Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Notes and Observations from January 3rd Games

With a full slate of games tonight, the college basketball world sure wasn't lacking excitement or surprises. Because there was so many interesting results, I decided to put together a shortened version of "Notes and Observations" for tonight's contests.

- Louisville is nowhere near an NCAA Tournament contender. They were slaughtered by Notre Dame and were never really in the game. Moreover, the Irish were playing without their starting point guard, Kyle McAlarney. This is likely the second year in a row the Cardinals had some hype heading into the season and failed to live up to it.

- Xavier is starting to hit its stride. After losing three of four, the Musketeers have picked up wins over Illinois and Kansas State in impressive fashion. If Stanley Burrell returns to his form from last year like he did tonight (23 points), they should win the A-10.

- Speaking of the Atlantic-10, it is looking more and more like a one-bid league. After Massachusetts lost Monday night to Miami, the only other potential at-large hopeful, Saint Louis, fell on the road to St. Bonaventure. The Bonnies, by the way, have losses to Canisius, Hampton, Chicago State, St. Francis (PA), Niagara, Wright State, and Boston University (and Ohio, Albany, and Syracuse). This is definitely not a good loss for the Billikens' resume.

- The CAA is going to be unpredictable all season long. The favorite, Drexel, had to hold off Georgia State to win by six, while VCU needed double overtime to defeat Towson. Old Dominion also only defeated Northeastern by six. The most surprising result from the CAA, though, was William and Mary going to Fairfax and beating George Mason by four. We are a long ways from last season's Final Four appearance by the Patriots.

- Also in the Colonial was one of the best games of the night, Hofstra and UNC-Wilmington. Always a great rivalry, the Pride pulled the victory out in double overtime, bringing their overtime record to 13-2 in their last 15 games. It is also the first time Hofstra has ever won in UNCW. The three-headed guard trio of Loren Stokes, Antoine Agudio, and Carlos Rivera combined for 65 of the team's 80 points. After starting the season 0-3, the Pride have won 9 of 10, including 2 CAA games. As far as UNCW goes, I think the Seahawks have one of the best home-court advantages in the mid-major world. The "Trask" is a very difficult place to play.

- Can we please take Clemson for real now? Their two-point road win at Florida State should have sealed the deal. The Seminoles have defeated several highly-ranked teams there over the past few years, including Duke last season and Florida this season. They won despite shooting only 26 from three and only 2-5 from the free-throw line.

- The Big East is not going to be any good outside of the first half of the league. The second division of teams is simply not very good. St. John's and DePaul played tonight--neither team was anything special. The same goes for the Rutgers-Seton Hall contest. Although the game was a tightly-contested match-up throughout, it was just not a very well-played game. South Florida was pounded by UConn last night, Cincinnati was pounded by Ohio State a few weekends ago, and we already discussed Louisville.

- On the other hand, though, the first half of the Big East is going to be solid. The surprise of the conference is clearly West Virginia. The Mountaineers moved to 2-0 in the league after another home win, this time over Villanova. WVU plays very good defense and is extremely efficient from the three-point line. Their lack of interior scoring and defense will eventually hurt them, but it hasn't so far. Villanova is also going to be tough in Big East play if they find some more scorers. Curtis Sumpter is outstanding.

- Two more potential at-large profiles took major hits on Wednesday, as New Mexico lost to TCU and Purdue lost to Minnesota. New Mexico was building a decent resume, with wins over Wichita State, New Mexico State, and Kansas State, but the Lobos scored only 19 second-half points and lost by 12 to TCU. It was their third loss in five games. On the other hand, at 9-4, the Horned Frogs could be a spoiler in the MWC race.

- After I touted Purdue as an NCAA Tournament team as of yesterday, the Boilermakers went on the road to one of the worst major-conference teams in the country and gave up 45 second-half points to lose to Minnesota.

- Also in the MWC, Air Force survived a scare from Colorado State, holding off the Rams in the second half to win by 6. San Diego State was not as lucky, as the preseason MWC favorite lost to Wyoming at home on a three-pointer by James Spencer was less than five seconds left.

- Michigan got the quality win it was looking for tonight when it beat fellow Big Ten foe Illinois by ten at home. However, the Wolverines have yet to win a road game outside of Miami (Ohio) and are still not an NCAA Tournament team. The Illini, on the other hand, lost their second in a row and might be moving out of the Big Ten's top five--not a good sign for Big Dance aspirations.

- The biggest surprise of the night might have been Virginia's shellacking of Gonzaga. Many predicted the Cavaliers winning, but not the way they did. UVA jumped out to a big lead early and were up 60-26 at the half. They made 18 three-pointers, and Sean Singletary led the way with 37 points. If not for a late Gonzaga run, the final would have been a lot worse than 108-87. For Gonzaga, this was their fourth straight loss--probably not the best way to get momentum heading into conference play. The Bulldogs, at 9-6, will likely still win the WCC but they are definitely not the team they were last year.


  1. WOW great work on your analysis, how do you haave the time??
    Keep up the good work!!
    Do you have any thoughts on the OHIO game they lost a tough one at MARSHALL??!!??

  2. I was going to add something about that game, since I was very surprised at the outcome.

    Marshall has been a pesky team this season, nearly knocking off California and beating Ohio and Virginia Tech.

    The MAC is going to be wide-open this year--unless Akron takes control early on.