By: David Kay
There is nothing quite like walking into a neighborhood watering hole located in a strip mall at 11:00 a.m. on the day after Thanksgiving to watch college basketball and down a couple Bloody Mary’s and Old Styles before it is even one o’clock. That is the joy that Feast Week brought me.
Non-stop college hoops last week combined with a five-day vacation allowed me to spend a lot of quality time in front of the boob tube. There were plenty of entertaining games, interesting storylines, and upsets galore. It’s all here in College Hoops 101.
-Since I am a glass half-full kind of guy, let me start by saying this; prior to the Old Spice Classic, if you would have told me that Marquette was going to finish 2-1 in the tournament, I would have taken it in a second. With that said, it is still massively disappointing that after holding a 17-point second half lead, MU let is slip away in their Championship game loss to Florida State. But we did learn a lot about this Marquette team. They are gritty, play hard, get after it on the defensive end, and despite being grossly under-sized are going to scrap to stay in every game. Translation: They have sucked me in and I am a believer that this team could be competitive in the Big East. I also rescind my comment from a week ago that they will only win four games in conference play.
-Remember all that talk about the Big Ten being the toughest, deepest conference in college basketball this year? Maybe not. Friday was a rough one for the Big Ten as four ranked teams lost; Michigan State to Florida, Michigan to Marquette, Minnesota to Portland, and Illinois to Utah. Follow that up with the Illini losing to Bradley on Saturday and the Gophers and Wolverines falling on Sunday, and the Big Ten took a big hit on the national scene. Northwestern was a saving grace though as they upset Notre Dame and beat a talented Iowa State squad in the Chicago Invitational Challenge (check out Paul M. Banks coverage of Northwestern’s winning the challenge.)
-UCLA… OUCH! Playing in Anaheim at the 76 Challenge, the Bruins finished in eighth place out of eight teams. They were embarrassed in their first round game losing by 27 to Portland. Then UCLA was edged by Butler in a consolation round game and then fell to Long Beach State by 11 in the 7th place game. The Bruins are now 2-4 on the year and it doesn’t get any easier with top-ranked Kansas coming to town this weekend.
-The Pac-10 is not the best college basketball conference on the west coast this year. The West Coast Conference is owning the Pac-10. Loyola Marymount won at USC. Portland beat Oregon and then smacked UCLA around like Ike slapped Tina. San Diego beat Stanford earlier this year by 13 and of course there is Gonzaga who beat Wisconsin and Cincinnati to win the Maui Invite. The Pac-10 might only get two teams in the tourney.
-Play of the week goes to Alabama’s JaMychal Green who secured his team’s victory against Michigan in the 3rd place game of the Old Spice Classic. (Fast forward to the end of the game. Sorry, it was the only clip I could find.)
-This is supposed to be the year the Big Ten claims the Big Ten/ACC Challenge crown having lost all ten match-ups versus Dickie V’s favorite conference. Two games to keep an eye on including the re-match of last year’s NCAA title game:
Michigan St. at North Carolina: Tuesday 8:00, ESPN
Duke at Wisconsin: Wednesday 8:15, ESPN
-North Carolina at Kentucky: Saturday 11:30, CBS
The Heels follow up their game with the Spartans by heading to Lexington. Both teams are extremely talented but still young and trying to find a groove. Expect a lot of offense in this one.
-Miami (FL) at Boston College, Sunday 2:00, FSN
Isn’t it way too early for the first conference game to be played?
Games watched through 11/29: 53
Games watched this past week (home teams in CAPS): 20
#10 Tennessee 57, DePaul 53
A year ago, the Blue Demons went oh-for in Big East play. This year, they hang with Tennessee and are 3-1 so far. DePaul will be no pushover in conference play.
Cincinnati 67, Vanderbilt 58
Finally Jay Bilas is on color for a game I watch. Cincy was very active on the defensive end but I was just happy to here Bilas’ sweet voice calling a game. (Now is about the time Bilas files a restraining order against me.)
#6 Purdue 73, #9 Tennessee 72
Very entertaining game. Both teams played really hard and got after it on both ends of the floor and should be major factors this season nationally.
Wisconsin 65, Arizona 61
Dear officials, way to ruin what should have been a very intriguing match-up by calling 54 fouls resulting in 66 free throw attempts. The only thing we learned from this game is that ‘Zona freshman Derrick Williams has stud potential.
#3 Texas 85, Iowa 60
Tied at the break, the ‘Horns out-scored the Hawkeyes 47-22 in second half. Remember the name Jordan Hamilton, a freshman swing player on Texas. He could be special in a year or two.
Arizona 91, Colorado 87 OT
Very entertaining game to watch. Nic Wise came up huge for ‘Zona down the stretch while the Buffs proved they are ready to make some noise in the Big 12.
MARQUETTE 93, South Dakota 68
I am really okay with teams wanting to zone MU this season. They have shooters who can knock down three’s and Lazar Hayward can set up shot in the middle of the zone.
Gonzaga 74, Wisconsin 61
Despite welcoming ten new players, the Zags are still one of the top mid-majors in the country and can hang with any team from the power six conferences. Of course it also helps that the Badgers were 5-26 from three in this game.
#3 Texas 78, Pitt 62
The ‘Horns are apparently a second half team. They were tied with Iowa at the half and then trailed Pitt at the break before turning it on for the final twenty minutes.
Wisconsin 78, #21 Maryland 69
I kept getting interrupted and watched this game over three different sit-downs, so I didn’t get a feel for it at all.
Vanderbilt 84, Arizona 72
An off-night for Nic Wise = ‘Zona loss.
Gonzaga 61, Cincinnati 59 OT
Zags win the Maui Invite and show that despite being without four of their top players from a year ago, they are still one of the best mid-major programs in the country.
#15 Michigan 83, Creighton 76 OT
I am still trying to figure out if Michigan did not impress me or if Creighton really impressed me. Manny Harris was one rebound shy of a triple-double.
Marquette 71, Xavier 61
Not gonna lie, I was already chalking this one up in the loss column for Marquette. Thankfully, Xavier went on a late five-and-a-half minute dry spell without a field goal as MU went on a 16-2 run. Big confidence building win.
#16 Minnesota 82, #10 Butler 73
There were 81 free throws attempted in this game.
Marquette 79, #15 Michigan 65
Nothing like going to the bar at 11:00 a.m. on the day after Thanksgiving, order a couple Bloody Mary’s and Old Styles, and watch your team knock off a ranked team. That’s called a good start to the day.
Florida State 60, Alabama 51
With this win, FSU advances to meet Marquette in the Old Spice Classic Championship. The ‘Noles are 7-1, 6-9, 6-8 in their frontcourt. I have no idea how MU can guard them.
#7 Duke 68, #13 UConn 59
Neither team played very well in what was pretty much a letdown game to watch.
Florida State 58, Marquette 57
Read the Rewind section of this article for more on this game.
#8 West Virginia 84, Portland 66
Portland’s Cinderella-run in the 76 Classic comes to an end at the hands of a Mountaineer team that is as good as advertised.