Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Georgetown Over UCLA Isn't Really An Upset

Georgetown 78, #11 UCLA 70
Any time the #11 ranked team goes down to an unranked team, the media feels compelled to call it a big upset. The reality is pretty different here, however. For one thing, I think Georgetown is underrated and UCLA is overrated (I have Georgetown seeded higher than UCLA in my most recent BP68). And even if you think I'm wrong about that, the reality is that UCLA was bound to look rusty with the lack of practice time together. Shabazz Muhammad was just cleared a few days ago, and with all of the new recruits and transfers they are trying to incorporate a lot of new parts. UCLA will be playing a lot better in February than they look now.

Markel Starks led all scorers with 23 points, though the most impressive player in the game was his teammate, Otto Porter. Porter finished with 18 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists, and it's obvious that JTIII is trying to run a lot of the offense through him. Lubick is the other "point forward" option, but Porter is the more talented player with the higher ceiling. For all their struggles, UCLA did get another nice performance out of freshman Jordan Adams. Adams is proving to be a really explosive scorer, and he's yet to score fewer than 20 points in a game in his collegiate career.

This was the first game for either of those two teams against a likely RPI Top 100 opponent this season. After dispatching UCLA, Georgetown will get a big time test next from Indiana. UCLA, in the consolation game, gets a much softer opponent in Georgia. Georgetown will also get to face Texas and Tennessee over the next two weeks or so. UCLA has San Diego State, Texas and Missouri scheduled before opening Pac-12 play.

St. Louis 70, Texas A&M 49
This game was never close. Saint Louis grabbed a double-digit lead in the first half, then pushed it to 18 early in the second half, and never looked back after that. Their offense is still a work in progress with Kwamain Mitchell sidelined, but they got back to playing how they had the past few years under Majerus, with suffocating defense. Texas A&M was turned over 19 times and finished with only 0.74 PPP. Jordair Jett looked more comfortable for St. Louis than he did against Santa Clara, running the offense and finishing with eight assists. That was more than enough in this romp.

This is a good bounce back win for St. Louis after that bad loss to Santa Clara, but I'm not sure it means much. Texas A&M might just not be that good this season. An upset win tomorrow over Kansas would mean a whole lot more. After tomorrow they'll head home for a game Saturday against Southern Illinois.

Texas A&M is still 3-1 after this loss, but none of those three wins were over likely RPI Top 100 team. One bad performance doesn't mean they are a bad team, but it's just more reinforcement of the preseason projections that generally said the Aggies just aren't going to be a good team this year. They'll get a winnable game tomorrow against Washington State. Their next three weeks after that will be pretty easy - the toughest game will be a road match-up with Houston on December 1st.

Chaminade 84, Texas 68
I didn't think I'd be writing about this game. Texas is down this year, so this isn't quite Chaminade over the Ralph Sampson-led Virginia team three decades ago, but still. The talent gap between these two teams is massive. That said, I remarked about this on twitter and will repeat it here: this Texas offense is awful, even by Rick Barnes standards. The staple of the Barnes era in Texas have been offenses filled with talent, but that don't move the ball well. Longhorns fans have gotten used to watching a lot of guys standing around the perimeter, watching a teammate try to take an opponent one-on-one off the dribble. But without Myck Kabongo, Texas doesn't have anybody who can at least create some offense on his own. And they don't have anybody who can shoot... and I mean anybody. Watching them brick three after three as they tried to get back into this game was painful.

If Kabongo can't get back on the floor for Texas, there is a very real chance that this team will miss the NCAA Tournament for the first time under Barnes. It's hard to tell how the Selection Committee will deal with a loss to a non-Division I opponent for a bubble team since it's happened so rarely, but it's not going to be good.

Texas will head into the consolation bracket in Maui, where they'll play either Illinois or USC next. Considering the fact that the competition will be a lot lighter in the consolation bracket, Texas really can't afford to lose another game. This season has the potential to mentally spiral out of control for these Longhorns players if the losses pile up and Kabongo is still unable to play.

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