Saturday, December 12, 2009

Pay Attention To New Mexico

New Mexico 84, #18 Texas A&M 81
You have to wonder what Iowa fans are thinking as they see how much success Steve Alford has had in just his third year at New Mexico since being run out of town in Iowa City. New Mexico is now 10-0 with a win over California to go with this one. They are in the Top 30 in the Sagarin, Pomeroy and RPI rankings. The top of the Mountain West is going to be very close between New Mexico, BYU, UNLV and San Diego State, but the Lobos might just be the favorites. As for Texas A&M, this loss is a missed opportunity, but not a bad loss. Their other loss came against West Virginia, to go with wins over Minnesota and Clemson. And they still get to play Washington in a week and a half, with a chance to really put together a good out-of-conference resume. They are still in an excellent position to make the NCAA Tournament.

#23 Wisconsin 72, Marquette 63
Wisconsin bounced back nicely from that loss to UW-Green Bay with a quality win here. Jon Leuer has really turned into a big time scorer, and with Trevon Huges forms one of the better inside-outside duos in the nation. Wisconsin continues to struggle with teams that are quick and long, which is why I don't see them competing with the likes of Purdue atop the Big Ten. But right now they're probably the fifth best team in the Big Ten, and could potentially finish as high as third if Evan Turner stays injured long enough. As for Marquette, an interesting new young player is Darius Johnson-Odom, who is shooting an amazing 55% (21-for-38) from behind the arc this season. This team can put up points in a hurry when they can turn the speed of a game up. But the fact that they are so small is going to make it really difficult for them to play with some of the really big frontlines in the Big East. They will likely be on the bubble all season long.

Kansas State 95, #17 UNLV 80
Kansas State might not play this well again all season, as they basically shot the lights out of the building in Las Vegas. They hit 57% from the field, including 61% (14-for-23) behind the arc. Jacob Pullen was particularly impressive with 28 points, including 7-for-10 from behind the arc. This is Kansas State's best win of the season, but they also have wins over Dayton, Xavier and Washington State. Their one loss was to Mississippi. Both Sagarin and Pomeroy rate Kansas State as the third best team in the Big 12 - that might be overdoing it a little bit, but they certainly look like a Tournament team right now. As for UNLV, this is their first loss of the season, and it goes with wins over Louisville, Arizona, Nevada and Southern Illinois. Assuming they avoid any bad losses before conference play begins, UNLV probably only needs to finish second or third in the Mountain West to earn an at-large bid.

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