Friday, December 22, 2006

Fun for Friday

What a great week for college basketball with several games going down to the wire, breakout performances for underclassmen as well as some for some old favorites and this weekend should be no different. At this point I should just cease to provide any insight with regards to predictions as teams are provided surprise after surprise; of the six games predicted, I was only true to form on two picks. But of course I won’t stop just yet or ever, that’s what makes blogging so much fun! Onto this week’s Fun for Friday!!!

Big Wins, Bad Losses

Behind the spectacular front court play of Washington's heralded freshman center, Spencer Hawes (23 points/12 rebounds) and sophomore bruiser, Jon Brockman (19 points, 14 rebounds and relentless banging of Glen Davis) 17th-ranked Huskies pounded the 12th-ranked LSU Tigers, 88-72. Davis scored just eight points on 3-for-11 shooting while fighting through double, triple and sometime quadruple-teams.

The ninth-ranked Arizona Wildcats wrapped up their pre-conference schedule with a 79-71 victory over No. 18 Memphis the Fiesta Bowl Classic. After a rugged first half start where the Cats appeared quite lathergic, settling for long jumpers and Memphis started 6-11 from behind the arc, Arizona was much the aggressor in the second half. They began attacking the basket and forced the Tigers to miss their first 11 three pointers. Mustafa Shakur led the Wildcats with 23 points, six rebounds and five assists

Tenn at home spoils OSU’s perfect record, 79-77 on a putback by Dan Bradshaw with 1.9 seconds left in regulation. Sharpshooter Chris Lofton paced the Vols with 20 points while freshman forward Duke Crews added 17 points/9 boards.

An awful loss for Virginia coming at the hands of the Mountaineers of Appalachian State, 80-69. The Mountaineers shot over 54% while holding the Cavaliers to under 40% for the evening.

In an equally bad loss, the Miami Hurricanes suffered their fifth loss of the season at home to Binghamton, 79-74 behind a career high 27 points from junior guard, Richard Forbes. Miami is clearly looking like the DePaul Blue Demons of the ACC.

Drexel landed its 5th straight victory with a major win over Syracuse, 84-79. Unfortunately the Orange lost all momentum when senior center Terrence Roberts went down late in the first half with a knee injury and was lost for the game. The Dragons now stand at 7-2 with solid wins over Villanova and St. Joe’s as well.

Shaun Pruitt had a career-high 19 points and nine rebounds, helping Illinois hold off Missouri 73-70 on Tuesday night. Illinois (11-2), which won its seventh in a row in the annual "Braggin' Rights" game with Missouri was also coach Bruce Weber’s 100th win in his four years at Illinois.

Players of the Week

Omni Smith, senior guard, Kent State: Despite coming up a few baskets short in a 7-point loss to Duke this week, Smith paced the Golden Flashes with a career-high 33 points/10 rebounds, sinking 14-of-20 field goal attempts on the night. Smith leads the Golden Flashes in scoring at just over 14 points per.

Frank Eleger, junior center, Drexel: Eleger dominated the paint in Drexel’s win at Syracuse posting 27 points/10 rebounds shooting 11-for-16 from the field. The 6-foot-9 Elegar, has averaged 18.8 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in the Dragons' previous four wins.

Luke Nevill, sophomore center/Johnnie Bryant, junior guard, Utah: Nevill and Bryant each scored 26 points to lead Utah to a 90-74 victory Wednesday over Virginia in the consolation round of the San Juan Shootout. The 7-1 Nevill was 10-for-12 from the field and had 11 rebounds as well. Nevill leads the Utes in scoring and rebounding with averages of 19 and 9 while Bryant is second in scoring at around 16 points.


The Southern Miss Golden Eagles are off to their best start in six years with a win over Reinhardt this week. The Golden Eagles faithful can thank the sobering scheduling by coach Larry Eustacey having beaten the likes of Belhaven, Tenn State, Alabama State, Spring Hill, Sam Houston State, Savannah State, and Southern New Orleans. Go figure their lone loss came at the hands of a ranked team (9th ranked Crimson Tide).

In a true effort to humiliate those who suck and provide humor at the expense of others’ failure, I continue to present to you…The WINLESS Watch!

With Southern University and St. Frances (NYC) achieving their first wins of the season, I thought for sure we were down to just a single remaining winless team: The Iona Gaels, a resent loss to Niagara brings them to 0-9 – they’ll seek their first victory tonight against the 1-8 New Hampshire Wildcats.

But wait, I was wrong! Thankfully, and I do certainly apologize, I just discovered there is in fact one other winless team in Division I basketball, the Delaware Fighting Blue Hens. They too have been laying the proverbial egg all year with a record of 0-8 having lost another nail-biter to Virginia Commonwealth by 19 points. Up next for the Hens is an away game this weekend at UNC-Greensborough. So please, Santa, if you do in fact exist, all I want for Christmas is for these teams to continue their winningless ways so that I can make my life much happier at the expense of their continued failure. Thank you.

Only five Division I teams remain unbeaten:
Clemson – Western Carolina is on tap this weekend, should be a cake-walk.
UConn – The entire season has been a cake-walk thus far for the Huskies, up next is fearsome Fang Mithell’s, Coppin State Eagles!
Oregon – Next three games should all be victories starting with Mercer College
UCLA – The Bruins’ wins have been legit having beaten 3 ranked teams to date, next up is a touch at home game against 11-1 Michigan
Wichita State – Several “shockers” thus far for this group and more to come I’m sure. Another tough road game at “The Pit”; could be a trap game against the surging 8-2 Lobos.

Weekend Predictions

Georgia at Georgia Tech – Super soph Mike Mercer (18 points/5 boards/5 assists) leads a hot and balanced 8-1 Bulldog club into Hotlanta to face a very young and enigmatic Yellow Jacket team in need of a big win. Keep feeding the hot hand, I like the Dawgs!

UMass at Kentucky – UMass coach Travis Ford looks to upset his former team after a solid road win at Louisville, however he’ll have to do it against a Wildcat team, winner of it’s past four. Cat’s at home, although I’ll be pulling for the Minute Men.

Wichita State at New Mexico – Shocking the world and everyone else in their path. They’ll face a rautious crowd in the heat of “The Pit” as the Shockers square off with the Lobos lead by Kansas transfer J.R. Giddens (18 points/6 boards). I picked the Shockers to lose against Wyoming last week, however I’ve learned my lesson. Let’s go Shockers!

Texas at Tennessee – Two teams coming off some major wins: Tennessee, winners of their past five including Memphis and Oklahoma State; Texas with a three game winning streak including LSU and Arkansas. Nashville is looking like a tough place to play this year as the Vols have yet to lose at home. It’ll be the heart and grit of the Vols against the raw talent of the baby Longhorns – I’m going with the Vols at home.

Michigan at UCLA – Michigan fans (and coach Tommy Amaker) are hoping this is the year of the Wolverine! They enter Pauley Pavilion with an 11-1 record with their lone defeat coming against their most admirable opponent (NC State). The Bruins appear to have the best defense in the land and should continue their dominance at home. Bruins over the Wolves.

BC at Kansas: Al Skinner has his boys clicking on all cylinders lead by senior All-American Jared Dudley’s 19 points/9 rebounds a clip. Getting a win at the Phog is a tough feet however Oral Roberts proved that it can be done. The Jayhawks tend to lose consciencness at times throughout the game and that can be disasterous against such an experienced and patient team. I like the Eagles by the closest of margins.

Ohio State at Florida: One of the years marquee matchups that all college basketball fans have had marked on their calendars for months. The Greg Oden lead Buckeye’s (three freshman lead OSU in the major categories: Cook, 16 points; Oden, 8.5 rebounds, Conely, 6.5 assists) enter the Swamp to face last years National Champs. Despite the hype around Oden, the story here is much more than just one man, er, kid. It’s two great teams playing as such where a mix of upper-classmen and freshman play as one unit. Let’s hope that Al Horford’s ankle sprain does not prevent him from missing this instant classic. In an all out war, I’m taking the Gators at home IF Horford plays; if without, great road win for The Ohio State Buckeye’s.

Dayton at Pittsburgh: Not as hyped as some of the other games, but this should be a great game featuring two teams who play solid fundamental basketball and who each have just one loss on the season. The Flyers haven’t lost since 11/18 but face a bitter Pitt team coming off a blowout loss at Wisconsin. This is the first of a horrid two-game road trip (at UNC on 12/31) and I’m guessing the Flyers may be 10-3 entering the New Year.

Quips, Quarrels, Querulous Inquiries

To date, the basketball Gods have provided us with a wonderful start to the 2006-2007 season and with conference play just around the corner, the year should only get better. The holiday season has approached us at a rapid pace and with that I wish you well and bode farewell until a week from today.


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