Monday, November 29, 2010

UNLV, Notre Dame Win Tournaments

UNLV 71, Virginia Tech 59
UNLV had been shooting really well from outside coming into this game, but they proved that they're more than a streak shooting team by dominating a solid Virginia Tech team even though their shots weren't falling. In fact, it was only some streak outside shooting by Virginia Tech that kept this game competitive. Chase Stanback was strong again, and Tre'Von Willis had his best game since he coming back. The Mountain West is going to be a tight battle all season between UNLV, BYU, New Mexico and San Diego State, but UNLV has looked as good as any of them. They are now 6-0 with a slew of quality wins, and they are continuing their tough schedule with games at Illinois State and Nevada coming up. I know that it's still very early in the season, and the computer ratings need to be taken with a grain of salt, but UNLV's Sagarin PREDICTOR right now is 7th in the nation, and Pomeroy has them 11th. I've been very impressed by them so far, but even I'm still pretty shocked by that. As for Virginia Tech, they were once again doomed by very sloppy ball handling. Their offensive turnover percentage is currently 258th in the nation. They are now 4-2 with four tough home games coming up (Purdue, Virginia, Penn State and Mississippi State).

Notre Dame 58, Wisconsin 51

As I've already noted several times, the shooting by all teams at the Old Spice Classic was historically bad. We had a game set the record for fewest combined points in the first half of a Division I game.... and then a game that broke that record again. And no team looked worse shooting the ball than Wisconsin, which couldn't hit an outside shot to save their lives all week. But that said, it was worrisome to see Wisconsin's passive offense - they weren't attacking the rim, and it meant that they were settling for the outside shots, and they weren't getting to the line. They only took four free throws the entire game, compared to 25 for Notre Dame. Wisconsin has a fairly easy stretch coming up in their schedule with a lot of home games, so they'll have plenty of time to work this stuff out before Big Ten play begins. As for Notre Dame, there's no question that their starting lineup really impressed at the Old Spice Classic. Their defense has been good and they never miss free throws, so as long as they can keep their stars in the game they're going to be good. The worry is their bench, or more accurately their lack of one. I have to wonder how their starters will hold up over the grind of the Big East regular season while playing such long minutes. Notre Dame is now 7-0 with wins over Wisconsin, California and Georgia. Their next really big test will be December 8th at Kentucky. I will be very interested to see how they play against that much more athletic Kentucky team.

Northwestern 65, Creighton 52
Northwestern has started their season pretty quietly. This is only their fourth game of the season, and the first game against an opponent of any note whatsoever. They've never been a program that plays a lot of big time opponents out-of-conference, so this isn't a big surprise. They will play Georgia Tech tomorrow in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, and they should take care of business there. After that their only real test before Big Ten play begins will be at Madison Square Garden on December 21st, when they'll play either Davidson or St. John's. So they'll head into Big Ten play with a very good record, but a soft record. As for Creighton, it's not a surprise that they'd struggle after P'Allen Stinnett was kicked off the team. They've played two quality teams so far this season and lost to both of them, falling to 4-2 overall. And with BYU and a road game at Nebraska coming up, they could soon be 4-4. The Missouri Valley is off to a bad start this season and will likely be a one-bid conference again, and at this point I'd be shocked if Creighton seriously contends for that bid.

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