Saturday, November 20, 2010

UNLV Shoots Lights Out Over Wisconsin

UNLV 68, #25 Wisconsin 65
This was a game between two very good teams that could have been really fun if the reffing hadn't been awful. In the first half they were calling fouls whenever somebody breathed too hard, and in the second half they let both teams maul each other without repercussion. For UNLV, this will be a very good victory for their resume, as they collect yet another big scalp for the Mountain West. They now head off to the 76 Classic where they'll open against Tulsa. As for Wisconsin, they shouldn't be discouraged by this loss. Despite a poor game from star Jon Leuer (3-for-11 shooting, 4 rebounds) they actually out-played a borderline Top 25 team on the road. If not for lights-out shooting from Chace Stanback and Oscar Bellfield (a combined 8-for-13 behind the arc) the game wouldn't even have been that close. The biggest worry for Wisconsin, though, is exactly what I figured it would be coming into the season - guard depth. Rob Wilson might be the answer once he fully returns from his injury. Jordan Taylor is one of the best point guards in the nation, but he can't play 40 minutes every game - he was completely gassed at the end of this one. The Badgers next head off to the Old Spice Classic, which doesn't have a field as strong as it did last seaso, so Wisconsin might be favored in every game that they play there. But they just need to keep playing solid teams to get ready for what will be brutal season in the Big Ten, a conference that might have six of the 25 best teams in the nation.

Bradley 64, USC 63
It's not clear yet if this game had any meaning. At this point I don't expect either of these teams to make the Tournament. But if either of these programs is going to make a run, this was the type of game they'd like to win. Neither of these teams had played a good team yet, and it showed with a very ugly game: 39 turnovers vs 46 made shots, 59% combined free throw shooting, etc. In the end Bradley's depth was probably the difference, as Kevin O'Neill stuck with a seven man rotation while Bradley was able to continually bring fresh bodies into the game, allowing them to overcome an early second half deficit to nab the narrow win. Bradly is now 4-0, though it has come against a soft schedule. They actually have put together a weak schedule overall, and considering the fact that the Missouri Valley doesn't look to have any elite teams this season, Bradley almost has to accept right now that they won't collect any big scalps this season (unless they pull the shock of the month at Duke in December). They're going to have to win a ton of games this season to earn an at-large bid without any big wins. As for USC, they just don't have enough Pac-10 quality talent right now, and this loss comes after a 20 point thumping at the hands of Rider. Even though the Pac-10 is down, USC will still not be a factor.

Dayton 78, Ole Miss 71, OT
The SEC West looked to finally have a solid win after really putrid play the first couple weeks of this season, but Ole Miss blew a 16 point lead (including a double-digit lead with under eight minutes to go) and fell in overtime to Dayton. They actually should have won this game, but they fell in love with three-pointers, and bricked their way to a 7-for-29 performance. If they'd just attacked the rim they probably would have won the game. They've actually probably been the least-putrid team in the SEC West this season, with this performance coming off a quality 16-point win over Murray State. We are going to learn a lot about them in the next couple of weeks when they play Penn State, Miami (Fl) and Southern Miss. A Tournament team should win at least two of those, but there might not be any Tournament teams from the SEC West. Dayton, despite the win, had a pretty disappointing game. The one bright spot was Josh Parker, the transfer from Drake who has played really well so far and has helped fill a lot of the holes in the backcourt that Dayton has after so many graduations in 2010. The Flyers are now 3-0, and looking pretty good when you consider that the rest of the Atlantic Ten (other than Temple) has been pretty disappointing so far. Dayton could still be one of the four or five best teams in the conference. Their next tough test will be at Cincinnati next Saturday.

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