Saturday, December 10, 2011

Ohio State, Without Jared Sullinger, Falls To Kansas

#13 Kansas 78, #2 Ohio State 67
Ohio State found out this morning that Jared Sullinger would not be able to go because of injury. Remember that Ohio State's offense completely revolves around Sullinger. He is a load in the paint and draws the defense whenever he gets the ball. He can then kick the ball out to all of the nice perimeter shooters that Ohio State has. Because Sullinger didn't play, Kansas was able to push out their defense and ran Ohio State's shooters off the three-point line. Ohio State only attempted 17 threes all game, and made only five of them. While neither Evan Ravenel or Amir Williams did much in Sullinger's spot, DeShaun Thomas did play well (19 points on 7-for-14 shooting), which was a big reason why the game was as close as it was.

Thomas Robinson has a pretty good game for Kansas (21 points on 7-for-9 shooting, along with 7 rebounds and 5 turnovers), but it would have been fun seeing him go against Sullinger. In my personal opinion, Sullinger is the better player right now, though Robinson projects as the better NBA player (Sullinger is a bit of a "tweener" for the NBA). I would have liked to see the two of them going against each other, though. Tyshawn Taylor gutted out a 13 assist performance despite a torn MCL, but it's going to cost him. He's going to have surgery tomorrow and will be out for around three weeks.

The good news for Kansas is that they probably won't be tested much over the next few weeks, and they might be able to go undefeated with Taylor on the bench. They next will play Davidson on December 19th. They also will likely play a road game at USC and a home game against Notre Dame without Taylor. None of those games should cause them too much trouble.

Ohio State will likely drop in the polls, even though an 11 point loss on the road at Allen Fieldhouse without Jared Sullinger playing a minute is a very impressive performance. Not that it matters. If Ohio State wins the Big Ten regular season and tournament title they'll be a 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. They have a potentially dicey road game at South Carolina next Saturday (if Sullinger can't go), but otherwise shouldn't really be tested until they open Big Ten play against Northwestern on December 28th.

Arizona 63, Clemson 47
This game was a romp. Arizona led by 13 at the half, and by as much as 18 in the second half. Defensively they just completely shut Clemson down, forcing 13 turnovers and holding them to a 35.0 eFG%. It was their best defensive performance of the season. Coming off a very tough overtime loss at Florida, this is a nice win for Arizona. It's their best win of the season (it's probably better than the wins over New Mexico State, St. John's, Duquesne and Ball State). They don't have any particularly bad losses yet, so their resume looks decent so far.

Arizona has an important game next Saturday against Gonzaga. They really need to collect as many quality wins as they can before entering Pac-12 play, where there won't be many chances to improve their resume. With a win over Gonzaga and an 11-7 record in Pac-12 play, that should be enough to earn Arizona an NCAA Tournament bid. Arizona was and remains my pick to win the Pac-12, but this year there isn't a big gap between winning the Pac-12 and missing the NCAA Tournament altogether.

Clemson is now 4-4 with a win over Iowa (which is unlikely to end up an RPI Top 100 win) along with bad losses to Charleston, Coastal Carolina and South Carolina. It's pretty unimpressive. Without any more chances for quality wins in their non-conference slate, they're going to have to play extremely well in ACC play to have any chance at the NCAA Tournament. A 10-6 ACC record along with a win over UNC or Duke would probably be the formula to get Clemson in the debate on Selection Sunday. I wouldn't bet on it.

Temple 78, Villanova 67
Villanova has a lot of freshmen that play, but their starting lineup is still fairly experienced. They start four juniors and a sophomore. There's no excuse for them to be as sloppy as they are, but it is what it is. They committed 17 turnovers in this game despite the fact that Temple doesn't pressure much on defense and tends not to force a lot of turnovers (they only had four steals). Villanova also kept chucking up threes even though they weren't falling (3-for-20 for the game), which has been an issue with them for years.

It seems like Jay Wright doesn't have a lot of faith that his team can succeed this year, and he's coaching as if this is a rebuilding team to get ready for next season. And it's showed in their results. Villanova is now 5-4 with a bad loss to Santa Clara and no particularly good wins. They will play Boston University on Tuesday and then will play at St. Joseph's next Saturday. They'll open Big East play on December 28th at West Virginia.

This is Temple's second quality win of the season (they also beat Wichita State), which begins to make up for that bad loss to Bowling Green. They still have a couple more chances for quality wins before beginning Atlantic Ten play. They'll play at Texas next Saturday, and also have Duke on their schedule. They'll open A-10 play on January 7th against Dayton.

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