Saturday, December 23, 2006

NCCA Hoops Round-Up

Today was about, in no small measure, very exciting games on paper turning quickly disappointing.

Let's start with what was possibly the most anticipated game of the week-- (3) Ohio State vs. (5) Florida, who is, after all, returning all 5 starters from their championship team of last year. Ohio State has one of the most touted recruiting classes over the past couple of years (along with Florida, really). Everything said this game would be close and entertaining as hell. and for about 30 minutes of game time, it was. And then Florida took over--Horford (back from a sketchy ankle) and Corey Brewer (back from mono) helped put this game into Not Very Interesting. Flordia wins, 86-60. #5 beating #3 by 26 points? This is just a crazy year. The CBS report I linked to makes it sound like Greg Oden is 100%, whilst highlighting all the various ailments that Florida players are playing with. Let's not forget--this "kid" (Greg Oden looks older than me by about a decade, and I'm rapidly closing in on 33) is still shooting free throws with his off hand, because his right wrist is still recovering from surgery. We still haven't seen what he can really do. Regardless, the best player of the floor for Ohio State today was Mike Conley, Jr., who basically forced his team to come back in the early minutes of the second half. But when they got down by 10 again, they started jacking shots from everywhere, which is no way to climb back against Florida. Florida looked great. Ohio State looked young. I hope to see a replay of this match-up in March.

Other games:

(1) UCLA 92, Michigan 55--I personally hyped this game, in passing. Michigan, I had felt, had been overlooked, due to an early season loss. It is possible I was wrong in praising them, even implicity. They got their doors blown off by UCLA in impressive fashion. I don't care what your record is, and I don't care how highly ranked the other team is, losing by 37 points is catastrophic. We'll see if Michigan, a young and fairly talented team, can rebound from embarassing national destruction to make a run of it in the Big 10, against some very good teams. For me the biggest revelation in this game was UCLA player Darren Collison. Quick, aggressive, both on offense and defense, and can throw out dimes, too. UCLA as a team plays the kind of defense where they could close their eyes when they shoot, and still win. It is a frenetic, trapping defense that just makes other teams look bad. I was dubious of their #1 status. No longer. Which I suppose means they'll lose their next 2 games. They are certainly in a dogpile conference, with Arizona, Washington, etc.

(8) Wichita State 56, USC 60--For the second time in two games, the #8 team, the Wichita State Shockers, were upset by an unranked team. The other day it was New Mexico, today it was USC. P.J. Cousinard played for the Shockers, but wasn't anywhere near 100%, still recovering from the nasty stomach virus that kept him out of the New Mexico game. It is disturbing clear that the Shockers can't rely on their bench, which was outscored 3-16 by USC. The player whose name may make it into the National Radar after this game was USC's Nick Young, who went 11-14 from the field, leading the Trojans to victory.

Most of the other Top 25 teams were not playing top echelon talent, and the scores reflect it:

(4) Wisconsin beat Pacific by 36--83-47 (Look to the Badgers to move up a spot, maybe, after what happened to Ohio State--I can't wait for these two to play each other)
(7) Pitt beat the Dayton Flyers by 30--84-54
(10) Alabama continues to roll, Beating the Mighty Coppin State Eagles by 50!
(11) Kansas Rolled Boston College 84-66 (remember when BC was awesome? I do. It was last year)
(12) LSU beat Louisiana Tech 68-52, in a game that must be considered some sort of rivalry, I guess. If I were a betting man, I'd wager that the rivalry came to a head when Stanley Roberts ate the Louisiana Tech mascot.
(18) Memphis Steals Middle Tennessee's Lunch Money, Wins by 40--86-46

Quick note on a currently unranked team that will be ranked come Monday: Tennessee--they beat two ranked teams this week--OK State and Texas. Perhaps, finally, criminally overranked Syracuse will drop out to make way for a team that has actually beaten, I don't know, real teams!

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