Midday report: Who the #$%! are these guys?Posted: February 4, 2012
The early theme is coaches screaming “why didn’t we scout this guy!?” Notre Dame rolled at home over Marquette behind a player who averages 4.0 points per game and Syracuse cruised over St. Johns thanks to some help from a 2.8 per game guy off the bench.
No. 2 Syracuse 95, St. Johns 70
-Same ol’ ‘Cuse. The Orange(men…yea I still call them that) are still the best team in the Big East and are playing like it. Syracuse (23-1, 10-1 Big East) took a 41-27 halftime lead over the Red Storm (10-13, 4-7) and never really were threatened. Michael Carter-Williams has 13 off the bench in 17 minutes (he averages 2.8 in 12.1 per game) and St. Johns allowed Syracuse to shoot 55.7 % overall. Tough to think that Syracuse isn’t headed for a no. 1-seed in the Big Dance.
Notre Dame 76, No. 15 Marquette 59
-What got into the Irish (15-8, 7-3 Big East)? Mike Brey’s team put the boots to the Golden Eagles (19-5, 8-3). Notre Dame’s Pat Connaughton (?) finished with 23 points to lead Notre Dame — he averages 4.0 per game this season. Marquette shot 15.4% from three and 39.1% overall. Even without Tim Abromaitis, the Irish ain’t dead yet.
Detroit 65, Butler 61
-Looked like a better win for the Titans (13-12, 7-6 Horizon League) before the season, but the Bulldogs (13-12, 7-6) are clearly a shell of their back-to-back national title game teams (they only have two guys on the team that played on both). Ray McCallum had 20, including 7-of-10 free throws, while Butler shot just 21.1% from 3-point range (4-of-19). Some have said Detroit has a shot at being the Butler of this season, I don’t see it. The team is scoring-heavy — four players average double-figures, and one averaging 9.9 — but a team that plays in the Horizon and has that much firepower has to do better than 13-12 through 25 games — with an average margin of victory of 4.3 points. But hey, who saw Butler coming in these past two seasons?
No. 14 Georgetown 75, South Florida 45
-The Hoyas (18-4, 8-3) showed exactly how much of a fraud the Bulls (13-10, 6-4) are in the Big East, thrashing them at home. This game was more about USF showing everyone their 6-2 Big East start was, and it was obviously a fluke. Five guys scored in double-figures for Georgetown, including 13 and 8 rebounds from senior center Henry Sims, who might be the most improved player in the Big East this season. Augustus Gilchrist continues to do it all for USF with 15 points and four boards — off the bench. Oh yea, and remind me how Stan Heath keeps a head coaching job? Hasn’t done much since Kent State.
No. 18 Virginia at No. 24 Florida State
-The Seminoles (16-6, 7-1 ACC) held off the Cavaliers (18-4, 5-3) in a game that was huge for Leonard Hamilton’s squad in terms of at-large prowess. FSU held solid despite giving up a Malcolm Brogdon three-pointer with two seconds left, then Mike Scott missed a free throw that would’ve sealed it. Tony Bennett’s team can afford this loss considering the surge he’s put into this team in this unexpected season. The ‘Noles keep plugging in the ACC, which makes them likable. It was ugly offensively for both teams, with a combined 40 turnovers (FSU-19, UVa-21).
No. 3 Ohio State 58, No. 20 Wisconsin 52
-It took a few more years, but the Buckeyes (20-3, 8-2 Big Ten) got a long-awaited win in the (too damn cold) Kohl Center over the Badgers (18-6, 7-4), their first since 2000. Jared Sullinger went bananas as expected, finishing with 24 points and 10 rebounds and Wisconsin was 18.5% from three-point range — an anemic 5-for-27.
No. 6 Baylor 64, Oklahoma State 60
-The Bears (21-2, 8-2 Big 12) trailed late, but got what they needed out of Perry Jones II (16 points, 11 rebounds) and got another double-double out of Qunicy Acy (11 points, 12 boards) to hold on, on the road over the Cowboys (11-12, 4-6). Oklahoma State was out-rebounded 37-28 and hit 14-of-15 free throws in the loss
No. 8 Kansas (18-4, 8-1 Big 12) at No. 4 Missouri (20-2, 7-2)
-The match-up of the night. The end of a rivalry. National Player of the Year candidate Thomas Robinson will match-up against Ricardo Ratliffe. The Tigers guard are far superior to that of the Jayhawks, but don’t discount how Bill Self seems to get his squad to play well in big regular season games…Now, if he could only do it in the postseason.
No. 12 Creighton (21-2, 11-1 Missouri Valley) at Northern Iowa (15-9, 5-7)
-Another seemingly great Missouri Valley Conference match-up tonight. The Bluejays need to probably win out to get an at-large berth, but the Panthers aren’t an easy out this season, or any season, for that matter, especially in the UNI-Dome. Creighton has won three-in-a-row since losing to Missouri State and have a 63-60 win over UNI on Jan. 10. The Panthers are struggling, having lose five of their past 8.
No. 13 UNLV (21-3, 5-1 Mountain West) at Wyoming (17-5, 3-3)
-Wyoming took advantage of a soft non-conference schedule (including TWO wins over Utah Valley) but it hasn’t translated into MWC play, losing three of their past six. UNLV has been a pleasant surprise for coach Dave Rice, taking a band full of transfers and making themselves a top-4 seed in the NCAA Tournament as of now.
Iona (18-5, 10-2 MAAC) at Manhattan (17-7, 10-2)
-Arguably the two best teams in the MAAC square off tonight, and it’s probably the marquee match-up of the northeast on Saturday. Scott Machado and Lamont “MoMo” Jones against…wait, who exactly stars for Manhattan again? Doesn’t matter, Steve Masiello is doing wonders in his first season with a team that didn’t even crack the 10-win barrier last season.
Old Dominion (15-9, 10-2 Colonial Athletic Assoc.) at George Mason (18-6, 10-2)
-An overlooked game in the CAA. Paul Hewitt has done well is his first season at GMU, inheriting a solid class and making the most of it, with a good win over Manhattan and a top spot in the CAA. Old Dominion isn’t the same Monarchs squad that snatches that great non-conference win yearly, but it’s still stable enough to compete in the top of it’s conference, which is normally enough to get them into contention for the Dance.
Middle Tennessee State (21-3, 10-0 Sun Belt East) at Denver (16-7, 6-4 West)
-The terms “Sun Belt basketball” and “exciting match-up” haven’t gone together this season, but this might be the one chance the conference has at one. The best team in the conference, the Blue Raiders, is playing at the toughest venue in the SBC — just because of its proximity to, well, everything. Denver is on its way out of the conference, and spoiling the record of the league’s best team would be a great parting gift for them. MTSU has wins over Belmont and Ole Miss, but might need a perfect conference slate to sneak in an at-large nod.
No. 9 Murray State (22-0, 10-0 Ohio Valley) at Tennessee-Martin (3-12, 0-11)
-The nation’s last undefeated team against the worst team in its conference. They lose, then the Mayans were right.
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