News, Notes and Highlighted Games for 12/29

News, Notes and Highlighted Games for 12/29
Dec 29, 2006, 02:32 am

Wow!! There were some major surprises last night.

-Boston College has been inconsistent this season and was just beaten rather handily by Kansas. However, they’d won six in a row prior to that and appeared to be taking care of business in their Buy Games. Last night, they lost to Duquesne in overtime 98-93. Duquesne is one of the worst teams in div1. They were 3-7 coming into this game, but two of their three wins came against current sub300 RPI teams, and they won each of those games by one point. Their own RPI was 311. They somehow managed to shock Boston College. It’s probably the best team Duquesne has beaten in several years. If BC ends up as a bubble team, this loss may be grounds for leaving them out.

-Purdue had really been on a role this season, but tonight they traveled to Indiana State and were blown out 89-70. It isn’t surprising that Indiana State won because they can be very tough to beat at home, but it is rather shocking that they won by that margin. Indiana State never trailed once, opened up a 46-31 lead at the half, and never looked back. Purdue shot 53% from the floor, but it wasn’t nearly enough to keep them close.

-Oral Roberts upset Seton Hall 76-74. Oral Roberts defeated Kansas earlier this season, but had done very little after that to indicate that they were anything more than a #16 seed caliber team, if that. They had lost five of their last seven coming into this one. Seton Hall, on the other hand, appeared to be playing well. They were 6-2 on the year and although they didn’t have any big wins, they did appear to be a much better team than Oral Roberts. That’s two big time wins for ORU. It’s just a shame that they have so many poor losses to go along with that.

-USC upset Washington in double overtime 86-79 for their biggest win of the year. They had a good record coming into this game, but hadn’t really done anything that would impress the committee too much. A win against Washington certainly changes that. This was just the second road game of the season for Washington, and they’ve lost both of them. They’ll need some road wins if they want to secure a good seed. They face UCLA next. Speaking of the Bruins…

-Washington State does appear to be for real. They have a win against Gonzaga and led UCLA for most of the first half. They were right with the Bruins all through the second half, but fell behind 53-47 with two minutes to play. Wazzu hit a big three point shot to cut the lead to 53-50, and then got the ball back after a defensive stop, which enabled them to get the lead down to 53-52. Wazzu again came up with a big stop and had a chance to win, but didn’t get off a good shot. Two more UCLA freethrows made it 55-52. A last second three point shot to tie didn’t go in. Still, a great showing by Washington State. They need to keep it up though, because they have a big game against USC coming up. Last year, Wazzu competed in a lot of games, but won very few of them. They need wins if they want to impress the committee, not just close calls. However, They are 11-2 on the year and do have a nice win against Gonzaga, so there is reason to believe that they can be a force in the Pac Ten.

-Texas A&M led Grambling 65-13 at the half, and went on to win 101-27. The Texas A&M defense actually did a much better job shutting down Grambling than their football team did in trying to shut down California in the Holiday Bowl. The football team gave up 45 points to Cal, whereas the basketball team only gave up 27 to Grambling.

-Clemson beat Georgia rather easily 75-60 to remain unbeaten. The game really wasn’t all that close through most of the second half. It is one of Clemson’s better wins of the year because Georgia had just one loss coming into this game, and if they can beat a team like that as decisively as they did, then it’s an indication that they are pretty good.

-SMU had a good record coming into last night's game against Oklahoma, but it was amassed by playing rather weak teams. They were handily beaten 69-42 by the Sooners, which indicates that they probably weren't as good as their record. Oklahoma got off to a slow start, but they've really been playing well lately. They could end up doing some damage in the Big Twelve after all if they keep it up.

HIGHLIGHTED GAMES (Alphabetical order via the Home Team)

-PROVIDENCE VS FLORIDA STATE. Providence is 9-2, but for the most part they don’t have any good wins. Florida State is 11-2 and does have an impressive win against Florida, but this would still rank as one of their better out of conference wins if they can pull it off. The game is being played in Tampa, so the crowd should favor Florida State even though it’s technically a neutral site. Both teams are athletic, so it should be an exciting game. It would also help out the resume of whoever ends up winning.

-SOUTHERN ILLINOIS AT ILLINOIS STATE (Missouri Valley). Illinois State is off to a modest 7-4 start, but they lost their first two games of the season so they have quite a bit of momentum coming into this one. They are playing an in-state team who is also in their conference. If they could pull off the win against SIU to open conference play it would really be a huge step forward for Illinois State. Southern Illinois is 8-2 and appears to have an NCAA Tournament caliber team once again, but it’s important that they do well in conference play.

-WINTHROP AT OLD DOMINION. These are two teams that could very easily find themselves on the bubble come March, so this is a hugely important game, especially for Winthrop. Old Dominion will face some quality competition in conference and they have a nice win against Georgetown already. Winthrop’s conference is much weaker, and other than the Bracket Buster they are running out of chances to make a strong case for themselves. Winning this one on the road will go a long way. They’ve had some very close calls, including an overtime loss at Wisconsin, but close doesn’t cut it. Winthrop needs a big win or two if they end up needing an at-large, and this could end up being one of the better ones they get all season.

-AIR FORCE AT SANTA CLARA. This is the championship game of the Cable Car Classic. Air Force defeated George Washington rather handily and appears to be much better than Santa Clara, but SCU has played some very good basketball this season and will likely be very tough to beat at home. They’ve won six of their last eight with their only losses coming against Kentucky and Missouri State. Winning this game could end up getting them some attention from the committee if they finish well in their conference.

-ILLINOIS AT XAVIER. This game is not on Xavier’s campus, but it is in downtown Cincinnati so a pro-Xavier crowd should be expected. Illinois’ resume isn’t the strongest, but they have been playing very well lately and should begin building up some quality wins once they get into conference play. This would be a nice OOC win for them on the road. Xavier has lost three out of their last four and desperately needs a big win if they want to be in the at-large picture. They are coming off a loss at home to Bucknell, and really need something good to happen for them. Illinois appears to be better all the way around though, but if Xavier pulls this off it could turn their season around.


-LIPSCOMB AT ALABAMA. Lipscomb is 6-4 against div1 and is one of the better teams in the Atlantic Sun, but they shouldn’t be much of a match for Bama. The Tide can improve to 12-1 with a win.

-NORTHWESTERN STATE AT DE PAUL. Most people don’t realize this, but De Paul is on a role. They’ve won six out of seven and absolutely blew out Cal in their last game. This is their final game before Big East play begins, so it’s a chance for them to sustain their momentum.

-EASTERN KENTUCKY AT KENTUCKY. Kentucky has been playing very well lately, and can improve to 10-3 with a win today. Eastern Kentucky’s campus is just over twenty miles away and they are off to a 6-3 start, which is good, but an upset still isn’t all that likely.

-JACKSONVILLE AT SOUTH CAROLINA. South Carolina has just two losses, but no real notable wins. They’ll have to rely on playing well in conference to get themselves in.

-ALABAMA A&M AT VANDERBILT. Vandy had their seven game win streak snapped when they fell to Appalachian State last week. They shouldn’t have any trouble winning this one and improving to 8-4 though.

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