NEWS AND NOTES
-UABs Paul Delaney will miss the remainder of the season due to a knee injury he suffered in last Saturdays game against Georgia Southern. I thought the Blazers could have a big year this year and make it back to the dance, but it will be much more difficult with Delaney, who led the team in scoring last year. He is a senior, but should be eligible for a medical redshirt. All the best to him and hopefully hell be able to return next season at full strength.
-Saint Marys got a huge statement win against Oregon 99-87. Many believe that Saint Marys would challenge Gonzaga in the WCC, and last night I believed they proved that they can do just that. Its also a big win because winning the WCC automatic bid is never easy with Gonzaga to contend with. Wins like this go a long way toward getting Saint Marys in a position to earn an at-large.
-Its Thanksgiving. There is tons of basketball on this week, and a lot of the games are important. However, like most people, Im visiting family over the weekend and its hard to say how much of the action Ill get to see. Im generally able to keep up with everything, but the blog may be slightly abbreviated over the next few days. I also wont be able to check my email until Sunday or Monday. EXEMPT TOURNAMENTS
-Were down to the semifinals. SYRACUSE will face OHIO STATE. Neither team is ranked, and both struggled in their previous games to even get here. Still, Im expecting that both will improve as the year goes on. Winning this game would help both teams get out of the gate faster.
-TEXAS A&M and WASHINGTON will meet in the other game. Like Syracuse and Ohio State, both teams were challenged in their previous game, but both were playing somewhat decent opponents. TAMU is ranked and looks to be very strong this year. Its a good chance for a Washington team that missed the tournament last year to get a big, early season win and make a statement that they can be a solid team this year.
GREAT ALASKA SHOOTOUT
-Two of the opening round games are today, and two are tomorrow. MICHIGAN will face BUTLER today. This tournament is important for Butler because they need to rack up some quality wins out of conference. Michigan is sort of in rebuilding mode and hasnt looked all that solid early on, but playing well and winning games in this tournament would be a huge step forward for them as well. Its interesting because Coach Beilein at Michigan likes to run a similar style to what Butler runs, so we should see a lot of outside shooting and backdoor cuts.
-VIRGINIA TECH and EASTERN WASHINGTON square off in the other game. It shouldnt be much of a challenge for Virginia Tech to win and advance.
-Texas Tech, Alaska Anchorage, Western Kentucky and Gonzaga make up the other half of the bracket.
-Both games were exciting. MISSOURI led MARYLAND for most of the game, but Maryland came back and kept it within reach. They couldnt get over the top though, and Missouri picked up a very nice early season win in the third place game. I believe they have quite a bit to be excited about this year.
-It took UCLA over five minutes to score their first points, and then they trailed MICHIGAN STATE the entire game, but the Bruins fought back, overcame a double-digit deficit, and hit a big time three in the final minute which turned out to be the winning basket. As disappointing as it was for the Spartans, theyve really improved since their exhibition games and look to be among the best in the nation right now. UCLA picked up two nice neutral floor wins en route to winning the CBE Classic Championship.
-Yesterday I mentioned that MARQUETTE hadnt really shown up in their previous three games. They showed up in a big way today and blew OKLAHOMA STATES doors off to advance to the championship game. I quit watching once Marquette went up by 30. Theyll face DUKE in the semifinals, who fell behind early to ILLINOIS, but got control of the game quickly and ended up winning 79-66.
-The MARQUETTE vs DUKE game is interesting because it is between two teams who are contending for spots in the pod system, and if the current rankings are an indication of where theyll end up, then this game will be looked at by the committee.
-The third place game is also interesting. If youve ever seen an Oklahoma State or Illinois home game, the arena is solid orange. Since theyre playing each other, I deem this game, The Orange Grudge Match. OTHER HIGHLIGHTED MATCH-UPS
-GEORGETOWN AT BALL STATE. I can only assume that this game was arranged under the old Ball State coaching regime. Former head coach Ronnie Thompson is the brother of John Thompson
III at Georgetown. The Hoyas should win this one going away despite the fact that theyre on the road.
-RHODE ISLAND AT BOSTON COLLEGE. Both teams are unbeaten, and it appears to be the toughest test of the season for either team so far. Both want to become visible on the national scene, and get some nice wins to solidify themselves as NCAA Tournament teams. The game would probably do more for Rhode Island because theyre the road team, and they dont get quite as many chances at big time wins, but it would be a nice win for BC as well. Rhody played very well in the Glen Wilkes Classic and managed a win against UAB in their last game. Boston College has looked pretty good this season as well. It should be a good game, and if it isnt, then at least it should teach us something about each of these teams.
-NORTHERN ARIZONA AT KANSAS. Northern Arizona actually hung with Arizona in their game earlier this season, and so far that has been their only loss. Kansas appears to be much better and should win the game, but it could turn out to be slightly tougher than they anticipated. Lord knows that surprises seem to be a regular thing this year.
-SAINT LOUIS AT MISSOURI STATE. Saint Louis is off to a good start and can improve to 4-1 with their only loss being a hard fought game against Pittsburgh. Missouri State stumbled out of the gate, but still looks to have a good enough team to make the NCAA Tournament. Winning this game at home is important, because falling to 1-2 with neither loss coming against a powerhouse could be hard to rebound from. Missouri State has come up just short for two straight years, and they dont want to leave anything to chance this year.
-HAWAII AT NEW MEXICO. New Mexico can jump out to a 6-0 start with a win. None of their opponents have been all that good, and truth be told it doesnt look like Hawaii is either, but its still a good start for a program thats trying to turn itself around.
-NORTH TEXAS AT TEXAS ARLINGTON. The reason I highlight this is that both teams are undefeated, and North Texas actually has a win against Oklahoma State. The game is also being played in one of the most unusual venues in all of div1. The nickname for TX Arlingtons home court is The Stage. Thats because it IS a stage. Seriously. They play their games on a stage that was first built for theater. If you get a chance to see any of this game on TV, then you need to check it out just for the arena itself. Both teams are off to a good start, so the game should be pretty good as well.
-LOUISVILLE AT UNLV. It will be interesting to see how well Louisville can play without David Padgett
. Theyve blown past their first two opponents, but those were weak teams whom they played at home. UNLV is a young team, but is off to a 3-0 start. Still, they havent played anyone nearly as good as Louisville, so its their toughest test of the season so far as well. Its a good chance for UNLV to make a statement and get a big time win. For Louisville, its a chance to pick up a road win and prove they can compete at a high level without Padgett.
-DAVIDSON AT WESTERN MICHIGAN. Davidson has been a big story this year, mostly because of their near upset of North Carolina, but theyre still looking for their first div1 win. Theyre a good team, but this is a tough assignment. Western Michigan is off to a modest 3-2 start, but should continue to improve as the year goes on. A win in this game would really jumpstart their season. Its big for Davidson as well. They dont want to start off 0-2 against div1 teams. BUY GAMES
-ADAMS STATE (nondiv1) AT ARIZONA. Arizona rebounded from their loss to Virginia with a win over UMKC. They should follow that up with another one tonight.
-PRESBYTARIAN AT CLEMSON. Clemson has been playing great this year, and should roll over a Presby team that is beginning its first year of probation that comes with the transition of moving up to div1.
-TEXAS SOUTHERN AT HOUSTON. Houston fell to VCU in the Puerto Rico Invitational, but they lost by just one point and it is their only loss on the year so far, so I still think they can have a big year. A win in this game gets them to 4-1.
-LIBERTY AT KENTUCKY. This is Kentuckys first game since the Gardner Webb loss, and they should be able to win in a route.
-MOREHEAD STATE AT OKLAHOMA. The Sooners can go to 5-1 with the only loss coming to Memphis with a win today.