Friday, December 05, 2014

Morning News: Iowa State Over Arkansas And LSU Over West Virginia. Also Talking University of Sciences, TCU And Georgia State.

This is the official mascot of the University of Sciences.... The guy on the left.
Iowa State Takes Care Of Arkansas The formula against Mike Anderson teams is always clear: Don't turn the ball over and you're probably going to win. They thrive on chaos and transition baskets. Iowa State has taken care of the ball all season long (they are currently ranked 6th in the nation in turnover rate), and they committed just three first half turnovers here, opening up a 20 point lead. They committed eight turnovers in the second half, but 10-for-19 three-point shooting carried them to 1.32 PPP.

This is a nice way for Iowa State to bounce back from that loss to Maryland, though I doubt this will still be a "Top 25 win" in March. But next Friday is going to be the real test for these Cyclones, on the road at intrastate rival Iowa.

Why was Arkansas ranked? I think it's primarily because at the time we thought their win over SMU was more impressive than it really was. They certainly look like a Tournament team, but they're not Iowa State, and they're certainly not going to win at Iowa State when the Cyclones are shooting well and taking care of the ball. They've got a potentially tricky game coming up on Sunday at Clemson.

LSU Pulls Ugly Upset Over West Virginia West Virginia came into this game 1st in the nation in defensive turnover and steal rates, and second in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage. I'd take those statistics with a grain of salt due to the soft schedule - UConn is the only team they've played thus far that is in the Top 100 in the nation in either offensive turnover rate or defensive rebounding percentage - but it's still impressive.

LSU did commit 24 turnovers here (an ugly 30.4% turnover rate), but this was an ugly game all around. The teams combined for 28 steals and 12 blocks. West Virginia shot just 5-for-17 behind the arc, finishing with only 0.92 PPP. But what really stood out was how poor West Virginia's half court defense was. They played like a poor man's VCU, allowing 1.35 PPP on LSU possessions that didn't end in turnovers. In the final seconds, their defense parted like the Red Sea, allowing Josh Gray to score an uncontested game winning layup.

If West Virginia is going to continue to rely so heavily on defensive turnovers and offensive rebounds to win games, it's going to be difficult to win consistently in the Big 12. That said, we shouldn't overreact to one poor performance. Their first chance to atone for this game will come December 20th against NC State at Madison Square Garden.

This win comes after a victory over UMass, so LSU is looking like they'll be at least respectable in SEC play. But their offense is just such an absolute mess. They play like a coach-less AAU team. Don't expect a run at an at-large bid.

Drexel Loses To The University Of Sciences If I hear one more "They were blinded by science" joke, I'm burning the whole Internet down. But seriously, has there been any team in the nation as disappointing this season as Drexel? And it's been more than just this season. They had the chance to take control of the Colonial after the other traditional powers left, but they simply haven't, going .500 in conference play the last two seasons and making just one NIT (and zero NCAA appearances) in the last seven seasons.

Is Bruiser Flint in trouble? I think he has to be. If Drexel finishes the season below .500 overall, he might be gone.

Is TCU... Good? Believe it or not, TCU is now 8-0, and a road win at Mississippi is actually a quality victory (Ole Miss has a chance, though not a great one, of getting into the RPI Top 50). So is TCU actually a good team? Let's not go that far yet. They hit 50% of their threes here, while Mississippi's 33.3 eFG% was their worst shooting performance since January 29th, 2011. And of their other seven wins, one came at home against a mediocre-to-bad Mississippi State team, while the other six were over cupcakes.

With five cupcakes ahead, TCU is likely going to start Big 12 play 13-0, which will perhaps get them into the Top 25. But as much as they are improved and as good of a job as Trent Johnson has done..... let's chill about a single victory over decent team. I'll still be stunned if TCU is on the bubble in late February.

Ole Miss has, bizarrely, lost at home to TCU and Charleston Southern while beating Creighton and Cincinnati away from home. They'll get another chance to do damage away from home on Sunday when they take on Oregon.

Georgia State Thumps Green Bay With Kevin Ware, Ryan Harrow and RJ Hunter all in their lineup, Georgia State got quite a bit of media hype preseason. Not as a bubble team, really, but as a team that could be a scary 12 or 13 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Things had gotten off to a slow start, though, with losses in their only two games against Pomeroy Top 200 opponents. But this was a total annihilation of a really good Green Bay team. George State had 61% of their two-pointers, compared to just 30% for Green Bay. They had a 34-to-18 advantage in paint scoring and a 20-to-4 advantage in fast break scoring. Even Keifer Sykes (16 points on 5-for-15 shooting) was shut down.

Was this performance a fluke or a sign of things to come for Georgia State? Their next game is a tough test, on the road at Old Dominion on December 17th. They also have a road re-match coming up at Green Bay on December 27th for some reason.

Green Bay heads on the road next to play the University of Miami on Saturday. But besides the Georgia State rematch, they likely will not face another RPI Top 100 opponent this season unless it's an intra-conference foe. In the end, it looks like the Horizon League will come down to them and Cleveland State, with Valparaiso hanging in as the dark horse.

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