-After Gonzaga came out of nowhere to go to an Elite Eight and then a Sweet Sixteen the next year, they lost a great player in Matt Santangelo and most thought that was the end of their brief rocket ship ride to the top. Then Dan Dickau
came along and they were good again. In his senior season they were highly ranked, but were upset in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Everyone then said the ride was over now that Dickau was gone. Then along came Turriaf and Step, and you know what?? They were good again!! Then came Adam Morrison
and J.P. Batista
, and the Zags were good again, but after those two left last season some thought they would go through a transition period. I guess that transition period lasted through their two exhibition games. Pretty soon people are going to begin to realize that just like the elite programs in this country, Gonzaga reloads and competes like a highly ranked team each and every year.
They have looked awesome all season long, and after getting off to a start tonight where I think they missed their first nine shots and fell behind to North Carolina 10-0, they came back, got the lead at halftime, and then ended up winning the game 82-74. They led by as much as 15 in the second half, but then North Carolina came charging back and cut the lead to 70-68 with about four minutes left. That was as close as they got though. Dereik Ravio had a big game with 21 points. Josh Heytvelt
was huge in the post with 19pts and 8 rebounds.
-The Zags will face Butler for the NIT Championship. They beat Tennessee in what was a sloppy game. Tennessee made just three field goals in the second half. One has to credit Butlers defense, but the Vols took some really bad shots. Still, its a great quality win for Butler who is off to a great start as far as making a case that they are an at-large caliber NCAA Tournament team in the event that they dont win their conference tournament. If they beat Gonzaga on Friday that will be even more true.
After watching both games, it isnt likely though. If all the teams play the way they did tonight, North Carolina will blow out Tennessee in the third place game and Gonzaga will blow out Butler in the championship game.
-Memphis and Kentucky was close at the half, but not in the second. Memphis took complete control and got a big win over the Wildcats 80-63. Memphis has been inconsistent early on, but theyve played pretty good ball for the most part.
-UCLA beat Georgia Tech handily in the championship game 88-73. They also shot the ball much better than they did against Kentucky in the semifinal game. These are the types of wins that can help teams earn #1 and #2 seeds. Although its early in the season they are beating quality competition away from their home court.
-Two other exempt tournaments get underway today in the Old Spice Classic and the Great Alaska Shootout. Other than that there isnt a whole lot of action. The Great Alaska Shootout actually got underway last night. LMU, who is having a great year, defeated Alaska Anchorage in the opener. Theyll face either UMKC or Pacific in the semifinals. That game is going on right now, but Im not going to stay up for the end of it. Hawaii will face Hofstra and California will face Marshall on the other side of the bracket.
Hofstra is off to a bad start and needs to do well in this tournament if they want to make a case for themselves to make the NCAA. Many are picking them to win the Colonial and be a solid tournament team, but they havent shown signs of it yet.
-Air Force was in action again last night. They blew out Radford 83-59. Radford isnt good, but Air Force just got done playing in the CBE Classic and this is the third day in a row theyve played a game.
-This is something I wanted to mention yesterday, but forgot to. Last week Virginia Intermont, who is a nondiv1 team, scored 95 points against VMI
.and lost by 61. VMI scored 156 points, which averages out to just under one point every fifteen seconds. Reggie Williams
had 45 points in just 24 minutes.
-In their next game VMI defeated Southern Virginia 144-127. Thats a total of 371 points combined, which means that on average a point was being scored about every nine seconds.
They arent doing as well against div1 teams though. They lost to James Madison, who is one of the poorer teams in the Colonial, 89-87 the other night. Theyre only win against a div1 team came against South Dakota State. They did manage to break the century mark in that one as well winning 104-89.
-I hope everyone has a safe and happy Thanksgiving. Like a lot of people Im out of town visiting my family, who isnt as obsessive about college hoops as I am, and also doesnt have the sports package that I have. I guess it doesnt matter because Ill be busy with Thanksgiving anyway. Ill keep up as best I can, but this blog may be a little abridged for the next few days.