NOTES FROM YESTERDAY
-Davidson appears to be as good as advertised. They trailed North Carolina by 7 at the break, but came out firing in the second half and managed to get the lead back and hold it until late into the game. Unfortunately, they werent holding it when time expired and ended up losing 72-68. Both teams struggled with their shooting and appeared to be forcing up quite a few shots despite the fact that they were contested. Davidson missed two dunks and two lay-ups throughout the game, and not being able to convert the easy ones hurt them. When I wrote this game up yesterday, I had it listed as a home game for North Carolina, but that was a mistake. It was actually played in Charlotte and Davidson was technically the home team, although the crowd appeared to be split. It was about as exciting and intense as any November game youll ever see. Im sure the loss is heartbreaking for Davidson, but they are a strong team that appears to have what it takes to have a monster season. EXEMPT TOURNAMENTS
COACHES VS CANCER CLASSIC SEMIFINALS
-GARDNER WEBB VS CONNECTICUT. These two will face each other next week. Im sure when they scheduled that game neither team had any idea that theyd be facing each other in the semifinals of this tournament. Both teams are unbeaten, and Gardner Webb made big headlines last week when they upset Kentucky. Here is a chance for them to get another good win and continue to boost the level of their profile.
-OKLAHOMA VS MEMPHIS. Memphis had some trouble with Richmond in their last game, but managed to pull it out and advance to the semis. They are actually the only Top 25 team that has made it this far. Oklahoma still appears to be in rebuilding mode, but that would take a big step forward if they manage to win this game today.
-Next weeks semifinals are set. SYRACUSE and OHIO STATE were winners the other night, but it was a battle for both teams. Syracuse fell behind early against Saint Josephs and needed to come from behind to win a close one, and Ohio State got a much tougher battle from Columbia than they expected.
WASHINGTON and TEXAS A&M will play in the other semifinal game, and both teams had close calls in the quarterfinals. Washington fell behind early against Utah, but got control late in the first half and had a comfortable 9 point lead at the break. Utah came back, and actually built a lead of their own in the second half, but couldnt hold onto it down the stretch. It was a nice win for Washington, but a good showing by Utah, who appears to have a strong team this year. TAMU trailed UTEP for most of the game, but kept their poise and got the lead late in the second half. TAMU was 23-39 from the line, whereas UTEP only went to the line 13 times. Guard Stefon Jackson
had 27 points for the Miners, but in the end it wasnt enough. It would have been a huge win for UTEP because not only would it have given them a quality road win, but it would have given them the chance to travel to New York for the chance to get some more quality wins. Nevertheless, as young as UTEP is, they have to be feeling pretty good about themselves and about the rest of their season after last night.
-The semifinals are also set for the CBE Classic. MICHIGAN STATE got a scare from LOUISIANA MONROE and the game was tied late into the second half, but the Spartans closed things out by going on a 32-14 run to end the game and advance on. Theyll face MISSOURI, who clobbered FORDHAM in their semifinal game.
-MARYLAND will face UCLA in the other semifinal game. Maryland got a big scare from a pretty good Hampton team, but managed to hold on and win.
PUERTO RICO SHOOTOUT
-Were starting bright and early today. They must not sleep late in Puerto Rico. VCU and HOUSTON are already underway as Im typing this. These two teams look like they could contend for a spot in the NCAA Tournament, which is what makes this game so important. Teams who are trying to build a resume and make a statement need to beat other teams that are also trying to make a statement. This should be a fun one. It has been so far. The teams are knotted at 28 with about four minutes to play in the first half.
-MARIST and MIAMI, FL will play either VCU or HOUSTON in the second round. Since there is a winners bracket and losers bracket, then both teams are guaranteed a game. Miami appears to be much improved and this tournament is a chance for them to make a statement early.
-TEMPLE and PROVIDENCE square off in the opening round as well. Providence looks to be a strong team, and this tournament is a chance for them to verify that. Temple was pounded by Tennessee earlier in the year, and is looking to rebound from that. It may not be all that easy, though.
-ARKANSAS and COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON will face off in the other game. CofC lost to UNC Wilmington in their opener, and is in for a much tougher fight today. Arkansas returns a ton of experience, and Im curious to see how theyll play under new head coach John Pelphrey. HIGHLIGHTED MATCH-UPS
-MICHIGAN AT GEORGETOWN. Michigan is going through a transitional phase, but they have a good head coach in John Belein and they could really take a leap forward with a win today. Georgetown is one of the best teams in the country, and they have a monster frontcourt. Michigan will need to shoot the ball well tonight if they want any shot at the upset.
-CLEMSON AT MISSISSIPPI STATE. This is a great early season match-up between two Tournament caliber teams. Clemson has a tendency to start off strong, and then fall apart down the stretch due to the stiffer competition they see in conference. Playing at Mississippi State, however, is the type of road game theyll be playing in the ACC, so its a good early indicator to find out how good they really are. Both teams won blowouts in their season openers.
-STANFORD AT NORTHWESTERN. Stanford is already 3-0 on the year, and looked pretty good against UC Santa Barbara (a good Big West team) in their last game. Its the season opener for Northwestern. A win like this in their opener would bring electricity to a program that hasnt had much to celebrate since
ever. BUY GAMES
-WASHBURN (nondiv1) AT KANSAS. Kansas doesnt have a tough assignment at all tonight and should be able to remain unbeaten.
-NORTHEASTERN AT MARYLAND. Maryland has a tough assignment next week in the semifinals of the NIT, but should be able to win this game tonight rather easily.
-WILLIAM & MARY AT NORTH CAROLINA STATE. This is the season opener for the Wolfpack, and it shouldnt be too hard for them to win.
-MISSISSIPPI VALLEY STATE AT PITTSBURGH. Pitt should have no trouble improving to 4-0 tonight.
-BETHUNE COOKMAN AT PURDUE. This is the season opener for a Purdue team that has a lot of young players on it. They shouldnt have any trouble tonight, though.