Monday, December 18, 2006

Monday Morning Wakeup Call

Not too bad with the weekend predictions finishing 3-1. Several schools are still in exam mode however there are a handful of games featuring ranked opponents that should make for some great games.

Big Wins, Bad Losses

Wisconsin, playing at home, man-handled Pitt 89-75. While Pitt’s offense remained steady, they must have left their defense in Pittsburgh allowing the duo of Alando Tucker and Brian Butch to combine for 59 points & 21 rebounds.

Butler continues its winning ways with a solid 68-65 win over Purdue. The Boilermakers had a chance to send the game into overtime, but missed a desperation three with no time on the clock. The Bulldogs held Purdue’s senior star Carl Landry to a season low 12 points in the winning effort.

Despite sluggish overall play by the Wildcats, Kentucky ousted Louisville 61-49 while holding the cardinals to just 27% shooting. While his elder statesmen struggled, freshman guard Jodie Meeks paced the Wildcats with a career high 18 points.

At home Tennessee held off a tough Western Kentucky team, 93-79 behind Chris Lofton’s 32 points and despite losing the rebounding edge 38-27. The Vols may be quietly moving up the ranks improving to 8-2 on the year.

Playing great ball as of late, Georgia hands Gonzaga its 3rd loss of the season with a 96-83 home victory. The Bulldogs pulled off the big win behind stingy defense (forcing 21 Zags’ turnovers) and great guard-play out of Levi Stukes and Sundiata Gaines (combining for 47 points).

Despite playing in a hostile environment against a historically consistent team at home, Santa Clara improves to 8-3 with a 62-48 win over the Stanford Cardinal. USC jumped out to a 28-12 halftime lead, allowing the Cardinal just one field goal in their first 13 tries, and never looked back. Santa Clara also prevented the Cardinal from producing a double figure scorer.

Top Weekend Performances

Alando Tucker & Brian Butch, Wisconsin – Combined for 59 points and 21 rebounds (Tucker: 32 and 10/Butch: 27 and 11) in the Badgers win over Pitt. Tucker is averaging 25 points in his last four games and is certainly playing up to POY form.

A.J. Graves, Butler – the 6 foot guard went over the 20 point plateau for the fifth time this year scoring 26 points in the win over Purdue. Graves certainly delivers in big games having scored 28 against ND, 20 at Indiana and 26 over Gonzaga.

Chris Lofton, Tennessee – In the win over Western Kentucky Lofton netted 32 points on 11-of-15 from the field, including 5-of-9 from beyond the arc. It’s the fourth time he’s scored 30 or more points this year and is averaging 20 points on the season.

Shout-outs

Bill Walker became the latest freshman to make his mark on college basketball’s landscape. The once to-be high school senior (and shoe-in for McDonalds All-American) turned college freshman in just a matter of months, introduced himself to fans this week scoring 15 points and pulling down 4 boards for Kansas State in an 82-54 victory over Kennesaw State. Walker, a 6-6 athletic freak (think Vince Carter) finished his high school degree just two months ago, practiced once for Bob Huggins and played his last game with the AAU team, D1 Greyhounds in the first week of August.

In a convincing 71-56 win over Arkansas, the Red Raiders help move Coach Robert Montgomery Knight one more win closer to tying Dean Smith’s Division I record of 878 wins. Texas Tech hosts Bucknell next Saturday.

Texas Longhorns coach Rick Barnes notched his 400th win as Texas routes Texas State 96-70. Barnes is the 25th active Division I coach to reach the 400-win milestone and did it in his 20th season, his ninth with Texas (7-2).

Predictions for the Week

Oklahoma State at Tennessee: OSU remains one of the few unbeatens in Division facing a surging Volunteer team lead by sharp-shooter Chris Lofton. I like OSU’s toughness and Mario Boggan’s 20 points/7 rebounds to prevail. Oklahoma encounters Pitt at home later in the week and I look for OSU to continue with their winning ways by beating Pitt at home.

Illinois at Missouri: Here are two teams who like to press on defense and create transition points. Against the only two ranked teams they’ve faced, Illinois lost both and Missouri has yet to lose a game at home this year. I like Coach Mike Anderson’s Tigers and his new version of '40 minutes of hell' full-court pressure.

Memphis at Arizona: Arizona’s starting five is as good as any in college basketball and haven’t lost since their season opener. Memphis can be quite erratic at times and have trouble putting together a complete game. Look for the Cats to win at home and propel into the top 10.

Arkansas at Texas: Freshmen are leading both teams in scoring, however Texas offers more depth and fire power. Kevin Durant is getting more help these days from fellow freshman D.J. Augustine and sophomore guard A.J. Abrams. I like the baby Longhorns at home.

LSU at Washington: Like a lot of teams this year, Washington’s rank and record are quite deceiving having lost to the only ranked team they played this year (Gonzaga). Like Texas, the Huskies are lead statistically by a few freshmen, but even at home, it may be hard to overcome the experience and physical play of the Tiger’s lead by Glen Davis. Look for LSU to win away this week.

Duke vs. Gonzaga: This game is played at the Garden which has been like home for the Devils in resent history. This match-up would’ve been more exclusive last year if Redick and Morrison had the chance to square off, however the fans should be in for an interesting affair. As of resent, the Zags have been suffering from turnover woes and Duke has been suffering from the same all season. Unfortunately for the Dukies, the Zags experience should exploit their woe’s even further, not to mention that know how to score the rock.

Quips, Quarrels, Querulous Inquiries

Great Oden’s Raven! Living up to the hype so far is Ohio State’s 7 foot center man-child, Greg Oden. In just three games after returning from surgery on his right wrist, Oden is averaging 15 points/7 rebounds on 91% shooting from the field. Albeit, majority of his points are coming off of dunks, he has been playing with limited use of his right hand (Greg is in fact right handed) and has shot all of his free-throws lefty (just 44%). In watching his 14 point/11 rebound/3 block performance in a win over Cincinnati this weekend, you can see how easily Oden dictates the performance on the defensive end. He only swatted 3 shots, however he must have alternated at least 10. I’ve had some early reservations about Oden because sometimes the hype can be a bit much, but I love the way he runs the court and stays within his comfort zone on the offensive end. He remains patient, sets hard on the ball screens, looks to box out and shoots when the time is right. A few times Cincinnati was able to stymie Oden from passing out of the double team, but he should be more effective when his wrist is properly healed. His first true test will come next weekend playing at Florida.

2 Comments:

Anonymous pbrods said...

Wisconsin is the real deal this year, especially Tucker. Pitt didn't think that Butch would shoot the ball and turned out to be very wrong about that. Congrats to Wisky for a great game. They'll be tough to stop in March.

1:00 PM  
Blogger JT & Deuce said...

Agreed, Butch played way over his head, although it would be nice if that's a sign for things to come. They'll need him for that Final Four push. Tough one at OSU tonight for your boys, they better come with it! Both teams looking for a big win so should be exciting to watch.

1:59 PM  

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