NEWS AND NOTES
A BLOWOUT LIKE FEW OTHERS
-The halftime score of the Air Force vs Colorado College game was 50-6. That is perhaps the most bizarre score of a basketball game Ive ever seen. The final score ended up being 82-31.
A GREAT RIVALRY IS PUT ON HOLD
-The Gonzaga vs Washington rivalry has been one of the more exciting over the past few years, but unfortunately this year might be the last time the two meet for awhile. The series is ending for no good reason. Gonzaga led through the whole game and won 97-77 in a very intense atmosphere on their home court, having big games out of both Derek Raivio
and Matt Bouldin
. Its a big win for the Zags because not only did they beat their rival, they earned their third quality win of the season and appear to be winning the race to make the pod system and be placed in Spokane for the first/second rounds.
As far as why the series is ending, Washington has stated that they want to play a more national schedule. This is interesting because for the past two seasons Washington really never left the state during the out of conference portion of their schedule and didnt really play anyone that the rest of the nation cared about other than Gonzaga. They are playing Texas A&M and LSU on the road next year, as well as playing Pittsburgh at home. That is a brutal schedule and its certainly much tougher than what theyve played out of conference in recent years, but of all the games to get rid of to make room for it, Gonzaga should have been on the bottom of the list. There is absolutely nothing bad that can come from having two in-state rivals who are constantly in the rankings like Gonzaga and Washington are. I can understand not wanting to overschedule, but the committee does take scheduling into account, and even with Gonzaga on the schedule in addition to Pitt, Texas A&M, LSU and the Pac Ten Conference, it still shouldnt be too much for Washington to handle.
Ive also read where a lot of Washington fans feel they have nothing to gain from playing Gonzaga. They have lost eight of the last nine, but their win against them last year was undoubtedly viewed as one of their best wins by the selection committee. Two seasons ago, Gonzaga beat Washington, but Washington still ended up with a #1 seed. As far as the selection committee is concerned, they have nothing to LOSE. It was a blowout this year, but the previous two years were well played games that came down to the wire and were as exciting as any game played that entire season. Considering how many games I watch each season, thats saying a lot. As a college basketball fan I think its a shame that its ending.
OTHER ACTION FROM THIS WEEKEND
-The most exciting game of the weekend was Pittsburgh at Buffalo. Buffalo has made great strides with their program the past few years and almost took another huge stride when they nearly upset the #2 team in the country. Buffalo led by 10 or more for most of the first half. In the second half, Pitt began chipping away at it and finally caught up with about ten minutes to go, but they never were able to get control of the game until the final seconds. Down 68-65, Buffalo had a shot to tie it, but missed the three and ended up having to settle for the put back. A last second lay up by Pitt gave them a 70-67 hard fought win. Major props to the Panthers for pulling it out and for being willing to play the Bulls on the road. As for Buffalo, the win would have meant a lot as far as pride goes, but it also would have been a impressive win for their NCAA Tournament resume and would have given them the opportunity to get an at-large had they continued win at a high rate for the rest of the year.
-Again Texas A&M played a great game against a top ranked opponent. In this case, it was #1 UCLA, but once again they came up just short. UCLA ended up winning 65-62 in an exciting game that featured great defense. It wont hurt TAMU all that much, but it is a big OOC win for UCLA and will go a long way in helping them earn a #1 seed.
-LSU, who was TAMUs last opponent, faced off against Texas on Sunday night in what was an absolute classic. The game was tied at halftime. Then at the end of regulation, and nearly went into a second overtime. Texas ended up getting a monster win, which was their most impressive of the year so far. Its LSUs second loss, but neither of those losses are all that harmful, especially if they can get some big wins in conference play.
-Southern Illinois went into Western Kentucky, which is not an easy team to play, and got a lead early and then never really gave it up. They ended up winning 75-70, which is a great win for Southern Illinois, but a somewhat damaging loss for WKU. WKU doesnt get many shots at quality wins, so when they cant take advantage of the few shots they do get it really hurts them. Still, SIU will win a lot of games and that should help out WKUs RPI somewhat.
-Creighton jumped out ahead of Xavier in the first four minutes, and really never looked back. Xavier got it as close as four a couple of times, but Creighton led the whole way and ended up winning 73-67. It was the first time theyd looked like a ranked team all season, and its a good thing. It gives them their first quality out of conference win on the year. Anthony Tolliver
had a huge game in the paint for Creighton.
-Indiana State knocked off Butler 72-64, but that shouldnt be that big of a surprise. The two are in-state rivals, and those have a tendency to get a little crazy, especially in the state of Indiana. Indiana State has also not lost at home yet. It is a surprise and Butler probably feels they are better and should have beaten them, but its no more surprising than De Pauls win against Kansas. Its actually far less surprising. I just hope the media doesnt come out and start preaching about how overrated Butler was. Losses like this happen to everyone. It does sting Butler a little worse because their only real shot at a quality win between now and the end of the season is the Bracket Buster, but they are still in excellent shape as far as their tournament resume is concerned due to their early season wins.
-Kansas had some trouble with Toledo, but ended up putting them away 68-58. Toledo has struggled early, but they looked pretty good in this game. They dont have that good a record now, but if they can play in conference like they did against Kansas they should be able to win their division. That, of course, would help Kansass RPI out, which is important for any team who wants to make the pod system.
-Wisconsin got a huge win over the weekend in a very hostile environment at Marquette. The first half was somewhat sloppy, but Wisconsin led pretty much the whole way and opened up an even bigger lead in the second half, but Marquette came back. They just werent able to come all the way back and Wiscy got the 70-66 win. This is big because both teams are trying to make the pod system and be placed in Chicago. This win gives Wisconsin an advantage, especially considering that they were the road team.
-Nevada trailed UNLV 39-22 at the half, and looked a little better in the second half, but werent able to come all the way back. UNLVs 58-49 win is one of their biggest in quite some time. It was a road win against a quality opponent who happens to be their big rival. This will do wonders for UNLVs resume and goes a long way toward them being able to get an at-large bid.
-Oregon got a big win over what appears to be a pretty good Nebraska team 68-56. The game was much closer than that though. Oregon really didnt pull away until the final minute. This was a difficult game for me to watch because even though it was played in Portland, OR, for some reason Oregon wore the visiting jerseys. Im red/green color blind and kept confusing the two teams because Oregon was wearing visiting jerseys that appeared to me to be red.
-Wichita State had all kinds of trouble with Wyoming on the road, but finally ended up pulling away at the end 83-69. The Shockers are still unbeaten and still in prime position to get an excellent seed.
-Arizona pounded San Diego State 69-48. It says quite a bit about both teams I think. Arizona is a solid pod team that could end up competing for a #1 seed, whereas San Diego State has a lot of work to do just to get into the field of 65.
-George Mason stuck with Duke for a little while, but Duke pretty much had control by halftime and never gave it up. The Bluedevils won at home 69-53.
-Indiana and Kentucky was sloppy in the first half, but close. The defense was intense in the second half, which could have accounted for some of the poor offense, but even at that both teams looked like they have a long way to go in order to be considered high caliber. It was sloppy at times, but exciting. Kentucky ended up winning 59-54, which is as good a win as any they have this season so far. Indiana shot just 31% from the floor and was just 4-25 from behind the arc. Kentucky made just one of eleven from three-point-land.
-Louisville played in and won three games this weekend against Bellarmine (div2), Ohio and Saint Josephs. They struggled to get by Ohio and didnt exactly look dominant in the other two games, but still got the much needed wins. Still, they arent looking like a top caliber team yet despite all their talented players and coaches.
-It took Fresno State overtime to get by Montana State 82-77 on the road. Fresno looks like a great team at home, but a poor one on the road. If they want to be in the bracket picture, they need to play better away from home.
UNDER THE RADAR
-There has been absolutely nothing special about Evansvilles team for the past few years, and after they lost their first two games it didnt look like there was all that much there this year. However, theyve won six of their last seven, including a 74-44 victory over the same Buffalo team that almost upset Pitt. They won their first conference game against Illinois State this past weekend. They may be for real, but I guess well find out when Missouri Valley play gets into full gear in January. They also have a game coming up against Butler on December 22.
-UAB was also off to a slow start, but this weekend they won their fourth in five games by De Paul in overtime. De Paul was coming into this game with a lot of momentum and had earned a victory over Kansas, so this was a big win for a UAB team that appears to be rapidly improving and playing better than almost anyone else from C-USA other than Memphis.
-The only really big game is MISSISSIPPI STATE AT MIAMI, FL. Both teams are playing well and Miami got a big conference win earlier. Still, both arent really on peoples radars yet and need to win some games to boost their profile and get the attention of the committee.
-Oregon and New Mexico State are also playing in Buy Games.
-The new bracket projections should be up sometime today. Be sure and check those out.