Monday, December 08, 2014

Morning News: Washington Upsets San Diego St, Arkansas Falls To Clemson, Creighton/Nebraska, Jamari Traylor And Georgia/Colorado

Are Nebraska fans seeing a bit too much of this?
Washington Upsets San Diego State We're used to the San Diego State model by now. Their offense is mediocre but their defense is great, and overall it's a really good team that can take out any opponent on any given day. But the problem is that the Mountain West is down and they're going to be playing a whole lot of mediocre teams, and when you're a mediocre offense you're sometimes going to be a terrible offense. And here, San Diego State was a terrible offense. They shot 6-for-42 (14%) on jump shots, including 2-for-15 (13%) on three-pointers. In all they had a 22.2 eFG% and 0.65 PPP.

To put that offensive futility in perspective, that's San Diego State's worst shooting performance in more than 15 years (I could only search back through the 1997-98 season). The 0.65 PPP was their worst since they scored 0.58 PPP in an 86-38 loss to Utah on February 11th, 1999. Washington's defense did hold USC to just 0.59 PPP in a game three seasons ago, though that was the USC team that went 6-25 overall, so it's not quite the same thing as doing it to a top team like San Diego State.

This loss now really brings San Diego State's schedule into play. They have wins over Utah, BYU and Pittsburgh, which is okay, but it's possible that they won't play another RPI Top 50 opponent the rest of the way. They're going to finish the season with a softer set of wins than any other team competing for a 2, 3 or 4 seed. One potential Top 50 opponent coming up is Cincinnati, who they'll face on the road on December 17th.

Washington came into this game 6-0, but without a win that would resonate with casual fans (though a neutral court victory over UTEP is pretty solid). Now they have one. The question with teams in this situation always is whether they blow this opportunity right away, or whether they build on this success. Their next game will be on Sunday against a feisty Eastern Washington team.

Arkansas Falls To Clemson In Clemson's previous three home games they lost to Rutgers and Winthrop and had a three point win over High Point. And while Arkansas played poorly here (6-for-21 three-point shooting and just 4 fast break points), they still seemed to have the game in hand late. They led by six points in the final minute, but committed turnovers on their three final possessions, including a Donte Grantham steal that led to a Jaron Blossomgame layup to send the game to overtime.

Arkansas will drop out of the Top 25 today (leaving Kentucky, presumably, as the only SEC team in), but they really should never have been ranked to begin with. When they beat SMU it looked like a better win than it was. This Arkansas team just isn't good enough to be much more than a bubble team, and Clemson could potentially represent an RPI 100+ loss (they'll be borderline). Historically, Mike Anderson teams have been significantly better at home than on the road, so they'll try to bounce back at home on Saturday against Dayton.

This is a nice win for Clemson, but it doesn't come close to wiping away three losses to likely RPI 100+ opponents. They'll face Auburn on Sunday, and then South Carolina on the road the following Friday. After that it'll be just Cupcake City until ACC play.

Creighton Beats Nebraska This Nebraska rivalry game has turned into a really fun annual game. But this was a really disappointing night for Nebraska, and part of a frustrating season. They simply have not progressed offensively since last season. Terran Petteway is a good player, but he's not good enough to play hero ball, which is what he does far too often. Here he scored 21 points, but it came on 8-for-20 shooting. For the season he is taking 35.2% of his team's shots while on the court, which is third highest among all power conference teams (Colorado's Askia Booker and Maryland's Dez Wells are higher), yet his eFG% is under 50%. They have other offensive weapons, and need to do a better job of getting them involved.

Both Nebraska and Creighton look likely to be bubble teams all season long, so these are the types of games that can be crucial on Selection Sunday. Both teams have one competitive non-conference game left, and both have it on Saturday. Nebraska will face Cincinnati and Creighton will face St. Mary's.

Kansas's Jamari Traylor Arrested Traylor had started two games this season for Kansas, though he had lost his starting spot and had seen his minutes reduced over the past couple of weeks with the emergence of Cliff Alexander. If nothing else, a loss of Traylor for a significant suspension would hurt the depth for Kansas, but I wouldn't expect Traylor to be booted out of the program altogether. I'd expect to see him back on the court in no more than a few weeks.

Georgia Upsets Colorado Colorado doesn't shoot the ball particularly well in general, but this was easily their worst shooting day of the season thus far, hitting 2-for-17 behind the arc (their previous worst had been 4-for-15 in their loss to Wyoming). Particularly down the stretch, things just got desperate as they tried to get back in the game. They missed all four threes that they attempted in the final minute. Georgia's not a bad team, and if you can't hit a jump shot then they'll beat you.

Colorado has lost both games that they've played so far against Pomeroy Top 100 opponents. Their next chance will be on Wednesday against a dangerous Colorado State team. It will also be their last chance to get something positive out of non-conference play.

Georgia has this win to go with a loss to Georgia Tech, which isn't particularly impressive, but the computers like them. They've climbed into the Top 50 of both Pomeroy and the Sagarin PREDICTOR. Computer numbers need to be looked at skeptically this early in the season, but they have to at least be considered a realistic bubble team. With the SEC down, you don't have to be that good to finish 12-6. Heck, Georgia went 12-6 in the SEC last season with a very mediocre team. Last season, their non-conference performance was awful and it killed their bubble hopes. So far this season they're off to a better start.

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