Mexico is now 8-0, and has a few more good opponents (at San Diego, vs Texas A&M, vs Creighton, vs Texas Tech, vs Dayton) before Mountain West play begins. They will have good computer numbers, and are on excellent pace to earn an at-large bid should they fail to get an automatic bid. For Cal, as much as they've struggled, they've still probably been the second best team in the Pac-10. And they don't have any bad losses. More importantly, they do seem to be playing better since those atrocious blowouts in New York against Syracuse and Ohio State. This is a very good team, and I think that they'll keep getting better now that the hype is gone.

#21 UNLV 74, Arizona 72, 2OT
Another tough loss for Arizona in a game where neither team played very well. Both teams shot below 40% from the field. When a game goes to double-overtime, the result usually has more to do with luck than anything else, but that won't make Arizona feel much better about another missed opportunity. Despite no bad losses they are now 3-3 overall, and with several more tough opponents before Pac-10 play begins. It's good that they've got a solid out-of-conference schedule, but considering how bad the Pac-10 is, Arizona is going to have to win a lot of games to get good computer numbers. A key game will be in a little bit under 24 hours when they play at Oklahoma, a very beatable team right now. Even though a loss to Oklahoma wouldn't be a bad loss, it would drop the team to 3-4, and it can be tough to keep a team confident and motivated when their record is below .500. As for UNLV, they are one of several Mountain West teams off to really good starts (BYU, New Mexico and San Diego State being the others). It's looking very likely that the Mountain West will be a multi-bid conference, so a solid out-of-conference performance along with a good Mountain West record will put them in great position for an at-large Tournament bid.

Vanderbilt 89, Missouri 83
The development of A.J. Walker (6 points, 12 rebounds and 4 assists here, 7.2 points per game and 5.8 rebounds per game on the season) now gives them a really nice inside trio along with A.J. Ogilvy and Jeffery Taylor. Ogilvy and Taylor were both good last season, but you have to figure that the absence of Walker played a big role in their disappointing year. Vandy is now 6-1 with several nice wins, giving them very solid computer numbers. They head to Illinois on December 8th, and then play Western Kentucky at home, but after that it's cupcake city until they play Florida on January 9th. The key will be using that time to develop the team. You always worry about a team getting soft against soft competition. As for Missouri, they have seen nice development from Kim English in his second season, but the freshman class has not done much and the team does seem a bit thin (especially when you consider their preferred style of play). They don't have any bad losses yet, but I just get the feeling like this team isn't playing as well as they could. I'm a huge fan of Mike Anderson, so I have faith that this team will be playing better by the time the Big 12 season really gets going.

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