Saturday, November 19, 2011

Mississippi State A Surprise Winner of Coaches vs Cancer

Mississippi State 67, #16 Arizona 57
Of the four teams playing in the semifinals of Coaches vs Cancer, Mississippi State had to be considered the least likely to win. This is a team that wasn't expected to be good this season, and they imploded on their preseason trip last season. You would have assumed that if they were going to have a big win it would have been on the back of Dee Bost, who led the victory over Texas A&M, but Bost actually deferred (six assists and eight points) to Arnett Moultrie, who exploded for 19 points and 10 rebounds. Mississippi State won the rebounding and turnover battles - only narrowly, but that's a big improvement from how bad they were in those categories last season (in SEC play last season they were 12th in OR%, 10th in defensive turnover rate and 8th in offensive turnover rate).

Mississippi State is still a long way from at-large consideration, but this has been a great start for them and they have to be considered a player in the SEC. Kentucky, Florida, Vanderbilt and Alabama are the four teams ahead of the pack, but MSU has as much of a claim as any other team right now to being the fifth best team in the conference. As for Arizona, this was just a poorly played game all around, particularly in the backcourt. They need Kevin Parrom to get back to where he was last season. After a few close wins they were due for a close loss, but a game against Mississippi State shouldn't have been so close. The Wildcats don't get a break in their schedule. They will play San Diego State on Wednesday, and their next game after that will be on the road at New Mexico State.

Maryland 78, Colorado 71
Colorado put up a good effort here, but they don't have anybody this season like Terrell Stoglin, who took over late in this game. Stoglin scored 32 points on 12-for-21 shooting, and after Colorado had led from midway through the first half until midway through the second half it was Stoglin who scored eight straight points to put Maryland into the lead for good. Sophomore Andre Roberson led the way for Colorado with 21 points and 13 rebounds. This was an interesting game between two teams that are very young and that are clearly in rebuilding mode. Neither of these teams should be particularly near the Bubble in March, but both are trying to get better under good new coaches (Mark Turgeon is in his first year at Maryland, Tad Boyle is in his second at Colorado).

Maryland will play tomorrow in the fifth place game of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off against Iona. Their next quality opponent after that will be Illinois, on November 29th. Colorado will play in the seventh place game tomorrow against Western Michigan. They'll then be at Air Force on Wednesday before coming home to play Georgia after Thanksgiving.

TCU 57, Virginia 55
Virginia struggled mightily offensively, and this is a disappointing loss to start the season. Virginia wasn't good last season, but it was a rebuilding season for Tony Bennett. He got most of his young team back, and also returned start Mike Scott from an ankle injury that cost him most of last season (he was a senior last season, but got the NCAA gave him a medical redshirt and a fifth season). Scott led the team with 13 points and 8 rebounds here, but the rest of the team just struggled to put the ball in the hoop (19 turnovers, a 45.0 eFG% and 0.83 points per possession). TCU had a balanced approach to this game - nine players earned double-digit minutes and produced.

I didn't think Virginia would get back to the NCAA Tournament season - I thought it would take one more year - but I thought they'd be close. A loss to TCU might not end up being that bad of a loss, but Virginia needs to bounce back this afternoon against Drexel. Their final game at the Paradise Jam will be against either Winthrop or Drake. TCU now heads to the semifinals where, because of the big upset yesterday, they'll end up playing Norfolk State tomorrow. Assuming Norfolk State doesn't pull another miracle, TCU will play Monday in the Paradise Jam finals against either Marquette or Ole Miss.

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