Saturday, November 10, 2012

Florida State and Purdue Go Down In Home Openers

South Alabama 76, #25 Florida State 71
After four consecutive years as one of the premier defenses in the nation, Florida State was always going to take a little step back after losing Bernard James, Xavier Gibson, Deividas Dulkys and others. That's why I never understood the Top 25 preseason ranking - I had them preseason as an NIT team. And a mere single game shouldn't be blown out of proportion, but their offense was a mess. They finished with 17 turnovers and 0.96 PPP against a team that was one of the worst defenses in the Sun Belt last season. Not good.

If I'm right and Florida State is only a bubble team then this is obviously the type of loss that will be hung around their neck all season long. They will try to bounce back against Buffalo on Monday, and then head to the Barclays Center to play BYU, followed by a game against either Notre Dame or St. Joe's. As for South Alabama, I named them as my sleeper in the Sun Belt back in April. I'm not going to overreact to one upset victory, so Middle Tennessee is still my pick to win the conference, but this is a great start to South Alabama's season. They've got a non-DI opponent up next before playing Tennessee State on November 19th.

Bucknell 70, Purdue 65
Bucknell star Mike Muscala had 14 points and 10 rebounds and Cameron Ayers added 18 points as Bucknell knocked off a Purdue team missing point guard Teron Johnson. And this is one of those early season games that definitely means something, but I'm not sure what. It's possible that this means Purdue really just isn't going to be any good this season. I picked them as a bubble team, but on the outside of the BP68, to start the season. And maybe I'm overrating them even there. But it's also possible that Bucknell is a really good team that was able to knock off a Purdue team missing its primary playmaker. Everybody expects Bucknell and Lehigh to duel for the Patriot League crown this season, and whichever teams wins is going to be a scary Round of 64 opponent in the NCAA Tournament.

Either way, I do think Purdue has to be concerned about their front court. With Travis Carroll as the only proven returner we knew that big men would be the biggest area of concern for the Boilermakers this season, but they were completely invisible against Bucknell. Donnie Hale was the only Purdue forward to make a real difference. Purdue should be able to bounce back tomorrow against Hofstra, and then they'll head to Madison Square Garden for the 2k Sports Classic. They'll play Villanova on Thursday, followed by either Alabama or Oregon State. It's not a particularly strong field, but they'll need a healthy Teron Johnson to win it. Bucknell's next game will be at home on Tuesday against a George Mason team riding high after knocking off Virginia. If Bucknell is as good as they looked against Purdue, I'd like to see them be able to back it up with a home win over George Mason.

Kent State 66, Drexel 62, OT
Drexel is a team that entered this season with a ton of hype. Not only did basically everybody (including me) pick them to win the Colonial, but they also are considered a very plausible at-large team, should they come up short in the CAA tournament. But all they did on opening night was join a large contingent of quality teams falling to a lower rated opponent. The difference in this game was Drexel's perimeter defense, which wasn't able to keep Kent State out of the paint or off the foul line (31 attempts). Chris Fouch poured in 24 points off the bench for Drexel, but it wasn't enough.

This looked to be a rebuilding season for Kent State, but it's off to a nice start. Their next game will be Tuesday, against Temple. Drexel will get a pass for one bad loss in November if they can play up to their potential the rest of the way. They have a tricky home game up next against Illinois State before they head to UPenn.

No comments: