Posted on: January 15, 2008 10:39 pm

Observations and Judgments:1/12/08 thru 1/14/08

I think the biggest story of the weekend was Iowa beating Michigan State. It is definitely a sign that the Spartans have not fixed their turnover problem. It looked like they were taking better care of the basketball in the non-conference schedule, but in their first three Big Ten games they have not done so. They turned it over on 28% of their possessions against Minnesota, 25.3% of their possessions against Purdue, and 32.1% of their possessions in the loss to Iowa. There is a pretty good article about it here.

North Carolina absolutely pounded NC State. The Tar Heels put NC State away with a 25-0 run in the first half. NC State only scored 13 points in the first half. The Wolfpack have not met the expectations put on them this year. I warned people too. They didn’t have the depth and they don’t have a point guard. They don’t rebound well either. There is a reason they lost 16 games last year.

Even though I have said Memphis is the best team in the country, Kansas is right there with them. On Saturday they dismantled Nebraska, and then on Monday they did the same to Oklahoma. I consider Nebraska and Oklahoma tournament teams right now, so that should say something. I love watching the Jayhawks play defense. They are always in position and they can really force turnovers.

On Saturday, UCLA never let Washington State in the game. The Cougars only scored 22 points in the first half, but then they scored 21 points in the last minute and a half.

Roy Hibbert hit a game-winning three-pointer in the final seconds against UConn. It was only the second three-point attempt in the 7’2” Roy Hibbert’s career. UConn could not have expected Hibbert to take that shot. The young Huskies’ team can definitely feel confident in themselves now that they have showed that they can play with anybody. Georgetown probably had some Monday hangover from this game that led to their loss to Pittsburgh. Speaking of Pittsburgh, they lost two starters to injuries but are still legit. They are not going away. That is depth for you.

Kentucky beat the undefeated Vanderbilt. This could give the Wildcats some confidence after an abysmal non-conference season. Vanderbilt will probably have performances like this during the season. They can shoot the three really well, but aren’t very good at much else. They could really crash during the conference season.

Texas lost on the road to Missouri. Texas gave Missouri too many good looks, and the Tigers were hitting from inside and out. Texas takes really good care of the basketball and they score with great efficiency, but they would benefit greatly from better defensive play. With the quick and athletic guards, one would think the Longhorns would be able to force more turnovers.

Jerryd Bayless returned for Arizona, and the Wildcats got back in the win column with a victory at Houston. The Cougars looked horrible in transition in that game. You have to get back and play defense.

Clemson got a much needed win over Florida State on Saturday. Like I said last week, I think Clemson will get back on track and we won’t see them collapse like last year.

Purdue could be a team to watch in the Big Ten. They will be inconsistent, but their win over Ohio State on Saturday shows that there is potential. That’s expected when four freshmen are starting.

On Sunday, Duke pounded Virginia. If Duke wasn’t lacking in the frontcourt, I would be inclined to give them a great shot at winning the ACC title over North Carolina. They are just beating their opponents thoroughly. They are also only one Levance Fields’ three-pointer from being undefeated.

Illinois played a much better game against Indiana then they had in their previous four losses. Anytime Indiana is in close game, they have good chance of winning with Eric Gordon taking over and scoring or getting to the foul line. They can go to him, or get it to DJ White on the block.

After a tough road loss to Dayton, Rhode Island got back on track with a win over Duquesne. Right now, Dayton, Xavier, Rhode Island, and UMass are tournament teams in the Atlantic 10. Saint Joseph’s, Charlotte, and Duquesne are also solid. The conference could be better than the SEC or Big Ten this year.

Oregon is definitely back in business with three straight Pac-10 wins over Arizona, Cal, and Stanford. What’s been the key for Oregon? They have cut down on turnovers recently. Against Nebraska, Oakland, Mount St. Mary’s, and Arizona State, the turnovers limited the Ducks’ offensive efficiency. But it got instantly better in the last three games when Oregon took better care of the basketball. My guess is that Oregon will continue to take care of the ball, because Kamyron Brown is the only player with a tendency to turn it over. That’s mostly due to the fact that he handles the ball a lot. The good news is that Maarty Leunen, Bryce Taylor, and Malik Hairston rarely turn the ball over.

Louisville is getting it back together so watch out for them. They had no trouble against West Virginia and Rutgers last week.

Speaking of West Virginia; they pounded Syracuse on Sunday. When West Virginia is hitting shots, look out. In their two conference wins over Marquette and Syracuse, the games weren’t even close because the Mountaineers shot their opponents out of the building.

Arkansas beat Alabama on Sunday. Arkansas looks like an NCAA tournament team with wins over Baylor and Missouri. They aren’t a safe bet right now though, due to their loss to Appalachian State. Arkansas has to pick up some quality wins in conference or their resume won’t hold up. As for Alabama, they don’t have much of pulse left.
Category: General
Tags: thoughts
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