Monday, November 12, 2012

Syracuse Beats San Diego State... Does It Mean Anything?

#9 Syracuse 62, #20 San Diego State 49
Of the three aircraft carrier games that got scrapped on Friday night, this was the one that (so far) has gotten replayed. And they did play it on the aircraft carrier - during the day, when they didn't have to worry about condensation on the floor. And I'm torn on these carrier games, because it is such a cool thing to do and the views on television are great. The problem is that outside basketball is just so different from inside basketball. Both teams had to deal with direct sunlight, as well as glare. And it was pretty windy. And this was to the great disadvantage of a San Diego State team that is guard-focused in its offense. Syracuse has monster size in the paint, they like scrappy games and don't depend on a half court perimeter offense. So they always had the advantage here.

San Diego State finished an absurd 1-for-18 for threes (Syracuse only attempted four three-pointers all game). And then when they gave up on those and tried to score in the paint they ended up getting 10 shots blocked. They finished with a brutal 0.66 PPP, their worst offensive output in any game in more than a decade. I came into this game thinking that San Diego State was, if anything, underrated at #20. And I don't think it's fair to come to any negative conclusions about them from this game. So I'm going to write it off. Let's see how they do on Saturday at Missouri State.

Unfortunately for Syracuse, I kind of have to take the same stance with them. The difference for the Orange, of course, is that they have a nice quality win that will be on their resume all season. This win could make a difference with their Tournament seed on Selection Sunday. But this win doesn't mean Syracuse is awesome either. I want to see how they look in an indoor game against a quality opponent. They have a couple of quasi-decent opponents coming up in the next 10 days: Wagner and Princeton.

Central Florida 74, South Florida 56
Central Florida is banned from postseason play this season, but Donnie Jones has managed to hold this roster together. In particular, I'm impressed that he was able to convince Keith Clanton to stick around for his senior season. Clanton is one of the really good unknown players in the nation (and because of the postseason ban, he's likely to stay unknown), but he was dominant here (16 points, 16 rebounds). Isaiah Sykes poured in 26 points as well, as South Florida was completely over-matched. USF only had one scorer in double-digits (Jawanza Poland) and conceded 31 free throw attempts despite being at home. Just a brutal start to the season for USF.

South Florida will try to lick their wounds against a series of cupcakes. Prior to playing Georgia on November 30th, their toughest game is probably a road match-up with Stetson. Central Florida's next decent opponent will be Middle Tennessee, on November 20th.

Villanova 80, Marshall 68
This was a one possession game with under four minutes to go in the game, but Marshall failed to score on their final eight possessions. The star of the game, without question, was Ryan Arcidiacono, a true freshman, who scored 25 points on 6-for-11 shooting and added 6 assists. JayVaughn Pinkston also deserves notice for getting to the line 14 points despite not making a shot from the field. The story for Marshall was that, despite a lot of height, they were unable to generate any paint offense. The only big man to do anything was Dennis Tinnon (15 points, 9 rebounds), who is one of the best front court players in Conference USA.

Villanova is a team that I want to see more of before I draw too many conclusions. Last year was far and away the worst season that Jay Wright has had at Providence, and at times you had to wonder how much of it was just bad chemistry and bad apples on the roster. It's not like the team didn't have some good players. So even though they lost a lot of talent off last year's team, it doesn't mean that this year's team can't be feisty. Obviously it's going to take a lot more than a close win over Marshall before I seriously consider them for the BP68, however. Villanova is off to play Purdue as part of the 2k Sports Classic in Madison Square Garden on Thursday. The following day they'll play either Alabama or Oregon State.

Marshall lost three of the top six minute earners from last year's NIT team. They did get nice performances from a pair of Juco transfers (D.D. Scarver and Elijah Pittman - a combined 34 points), so it's possible that they're going to contend for another NIT appearance. An upset of Villanova would have helped, of course. Their next quality opponent will be South Dakota State, on Saturday as part of the 2k Sports Classic.

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