2012 Maui Invitational Preview and Predictions

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As much as Feast Week is about stuffing your face with turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes; it’s also about sweet college basketball tournaments like the Maui Invitational.  This field is not as stacked as a year ago when Duke needed a pair of Tyler Thornton “Onions” three pointers to beat Kansas in the title game.  Nevertheless here are my predictions from a field which includes North Carolina, Texas, Marquette, Illinois, and Butler.

Here is the link to the official 2012 Maui Invitational bracket.

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Old Spice Classic Preview: Wisconsin vs. Notre Dame In Title Game?

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In all honesty, the 2010 Old Spice Classic could be the lowest scoring tournament in the history of Feast Week.  With teams like Wisconsin, Temple, and Notre Dame that emphasize defense and are very patient on the offensive end, there is not a lot of offensive firepower in Orlando although teams like Texas A&M, Cal, and Georgia could cause some noise because of their athleticism.  Here is a preview and predictions:

By: David Kay
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College Hoops 101 (11-22-10)

Minnesota cheerleader

Happy Feast Week!

If you are unfamiliar with College Hoops 101, it is a weekly feature here at The Sports Bank that runs every Monday and breaks down everything you need to know going on in the world of college hoops.  I will look back at the previous week and peak ahead to some of the key match-ups in the next seven days.  In case you missed it, be sure to check out my first Field of 68 (aka Bracketology) in which I predict the NCAA Tournament brackets.

By: David Kay
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College Hoops 101

old spice swagger

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.

Rewind

-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.)


Fast Forward

-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?

The Drive
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.

Northwestern-Notre Dame Private School Battle for Chicago’s Heart

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By Paul M. Banks

Welcome to the Chicago Invitational Challenge Live blog day one. It’s both an invitational and a challenge. Not just an invitational, nor merely a challenge, or tournament. But a challenge and an invitational. The fun started at noon today with the mid-majors going at it, but the action ramps up with Iowa St. vs. Saint Louis. Where it’s currently 30-27 ISU.

This is actually a pretty good undercard bout as the Cyclones boast two players who have a very high chance of going in the first round of the NBA Draft: forwards Craig Brackins and Marquis Gilstrap. And SLU has former ESPN analyst and coaching legend Rick Majerus at the helm. He’s spent most of the first half here at the UIC pavilion pacing back and forth in front of me. And at approximately 7:30 we’ll move on to the main event, the title fight, Notre Dame-Northwestern, the battle between two of Chicago’s most beloved private schools. Never mind the fact that ND is a longer drive from the Second City than Champaign, and in another state and time zone from Chicago, this will truly be a match-up between two Chicago teams. Here at the “Chicago Invitational Challenge”

In the words of the Black Eyed Peas, “Let’s get it started in here! Let’s get it started in HAAAHHHHH!”

ISU-SLU 41-31 14 min left.

Attendance here is…a bit sparse. As are pretty much all holiday tournaments. Mostly because everyone plays on an out of town neutral court, so it’s harder to get people to travel. But  that’s truly a shame, as some of the basketball that’s played at these things is about as good as you’ll find all season. It’s still early, I’m guessing more people will come for the battle between “the two schools full of private snobs, and elitists,” or whatever people say to deride these two schools with a very high tuition. After my experience at the Bears game earlier this month, and at every Cubs game I’ve ever attended, I think elitist and snob is a complement. Pro sports, or at least the people who ended up sitting next to me at Cubs and Bears games, could learn a thing or two from the “snobs” and “elitists”. Maybe that’s why I like college sports so much better than the pros, less people on parole (or will be someday) in the stands next to you.

Or simply Bears fans are utterly disgusting sometimes…then again you heard what a Notre Dame fan did to Jimmy Clausen. And from what I hear, Clausen provoked him. Gives a new meaning to the term “Fighting Irish.”

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If I knew how to photoshop, I would put Clausen’s head on the leprecaun, with two black eyes, and have him lying on his back.

alright enough with the distractions, Iowa St. has opened a bigger lead on the Billikens now, and they’re threatening to turn this into a route. Both teams are undefeated and unranked currently, but the ‘Clones are the only team that looks like they should be ranked right now. Reigning Big 12 player of the week Craig Brackins leads the way with 15 pts so far, ISU 56-SLU 43, 4 min to go.

Iowa St. Head Coach Greg McDermott sums up the last game perfectly, “we found a way to win an ugly game, we finally got our offense in rhythm during the 2nd half.” Exactly ISU wins the 65-54. After falling behind in the 2nd half, the Cyclones stopped the Billikens on 9/10 offensive series.

Craig Brackins was a fun interview subject, one of the reporters asked him about his Tweets today. I hyperlinked his Twitter if you want to follow him, but he has to approve each and every one of his followers. If I were him, or in his situation, I would do the same. A lot of weirdoes out there, especially on online.

I have to admit I like the ND band. They play more original music, like Jimmy Buffett “Fins” and Styx “Come Sail Away”.

ND owns the series over NU 63-23-1. and this is their first meeting since 1984, which the Irish won by about 20.

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I hope this game moves at a much higher tempo than the last one. So far, not so much. ND leads 5-4 with 16:10 left in 1st half. So far they seem to be owning the paint on both ends. Stats would not exactly confirm that, but they’re using the superior size and more athletic bigs to intimidate the Cats from getting down low. I think that’s why Bill Carmody started Kyle Rowley tonight. He’s the biggest guy on the roster, even though he’s…well he’s far from leading the team in minutes per game for a good reason.

Northwestern takes their first lead on a Juice Thompson field goal, 9-8 with 13 min left in half. Now that Minnesota has knocked off Butler, NU’s lone loss this season looks a bit worse than it did before Wednesday. That said, they can redeem themselves here by giving #23 Notre Dame their first loss of the season. Good defense in this game so far, and bad shooting at both ends.

TSB readers know what I think of Tyler Hansbrough, well tonight I get to watch his little brother Ben, a two guard for the Irish. A good excuse to put my all time favorite Tyler H. pic. even though I loved Beeker from the muppets, so I hate doing that to Beeker.

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Duke N Carolina Basketball

Shooting getting uglier, but Northwestern takes a 16-10 advantage with just udner 8 min left in half. 6 pts in a game like this is…15 I guess. And what I mean by that is if you lose a game 90-82. that’s a much closer game and a lot better effort than say a 58-50 game. Seriously, the margin is the same, but it makes a difference trust me. We need a scale for this. we need a stat to measure this.

When NU forward/center Luka Mirkovic took and missed a turnaround baseline jumper, I heard someone on the NU coaching staff say “what the hell”? classic.

Even better than Rick Majerus tell one of his players “you gotta watch the f–king press” right in front of me last game.

At another timeout I hear that the new coach at Notre Dame, football I mean this time, will be Bob Stoops. seriously. And of course, every time you mention Charlie Weiss, a fat joke must follow. But I’m a professional, so I’ll let people in the comment threads handle that…if they so desire.

25 all with a min left in half. low-scoring like soccer here tonight.

John Shurna hits a lonnnnnnnnnnnnnng three as time expires to give NU a 30-27 advantage heading to the break. Shurna is starting to maybe come into his own this year. His time spent playing with the under 19 national team is paying off. He’s made a big leap from his freshman year.

When Shurna was at the podium last year, his soft-spoken, quiet nervousness reminded me of Paulie Bleeker (the guy played by Michael Cera) in the indie smash “Juno”. They kind of look alike too. I think at least.

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So when the All-American team decided to have a “white-out,” naming 3/5 Caucasian players to the first team, for no inexplicable reason, Luke Harangody received more votes than any other player in the nation. The nation? are you serious? the nation’s best player? as Duke Vitale, whoops I meant to say Dick Vitale would say ARE YOUUU SERRIOUSSSSSSSS??!!!!

I just don’t see it. I know this hasn’t exactly been Harangody’s best half ever, as he’s 3-9 shooting for 7 pts so far. Shurna leads the game with 14 pts on 5-10 from the floor. Still I don’t see what all the Harangody hullabalooza is all about.

On the strength of two Juice Thompson 3 pt FGs, NU leads 41-38 with 15:27 to go. You knew the Juice would start hitting those sometime, and that time is now.

I still love the ND band, their 80s music choices are killer. Just heard the “A Team” theme after some “867-5309 Jenny”

46-38 Northwestern now with 13:55 left. A big Jeremy Nash 3 pointer right after a Juice Thompson drive to the hole. The Juice is indeed loose.

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If you believe in “halftime adjustments” and I sure do, then Carmody really has made some great adjsutments in the locker room. Cats lead 50-38 with 11:42 left. Upset alert?

Yes, very much upset alert. The Irish can’t seem to find a way to consistently solve NU’s smothering defense.

Hi drama here as NU’s lead gets all the more slimmer. 57-51 just over 5 minutes to play.

Usually a coach should be happy when one of his players makes a 3. But on Alex Marcotullio’s last 3 bomb, which he made. Carmody looked about as dejected and frustrated as a coach can look.

61-56 Cats 1 min to go. The upset is a brewing, remember in 1995 when no one gave NU a chance to beat ND in football, and they won 17-15 sending shockwaves throughout the sports nerd world? Some dude here has a shirt with that score on it today, and they showed him on the jumbotron!

#20 Illini Fighting on in Las Vegas Invitational

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By Paul M. Banks

It’s Feast Week! When there’s non-stop college basketball, so many games start at bizarre times. And not just because games are going on in obscure parts of the world in far away time zones. In order to accommodate the television coverage, some games start at…like this one starts at 8:30 pm. #20 Illinois vs. the Wofford Terriers in the second round of the Las Vegas Invitational. Hence the late start time, so ESPNU could televise this game. weber

Wofford is no push over, they won at Georgia, and lost by one possession to Pittsburgh.

Of course, I’m not sure Pitt is that good, and Georgia might just get kicked out of the SEC they are so bad so…..

The Illini will also get a late tip off in the 3rd round taking on Utah at 9:30 PM Friday. In game 4 on Saturday, Illinois will meet either Bradley or Oklahoma St. Here’s hoping it’s OSU only because I’M A MAN!!! I’M 40!. Ok I’m 32, but you get the idea. BTW, Illinois beat Presbyterian 94-48 in the opening round of this game.

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Brando Paul comes in leading the Illini in scoring at 16.7 PPG, Mike Davis is second at 12 ppg, D.J. Richardson is 3rd at 11.3. So the Illini are getting a lot of scoring from their freshmen wings.  Tip off has begun. McCamey takes and misses the first shot.

Wofford comes out shooting 8-2, WU 17:30 left

DJ Richardson drains a 3, following a Mike Tisdale skyhook. 1st tv timeout ILL trail 10-9

Do they really need the screaming sound effect here? when they play the Indian war hymn. I get it it’s the “House of ‘Paign” in Champaign. but we don’t need the sadist sound effect.

Wofford is just owning the 3 pt line right now. They’re going to have to miss sometime. Weber is screaming at Demetri to move and at the whole team to “look inside”

BTW, McCamey just missed badly.

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Tell me again why this team is ranked #20? when they’re down 8 to a mid-major 12 min in?

In the words of Zhane, “hey mr. DJ, all night…on and on and on”….he hit a three to cut the deficit to 3, but then what would you expect? Terriers hit a 3 again. Somebody guard that Cameron Rundles guy, and Junior Salters…and someone stop leaving Noah Dahlman alone too.

I know that Billy Cole and Bubba Chisholm are in fact white. I can see that with my own eyes, but I still don’t believe them. With names like that, I still think they are lying to me about being white.

For you that are new to TSB, you stopped by on a very historical day!!! Earlier in the day we shattered the monthly page views record!!! with 6 days left in the month. And we just broke the daily page views record….right about..NOW! with 3 hours left in the day nonetheless. THANK YOU TSB READERS! And NFL Mock Draft, and Jimmy Clausen as well. Couldn’t have done it without you.

Hey Mr. DJ all nihiiiight.. on and on and on. Richardson hits a big 3 to put Illinois up for the first time in game 33-32 with a 1:54 left in half.

Maybe DJ will go to the NBA some day, maybe I’ll win a Webby someday? It’s the holiday season, and it’s feast week, so anything can happen, right?

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Yes, I think that is Mary Tyler Moore.

Demtri’s defense is actually better this year. no, really I mean it.  Still no excuse that they got out-rebounded so badly in the 1st half, from such a smaller team. NO EXCUSE Illini up 49-42 16:19 left in game. Lisa Salters is indeed tearing up Illinois.

49-47 Illinois, 15:50 left.

rebounding deficit is 29-15 now…ouch! neother team handling the ball very well. game tied at 50. 14 min left

THAT MOVE BY MCCAMEY, BEHIND THE BACK, REVERSE LAY-IN WAS SICK!!!

Wait., I’ll give it an even more favorable adjective; D WILLESQUE! 58-50 Illinois 10 min left

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DJ for 3 again. 70-57, 4:30 left Illini starting to pull away now. I don’t think they’ll win this game by 20, but they might finish winning by 15.

No matter what the box score ends up saying, Illini had a much harder fought victory than it seems. This team hung around a lot longer than anyone thought they would. And Illini are shooting 57%, if they had an off shooting night, this would have been trouble.

I’ll see you guys later after the presser. with quotes and final thoughts.

College Hoops 101: Feast Week Edition

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By: David Kay

There was so much college basketball on TV this week that I actually did not get to eight games that I DVR’ed because I just did not have the time.  If you think I did some serious work this past week on the college hoops viewing scene (check out “The Drive” for proof), just wait until Feast Week.  Not only will I be stuffing my face with turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, and cranberries (no pumpkin pie for this guy, never been a fan), I will be feasting on a heavy diet of college basketball thanks to a glorious and much-needed five day weekend.  For the record, I planned on taking these days off in hopes of going to Orlando to see Marquette in the Old Spice Classic but plans fell through.  I will have to settle for sweats, a couch, and some good friends while cheering on my Golden Eagles.

As always, College Hoops 101 takes a look back on the past week in college hoops, a preview of what’s to come during the next seven days, and what I saw in the games I watched as I keep tally of my total for the year.  (By the way, I still do not have a goal for this season.  Let me tell you this though, I am Chad Ochocinco-confident that I am going to destroy the 274 game total from last year.  CHILD PLEEZ!!!)  If you have any suggestions for a goal or challenge, I will happily consider your idea.  On with College Hoops 101…

Rewind
-John Wall… welcome to Lexington.  The Kentucky super-frosh and likely #1 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft hit a game-winning shot with 0.5 seconds left to help the Wildcats escape with a two-point win against Miami, Ohio.

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-No Jonny Flynn, no Eric Devendorf, no Paul Harris… No probelmo.  Syracuse knocks off Cal and North Carolina on back-to-back nights and besides Kansas, is the best team in the country right now.  Yup, you read that right.  They have size and muscle inside with Arinze Onuaku and Rick Jackson.  They are long and athletic on the wings with Wesley Johnson (who is as good as advertised) and Kris Joseph.  They have a lights out shooter in Andy Rautins and two fearless point guards in Brandon Triche and Scoop Jardine.  I could not have been more impressed with them this week.

-The Pac-10 continues to take a beating early in the season.  Cal dropped a pair of games to ranked teams.  UCLA lost at home to Cal-State Fullerton.  Oregon State dropped to 1-3 after losing at home to Sacramento State while Loyola Marymount won at USC.  Oregon fell on the road to Portland.  Some mid-major conferences are better than the Pac-10 this year.  Believe that!

-The play of the week goes to Arizona freshman Derrick Williams.  POSTER!

Fast Forward
-Pre-season NIT could feature a Duke vs. UConn final on Friday.

-Paradise Jam will pit Tennessee and Purdue in the championship game Monday night.

-The best pre-season tournament in my opinion, The 76 Classic, tips-off on Thanksgiving with a loaded field consisting of West Virginia, Butler, Clemson, Minnesota, UCLA, Texas A&M, and dangerous mid-majors programs Long Beach State and Portland.

-The Maui Invite (Wisconsin, Arizona, Gonzaga, Cincinnati, Maryland, Vanderbilt) and Old Spice Classic (Marquette, Xavier, Florida State, Michigan, Baylor, Alabama) lack the firepower of high ranked teams but should be competitive and entertaining nonetheless.

The Drive
Games watched through 11/15: 33

Games watched this past week (home teams in CAPS): 20

#8 DUKE 74, Coastal Carolina 49
The Blue Devils start four players 6’7 or taller and will bring two 6’10 guys and 7’1 Brian Zoubek off the bench.  All but one of them is white.  Wisconsin is jealous.

ARIZONA STATE 84, Texas State 57
I only watched this game because my DVR didn’t record the UConn game.  Did you know: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute’s twin brother plays for Texas State?

Cal State Fullerton 68, UCLA 65, 2 OT
What a terrible, yet entertaining basketball game.  The Pac-10 is so weak this year.  UCLA is picked to finish third loses their home opener.  Oregon State is picked to finish fourth, but loses two of their first three.  Ouch.

#23 Clemson 79, LIBERTY 39
Eric Gordon’s younger brother is a freshman at Liberty.  I wonder if he originally committed to the Flames or pulled a Judas move like his bro?

SIENA 59, Northeastern 53
Maybe it was the early Tuesday afternoon start, but it took Siena, one of the top mid-majors, a while to get going.  Once they got their defensive pressure going, they looked solid.

#20 GEORGETOWN 46, Temple 45
Were these two teams auditioning for a spot in the Big Ten and nobody told me?

#23 Louisville 96, Arkansas 66
The Cards just wore down a Razorback team that dressed just six scholarship players.  Louisville was chucking away, attempting 38 three’s.

MARQUETTE 86, Maryland Eastern Shore 60
I’ll say it again.  Lazar Hayward needs to learn how to stay out of trouble or else MU is screwed.  He did drop a career-high 28 despite first half foul trouble.

#1 Kansas 57, Memphis 55
Best game of the season thus far.  A lot of great talent on the floor, and Memphis’ Josh Pastner has just joined Butler’s Brad Stevens as my two favorite young coaches in college hoops.

#10 Butler 67, NORTHWESTERN 54
There is nothing sexy about Butler, but they execute their half-court offense and are extremely fundamental.

#6 Villanova 69, George Mason 68
Wow… Nova gets a pair of huge three-pointers late from freshmen as they escape against George Mason.  The Wildcats were playing without starting center Mouphtaou Yarou who was sent home from the Puerto Rico Tip-Off with an illness.

Mississippi 89, Indiana 71
One thing is for sure; this year’s Hoosiers are MUCH more competitive than last year.  Ole Miss has a lot of athletes, but will need to stay disciplined if they are going to make a splash in the SEC.

#24 Syracuse 95, #12 Cal 73
Ahhh… I missed Bob Knight’s rants about how useful shot fakes are.  ‘Cuse is my favorite team to watch so far.  They have athletes, shooters, and size.

#4 North Carolina 77, #15 Ohio State 73
A late OSU rally falls short as UNC’s size was too much for the Buckeyes who had several key players in foul trouble early on.

ARIZONA 66, Rice 49
I know ‘Zona is young and fairly inexperienced, but they are much deeper this season and do not need to rely on the Budinger/Hill/Wise trio of last year to do all the damage.  This team will only get better under Sean Miller as the season goes on.

#6 Villanova 71, #21 Dayton 65
A night after narrowly escaping the upset bid by George Mason, ‘Nova looked like a completely different team although they did have to hold off a late Flyer rally.

#15 Ohio State 76, #12 Cal 70
Despite his porno name and receding hairline, Dallas Lauderdale was very impressive for the Buckeyes and is really their only low post presence.

#24 Syracuse 87, #4 North Carolina 71
Read the “Rewind” portion for more on this game.

MARQUETTE 87, Grambling State 41
Grambling State shot the ball like a 4th grade girls rec-league team.  I am not sure if it is because they suck really bad or if MU just played some solid D’, but I would lean towards them sucking.

#6 Villanova 79, Mississippi 67
‘Nova wins the competitive Puerto Rico Tip-off without two of their top players.  Antonio Pena is one of those “glue guys” replacing Dante Cunningham in the Wildcats’ line-up.