Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ohio State Dominates Florida

#5 Ohio State 93, #10 Florida 75
Neither team did much stopping of the other in this game, with both teams shooting over 60% from the field. That said, Ohio State always seemed in control, and by the latter stages of the game it was turning into a domination. The fact is that Ohio State is not a good match-up for Florida, and it just took about half of the game for the Buckeyes to really figure that out. Neither of these teams have good post defense, but Ohio State is able to take advantage of that with Jared Sullinger while Florida has no such option. Florida still seems to lack a go-to scorer as well. When Ohio State was on their run, Florida didn't have an obvious go-to guy to stem the tide. Kenny Boynton might eventually be that guy, but he's not there yet. And for Ohio State, it's worth noting that superfrosh Jared Sullinger actually fills Evan Turner's role this season, even though they're completely different players. What they share in common is that opposing defenses completely key on them and leave Ohio State's secondary scorers open. I talked last year how players like Jon Diebler had their stats go way down when Evan Turner got hurt because they suddenly were far less open than when defenses were focused on Turner (here, for example). Sullinger will really open things up for players like Diebler and David Lighty this season. Ohio State looked really good here, and the battle between them, Michigan State (and possibly more teams) to win the Big Ten looks like it will be fantastic. As for Florida, it's wise to not make too much out of this loss. They were overrated at 10th in the country, of course, but I knew that before this game. And they're still a serious contender to win the SEC, which is full of flawed contenders (Kentucky, Tennesse.... Vandy? South Carolina?). And it's possible that Ohio State is just really, really good, and so a loss to them (even at home) is nothing to be ashamed of. We'll learn a lot more about them in about two weeks when they have consecutive road games at Florida State and UCF. If they're an SEC contender then they should win both of those games.

#3 Kansas State 75, #25 Virginia Tech 57
Once again I want to urge people not to draw too many conclusions from one game. Curtis Kelly is in Frank Martin's doghouse and didn't play, and Jacob Pullen was in bad foul trouble and only played 14 minutes, and Kansas State still won by nearly 20. So on first glance it looks like either Kansas State really is the third best team in the country or Virginia Tech just sucks. That said, Virginia Tech has major injury problems. JT Thompson is out for the season with an ACL injury, and Allan Chaney has a heart ailment that may or may not keep him out for the season. In addition, Cadarian Raines is out for at least a couple more weeks with a foot injury. That left Virginia Tech with only two true frontcourt players, only one taller than 6'7", meaning that the Hokies were utterly incapable of taking advantage of Curtis Kelly's absence. In addition, they actually neutralized Kansas State's strong homecourt advantage and actually held the lead for most of the first seven minutes of the second half. But that's when foul trouble took away their only two frontcourt players (Jeff Allen fouled out and Victor Davila played shortened minutes and finished with four fouls), allowing even a short-handed Kansas State team to dominate the paint and take control of the game. Seth Greenberg came into this game with eight active players he trusts, and two fouled out with another in serious foul trouble. He just ran out of fresh bodies. Obviously the team's Tournament chances are in trouble if Chaney doesn't return this season, but the return of Raines and a game with less whistle-happy refs will make this a better Virginia Tech team. They are still a borderline Top 25 team, even after this thrashing.

VCU 90, Wake Forest 69
Believe it or not, this was a game where VCU took care of business. They're simply a much better team than Wake Forest. Wake Forest will be in a battle for last place in the ACC while VCU is my pick to finish in second place in the Colonial and is a bubble quality team. In fact, this win over Wake Forest doesn't particularly help their resume in and of itself. What it does is it gets the team to Madison Square Garden, where they'll play either Tennessee or Missouri State in the semifinals of the NIT, and then (most likely) either Villanova or UCLA in their second game. They really need to collect at least one win there to keep a solid at-large resume together. As for Wake Forest, they really just got beat in every facet of the game here. They lost the turnover battle 23-to-7, the offensive rebounding battle 14-to-6, and the assist battle 19-to-11. In fact, they actually shot the lights out during the game (9-for-16 behind the arc), meaning that they actually deserved to lose this game by more. There are so many things wrong with this team that I don't even know where to begin. Going back to VCU for a moment, their remaining out-of-conference schedule after the NIT games at Madison Square Garden are as follows: at South Florida, vs VMI, at Richmond, vs Tulane, at UAB, vs Wofford. That's a truly brutal out-of-conference schedule with nary a cupcake in sight, and if VCU can navigate that with even a 5-2 record after a 1-1 split in the NIT they'll be in good shape to make a run at an at-large bid.

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