Saturday, December 12, 2009

Vanderbilt Loses Again

Illinois 79, #24 Vanderbilt 68
This result is even more important for Vanderbilt because they followed this up with a loss to Western Kentucky. Their struggles so far this season have nothing to do with injuries, and everything to do with a team just playing sluggish basketball. A.J. Ogilvy and Brad Tinsley appear to have regressed this season, and nobody else has improved. You have to wonder how much of this is coaching, and how much of it is just a couple bad losses snowballing. I still think Vanderbilt will be an NCAA Tournament team, but we've got to downgrade our expectations for this team. It seems like Florida, Tennessee and Kentucky are unquestionably better. The SEC should get four or five Tournament teams, but that doesn't leave a large margin for error. Remember that Vandy has a great home court advantage, and should be able to collect some nice scalps at home this season. Their next tough game will be at home: January 9th against Florida. As for Illinois, this win isn't a huge win, but they do seem to be playing well since that awful first half against Clemson about ten days ago. I think the experience of playing a great half with Demetri McCamey struggling has given a lot of confidence to the other Illini players. McCamey had a good game here, but so did Mike Tisdale. And freshman D.J. Richardson continues to improve, with three straight games in double digits. Illinois never should have been ranked to start the season, but I do still think they'll be a Tournament team.

Indiana 74, Pittsburgh 64
Indiana seemed to play with more energy here, fighting to a draw on the boards despite being smaller, and continually forcing their way to the free throw line. This Indiana season really seems to be shaping up the way that most experts thought it would: they're not good enough to make the Tournament, but they're clearly improved. They could potentially finish as high as 7th in the Big Ten. Pitt, despite playing poorly early this season, does have reinforcements coming. Jermaine Dixon played his first game of the season in this game, and will just need some time to catch back up to game speed. They're also still waiting for Gilbert Brown to return from suspension. They're going to end up with zero good wins out-of-conference, but don't have any particularly bad losses yet, so they can still make the NCAA Tournament if they can play well in the Big East. They will need to go at least 10-8.

Brigham Young 81, Arizona State 68
This was a good win for a Brigham Young team that just plays really quality, fundamental basketball. They had 19 assists on their 25 made field goals, had only 6 turnovers, and shot 92% from the line. By also winning the rebounding battle they ended up with 10 more shots from the field and two more shots from the line. It's hard to lose a game when you get that many more shot attempts. They are now 7-1 with wins over Bradley and Arizona State, and the one loss came at Utah State. They still have to go Fresno State and Nevada, but the real test will be how BYU plays in the Mountain West. As for Arizona State, they got a disappointingly poor performance from Eric Boating. He had been playing really good this season, and the Sun Devils need him to play well to have a good inside presence. Derek Glasser continues to play All Pac-10 quality basketball, but nobody else on the team is helping out. They're now 6-3 with a win over LSU, and no bad losses. It's a mediocre start, but you can say the same thing about every other team in the Pac-10. They open Pac-10 play at UCLA on December 31st.

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